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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 545
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A Shakshuka, German Burrito, Rye Beer Day
Tuesday 26 April 2016   —   Category: Dining Out
Last Saturday I went to Portland for yet another vol­un­teer session at Free Geek. It seems like this is starting to turn into some sort of recurring pilgrimage — not only to the center of volunteer geekdom in Portland, but just as importantly, a pilgrimage to those shrines of gas­tro­nom­ic delight commonly called restaurants, of which Oregon’s top city has more than 6,200.

In the article about my last Free Geek outing, I re­count­ed the details of my first visit to Otto’s Sausage Kitchen. They didn’t have any pizza pepperoni available at that time, so my first stop on this trip was at Otto’s.

After sticking the newly-acquired one-third of a pound of pepperoni in my ice chest, I headed to North Portland for brunch. I’m not often in the Big City on the weekends, when a good number of restaurants have a special brunch menu. I was eager to try something new and unusual, but not too far out there.
 
Tasty n Sons, at 3808 North Williams, was recently ranked number three in a list of Portland’s 10 best brunches on OregonLive.com.

When I arrived at 10:30 it was packed, with quite a number of people sitting on the wide stairs just inside the main door, wait­ing for a table. It was hard to identify the receptionist, because she blended in quite well with the crowd.

Once I got that figured out, I was told that it would be a half-​hour wait, even though I was just a party of one. Fortunately, because of a no-show, I was able to be seated in less than five minutes.
 
The dish that OregonLive recommended was the very one which had caught my eye when I had browsed their menu. I ordered their signature shakshuka, which consists of large chunks of: stewed tomatoes, red and green chili peppers (fairly mild), onion, garlic, merguez sausage (optional), and probably some olive oil.

During baking, two raw eggs were cracked over the top — one was cooked to the consistency of over-medium and the other over-easy. Two large slices of grilled (not toasted) wheat bread were stuck vertically into the dish.

I think this Northwest African Jewish dish was inspired by a couple of the owner’s other restaurants: Mediterranean Ex­plo­ra­tion Company and Shalom Y’all.
 
Even though I didn’t have to wait half an hour for a seat, I did have to wait that long for my food to arrive from the time I had ordered. Well, they were busy, I wasn’t in a hurry, and culinary perfection can’t be rushed!

While I was passing the time, I slowly sipped a brunch cocktail called The Continental. According to the menu, it contains aquavit, pear brandy, lemon (juice), orange flower water, and Peychaud’s Bitters.

It had a slight licorice (anise) taste, which I don’t particularly care for, that was from either the aquavit, the bitters, or both. Otherwise it was pretty good, but at $9 I think it was overpriced by at least 50%. That’s life in the Big City! Next time I’ll skip the spendy drink.
 
Here’s a picture after I broke the egg yolks. The entire dish was fairly juicy, so the grilled bread (it had a wonderful bar­be­cued taste — definitely not out of a toaster!) was very handy for sopping it all up. They even supplied two extra slic­es of non-toasted wheat bread to make sure I didn’t miss a drop.

This shakshuka was spiced to perfection, and tasted out of this world! It was def­i­nite­ly worth the half-hour preparation time and its $14 price ($12 + $2 for the merguez).
 
 
After a three-hour session at Free Geek, I headed over to the Stein Haus — on eastern Portland’s 82nd Avenue just north of SE Division Street — to enjoy a German beer on the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot, known in English as the German Beer Purity Law.
 
I chose a stein of Hofbräu Original brewed by Hofbräu München in Munich, Germany. According to the Stein Haus menu, it is a “pale, straw-colored, medium-bodied lager. Light on malt, with a biscuit-like aftertaste. Well-​balanced, crisp and clean.” According to the brewer:

“More than any other beer, Hofbräu Original embodies Munich’s character as a city of beer, spreading its fame throughout the world. Full-bodied with an ABV of 5.1%, and offering a truly fine hops aroma, it is a superbly well-​balanced lager.”
 
