Portland Restaurant Review: The Magical, Whimsical MÅURICE

Maurice Portland Pastry Luncheonette

I should just point you to MÅURICE’s website, and not even write this review. It’s the most charming and beautiful restaurant website I’ve seen, and on a day when I need to be cared for and can’t get downtown, I may spend ten minutes jumping in to Kristen D. Murray’s online universe.

I went to MÅURICE on a Saturday afternoon-evening, overstimulated from a week of gremlin-keeping. Being in charge was corroding my soul. Family-boss-duty has its perks, but it can also destroy you from within, so be careful.

MÅURICE is the antidote. The whitewashed walls, the bleached chevron tiles climbing up the open kitchen, the white wooden tables and chairs: they will scrub your tight-woundedness away like a palate-cleanser for the soul.

And then there’s a hand-written menu, which begs you to order the oysters because the raw fish warning is so sweetly scrawled at the bottom.

MÅURICE Portland Pastry Luncheonette

Yes, I’ll have one of each variety. And then the tastes of the ocean, powerful, wind-whipping my taste buds, whisk me away to the ocean–as easy as I always think it should be to arrive there, until I start packing the car and putting socks and shoes on small people.

Oysters MÅURICE Portland Pastry Luncheonette

I generally eat gluten-free, and this was no problem at all at MÅURICE, even though it’s a pastry luncheonette. My tomato, cucumber, fennel, and edible flower salad seemed bathed in lemony sunshine.

MÅURICE Portland Pastry Luncheonette

A macaroon is a must-order for me anywhere I see one, and the coffee and almond flavors in their mini-macaroons (bottom left) were quite nice.

MÅURICE Portland Pastry Luncheonette

I ordered the lapsang souchong­–tea truffle (bottom right), as well, even though I was skeptical it could beat out the simple, hoi polloi–pleasing chocolate bombs I get at Trader Joe’s (I’m a low-brow truffle-eater), but it had a luscious earthiness that made me feel like I was at a French farm picnic.

The pine-nut, white-chocolate truffles (top) I ordered once, and then once-tried, ordered again to share back at home. I’ve never had a nutty truffle cluster quite like this one. It was oddly-shaped like a trail-mix bite, but soft and buttery and delicately knit together: hazelnuts and walnuts, and perhaps a pistachio, pinned with ganache.

At home, I want my family to know that they are well-cared-for. When I’m out on my own, I want to happen upon the same in return.

Many of the fika, or little treats, in MÅURICE’s lovely glass case at the front are $.75 each. I will stop in and pick up a few whenever I’m in the neighborhood, which will probably be more often now. The pureness of MÅURICE’s blanched decor and the richness of the seasonal flavors made me feel renewed. I want that feeling again.

A Breath of Sea Air from the North Oregon Coast (Wordless Wednesday)

Oregon Coast. MomsicleBlog

Oregon Coast. MomsicleBlog

Oregon Coast. MomsicleBlog

Oregon Coast. MomsicleBlog

Oregon Coast. MomsicleBlog

Oregon Coast. MomsicleBlog

 

 

 

 

 

Nobody’s Leaving This Fun Family Vacation

Oregon Coast. MomsicleBlog

I have romantic images of family beach vacations swimming in my head. My siblings and I would play pretend in the dune grasses and find sand dollars at low tide. We would ride our bikes down to the village for ice cream, and at least once every trip we would go in to the city to buy saltwater taffy and seafoam—that crackling, airy, sugary delight—dipped in chocolate.

The Instagram filter of my childhood ocean vacations is sutro, that one where the colors are faded but deepened, brightest in the middle and soft around the edges.

Now it’s my turn to immerse my children in the salt-water sweetness of the Oregon Coast.

I had images of the boys in bathing suits with ice cream melting down their faces in my mind as I loaded up the car with our supplies and the used bike-trailer-stroller that would wheel everything down to the sand for 4th of July week.

But, as many of you already know, gremlins may turn psychotic when removed from their normal routines and surroundings. They snatch candy from holiday parades and hide it in secret corners of hotel rooms. They scream and yell and claw at you when you are helping them make memories, and instead of napping they may rearrange furniture to create launch pads to hurtle themselves onto beds.

Once after college I spent a summer in Houston and went to the beach at Galveston for the day with friends. I looked on derisively as beat-up minivans backed onto the sand close to the water, then unlatched their trunks–giant coolers, cases of soda, children, and boom boxes tumbling out.

