Lux the Cat Deserves Rescue

By now, if you haven’t heard the story of Lux the Cat, you’ve been off the grid for over a week. Baby attacks cat, cat attacks baby, daddy kicks cat, cat goes postal and corners the whole family so they have to call 911 to be rescued. Cat goes to shelter and Cat Whisperer is coming to get everybody calmed down.

I was part of a similar but less-dramatic story. When my husband finally agreed that we could get a cat, within 8 hours I had a cat delivered to my house. Alia had been owned by a couple who had a baby. When Alia attacked the baby, she got sent to live with grandma. Poor Alia was used to being an indoors cat and now her life was moping around the windows hoping to be let in. She arrived at our house in a basket and as soon as the lid was opened, she calmly stepped out, found a cozy corner and fell asleep. She was a big cat, over 15 pounds. She was a long-haired half-Siamese. After adapting to us in about 30 seconds, she spend the next several years giving us love and attention. We named her Scooter because we had to scoot her out of whatever chair she was occupying if we wanted a seat. No problem, she was in our lap seconds later.

While Scooter was never aggressive with us, she did hide and quake in fear whenever a child visited our house. It was obvious she had been punished for being around children, and she never forgot.

Lux’s story could have a similar happy ending. I think the best thing would be for her to go to a calm household without children, where she was the only pet.

After Scooter, we had a cat-free period until my hairdresser insisted that Hershey go home with me. My hairdresser had five children, two dogs and other pets. The dogs had been harassing Hershey and even broken her tail. Luckily, her owner recognized that my home would be a nice, calm place where she would be happy and enrich our lives. Hershey was queen of our roost for the rest of her life.

I think our next cat will come into our lives the same way. I know there are thousands who would love to rescue Lux into a nice calm household.

While kittens are cute, I prefer to adopt an adult cat. They may have some violence in their past, but in a calm household they can flourish.

Portland Dining Month at Ruth's Chris Steak House

My husband is not a foodie. To make it worse, he has oddball food allergies to onions and black pepper that make dining out a minefield. In order to dine together, we have to choose wisely. Not for him is the wonderful, creative works of the star chefs of Portland. We had a gift certificate to dine at Ruth’s Chris Steak House for his birthday, so I went to enjoy the Portland Dining Month $29 deal.

We last ate at a Ruth’s Chris years ago in Las Vegas, so we knew the drill. The dining room was packed at 6 pm on Sunday night. They offer fine dining features such as a doormen to open the door and a coat check. The lighting is very dim and the wine menu requires weight lifting. I was pleased to see that the Portland Dining Month option was well-featured on the last page of the menu. Smartly, they showed suggested wine pairings and upgrades.

We got bread and butter and water as soon as we sat down. I mused that bread seems rare at the foodie restaurants I have been frequenting lately. A casualty of the gluten-free epidemic? I enjoyed having it. Our water server and waiter both introduced themselves and each other and knew our last name. My husband thought that was a nice touch. Throughout, the service was very good, although they seem to be guarding against lawsuits for the hot plates as we were reminded of this three times.

I chose the petite filet mignon (which would have been my choice without the dining month deal anyway) and I decided to add the bleu cheese crust. The standard salad was part of the deal, plus one side (I chose the creamed spinach) and bread pudding for dessert. My husband had the larger filet mignon and mashed potatoes.

We both had a glass of the local Hawk’s View Cellars pinot noir 2010, as I had just listened to the Right at the Fork podcast with the owner. The wine was deliciously full-bodied and fruit-forward. We look forward to visiting their new tasting room and trying more of their wine.

The salad featured arugula and was nice, but overdressed and/or sat for a little too long before serving as it was limp.

Our steaks were perfectly prepared and, as we like with a filet mignon, there was not even a touch of gristle.

The dessert – bread pudding with coconut and pineapple served with chocolate/macadamia nut brittle, was a nice ending.

The tab far exceeded our gift certificate, as the wine was $17 per generous pour and my husband didn’t take the Dining Month deal. If you are out for a real deal, don’t upgrade anything and only choose the set meal!

Best Foodie Spots in Portlandia?

Gabriel Rucker at Le PigeonUSA Today writer Julian Smith rates his favorite foodie spots in Portland, Oregon. As a homegrown Portland foodie, here’s my take on his list.

1. Ataula – you betcha, I love Jose Chesa and everything at Ataula, including the cocktails and wine.

2. Ava Genes – I haven’t had a regular dinner yet at Ava Genes, but the Chef’s Week dinner was super. It’s hard to get a reservation, but we’ll have to plan an outing there.

3. Castagna – One of the best meals ever in Portland, they do molecular gastronomy right, even through changes in chefs. I’d go back there any time. The wine pairing is great, too.

4. Expatriate – I haven’t been there yet, but I have a certificate from Portland Food Adventures so I plan to go soon, being there right when they open in order to get a seat.

5. Le Pigeon – I’ve had some of my best meals there, Gabriel Rucker (pictured) is a very creative French-inspired chef. The dining room is always crowded and the noise level is high, so not the best for a “romantic” dinner, but it works for a fun foodie outing.

6. Nong’s Khao Man Gai – I’ve had her signature chicken and rice at Feast Portland and at a food cart festival and I am one of the few people who think it’s just kinda boring. It’s not something I’d spend money on when there are other options. As everyone else seems to swoon over it, I guess it’s like me and pho — I don’t get that, either.