While I was there I decided to indulge in their unusual German burrito. According to their menu:

“Our burritos are made with sautéed onions, garlic, spätzle (knöpfli), kraut, mustard aioli and Muenster cheese wrap­ped in a whole-wheat tortilla with your choice of meat — bratwurst, chicken schnitzel, tofurkey, smoked bacon sau­sage, sauerbraten.”

It is wrapped in one of those extra-​large tortillas, so it is pretty big and quite filling. I had mine with bratwurst. The kraut is not sauerkraut, but red cabbage that seemed to pickled but was still crunchy.

The burrito had a pretty dominant garlic taste from the aioli and additional garlic. I think the spätzle has a green tint from the aioli, or else it was cooked with herbs. I’m pretty sure the orange-colored substance on the very right is the rind of the cheese.

The strange combination of ingredients worked a scrumptious magic — I’m look­ing forward to tasting it again!
 

While sitting at this small black table enjoying my German burrito, the sky grew increasingly dark until there was a deluge of rain. The table is not under the patio roof, but merely covered by this large blue parasol. Soon there was a ring of rain falling around me from the edges of the parasol. Moments later the rain started leaking through the parasol onto the table.

Quickly I stuffed my camera and iPad into my photo backpack, threw on my rain jacket, slung the pack over my shoulders, grabbed my burrito and beer, and evacuate to a different, more protected table. Lovely Oregon weather!
 
This is the view I had from my new patio location. The white streaks on the fence and gutter are not paint nor bird droppings, but large raindrops racing towards earth. Even though rain was not dripping on me as before, I still felt a bit of misty moisture wafting in on the rainy breeze.

Despite the weather, my beer and burrito at the Stein Haus were a great way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of pure German beer.
 
 
Being a nonconformist at heart, I can sympathize with those brewers who, instead of celebrating ingredient conformity with Reinheitsgebot, would rather celebrate ingredient diversity with Reinheitsge-NOT.

When reading about Reinheitsgebot for my last article, I learned that rye was one of the forbidden beer in­gre­di­ents. That made me think about rye beer. Since I love the taste of rye bread and rye whiskey, and I’m always ready to taste a new beer, I decided to give rye beer a go. However, it is not a very common beer, so it can be somewhat difficult to find.

Motivated by that spirit of freedom and rebellion against con­form­i­ty, on the way from Tasty n Sons to Free Geek I made a little detour to Belmont Station, which stocks more than 1,200 different bottles of beer on the corner of SE 45th Avenue and Stark Street. After some discussion, the helpful staff rec­om­mend­ed Six Saison Style Beer by Upright Brewing right there in Portland. Ac­cord­ing to the brewer:

“Six is a dark rye saison with layered malts, pleasant stone and mineral notes, and a dry finish. Grist [malt]: pale, caramel, rye, and roasted barley. Hops: sterling.” Measurements: 6.7% ABV, 20 IBU.

I was kind of bugged that it is sold only in a huge 25.4 oz bottle, which is the same quantity as a normal 750 ml wine bottle. That is 3.4 oz more than the standard bomber size. But since that was my only option, what choice did I have?

Since I was eager to give it a try on Reinheitsgebot Day, I drove across the city to visit my 21-year-old son who lives in Metzger. I divided the beer with him and we enjoyed celebrating non­con­form­i­ty over a nice two-hour chat. This photo was taken in his room, with the glass and bottle sitting on top of one of his stereo speakers. Very photogenic!

I don’t know if I can connect very well with the brewer’s description of their beer, but after some sips, my taste buds told me that I really like this beer. Too bad they only sell it in such huge bottles that cost $10. But maybe once a year I can splurge ... or else stop by their tasting room and see how much the 5 and 12 ounce portions cost. In the end, the bottle may be cheaper.
 
All of the photos I took that day have made it into the Oregon Pub Crawl 2016 album, except for the picture of the rye beer, which appears in the Gourmet Chef Wannabe 2016 album. And that brings to a close the story of my celebration of the 500th anniversary of Reinheitsgebot, in Portland, on a Free Geek, shakshuka, German burrito, rye beer day.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 545
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Brian's Photo Blog — Article 545
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