One pen to rule them all

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I get a lot of products to review here at Fatboy HQ, but pens are fairly rare.  This one is rarer than most in quality and design. 

Ian Schon at SCHONDSGN has been making these for a few years, but just launched a version with a pocket clip for the first time and it makes it much more useful than his earlier design for me. 

As you can see, packaging is pretty well done, with the pen arriving in a nice folding box secured to a card with your ownership information and a custom fold-flat pocket notebook. 

The pen has a great weight and feel, with a Fisher space pen refill providing exceptional writing on any surface and at any angle. 

the SCHONDSGN CLIP looks just as great in black as it does in aluminum

the SCHONDSGN CLIP looks just as great in black as it does in aluminum

Ian sent me two pens, one anodized black and the other polished aluminum.  Both are exceptional pens that would fit anyone's EDC needs.

You can find them online now at the SCHONDSGN website. 

Burger mecca launches first franchise in Happy Valley

Saturday the first franchise in the Killer Burger chain had their "Friends and Family" night, and my wife and I were on the guest list. Located at 147th and Sunnyside Rd. in Happy Valley this newest location is sure to bring local diners to the Killer Burger bandwagon.

With a Killer new design esthetic and a full bar this is my kind of burger joint! 

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A fresh faced young crew works the main food counter, but grizzled veterans run the bar and keep the peace.  With a great selection of punch drinks and beer on the menu and a full bar for those over 21 it's a burger joint concept for a new generation.

Fast food burger joints with full bars? Bye bye McDonald's  

Fast food burger joints with full bars? Bye bye McDonald's  

With burgers ranging from the basic "Purist" (with just onions, pickles, lettuce, mayo, and ketchup adorning the 1/3rd pound patty) to the "Barnyard" (which adds bacon, ham, egg, and a second patty along with Smokey house sauce in place of mayo)  these burgers are built to appeal to every craving.  Every sandwich includes unlimited fries as well.

" The Lineup" 

" The Lineup" 

I went with the above mentioned Barnyard, and overall was impressed.  The burger itself was juicy and full of flavor, with plenty of fat to deliver the flavor you would expect from a premium burger.  Constructed with a great balance of toppings  there wasn't too much lettuce or too little sauce, and the tomatoes were firm and flavorful. I would have preferred a fuller flavored pickle, but no burger is perfect.  In my opinion, an egg on a burger should be runny so that the yolk creates a sauce for the burger and this was served over medium and firm, again a matter of preference not a deal breaker.

" The Barnyard Burger" 

" The Barnyard Burger" 

The fries were crisp and delicious, cooked all the way through in the center without being too starchy. 

Overall it was a great dining experience in a great new venue that will spell a great new future for a PDX favorite.  Franchisees Wes and Coral Welterman can be proud of their new project.  If what I saw tonight it's any indication they have a hit on their hands.

Coral and Wes Welterman pose in front of the kitchen at Killer Burger - Sunnyside  

Coral and Wes Welterman pose in front of the kitchen at Killer Burger - Sunnyside  

Fat Boy Summer Road Trip, Part 3

The final installment of our summer journey covering the drive from Roswell, NM to Salem, OR during which time we discover that Chris Ledoux was right, life really is a highway.

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Fat Boy Summer Road Trip, part 2

Day 5

We left St. Louis after a great time catching up with the Golden family and headed south to Memphis.  Alongthe way we stopped at Stonie's Sausage Shop for some road snacks.  They had a great selection of fresh made smoked meats and sausages, great homemade jerky, and a wide selection of local area products from pickles to pork rinds, wine, and sodas.  It was a great find.  We picked up some cheese, some snack sticks, and some bologna and sausage to thow in the cooler for the drive to Memphis.

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Even on a Monday evening Beale Street was busy.

Even on a Monday evening Beale Street was busy.

