A Mixology Competition for...the Upcoming School Year?

On Monday, July 27, the sun beaming down on the city of Portland caused temperatures to hit record highs in the 100s. That was an even deeper incentive, I thought, to attend an event centered around some of Portland's finest distilled spirits that would be concocted by a few of the city's most creative mixologists, served cold, and most likely both shaken, and stirred.

Hosted by the Oregon Bartenders Guild (OBG) and held at Hobnob Grille in SE Portland, the OBG Mixology Competition challenged six Oregon bartenders to create their own signature drinks in a two-round competition utilizing Oregon-crafted spirits all in a benefit for Schoolhouse Supplies, a school supply store that offers free educational materials for Portland-area teachers.

The chosen mixologists: Bradley Dawson, Belly Timber; Sue Erickson, Ping; Kinn Edwards, Aqua (Corvallis); Evan Zimmerman, Laurelhurst Market, Jacob Grier, Carlyle; and Alison Dykes, Lincoln had one week to develop two cocktails, each made with a specific Oregon spirit. The cocktails would be judged in two rounds by all attendees in the categories of presentation, taste, aroma, and originality.

The bar stools were full and the restaurant's booths fashioned eager attendees waiting to sip our three-ounce samples of each creation. All situated behind the bar's counter, the bartenders appeared to be a team of one as they all pitched in and assisted one another prepping pours and passing out libations of each cocktail one by one.

A few of the competitors awaiting Round 1

The evening's featured Oregon spirits

The featured spirits of the evening (not necessarily in this order):
Suake River Stampede

And the evening continued on in that fashion. As we continued to sip samples (which seemed to grow larger than three ounces by night's end) and enjoy Hobnob nibbles, the conversations grew, laughs became more prominent, and all in attendance appeared to enjoy a fun night for a great cause.

I must say I was blown away to see some labels that I had previously never seen. It was a fun exploration into Oregon spirits that truly brought home the fact that Portland (and Oregon in general) is not only a mecca for fabulous food, but also an incredibly viable player in the boxing ring of delectable spirits.

A few more pics from the night, including the winners!

Bradley Dawson explains his first concoction to the crowd:
the Strawpocolypse Balsamic Redux made with Elemental Vodka

Sue Erickson introduces her Sunshine in My Soul
(and that's exactly what it tasted like!)
Made with Martin Ryan Vodka

Jacob Grier describes his Vigallager made with Organic Nation Gin

Round 1 cocktails on display

The night's Third Place Winner!: Bradley Dawson

Second Place!: Evan Zimmerman

And First Place went to...
Jacob Grier of Carlyle

All bartenders in a perfect end to the competition, the celebratory toast.

Fun night for an excellent cause.



The Sights of Saturdays

Saturdays, by far, are my absolute favorite day of the week. Probably for most, it's the first official do-whatever-you-want day of the week. Mine tend to vary from getting up early for 8:00am Spinning class to just allowing myself a slow morning and letting the day take me wherever it decides I should go.

Today was the slow morning. No alarm set. Woke up when the body was ready. Made a nice cup of hot water with lemon. Gave the condo some needed attention, and then sat and pondered what the day would bring. We've been so lucky (in my opinion) to have some gorgeous sunshine gleaming down on the Rose City for a few weeks now, which lead me to believe that my day would take me on some adventure outside. And it did.

I will admit that I don't always get to my local farmers' markets as often as I should, but I have made it to a few over the past couple of weeks. I'm just not sure that there is anything else that can inspire a food lover like a visit to an amazing farmers' market. The sights of ultra-fresh, local produce and incredible eats never fail to leave my jaw nearly hitting my chest, and my eyes dancing at all there is to look at. Below are some snapshots I've taken from some visits to the Beaverton and Portland Farmers Markets over the past couple of weeks. Take a peak, and make a visit soon...before the sun goes down.

Could these be any more gorgeous?
Italian artichokes, grown in Tillamook. Beaverton FM.

