A Spokane legend

I had breakfast with Stephanie and little Koa at a Spokane landmark today, Little Euro. Featuring old fashioned European staples from Hungarian breakfast goulash to potato pancakes and ableschivers  

At 517 N Pines in Spokane Valley, Washington little Euro has such a local following that we were waiting more than 30 minutes to be seated at 10:30 on Sunday when most customers would still be in church.  I hate to speculate on brunch crowds. 

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Their Goulash starts with scrambled eggs, hash browns and cheese.  To this is added any number of customized combinations.  I went traditional with ham, sausage, bacon, pepper, onions and tomatoes.  All of the ingredients were cooked perfectly and the combination made for an amazingly filling and flavorful breakfast.  Served with a short stack of pancakes for $13.99 it is one of the best breakfasts I've had in a very long time.

If you find yourself in Spokane, do yourself a favor and stop in.  You can thank me later.

I ❤️ Kentucky

Carrie and I spent the weekend in Louisville, and the visit reinforced the fact that I love Kentucky like it was where I was born to live.  From the small-town feel of the big city you get in Louisville to the rolling bluegrass fields and horse ranches of the countryside it's an amazing place that reminds me of my real home in Portland, Oregon but adds so much charm and history, not to mention actual seasons.  And we can't forget the bourbon.  From great bourbon bars to the largest and best bourbon distillers in the world both Louisville and Lexington are amazing whiskey towns. 

Mar 3, 2017

Day one of our anniversary trip to Louisville was a long drive, where we checked into the historic Seelbach Hotel followed by a great bowl of Burgoo and cocktails at one of the best hotel bars in the country, The Old Seelbach Bar.

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The Old Seelbach Bar features an amazing whiskey selection in addition to being one of the oldest bars on Louisville's Urban Bourbon tour. 

The Old Seelbach Bar features an amazing whiskey selection in addition to being one of the oldest bars on Louisville's Urban Bourbon tour. 

Traditional burgoo was made using whatever meats and vegetables were available—typically, venison, squirrel, opossum, raccoon or game birds, and was often associated with autumn and the harvest season. Today, local barbecue restaurants use a specific meat in their recipes, usually pork, chicken, or mutton, which, along with the spices used, creates a flavor unique to each restaurant.

The Seelbach takes things to a new level featuring pork, rabbit, and venison in their burgoo. This combination of meats with the traditional okra, corn, and potatoes whose starches leech out to thicken this amazing soup create a concoction thick enough to stand your spoon up while still leaving an ample amount of broth to be soaked up by their amazing bourbon bread.

The Old Seelbach Bar features an amazing burgoo

The Old Seelbach Bar features an amazing burgoo

March 4, 2017

We started with a quiet morning and breakfast in bed from the amazing Gatsby's on Fourth Cafe in the hotel. We then took a drive through historic Louisville. We tried to get in for a tour of the Angels Envy distillery that opened across from Slugger Stadium since the last time we were in town, but tours were sold out for the day. Instead we took a drive out Old Bardstown Road through the historic neighborhoods East of Downtown known as The Highlands.

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We came back early afternoon and walked down the street from the Seelbach to another historic Louisville hotel, The Brown for lunch. Our favorite spot in the hotel, the Lobby Bar wasn't open yet but I got some pictures before heading down to the historic J. Graham's Cafe on the first floor.

The Lobby Bar at The Brown Hotel

The Lobby Bar at The Brown Hotel

Lobby and mezzanine from The Brown Hotel's front desk

Lobby and mezzanine from The Brown Hotel's front desk

J. Graham's Cafe is the originator of the Hot Brown, the city's signature sandwich which was developed in the 1920's to satisfy late night diners looking for more glamorous than ham and eggs after attending the historic dinner dances hosted in the 4,300 sqft Crystal Ballroom which regularly accommodated more than 1,200 guests per night.

