Monday, May 21, 2018

Quick trip to Portland

As my work travel adventures continued I was looking forward to working at Reagan National (DCA) and have a break from the crowded planes, but at the last minute DCA cancelled and we were told to go to Portland, Oregon.  As I planned my travels I knew that there were several Triple D places in the Portland area that I had yet to try so I would be able to try some new places!

The flight out was pretty much a nightmare, with only a late afternoon nonstop from Dulles to Portland I decided to go through Chicago on a very early morning flight.  I would arrive about 10a and start a new adventure in Oregon, but Mother Nature had other ideas!  As my flight approached Chicago a thunderstorm parked over the airport and we diverted into Indy and with that delay I missed my connection and ended up flying from Chicago to Denver and then onto Portland arriving around 5p, yes about 15 hours from Dulles to Portland!

After getting a car and checking into the hotel I decided to try and rescue the day by heading to a Triple D place.  I drove east along the Columbia River, which divides Oregon and Washington, to the town of Troutdale, about 15 miles west of Portland. Troutdale is beautiful on the Historic Oregon Highway towards Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge.  I arrived at a place that looks like a wilderness lodge and has a very fun name, "Shirley's Tippy Canoe Restaurant".  Shirley's is a very homey place featuring  dining room and patio seating along with a large bar area.  As you enter you feel like you're entering a cozy living room of a private home.  I took a seat at the bar and met the bar tender and one of the restaurant regulars.  They told me all about the area and different mountain peaks and trails.  We chatted about Mount St. Helen's the famous Washington state volcano that erupted in 1980.  As I looked over the menu I noticed two things, everything looked delicious and that it was bit pricy in my opinion.  Seafood and beef are the main dishes that are featured at Shirley's and I decided on the Crab Linguine.

Shirley's Tippy Canoe Restaurant in Troutdale, Oregon

A cozy living room area greets you as you enter Shirley's

Shirley's bar area

The linguine was delicious had a nice white sauce and was loaded with vegetables and topped with a mound of crab meat.  I asked what type of crab and they told me that it was Red Crab, which is found in the Pacific Northwest.  It was a very filling meal and the plate was much larger than my appetite so I made sure to eat all the crab.  

Crab Linguine at Shirley's Tippy Canoe
I headed back to the hotel after a very long day of travel, but at least I was able to have a great meal to finish it off!  

After work the next day I wanted to go out and try some places.  One of my co-workers, Eva, loves to shop at Costco, so I told her I'd take her to the nearest store if she would come with me to a couple of Triple D places.  We headed out and after a quick visit to the local Costco we took a short scenic drive to Corbett, on the edge of the Columbia River Gorge and back into Portland via Troutdale.  The scenery is spectacular.  We drove back into Portland to our first stop.  P's and Q's Market" is a small neighborhood market with a small kitchen and seating area for small meals, the market features Organic and locally produced products.  As we walked in we passed a large chalk board at the front door that invited any and all to write a greeting.  Inside the store they had a vending machine that sold local seeds.  Both Eva and I saw items that we were interested in but would be difficult to transport home.  Eva decided to try a Cacao based candy bar and I chose to try a couple of the fresh baked cookies they make on site, they were delicious!.  I was able to meet the owner and have her sign my book.

P's and Q's Market in Portland featuring Organic food and groeries

P's and Q's chalk board by the store entrance

The organic market features locally produced foods, beer and wines

The seed vending machine

Eva and I headed out to our next stop just a few miles away.  "Swiss Hibiscus" is a small restaurant on a neighborhood side street which true to it's name features the cuisine of Switzerland.  I believe this is the first Swiss restaurant I have ever been to.  We were seated at a small table near the "Guy" poster.  Both of us weren't sure what Swiss cuisine was but as we looked over the menu Eva, who is of Hungarian descent said that much of the menu is very reminiscent of foods she grew up with.  The co-owner met us and was excited to hear about my DDD travels and told me that she would send the chef who had cooked with Guy on their episode out to sign my book before we left.

Swiss Hibiscus, a Portland restaurant featuring the cuisine of Switzerland

Inside Swiss Hibiscus

I decided to try one of the dishes that Guy had on his visit, Paprika Schnitzel and Eva chose the Roast Chicken breast sandwich.  As we waited they brought us a basket of bread with two thick spreads, one was mild the other spicy.  Before the meal arrived we were served Swiss Cole slaw topped with a very tasty Swiss inspired dressing, we tried to figure out the flavor but were unable and the recipe was a restaurant secret.  Soon our meals arrived, Eva's was chicken breast seasoned with rosemary, thyme and paprika and mayo on the side.  She said it was very good and filled her up.  Mine was locally farm raised pork medallions topped with a paprika mushroom cream sauce and it was delicious.  Chef Jenny came out as we were finishing up to sign my book and chatted for a few minutes about how grateful they are that Guy visited, it has really been a great thing for their business.  We headed back to the hotel, satisfied having had a great meal.