After a long drive we made it to Memphis around 8pm and headed straight to Beale St., starting at the West end at the Hard Rock Cafe.  If you have never been to Memphis, TN it really is a trip every music lover should take.  The sights and sounds even on a Monday night were spectacular, with live music coming from every juke joint on Beale.  We walked "with our boots ten feet off of Beale" taking in the sights and sounds until we reached the end of the entertainment district and were waived into Coyote Ugly by their manager T.  It was quiet on a Monday night, but we ended up having a ton of fun and closing the place down with Morgan and Evee.

In this job attitude is everything, and the Memphis Coyotes had it.  Evee was fiesty and up for a challenge.

In this job attitude is everything, and the Memphis Coyotes had it.  Evee was fiesty and up for a challenge.

Morgan was pure attitude, running the bartop like it was a circus tent at times to try and get tips from a small crowd while drawing people in off of the street.

Morgan was pure attitude, running the bartop like it was a circus tent at times to try and get tips from a small crowd while drawing people in off of the street.

Some customers relucktently dance on the bar for a photo....

Some customers relucktently dance on the bar for a photo....

Other customers are much more enthusiastic!

Other customers are much more enthusiastic!

What's a guy to do when his buddy wanders away and the next round comes?

What's a guy to do when his buddy wanders away and the next round comes?

This fat boy drinks them both and hopes his boy comes back before the next round hits the bar....

This fat boy drinks them both and hopes his boy comes back before the next round hits the bar....

And then your bartenders steal your phone off the bar to take a selfie!

And then your bartenders steal your phone off the bar to take a selfie!

Day 6

Left Memphis for Shreveport, LA.  The long night had us so tired we forgot to set the alarm and were woken up by the guy at the front desk telling us it was checkout time.  Fortunately he gave us a late checkout without a hassle.  We had a huge breakfast at Cracker Barrel and were on our way.

It was a long drive, but we made it into Shreveport and got checked into our hotel.  It was right next to the Louisiana Downs racetrack and casino, so we walked over there to find dinner.

Fuddruckers was the only restaurant in the casino still open, but they have always made an amazing burger so we had a nice meal.  We played the slots for a few minutes after dinner then called it an early night.

 

Day 7

After an early night we got up and packed after a decent breakfast buffet at the hotel.  After a long drive made it to Austin, TX.

Stubbs BBQ has quickly become one of the premiere music venues in Austin, and they proudly have decorated with concert posters from previous shows.

Stubbs BBQ has quickly become one of the premiere music venues in Austin, and they proudly have decorated with concert posters from previous shows.

I had the 3-meat combo with spare ribs, brisket, and classic sausage.  On the side I had Serrano Cheese spinach and mashed sweet potatoes.  

I had the 3-meat combo with spare ribs, brisket, and classic sausage.  On the side I had Serrano Cheese spinach and mashed sweet potatoes.  

No trip to Austin is complete for me without a trip to Stubbs BBQ.  Stubbs Legendary BBQ has been doing pit style BBQ right since Mr. Stubblefield opened the original (and now closed) joint in Lubbock in 1968.  He was instrumental in breaking musical talent like Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughn back then and ever since live music has been almost as important as the food to Stubbs' customers and fans worldwide.

After a great dinner at Stubbs we headed for 6th Street to find a party.  We walked the North side of the block then crossed to come back to Chuggin' Monkey to get a look at the band that we could hear from across the street.

The Blues Posse were tearing it up! Their lead guitar, Jack Edery was pulling blues licks from all over the spectrum and doing them well.  Vocals from Mr. Jamie van Beek were tight and accurate.  A great show.  On to the next spot.

Blues Posse blew the roof off of The Chuggin' Monkey during their first set

Blues Posse blew the roof off of The Chuggin' Monkey during their first set

We left the Chuggin' Monkey and wandered into Pete's Dueling Piano Bar.  It was packed, with hundreds of people all singing along and shouting requests spanning the decades.

Another music town, another Coyote Ugly! Rosalyn, Morgan, and Ashley were fun but didn't match the energy or fun of the great ladies we met a couple of days ago in Memphis. 

We closed Coyote Ugly down again, and headed back to the hotel.