The J. Graham cafe in the Brown Hotel's daylight basement is one of Downtown Louisville's oldest

The J. Graham cafe in the Brown Hotel's daylight basement is one of Downtown Louisville's oldest

We of course both chose the Hot Brown for our lunch, and as always were not disappointed. The amazing mornay sauce is as ever the centerpiece of this amazing open faced sandwich, combining Pecorino Romano cheese with a perfectly made cream sauce with just a hint of nutmeg to draw out the nutty flavors of the cheese. This sauce covers the base of Texas toast and Turkey before being sprinkled with more cheese and thrown under a broiler. The sandwich is then covered with 2 strips of bacon before being garnished and served. There is no better sandwich in my experience, and I've eaten some amazing sandwiches in my travels.

The world famous Hot Brown originated in this historic cafe

The world famous Hot Brown originated in this historic cafe

Mar 5, 2017

Wallace Station

Wallace Station

Country Ham and Pimento cheese on wheat from Wallace Station is an amazingly well constructed sandwich.  The salt and sweet from the ham are the perfect foil for the creamy spice of the pimento cheese.  Pimento cheese is one of those southern creations we just don't find most places in Oregon unless we make it like Grandma did.

Wallace Station's Country Ham & Pimento cheese sandwich features a house made white cheddar pimento cheese. 

Wallace Station's Country Ham & Pimento cheese sandwich features a house made white cheddar pimento cheese. 

Carrie had the Turkey Rachel, Roast turkey, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and creamy slaw.  A southern take on the Ruben with house made slaw that takes it to a whole new level.  She said it was a great sandwich, and her clean plate said she wasn't just being polite.

The Turkey Rachel from Wallace Station features an awesome house made slaw

The Turkey Rachel from Wallace Station features an awesome house made slaw

So, I obviously had to eat while I was in Columbus right?

It just happened to be restaurant week in Columbus, Ohio this week while I was there with Carrie and we had the opportunity to sample some great food from some restaurants that we might not have otherwise tried.  We also tried some new pizza places and delivery services to get a better idea of the food options in a downtown area that is pretty quiet after dark.

Our first delivery option was pizza, and we decided to give OH Brew & Pizza a try.  It was a Friday night and ended up being the first night of OhioCon which just happened to be a couple blocks away from the restaurant we ordered from.  This led to a 90 minute delivery time, which was less than thrilling for us but the restaurant was good about keeping us informed.

The pizza itself was pretty good, with a crisp crust and just enough sauce to add good flavor without overwhelming the cheese and toppings.  Meat quantity and quality was great, with even coverage and solid flavor.  Overall quite good and we will order from them again.  We tried a couple of their side items, both loaded tots and fried crustables.  Both arrived a little cold and a lot greasy.  The fryer temperature was too low and they took too long to arrive for them to be any good to me.  We may try them again at the restaurant but won't order them out again.

The next night Carrie had a working dinner so I had dinner with my cousin and his wife at a popular Mexican restaurant near the OSU campus called MadMex.  I went with the carnitas burrito and I was pleased but not wowed.  After growing up with so much great authentic mexican food Midwest college town versions of Mexican food don't excite me.  There was ok flavor but no heat, and the citrus was nowhere to be tasted in a dish that normally would hinge on it being front and center.  Portions were huge and quality was decent but uninspiring.

The Carnitas Burrito is served with roasted green chilis inside, blue cornbread, pico and sweet-n-sour slaw on the side.

The Carnitas Burrito is served with roasted green chilis inside, blue cornbread, pico and sweet-n-sour slaw on the side.

The only other real meal out that we had was our last night in town.  Quite a few restaurants had special three course menus at reduced prices to encourage people to try new places for restaurant week, so we gave BareBurger on High Street a try.  Located just across from the convention center at the beginning of Columbus' Short North arts district BareBurger has quickly made a name for themselves serving organic and free range menu items while being careful to cater to dietary and allergy restrictions.

