Strawberry Fields and New York Pizza Forever

Ellie and I have been reading the books for her American Girl doll Kit who grew up during the Depression. In the books, Kit talks about eating things like oatmeal with a peach slice on top, so now Ellie thinks that is very romantic and her new favorite food is oatmeal with a little frozen fruit mixed in. And you really can’t go wrong when your kids love cheap Depression food. But it has been seriously depleting our frozen berry supply, so it’s a good thing that it’s berry picking season again!

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Sometimes I can’t remember back to a time we didn’t spend our spring and summer picking berries on Sauvie Island. This is one of our favorite things to do as a family – it keeps the kids very entertained and is so productive! I love filling our freezer with jams and berries for making breakfast, syrups, pastries, pies and tasty snacks all year long.

Friday was the first day for strawberries at our favorite farm, Columbia Farms. The Hood strawberries, the sweetest and most delicious of any strawberry variety I’ve ever tasted, were in bountiful supply. Our friend Cara came to visit from San Francisco that day and almost as soon as she arrived (and after a breakfast of oatmeal) we set off to the berry fields. We like to put our guests to hard work, lugging our kids around and harvesting our food, so they can earn their keep.

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We have a pattern we do when we’re picking berries to help the kids be productive: one in your mouth, one in the bucket. It’s a pretty good pattern. Although I always tell the checkout assistants that they should probably weigh my children before and after so they can charge me for strawberries consumed. Henry’s rule is that he can’t eat berries out of the buckets, he has to pick his own. He’s getting pretty good at that.

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Hunting for berries is like hunting for treasures, and apparently requires a covert outfit.

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After our harvesting (and a nap), we went to have some New York pizza right here in Portland! A NYC pizza chef from Marta came to Roman Candle for a few hours Friday evening to make his delicious pizza for us. It was yummy. I always think I’m such a crust person that I was curious how I’d feel about Marta’s cracker-thin crust. The sauces and toppings are so, so good that they take the cake on this one. The Margherita pizza was spot on. It tasted like Italian summer… or at least how I imagine summer in Italy tastes.  (How cool of a world do we live in? New York Pizza chef making Italian-inspired pizza and coming to Portland for an evening!)

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Olivia looks so hilarious all wrapped up in a scarf to avoid the light drizzle that made its appearance while we were waiting for our pizza.
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How to keep children entertained while waiting in line for a popular dinner option: play with see-through doors! Magical!
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A cell phone timer also makes fascinating entertainment. Watch it count down from 5 minutes! Then 5 more minutes!

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Henry likes to see how much pizza he can stuff in his mouth at one time. He’s very well-mannered that way.

Oh strawberries, I love you so. We’ll be back to get lots more of you over the next two weeks. And pizza, you know you always have my heart.

P.S. Some of my favorite strawberry recipes, in case you need some inspiration: Strawberry Shortcake with Chocolate Bourbon Sauce // Strawberry Scones // Strawberry Pretzel Salad // Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Triple Berry Syrup // Granola with Vanilla Yogurt and Strawberries

 

 

FNE: Atlas Pizza

We’re embarking on a new tradition around here: Fright Night Eats.

We’ve been trying to keep Friday nights as “family nights” for a while now. Steve works two jobs and is taking classes for his MBA and then there’s ballet class for the girls and family and church and social engagements and this and that and before you know it, our life is pretty booked up. But we try to keep Friday nights to ourselves. We’ve been having pizza and movie nights for a while now. But the kids are getting a little older and we’d like to venture out more and try new places.

As part of Project Renew, we are being very conscientious about our purchases in general and thinking about how we want to spend our time and money. We want to make adventuring around our city more of a priority with our kids. We may not have the funds to fly to Madrid for the week, but we can spend a little time each week trying new food and meeting new people. So we’re embarking on a series of adventures and we’re going to call it Friday Night Eats. Portland’s delicious food scene as perceived and reviewed by a family with little kids. Fun and useful. (I hope. At least if it’s not useful for anyone else it will be fun for us.)

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First up: Atlas Pizza. It’s actually a place we’ve been before, but haven’t been to often because it’s not in our neighborhood.

I think this is the closest Portland pizza gets to New York pizza. And believe me when I say we’ve tried almost every pizza there is in Portland. And a fair amount of the pizzas in New York (Ha! Just kidding. We’ve only visited for a week and there are a lot of pizza places there.) I would compare Atlas to one of my favorite pizzas in New York at Artichoke Basille’s.  (The other favorite was John’s of Bleeker Street‘s pizza which is baked in a brick oven. The only pizza comparable in Portland is Handsome Pizza, although they are currently without a location. Sad day.)

The crust and toppings are excellent. Service is great and the atmosphere is very relaxed and kid-friendly. They have arcade games, gluten free crust and beer on tap. Oh and the garlic knots. So amazing. If I had to choose one food to be the only food I ever ate again, it would probably be garlic knots from Atlas.

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It’s here we taught our children the life-enhancing skill of folding your pizza and eating it like a New Yorker.

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Of course, part of the appeal of Atlas is that is in a great neighborhood. Plenty of wonderful little places to go for dessert after. We picked Salt and Straw per the kids’ request. It’s a tried and true Portland favorite that is almost always busy. We snuck in just before it got crazy and had some ice cream. They’re doing a collaboration with local schools right now and each locations has three flavors that the kids in their collaboration helped them come up with. The girls chose Fantastic Fruity Fun Sorbet and I chose Chocolate Overload for Henry. It had cinnamon in it! So if you love Mexican chocolate, head over to the Salt and Straw on Division as soon as possible.

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We adults chose Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache and Chocolate Gooey Brownie from their traditional flavors. These are my favorites that they offer. We went home happy and full of deliciousness.

P.S. If you’re new to the Portland food scene, remember that Portland composts. Usually all paper disposable products like plates and napkins are compostable along with any uneaten food. Look for composting bins before trashing your disposables!