The bread service with Swiss Hibiscus name on the cloth cover

The other side of the coly cover saying "Hello Everyone"

Swiss Cole slaw

My Paprika Schnitzel dinner

The next night I headed out after a tiring day and decided that I would try a couple more places but would do carry out since the rest of my co-workers were staying at the hotel for the nightly reception and I was hoping to join them there.  My first stop was only a few miles from my hotel but took a good forty minutes to get here due to traffic, but not as bad as the DC area!  "Tails and Trotters" is a butcher shop that sells to go sandwiches, butchered meats and some frozen and local groceries.  I perused the shop and decided to get one of their signature sandwiches.  The Porkstrami sandwich is a mix of pork and pastrami on thick cut marble rye bread with Swiss cheese, mayo and spicy brown mustard.

Tails and Trotters - A Portland Butcher and Sandwich shop

Pork is their specialty

Inside Tails and Trotters

My Tails and Trotters Porkstrami sandwich

From Tails and Trotters I drove over to a very popular Triple D place.  "Frank's Noodle House" features the cuisine of Northwest China.  As I drove up I noticed that the name is spot on, it is really in a house!  I walked in and looked at the menu and decided to try the Dumpling appetizer.  As I waited I was able to meet the owner and namesake of the restaurant, Frank.  He thanked me for coming in and signed my book and we even got a picture together.  The 10 dumplings were presented  in a traditional Chinese carryout box along with a soy based sweet sauce for dipping, they were some of the best dumplings I have ever had.  Frank's is a must when visiting Portland, aka The Rose City.

Frank's Noodle House - A Triple D Portland landmark actually in a house!

Love the "Guy Ate Here" sign in Chinese!

Frank and me

Frank's delicious dumplings

I had hope to get to a third place to finish my day but as I arrived at "Matt's BBQ", a food trailer in a small lot with 5 or 6 other food trailers.  I walked up and was greeted with a sign on the closed window stating "SOLD OUT".  That says to me two things, I need to go back sometime earlier on the day (not possible on this trip) and I need to get there when it opens!

My last night in Portland I planned to meet a friend I've known since both of s were in high school and we were "brothers" in out DeMolay Chapter.  Steve met me in a popular restaurant area of East Portland.  There were several great looking places in the area and I think we met at the best, "The Country Cat Dinner House" is a large place that feature good old fashion country cooking.  The restaurant has an open kitchen and bar and has a lot of very cool decorations.  We wee seated in a booth and it took some time to decide on meals.

The Country Cat Dinner House in East Portland

I chose the Fried Chicken Dinner and also ordered the biscuit appetizer plate.  After a short time the biscuits came with whipped butter and local organic honey.  The biscuits were huge!  One could fill you up!  They were flaky and tasty.

The Country Cat's biscuit appetizer plate

The meal came, 4 large pieces of chicken with mashed potatoes topped with gravy and greens.  The chick was delicious with a crispy barter crust.  The potatoes were really good and the gravy was very tasty.  I also enjoyed the greens, but I found them to be a bit on the vinegary side, very strong flavors.  I would definitely get this meal again, but might bypass the biscuits, not because they weren't fantastic, they were, but I was so full that it was almost impossible to finish it all.

My Country Cat Fried Chicken Dinner

Steve and I said our goodbyes, he headed home and I headed back to the hotel, my week in Portland was over and I flew back hoe the next morning with a lot of good memories and  great food!  My Triple D count at 647!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Doing the Triple D Texas Two Step

As my work assignment continued I was scheduled to work at week at Houston Intercontinental Airport followed by a week at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport.   My plan was to fly hone from Houston and then fly back down to Dallas but after talking to a friend I decided to call my good friend Steve, who lives near the DFW airport and spend the weekend between to two jobs in Dallas and try a few Triple places I had yet to try.

I flew out of Dulles on a Sunday morning to Houston to start the 12 day trip.  After arriving I got a car rental and after headed into Houston to try two new places.  I headed into the Galleria area of the city, about a 40 minute drive from the airport.  "Lili's Lebanese Grill" is located in a small strip mall.  I entered a small restaurant which has an open kitchen and a take-out counter.  Lili's has an extensive menu of Middle Eastern fare with a number of different styles of hummus, grilled dishes and pita sandwiches.