7. Tanuki – I haven’t been there yet.

8. Roe – We had a Portland Food Adventure in the Roe space back when WAFU debuted. It was uneven, some dishes were great, some were clunkers. The foie gras casserole was especially nasty. But then a return to WAFU before they closed to reopen as Block + Tackle was a fantastic meal. So I’m looking forward to a return someday to Roe.

9. Sweedeedee – I had a Portland Food Adventures certificate and went there for a late breakfast about two years ago. I was underwhelmed by the breakfast plate I got, which was eggs baked in toast with a little salad on top. Boring, and it took over 30 minutes to get it after ordering. They had a radio playing VERY LOUD, so loud I almost asked if they could turn it down, it was painful. The whole atmosphere was a little too close to rural squalor – the mason jar water glasses are funky and the seating is back-porch informal/uncomfortable. But they end up on lots of lists as a must-go place. The USA Today writer says the sandwiches are great, so I may return for a sandwich.

10. Urban Farmer – I enjoyed some of their work at the Chef’s Week dinner and I’d love to enjoy a dinner at Urban Farmer.

In The Kitchen with Kat LeSueur of Cocotte

Chef Kat LeSueur of Cocotte demonstrated how to make three of her signature dishes at the third In the Kitchen demo hosted by Portland Food Adventures in the Jenn-Air kitchen at Standard TV and Appliance on March 6, 2014.

In the Kitchen is an intimate gathering around the kitchen bar as Kat and her sous chef Morgan Bonazzola describe all of the steps for creating smokey carrot soup, poulet en cocotte, and Gran Marnier chocolate cake. Each course is served with a paired wine.

We started off with appetizers including pork rillettes, paired with a sparkling white wine. Each attendee received a recipe packet. Both chefs narrated the steps they were taking for each dish and were happy to answer questions from the audience.

It was a very educational demonstration. They make the chicken stock used in the carrot soup and poulet en cocotte from the leftover chicken carcasses. That’s just one of many tasks restaurants take in stride but a home cook may be tempted to skip. They used aleppo chili in the soup for its smokey flavor and often offered tips on where to find some of the less-common ingredients.

The carrot soup can be left to simmer for a long time as it will all be pureed and “there is no such thing as overcooking the carrots.” The soup was silky and was perfectly set off with a topping of pears dressed in vinegar. They added not only a bright acid note, but a little bit of crunch. We were all wishing for some bread to sweep the bowl with.

The poulet en cocotte is a celebration of the whole chicken. Kat and Morgan demonstrated how to perfectly cook the chicken breast to render the fat from the skin and give a crisp skin packed with flavor. They even showed the proper way to dust the chicken with salt.

The second element is confit chicken legs, which is a process that takes at least overnight and up to three days. The legs are cured in a mix of dry sugar, salt and spices, then baked and deboned for plating.

The rest of the carcass went into making the stock for the demi-glace.

Finally, a perfectly poached egg is added to the plate to represent the origin of the chicken. It is served on a bed of farro cooked like risotto, with seasonal greens and vegetables.

The room went silent as we savored the poulet en cocotte. The chicken breast was the epitome of what a chicken breast should be. The leg confit burst with the flavor of the spices, reminding some of five-spice chicken. The egg was a creamy addition to bites of the farro and that perfect bite that included a little of each element. It was literally plate-licking good. The only drawback about this plate is that it was so masterful that I wouldn’t attempt to do it myself. However, I will retain several of the cooking tips to inform my next attempts with chicken.

Kat and Morgan answered questions about culinary school as they created the Grand Marnier chocolate cake. They were very complimentary of OCI. It was interesting to watch Morgan hand whip the whipped cream topping. It is a delightful dessert that manages to be both light and very, very chocolatey. It was a recipe I could do at home.

We left the evening very satisfied. The next Portland Food Adventures In the Kitchen will feature Rick Gencarelli of Lardo and Grassa on May 29, 2014.


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Killer Burger Slays Me

I’ve been looking for a chance to try Killer Burger since I saw them ranked by Zagat as the best burger in Portlandia. The local chain began on three years ago with a Killer Burger on NE Sandy in Hollywood and have expanded to locations in the Moda Center, Sellwood, downtown Portland, Vancouver and Bingen.

They specialize in fresh-made 1/3 pound hamburger patties grilled to order, with bacon and endless fries for every burger. Besides the Classic and build-your-own versions, their peanut butter pickle bacon burger is very popular. On my first visit, I went for the Teemah with melted bleu cheese, grilled onion, bacon and smokey house sauce. They feature about a dozen microbrews on tap and are happy to fill your growler or sell you one. If you’re thirsty for soda, they are bottomless.

Killer Burger Vancouver
Killer Burger Vancouver


You order at the counter and they give you your beer (if ordered) there. Then they bring the burger to your table. At the Vancouver location, they have a couple large-screen LED TVs playing sports. But the chain is known for its rock music selections.

The burger was simply fantastic. The bun was perfect for the big burger, and the grilled onions were chopped so they mixed in with the cheese and sauce. Everything made for a very sensuous bout of gluttony. The fries were very hot from the fryer, so I ate a few and then grabbed one of the handy to-go containers or bags from the condiment counter. I intended to take them home to my husband but somehow they got eaten during the short drive.

I will definitely be back for the peanut butter pickle bacon burger. They offer a “girlie” size as well, and I may have to stick with that for diet purposes.