“I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.” ~ Pointer Sisters
Since we’re talking about the Illusion of Control this month, it seemed only fitting to craft a covet list of culinary summer delights I lose control over. After all, isn’t that the gift of summer? Summer’s about freedom, about shoving your to-do list and smart phone in the top drawer of your desk and escaping to the hammock for an afternoon of reading in the sun. Summer’s about sleeping in and spontaneous road trips. Summer’s never about schedules or sticking in the box. So, take note from the Pointer Sisters and get ready to let loose.
I dare you to maintain control while noshing on these tempting treats.
Pesto—Step aside salsa. There’s a new snack in town—pesto. That’s right pesto. It’s not just for pasta anymore, especially the way the folks at Pesto Outside the Box are making it. Their savory pestos, like Pistachio Cilantro, Thai, Roasted Asparagus & Hazelnut and Garlic and Chive need nothing more than a cracker for accompaniment. Happy hour’s made easy with their Sundried Tomato and Fennel pesto and a chilled glass of white wine. A word of caution, your neighbors will be at your front door at 4:00pm sharp when they hear you’re serving up pesto. I’d recommend buying extra. Find them at the Portland Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market on Sundays or online here. Delish.
Cold Brew Coffee—Lattes and cappuccinos are so 2008. This summer my coffee drink of choice is cold brew. Haven’t caught the cold brew craze yet? Trust me; one sip of this super-smooth java will have you begging for more. The best part of cold brew is the finish. Unlike other coffee drinks, the cold-brewing process reduces acid by 67%. That translates into a rich drink that slides down your palate without a hint of bitter aftertaste. If you’re a brew it yourself kind of person, check out the Toddy system. It retails for just under $40 and comes complete with everything (minus the beans) you need to get brewing. If you prefer to have your brew bottled, my local favorite this summer is Torque Coffee Roasters in downtown Vancouver, Washington. This small roaster and coffeehouse sells ready to drink bottles for $3 and 16oz of concentrate for $7. Tip—snag a bottle of their chocolate sauce while you’re there. You won’t regret it.
Lime in the Coconut—Cocktails typically don’t do it for me, but nothing screams summer more than Provecho’s mixed drinks. This hidden Vancouver gem is tucked away in Uptown Village.After years of running a successful famers’ market stand, the owners opened a Mexican restaurant and bar, where the food is always fresh and infused with flavor, as are the drinks. The Lime in the Coconut is a standout with hand-squeezed lime, coconut and just the right touch of rum. No one around makes a better Cadillac Margarita than Provecho. Plus, nowhere else can you munch on a better guacamole while savoring your drink. Totally worth a trek to Vancouver or a stop by when you’re in town.
Frozen Yogurt—self-serve frozen yogurt bars are popping up all around town and it’s a craze I can get behind. I mean come on soft-serve yogurt paired with a bar of toppings—uh, yeah I’m in. Of course the low-fat option of fro-yo is canceled out by accoutrements offered like bacon, Captain Crunch cereal and M & M’s, but who cares its summer right? I’m within walking distance to Yogurt Time (conveniently located right next to Provecho for a post-cocktail dessert) which is quite dangerous on hot August nights. Their yogurt stands alone with flavors like Greek Honey, Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet, Maple Bacon Donut and Pink Grapefruit Eurotart. If you can’t find a self-serve yogurt shop in your corner of the world, honorable mentions go to Ben and Jerry’s newest release: Greek Frozen Yogurt. Try the Blueberry and Vanilla Greek Frozen Yogurt swirled with graham crackers. It’s summer in a pint.
Burgerville USA—I forget that we’re spoiled living in the Northwest. We’re spoiled we’re our fresh air, wild spaces, moderate weather and fast food. I’ve been reminded of just how lucky we are by a slew of out of town visitors this summer. They comment on our weather, green lands and beg me to take them to Burgerville. I can’t blame them and I’ve yet to turn a guest down on such a request. Burgerville sources all of its food from local ranchers and farms and this commitment to sustainable, regional fare translates into knockout food at incredible prices. Seriously, dining at Burgerville is on par with dining at any high-end brew pub in town, and yep they’ve got microbrews on tap at select locations too. August’s special? Walla Walla Sweet Onion Rings and Oregon Blackberry Milkshakes. Damn, no one’s visiting us this month. Must craft excuse to go anyway. Wait, I don’t need one.