Lili's Lebanese Grill on Westheimer in the Galleria area of Houston

I decided to try the Beef Swarma sandwich and the Spinach Pie.  While waiting for my meal the waiter brought a basket of pita bread along with a bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) as an appetizer.  The appetizer was delicious and the EVOO mixed with crushed sea salt and pepper made the appetizer wonderful.  My meal came in short order, the pita sandwich was served with a huge mound of thick cut fries.  The Spinach Pie was a small  baked triangle shaped pastry.  I really enjoyed the sandwich, the mix of beef and lamb was very tasty with a nice sloppy sauce that dripped with each bit.  The pie had a deep green spinach filling with crushed pine nuts.  It was tasty plain but adding some EVOO just made it one step better.  The crust was buttery and delicious.

Swarma Sandwich with fries

Inside the Swarma

Cafe Lili's Spinach Pie

Delicious Spinach Pie filling

After finishing my meal I was able to meet the restaurant's namesake Lili and we chatted a few minutes about their episode of Triple D and Guy's visit, Lili had only great things to say about Guy., after that she capped my visit by signing my Triple D book.  From Lili's I headed to my next place which was only a few miles away.  "Cuchara" describes itself as being Mexico City cuisine and is located in a local neighborhood. I entered a very busy place. They were doing a very brisk Sunday Brunch business with a Mariachi band entertaining the diners seated in the dining room and bar area.  They also offered a nice patio area.  I was seated at a high top table in the bar area.

Cuchara, a Mexico City style diner in Houston

Cuchara's lively bar area

Piñata decorations in the bar area

Mariachi band entertaining the Cuchara diners
They were offering a limited brunch menu and I decided to try a couple of their street tacos, a "sweet" one with pork chicarones and one with chorizo sausage and potatoes. I also ordered a non-alcoholic Hibiscus drink.  The place was busy so I had to wait a few minutes for my food.  The drink was slightly carbonated with a tart but very refreshing taste.  The tacos then came with in a decorative basket.  The "sweet" taco was very tasty but the green chili sauce made it very spicy, I guess sweet to Mexican is spicy!  The chorizo taco was also very tasty.

Cuchara's water service

Refreshing Hibiscus drink

Tacos delivered in a decorative basket

Sweet taco on the left nd Chorizo taco on the right

As I walked back to my car I noticed a fun sculpture on top of a nearby building, I'm not sure what the building housed but found it very whimsical.

Whimsical sculpture on a building near Cuchara

On my last visit to Houston I went to a place called "The Original Marini's Empanada House" and really enjoyed it so I decided I wanted to go back and hoped to take the entire team along but for some reason that night only my co-worked Melanie wanted to join in so the two of us made the 40 minute ride through the Houston afternoon traffic.  Marini's specializes in the Argentinian pastry pockets known as empanada's.  They feature over 50 types both savory and sweet.  You're choices are not limited to the menu, basically at Marini's if you can think of a type you want then they will make it!

I can't argue with this!

I decided to try 3 savory empanada's: the Texan Barbeque with a filling of chopped brisket and Marini's own sauce; the English filled with ground beef, peas, carrots, and a Worcestershire sauce; and the Italian "Marcello" filled with Italian sausage, pizza sauce and a mix of mozzarella and provolone cheese.  The meal arrived and it was great!  The 3 baked pillows were baked perfectly and all three were delicious, I think if I had to choose one I liked the English best.

My meal, three delicious empanada's!

On my last visit Mr. Marini visited with Melanie and I and gave us some fresh baked cookies for dessert so I didn't try any of the sweet empanada's.  This time I wanted to try a few of the dessert empanadas.  I chose the Elvis Melbis which is an empanada filled with Peanut Butter, diced banana and Dulce de leche and Marini's daily special filled with cream cheese and a sweet mango jelly.   They came out covered in powdered sugar.  Both were delicious I especially enjoyed the Elvis Melbis, the peanut butter really added to the great flavor.

My dessert empanadas

The Elvis Melbis

Marini's Special empanada with cream cheese and sweet mango jelly

Marini's would be last Triple D visit in Houston on this trip but after finishing up my work I would be heading to Dallas for more work and more Tripe D places.

After a quick flight from Houston to Dallas I met up with my fiend Steve to hang out during the weekend before starting work.  I was hoping to get to least 4 new Triple D places during the weekend.  After settling in to Steve's in the town of Lewisville we headed out for dinner at a place in the north part of Dallas.  "Whistle Britches" specializes in old time Southern cuisine with Fried Chicken as their go to meal.  It's decorated in southern décor and is sort of an inside-outside dining area with huge garage doors separating the dining areas, which were open.