Day 8

We got up and moving planning on heading for Amarillo, but plans to see a friend fell through so we changed our routing a bit, heading to Roswell, NM instead. It was a long drive, but we made Roswell about 7:30 local time.  We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant recommended by the girl at the front desk called Los Cerritos.

I had a great stuffed sopapilla with all the trimmings.  The recommendation if anything undersold the food.  I love New Mexican food, with the great use of hatch green chiles and a unique addition of fried dough.

Fat Boy Summer Road Trip

Day One

The Fat Boy Summer Road Trip started out with a day of flight from PDX to Kansas City. 

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After my arrival we went to dinner at a local spot called Nick & Nino's Pub. I Continued celebrating the #OldFashionedFortnight with a strong but decent Old Fashioned made with Makers 46. For an appetizer we had the Fried Trio, a combination of fried pickles, fried zucchini, and fried green beans. Dinner was a 16oz Rib eye, served with mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed veggies. The rib eye was perfectly cooked and seasoned, in addition to being tender enough that I didn't realize I was using my butter knife until the second bite.

The atmosphere at Nick & Nino's was great, with friendly staff and live music from a decent band.  Not a bad start to the adventure. 

Day Two

 

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Our second day started on base at Ft. Leavenworth for Maj. Michael Cooper's graduation from the United States Army's Command and General Staff College.  It was great to be able to be here and see Coop reach another milestone in his military career.

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The keynote address was provided by Gen. Abrams, Commanding General, U.S Army Forces Command.  His address focused on the bonds forged by graduates with each other and with graduates from the 93 nations represented in this year's class, the threats they will face in a faster paced global environment than his generation of staff officers had to deal with, and the relationships that would change to the organizations graduates would return to or be joining.

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After graduation breakfast was in order, so we headed to downtown Leavenworth to a restaurant that opened just a couple years ago in the old railroad depot, appropriately named The Depot. 

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My breakfast special included a biscuit with gravy, crispy and perfectly fried hashbrowns, two eggs, and two slices of crispy bacon.  The biscuits were flaky and amazing, gravy was peppery beauty.  One of the best classically dine breakfast Atos I've had in a long time.  Definitely worth a stop if you find yourself in Leavenworth, KS.

That evening we went out to celebrate before leaving town, and spent must of our evening at DraftCade in Kansas City's Zona Rosa mall.  Featuring 60 taps of craft brew goodness, classic pinball and arcade games, and a decent bar menu it was a fun place to hang out.

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  From there we headed out to local dive Arthur's for karaoke and drinks with some old friends to end the night.

Day Three

Day Three dawned with a delay after finding that the Uhaul had been stolen from the parking lot over night.  After a three hour delay to file the police report and track down a replacement trailer we were finally on the road to St. Louis and a home cooked meal with the Golden family.  Bob worked for Coop in New York, and I met them on our last trip West three years ago.  Since then they have become good friends.

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 We arrived to advance amazing meal and great time catching up with the whole family. We stayed up until after 3am laughing and talking around the fire out back.  It was the perfect end to a day that started out so crazy.

Day Four

We woke up and had a light breakfast before heading out to see a little bit of the city.  We stayed at Anheiser-Busch's Grants Farm.  The historic home if general US Grant's in-laws it became the country home of the Busch family in the early 1900's.

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 We expected to see the Clydesdale horses so famous for pulling the beer wagons.  We didn't expect to find camels, elephants, buffalo, and exotic birds.

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 From Grants Farm we headed downtown to visit the Arch.

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 the old courthouse in St Louis

 the old courthouse in St Louis

We were all hot and tired so headed back to Bob and Rinku's house for dinner.  On the way we grabbed pizza from local favorite Imo's.  Featuring a cracker thin crust and light sauce it is unique but a nice might take on a take out staple.

Day Five

We left St. Louis after a great time catching up with the Golden family and headed south to Memphis.  Along  the way we stopped at Stonie's Sausage.

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Snack stix and sweet bologna were my favorite finds, but a great selection of meat and sausage aft decent prices.

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.