This was not the classy, eclectic magic of the Pacific. This was an anarchist explosion on the shore. I was happy to leave those trashy images behind.

Oh karma, you beautiful beast.

Ten years later I am unlatching the Velcro of my hand-me-down bike-trailer-stroller and letting coolers filled with pepperoni and beer tumble out, setting up a Bedouin tent city for our assault on the beach, camp chairs and a giant shade umbrella anchoring the set-up, a $19.99 blow-up boat and a garage-sale kite keeping company nearby.

Each day we would shove our bike-buggy near the freshwater creek heading to the ocean, just far enough off the beach path so that others could get by on their way to long, romantic walks. We weren’t ambitious enough to turn the corner to where we could see the waves. Instead we looked across at our hotel, where we could run to when we had forgotten a bottle opener, or a gremlin needed to use the bathroom.

Fun Family Vacation. MomsicleBlog

And the ice cream.

By the time we remembered the ice cream, the gremlins had been banned from sugar for the rest of the trip. So my mom and I snuck off during nap time and she bought cones for the two of us. We ate them on the ledge of a planter by the general store, hidden from passersby, lest our secret be exposed by a wandering family member.

The next day, it was my husband’s turn. He left to get a scoop of Tillamook marionberry pie ice cream while I stood guard back at the room.

And those were the best ice cream cones we’ve ever eaten.

I don’t mean to leave you thinking there wasn’t magic in this trip. There was. It’s just that the image I often have in my head about what something should be like is just that. It’s an image reflecting a set of expectations that may not be realistic.

I always think of Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, as his romanticized holiday is going up in flames and the family is starting to jump ship: “Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together… We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f*cking Kaye.”

My Writing About Women’s Soccer on The Daily Beast, Bonus Photos, and Thoughts on How We Women Never Feel Totally Legit

My article “Portland Is Ground Zero for the Best Women’s Soccer in the World” recently got published on The Daily Beast! Yeeeeeeeehaw!

It’s about two great loves: gender equity and sports. Find it here.

And just for you, my dear blog readers: my favorite two photos from a recent Portland Thorns game that didn’t make it into the article. :)

EvelynShoop PortlandThornsVersusSkyBlueFC 06-25-14 2

EvelynShoop PortlandThornsVersusSkyBlueFC 06-25-14

I owe a huge thank you to my friend Conor for constantly supporting my writing and pushing it forward, and to my friend Mana for being an inspiration in women’s sports.

***

I thought I would feel totally legit as a writer now that a big-deal publication accepted an article, but it turns out as women we constantly struggle with a slowly waning crisis of confidence and the sense that we’re probably impostors.

The Atlantic Monthly wrote a great article about the confidence gap recently, and Cheryl Sandberg talks about the impostor complex in Lean In. It’s nice to hear powerful women talking about these everyday facts of existence. That makes me feel legit.

Hopefully as time goes on I’ll feel all puffy-chested and blow-hard about my writing. In the meantime, I’ll have to struggle with whether to move “writer” in front of “editor” in my email signature, because I couldn’t possibly be a writer–a real writer–first.

***

More photos and procrastination fodder for you about the Portland Thorns here, here, and here.

And if you haven’t followed @PDXRivetersSG and @ThornsFC on Twitter, do it!

Sauvie Island, Portland, Oregon (Summer Wordless Wednesday)

 

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

 

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Sauvie Island. MomsicleBlog

Roasted Strawberry Milkshakes (Vegan)

This is the weekend. This is the weekend to snatch your strawberries before their sweet aroma drifts away on the summer wind.

Hood Strawberry Picking Oregon. MomsicleBlog

When it comes to berries, I’m like one of those rats in a pleasure experiment where the scientist gives them a button that mimics orgasm, and the rats just push the button over and over until they’re in a coma.

About 40-50 pounds of strawberries have come through our house in the last two weeks. We couldn’t possibly need that many strawberries. But have you stuck your nose into a pint of ruby-red Oregon Hood strawberries and then let their juices explode in your mouth?

You’d be pushing that button over-and-over-again, too.

Enough innuendo.