 

While limited the 3 Course menu BareBurger featured for Restaurant Week actually presented quite a range of options

While limited the 3 Course menu BareBurger featured for Restaurant Week actually presented quite a range of options

Since I cant have onions my first course was the Pickles & Slaw appetizer.  Featuring bread and butter, sour, garlic, and hot pickles along with a brussel sprout slaw it is actually a great sampler if you like pickles (which I do).  All of their pickles are made in house and are very good.  I love a good bread and butter pickle and BareBurgers offering reminded me quite a bit of the pickles my grandmother used to make when I was a kid.  The sour and garlic pickles were about average, and the hot pickles could have used more pepper and less garlic but were quite good as well.  In all it was a good start to the dinner.

The Pickle & Slaw sampler

The Pickle & Slaw sampler

For my second course I had the Wiki Wiki - a wild boar burger with duck bacon, gouda, and grilled pineapple on a brioche bun.  The boar was perfectly seasoned, allowing some of the gaminess of the meat to come through without allowing it to overpower the sandwich.  Their duck bacon is a treat.  Crisp and just the right amount of fatiness it adds just the right amount of flavor to the sandwich and is cut just right by the acid of the pineapple.  This is a well designed and balanced sandwich.

In all our dining experiences in Columbus were again pretty average.  Next trip I'll try to hit some of the more trendy spots in the Short North and Downtown, but we haven't had a bad meal in our visits yet.

iPhone 7 plus Cases are taking over my life!

In less than a month I've already been sent eight cases to review for the iPhone 7 plus, and I can only guess how many more will come before the end of the year.  From clear TPU cases to leather and hard rubber durable portfolio cases they vary widely in material, level of protection, and price points but they will all provide some level of protection for your new phone. 

 

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SaharaCase Protective Kit Bundle

The SaharaCase bundle includes not only a clear TPU case but also comes with a tempered glass screen protector.  They even go so far as to provide a clip on guide that makes sure that the screen protector goes on straight and perfectly aligned.  While not the most durable material, the combination of the TPU and tempered glass on the screen makes for a pretty good solution for the $21.99 that Amazon is asking for the kit.  I actually received this before the phone launch and had it with me when I picked up my phone at the Apple Store and it impressed the sales staff at the store with how easy it made application of the screen protector.

Encased iPhone 7 plus belt clip case

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The iPhone 7 plus belt clip case from Encased is pretty impressive for the $11.80 that Amazon is charging.  The soft touch hard rubber case has a kickstand that pops out to prop your phone up on any solid surface, and the belt clip case is lined with micro fiber cloth to cushion and protect your screen when secured.  It wraps more than a quarter inch around the edge to ensure a good hold.  This is a good case for the money, I just don't like the length of the motion needed to slide the case in and out of the clip mechanism.

iPhone 7 Plus Wallet Card Case, ProCase

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The iPhone 7 plus wallet card case from ProCase is as bare bones as a case can get.  Thin molded hard plastic with a slot to hold a single credit card or ID, this case offers the bare minimum of protection.  It will protect the metal of your phone but nothing else.  For $11.99 most buyers won't expect much more but compared to the belt clip case from encased this is almost over priced.

JACK SPADE Cell Phone Case for Apple iPhone 7 Plus - Fulton Tan / Navy

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The Jack Spade color-block case is constructed of hard TPU wrapped in quality leather.  It adds a little bulk to the phone but is just thick enough that it sets out from the back far enough to protect the camera lens and sets off from the front to prevent the screen from hitting if it lands flat on the front.  It is decent quality leather and feels good in the hand.  I don't know if it feels worth the $39.99 price tag, but it is of a higher quality than the no-name brands. 

 

Fancy Fatboy Snack

Alright, Fatkids! My wife is a true "fatboy" at heart, and introduced me to a rad combo this weekend.  

Get you some Grand Margaux Brie cheese (Freddie's has a good selection) some "Effie's Oat Cakes" or "Lesley Stowe: Raincost Oat Crisps" and "Mike's Hot Honey"

Cake/Crisp, slice of Brie, drizzle of hot honey! Holy Crap! 