Whistle Britches in the north area of Dallas

Indoor dining

The outdoor section with the doors open

I decided to try their Fried Chicken dinner, which featured three dark meat pieces along with a huge biscuit and upon the recommendation of my server decided on the potato salad.  Before the meal came our server brought over a basket with house made sauces, one was a habanero based sauce, the another other was a chili based sauce, the third was a house made ketchup along with natural honey.  The meal came and it was really good.  The chicken was juicy and had a crispy and tasty crust.  I must admit I was a bit disappointed with the potato salad, it was good, but not as good as I had hoped.  The huge biscuit was the real highlight of the meal.  It was flaky, moist and delicious.  The honey just added to it.

The sauce selection at Whistle Britches

My Whistle Britches Chicken dinner

On Saturday Steve and I headed out and after seeing the movie "Chappaquiddick" we headed into Dallas to try a couple of more places.  Our first stop was in the popular West End of Dallas, not too far from the infamous Texas School Book Depository the place where John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.  Tutta's Pizzeria is n an old warehouse building and specializes in pizzas and sandwiches with an emphasis on smoked meats.

Tutta's Pizza in Dallas' West End

Tutta's dining area

Tutta's open kitchen

Steve and I decided to share the Smoky Pizza which has smoked beef and bacon with a very spicy BBQ sauce on a tasty crust.  As we waited it was neat to be able to see the cooks at work in the open kitchen.  I could tell that his place really is popular on weekend nights, they even have a stage.

The pizza was very tasty, the meats were delicious and the sauce very spicy.  Before leaving I was able to meet the manager who signed my book.

Tutta's Smoky Pizza

Tutta's "Guy Ate Here" pan

From Tutta's we headed south out of the city to a place in an older building.  "Tacos Mariachi" is in a older white building with a lot of colorful artwork painted on the walls.  They are known for a huge variety of street tacos.  We entered the rustic restaurant and looked over the large menu.

"Guy Ate Here" painted on the side walls of Tacos Mariachi

Can't beat this!

Inside Tacos Mariachi

Steve chose a chicken taco and I chose a corn tortilla taco filled with octopus.  I also tried their version of a Hibiscus drink.  The drink was refreshing ad the taco was really good, the octopus was grilled and topped with a green chili sauce that was very spicy.  In my opinion grilled octopus has the consistency of lobster, but some people don't like it, I do, so I guess it's an acquired taste.  They brought our food with three bottle of house made hot sauces, on the wall was a guide to the different sauces and their degrees of heat. The jovial owner was really working the room, talking to all of the diners.  He chatted with us for a few minutes about Guy's visit and then took a few pictures with me after signing my book.

Steve's Chicken Taco on a flour tortilla

My Octopus Taco with a green chili sauce

Hot Sauce Tutorial painted on the wall

Meeting Tacos Mariachi owner

Good Food and wonderful people!

Steve and headed back to his place for a break.  We had been planning to stay around his place but decided to go to dinner at another Tripe D place.  "One90 Smoked Meats" is in a small strip mall and is really just a carry out with a few small tables outside their front door.

One90 Smoked Meats in North Dallas

Inside One90 Smoked Meats

I had just seen their episode so I remembered that Guy had tried the DLT.  One90's version of the BLT with sliced Duck in place of Bacon.  Steve got the Chicken Poblano sandwich.  My sandwich came, big tomatoes on top of lettuce and a large portion of sliced duck on thick cut toasted rye and served with Potato salad on the side.  It was delicious, the duck was tasty and not greasy at all, in fact I would have thought it to be beef if I didn't know.  Steve said his sandwich was really good and a bit spicy.  I got to talk wit the staff and had the assistant manager to sign my book, he told me that the owner would be back the next day so we went back to get him to sign it, too.

My One90 DLT

My last Triple D place in the Dallas Metroplex was a place that I had been to several years ago and was just down the street from AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys and Globe Life Ballpark, home of the Texas Rangers.  "Prince's Lebanese Grill" is in an old drive-in restaurant and features a huge menu of Middle Eastern food.

Steve and I decided to share the Thyme Pie appetizer, a flatbread topped with herbs ad olive oil and Princes Lebanese Special, Lamb, Beef, and Chicken with vegetables, rice, pita bread and hummus.  Both were fantastic!  The pie was tasty with excellent spice flavor (not hot) and all of the meats were perfectly seared and the hummus with the oil mixed in was perfection.  I got to meet the owner, again and he was the perfect host. 

Prince's Thyme Pie

Prince's Lebanese Special (taken after we had already attacked it!) 

After leaving Prince's we went to the two nearby stadiums just to walk around.  AT&T is an awesome place, too bad it's the home of the Cowboys!

It was the end of a great weekend and Triple D trip and as I flew home my Triple D count was at 640!

Great stadium, I hate the occupants!

Globe Life Ballpark - Home of the Texas Rangers

You can't visit Texas without seeing the state flag!

Looking into the ballpark

Some goofy pictures, I'm the X in Texas