And the baby Italian arties

Beets. I've had many roasted beet salads lately.
I need to buy to make roasted beets at home.
Beaverton FM.

Fresh basil. Beaverton FM.

Wild and crazy fresh garlic. Beaverton FM.

I think these are Mitrula mushrooms.
I failed to jot down the name.
Portland FM.

The most gorgeous tomatoes.
Honestly, people were just gawking at them and asking if they were real.
Boy were they a pretty penny, though.
Beaveton FM.

Always elegant hydrangea.
Lots of lovely florals available too.
Portland FM.



Back to Basics

Often times it seems I find myself in a routine spending night after night enjoying happy hours and late-night dining out in restaurants. Though fun and an absolute must-do activity in the city I currently call home (Portland, OR), the non-stop ingesting of delectable cocktails and highly praised happy hour food around town can wreak havoc on the body.

I remember just a couple of weeks ago it seemed that my body literally said, "Stop! Fresh fruit? Fresh vegetables? Feed them to me." So I decided to listen, and for the past few weeks have been working my way back to basics; eating fresh fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. It's a nice change and one that always reminds me of how good just the basics can be. And (yes, I know this may sound a bit nerdy) it can actually be fun tasting, say, broccoli that's drowning in cheese sauce and an avocado without the salty, high-fat tortilla chips to dip with.

Tonight I was craving something light and simple for dinner. In my cupboard I remembered I had a stash of some dried white beans (Il Fagiolo di Controne) from the Controne region of Italy. They are produced by Michele Ferrante and imported into the U.S. via RITROVO SELECTIONS (full disclosure: RITROVO is a company that I've done public relations work for). These beans are unique in that they only require a 2-2.5 hour cooking time. Usually dried beans call for an hour of soaking prior to cooking. A friend of mine, Catie, who also works for the company, insisted I give them a try and promised, just as the packaging said, about 2.5 hours cooking time and I'd be good to go.

She was right, and they were great. I simply opened the air-tight package of beans, added them to a pot and covered them with cool water. I brought them to a boil and then turned the heat down to low and let them sit for 2.5 hours, without disturbing them even once.

Controne beans waiting to be cooked

Viola! Just 2.5 hours later

I decided to finish them off with a little extra virgin olive oil, a few slices of avocado, some Parmesan shavings and a sprinkle of sea salt. Delish. They were a perfect end to a Sunday evening.

Simple pleasures

How basic can you get?




If you've followed my blog for a while you know that I'm pretty honest when it comes to expressing my need to be re-inspired, reinvigorated, renewed. I tend to allow life to take me off track, and well, I've just learned it's the way I am. It happens, and more often than I'd like to admit, I need to come back to refocus on what's important.

But I'm always looking to get back, and truly stay on a road that delivers passion and joy to my life each and every day.

I've been reaching back out to the foodie world after a stint back in the real world at a PR firm. Though my recent employer was a great place to work, I feel that I can be honest and just say that the work I was doing just wasn't fulfilling. I'm now back freelancing in PR and looking to do more writing as well as exploring the other pathways in the food world.

In an effort to keep my mind learning I decided to contact my former culinary school, Western Culinary Institute, to inquire on auditing some classes. As I was chatting with the gentleman on the other end of the phone he had mentioned that my name sounded familiar. And then he figured it out. I did an interview for a Success Story about why I had come to WCI, and they use it now in new-student packets that they send out to let prospective students see that there are many reasons why people choose to attend culinary school. I had heard of this, and, of course, remember doing the interview, but didn't recall ever seeing the published version. He sent it to me; there is a link to it below.

It was so refreshing to read and caused that light bulb that's been so dim for so long to go off in my head. It was definitely what I needed to read.

Learning, exploring, and sharing my experiences in the culinary world is just simply where I'm suppose to be. I'm very happy to be finding my way back.


Le Cordon Bleu Schools Success Stories – Jennifer Fields

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