M, B and I met at Grace around 8pm on Tuesday. There was plenty of bar space (who goes out drinking on a Tuesday...?) I had been raving about their cocktails and they never let me down. I got my usual Heated Affair (ironic, I know) which is a house infused strawberry-jalapeno-pineapple tequilla margarita. It is sensational. Spicy in the back of your throat but, only for a second, as it goes down. I had two. M had two. B had a Holier Than Thou, which is St. Germaine, grapefruit juice and sparkling wine. I prefer the Affair...it's more exciting, whereas the Holier is a lighter and peppier drink.
I had gone swimming previous to our lady date and hadn't budgeted time for dinner. Luckily, Grace has some dang tasty cheeses and charcuterie to help balance out the booze. We settled on iberico serrano (an incredible, thinly sliced Spanish ham), and three cheeses: City of Ships (semi-hard, aged, cow's milk, Maine origin), Truffle Tremor (aged goat cheese with truffles, California origin) and Chevre Noir (cheddar-style goat's milk cheese, hard and crumbly, Quebec origin). Not too shabby a spread! We ate everything, even the tiny pickles, to the last crumb. I also couldn't help ordering a mini BBQ pork sandwich, because what is dinner without BBQ pork? This little piece of heaven (we were in a converted church after all) was served on a toasted bun with confit pork belly, house made (I'm guessing) BBQ sauce, slaw and pickled ramps. It was an incredible combination!
Grace itself, like I said, is in a converted church which was built in 1856-ish. It is stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture and is even more interesting because it survived the infamous Portland fire of 1866. It was restored in 2009 and now serves top notch margaritas, dairy and pig goodness.
Now, jump to Wednesday. I was lucky enough to eat and drink a couple of my favorite things at a nearby local food place: Local Sprouts. Their chai is made from Chai Wallah's tea, almond milk and maple syrup to sweeten it. Just like the Grace margaritas, this chai has some kick to it in the back of your throat. But only for a glorious moment. I also got the amazing Bones salad. I have no idea why it's named Bones, but this filling and freaking delicious salad consists of locally grown greens, goat cheese, roasted root vegetables, the best balsamic vinaigrette and sesame seeds to top it off. Hot damn, if you don't love it, I'll eat it!!! I also couldn't resist the mac and cheese. I'm a mac and cheese hound, not going to lie. I love to make it myself too (see recipe below) but end up eating essentally a whole box of pasta, plus lots of cheese and a roux sauce over the course of a few days all by my lonesome so I don't make it too often...
Bottom line: Go. Eat. Drink. Invite me along ; )
My mac and cheese:
1 box pasta (bow tie, elbows, spiral dudes, whatever you fancy)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1+ cups milk
6 to 8 slices American cheese
1 to 2 cups grated Munster and cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
Boil large pot of water and cook box of pasta
In a small sauce pan, melt butter and stir in flour. Add milk slowly to form a roux sauce. Once you have a good base, add cheese to melt. Add more milk if need be. Season with salt and pepper and add more cheese (!!!) if you want. Once you have about two cups total of sauce (no, don't measure) and the noodles are finished cooking, drain and combine the two in the large pot.
Grease a large casserole dish of your choice with butter and pour in the noodles and cheese mixture. Pop it in the oven and cook until the top is as golden brown as you prefer (30 mins perhaps). If you are starving, put the oven on broil and keep an eye on it!
Garnish with salt and pepper and serve with salad, sauteed asparagus, chocolate cake or whatever you want to stuff your face with. Ta da!