Pair with a big Red Blend or Whole cluster Pinot Noir?! Ohhhhh man! 

Get you some of that!!

 

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Paradise in British Columbia

This summer, the family and I were fortunate enough to take a week long vacation to Hornby Island B.C. (Ohhhh Canadaaaa!) Hornby is a small gulf island between Vancouver Island and... well, Vancouver.  A picture will give more perspective.

 

Hornby island in the Strait of Georgia

Hornby island in the Strait of Georgia

From our starting point in Hillsboro, Or, it was a 7 hour drive to the border - 12 hours if you count awful traffic from Tacoma to well passed Seattle... While we are stuck in traffic, let's stop in the Emerald City and get some amazing food. It's Xiao Long Bao time! Fat Boys.. listen up!! Do you like amazing Asian soups? Do you like Dumplings? Of course you do! It's time for you to get to Din Tai Fung! There are two locations in the Seattle Metro, and 4 locations in Cali.

Din Tai Fung was founded in Taipei, Taiwan in 1958 as a cooking oil retail shop. In 1972, it transitioned into a full fledged restaurant specializing in soup dumplings and noodles, and now a 1 Michelin star, expanding dumpling empire.

Family style! So we tried almost everything

Family style! So we tried almost everything

I highly recommend any of the Xiao Long Bao, and the shrimp and pork wontons.. The co-mingling of flavors in these dishes is other-worldly.. Fragrant, savory and the perfect amount of heat.. I'm still looking for an excuse to take the train up to Seattle just to eat there again. The University Village location comes complete with a beautiful outdoor commerce park... You'll have plenty of shopping time while you wait for a table at this establishment. WORTH IT!

After filling ourselves with MSG greatness - it was time to get back on the road. Since we weren't able to get a reservation on a mid day ferry from Vancouver, we decided to stay the night at the border and grab the 7:45am Ferry from Tsawassen (Pronounced Swasson). We stayed in Blaine, Wa which is just a cute little border town. You can see the border crosssing and Vancouver from the park across from our hotel..  

 

 

Looking at 2 different countries at sunset

Looking at 2 different countries at sunset

Up dark an early to get across the border just in case there was a line... There was not! Needless to say we made it to our Ferry SUPER early.. This was my first time on a ship this big, or any ship in the ocean for that matter. My wife has been making this trip since she was little, so it was "old hat" for her.

 

My girls on the deck of "The Coastal Inspiration"  

My girls on the deck of "The Coastal Inspiration"  

Once we were done with this roughly 2 hour sailing, it was time for about another hour drive to Nanaimo. Here we would catch a much smaller cable ferry that would take us to Denman Island (about 10 minutes). Once we departed onto Denman island it was a short drive across the island to, you guessed it, one more ferry.. On this small cable ferry our final destination for the next several days can be seen.

Hornby Island is an absolute gem. Gorgeous scenery, interesting people and did I mention it's going to be between 75-80 degrees and sunny our whole stay? Yup! 

Angela's grandpa lives on the island with his girlfriend.. Yep, Girlfriend! John and Helen are THE BEST!! Since John lives with Helen down the road, he let's family come stay at his place... I was in love the minute I saw it. 

This is the back yard

This is the back yard

This was the front yard! 

This was the front yard! 

We drank, we ate very well, watched amazing sunsets every night... "Happy Hour" with John and Helen were definite highlights. 

We can't wait to go back and stay again.  

Grassy Point - Amazing sunsets to guzzle with the eyes

Grassy Point - Amazing sunsets to guzzle with the eyes

My daughter loving the beach at sunset

My daughter loving the beach at sunset

Angela and I having dinner at the Sea Breeze Dining hall. Great experience!! 

Angela and I having dinner at the Sea Breeze Dining hall. Great experience!! 

Nice day to hike Heliwell Provincial Park.. 

Nice day to hike Heliwell Provincial Park.. 

My most favorite pic of the trip. Waiting for our ferry on the way back home

My most favorite pic of the trip. Waiting for our ferry on the way back home