I’m avoiding dairy and doing low sugar right now, but I had to find a way to have a decadent strawberry milkshake. My friend Sara suggested strawberry-roasting, and that’s what started me down this path…

Vegan Roasted Strawberry Milkshake. MomsicleBlog

Vegan Roasted Strawberry Milkshake

Ingredients

  • 1–2 pints strawberries, hulled
  • 1–2 tablespoons olive oil (for roasting strawberries)
  • 1 pint Coconut Bliss ice cream (or other non-dairy, coconut-based “ice cream”)
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk (I use Trader Joe’s canned coconut milk because it’s economical and doesn’t have the additives that the refrigerated kind has.)

Now Do This

  • Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place your hulled strawberries on a baking pan, coat them in a little olive oil, spread them out evenly, and pop them in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, or when strawberries still have their shape, but are oozing some juices, take them out of the oven and put them in a bowl to cool. This is important so you can catch all the juices. You can try a strawberry at this point, but I found they were a little too pungent for my taste.
  • Add strawberries, coconut ice cream, and coconut milk to your blender and blend it up! Done!

This can easily be done with real ice cream and milk, of course. Either way, enjoy, and let me know if you have suggestions!

 

Recent Family Fails

Part 1

We’ll Trace All Our Future Problems Back to this Brunch

OR

Mimosas, the Gateway Drug

We went to Mother’s Day brunch at my grandmother’s retirement community.

There were six of us at a round table, but no one was sitting—everyone was flitting about.

When the waiter came over to ask if anyone wanted a mimosa, my grandmother said she’d take one, and I preemptively ordered mimosas for my husband, who was off at the waffle station with the boys, and my sister Hillary, who was on her way.

Then I left to hit the buffet.

It was sensational: giant cocktail shrimp, frittata, asparagus with béarnaise, pastries, tropical fruit.

By the time I got back to the table, K-Pants and Baby Woww were sipping orange juice in fancy glasses.

K-Pants said, “It’s spicy!” which is what he says for anything carbonated.

“It’s not spicy. It’s orange juice,” said Hill and my husband. And the kids drank some more.

At this point it all came together in my head and I and blurted out, “Those are mimosas!”

“They’re mimosas!?” Hill said.

“We’re giving the kids mimosas!?” my husband said loudly.

When you’re giving your toddler and preschooler alcohol at brunch at a retirement community, it’s best that everyone involved shouts.

By this point, the kids still had the mimosas, and most of the waitstaff and nearby brunch-folk were looking. The situation had to be dealt with.

The boys were disappointed that we took away their special drinks.

I was disappointed that they liked mimosas and wanted them back.

Plain orange juices with no Champagne were ordered in special glasses.

The question remains: Were the after-brunch meltdowns because it was past nap time, or because the alcohol went to their heads? We’ll never know.

(Strangely, all photos of this event have been deleted from my phone by the gremlins.)

Part 2

Is Preschool Graduation Really a Thing?

OR

The Body of an Email is an Important Information Vessel

K-Pants Gradumacation. MomsicleBlog

Our preschool likes to send parent newsletters every few weeks via email attachment.

That is where they put the information about K-Pants’s graduation from his fours class.

I have a hard time accepting preschool graduation as a thing. I like to think of preschool as having an end of the year.

Graduation seems a little hyperbolic. I mean, you learn to write your name and interact in groups. Don’t get me wrong: These are critical skills, and frankly more than I was hoping for K-Pants. I would have been fine with him getting socialized to the point that it doesn’t seem like he’s being raised by neighborhood coyotes.

But I guess kids need to graduate from something every year.

I’m not good about opening email newsletters via attachment, because I feel like the body of an email is the place to put important information (most people who rely on communication in professional settings know this, right?).

So due to my disproportionate rage at email attachments as communication vessels, and my strong desire for a nap on the last day of class, I missed out on preschool graduation.

That nap was amazing, and I did not feel guilty at all until I arrived at preschool, having forgotten about the potential graduation, and one of the moms said, “Don’t worry, I think Ricki’s mom took a picture for you.”

Then I felt bad.

But more about the fact that preschool graduation was something I have to internalize and then consciously choose not to do, rather than the fact that I actually missed it. Hey, we got a photo. And you would never know it was from after the actual show, unless I told you.

***

Fear not, friends. I know what a terrible parenting philosophy I have. I’m also completely aware that K-Pants will have plenty more things to feel bad about, and plenty to work on with his therapist. But I still think I’m a great parent, and K-Pants said this morning that he wants to marry me. So we’re good. I think. Then he said he was going to marry my husband, and that I should marry Baby Woww.