Frog And Turtle, Take Two

Fancy Burger!

Last week Susan, George and I were gadding about town, running errands and making our requisite trip to Target and Starbucks when dinner time rolled around, as it is wont to do almost every day. Rather than go home and broil a chicken breast we decided to go to Frog and Turtle so that I could accomplish my entry into the BLOGGER ROUNDUP OF DESTINY, fancy burger edition. I know, I am very special.

I had been to F&T once before, the weekend that they opened. The place had definitely changed for the better. It seemed more open and breathable, if you know what I mean. I think that when F&T opened they were having a bit of an identity crisis, trying to be one thing (fancy pants) when they were really another (good food, classic environment). Thankfully, they have settle down to their lot in life. Well done and welcome to post adolescence, Froggy T.

I ordered the french onion soup, which came highly recommended by our lovely waitress, Flo (I can’t remember her real name). Unfortunately, she came back a few minutes later and told me “Kiss Mah Grits”. Not really. She told me that the French onion soup had surrendered (ha!) and been replaced with chicken-onion-bacon soup. OK, I’ll have that.

In the meantime we had lovely warm brown bread and butter, which really is all I need from a bread course. Mmm. Buttery.

So, I had my soup. I was so excited! Bacon soup, right? Well, not so much. I think that the French onion soup wasn’t selling, so the chef threw some chicken and bacon into it. I wouldn’t have minded it the bacon had been crispy, or the soup had been tasty, but it wasn’t. Ah well. I sent it back.

I ordered the Frog and Turtle burger with bacon, Gruyère, and sauted onions. I notified Flo that I would be needing more than the normal thimble full of ketchup that I got last time. She laughed at my story and told me that they don’t serve it like that anymore. Yay! I felt like Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2, in the diner, remember? When she really wanted ketchup? No? Come on! Must see movie, if only for the Sex Ed song. Moving onward.

The burger was awesome. First off, the bun was grilled lightly brown. It was buttery and crispy and soft. The bacon was deliriously crispy. And there were 3 whole pieces! The Gruyère was melted and drippy and savory. The onions were brown and sweet. And the burger? It was cooked perfectly medium rare. Pink in the middle. Mmmm.

The onion rings were nicely seasoned. Not too overpowering, but subtly salty and peppery in a homemade batter. Also, order their homemade barbecue sauce. Mmm dippage. I asked what was in it, but she told me it was a F&T secret and she’d have to cut me if she told me. Spicy!

Final thoughts: I have heard that some of the apps are hit or miss. So far I have missed, but I plan to keep trying. The burger was worth it. Go and experience it. Tell ’em Chris sent ya! (You’ll get nothing but confused looks, but wee!)

My fellow bloggers have reviewed, too. Read em and weep at the sorry state of my blog…

Appetite Portland,
Edible Obsessions,
From Away,
soooo.. you really like cats, don’t you
Where is Jenner’s Mind
Vrai-lean-uh

And, of course: Portland Food Map

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Furniture Drift

Like continental drift. Or that drifting they do in those car movies. Or snow drifts even, I guess.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves to move furniture around. When I was younger I would move my bedroom around ALL THE TIME. My parents sat downstairs every Sunday and listened to the bed being pushed across the floor and the dresser scraping its way from one wall to another and silently said to themselves “My, but my son likes to redecorate. My STRAIGHT son. Ha!.”  

Even when I got my first apartment I remember the thrill of moving furniture around. I mean, it was my place! I had no one to answer to! I could move the bed and the TV into the kitchen! Not that I did such a thing, of course. No. My sofa also never thrust out into the middle of the living room, bearing no relation to any other piece of furniture, blocking off the front door awkwardly. My bed never floated in the middle of the bedroom, not touching any wall, surrounded by maroon drapes. GAY.

However, I now own a home. And I find myself not having moved a piece of furniture in years. YEARS. What is the matter with me? Why is this happening? Am I losing my flair? Am I to be FLAIRLESS?

No. I resolve not. I am moving furniture. I have been given carte blanche (well, carte grise, at least) to do what ever I want to do to the back bedroom. There reside within three 6 foot bookcases filled with books, a day bed with trundle, and a closet filled with a TV and gaming systems. What? It is out-of-the-way and cozy. Don’t hate. You’re just mad you didn’t think of it first.

I have decided, due to my intense Oprah-level love that I have for my iPad, to put all of my books into storage. What need have I for physical media? I have a Kindle app, and a Nook app, and an iBook app, and even a (useless) Borders app. Goodbye, 3 large and cheap bookshelves. (PS – Anyone want 3 awesome 15-year-old bookshelves? They still work! Free to you!)

I am moving the bed to the corner once occupied by the books. I am moving the TV and gaming systems out of the closet (insert clever gay joke here). I don’t play them anymore due to my iPad. I can game all I want with my easily downloadable game apps. Even Final Fantasy! Nostalgia! Gaming Fun!

And what, pray tell, will go into said now empty closet? Not clothing, surely. No – the TRUNDLE BED. Let that marinate for a second until it blows your mind. I am putting the other bed into the closet. And it will be AWESOME. A private sleeping area just for guests and friends. And maybe a nap or two for moi. Not for the claustrophobic.

I’m so excited. I am moving furniture around again. Next, maybe the bedroom. I’m thinking the bed can go against the windows. Who needs to get into that one closet? And then the living room! Bye bye, optimally positioned TV. I think we should have an “obstructed view” that can only be managed by various moveable mirrors and body contortions. And maybe the dining room could be repurposed into a Zen room!

The possibilities are endless!

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Dexter Scantlebury

When I was a freshman in college I was lucky enough to take part in a production of Children Of Eden. I had begged my professor to be a part of it because they had held the auditions the year before, when I was still in high school.

The big world of college was just opening up to me and I was still finding out who I was and why I was and all that existential foolishness. I remember walking through the Cove building and stopping to listen outside the closed door of one of the practice rooms. Someone was singing so beautifully, so delicately yet with real strength. His voice was rich and powerful one moment, tender and controlled the next. Eventually there were several of us standing there, listening, scattering when the door opened.

The next time I heard the voice was on the stage, during rehearsals. He was playing the role of God. He sang to Adam and he sang to Noah and he sang to encompass all of the love that God has for his children, and everyone wept, every night.

That next summer I was working at a church camp in Upstate New York when he came through for a couple of weeks. He was leading a small group of singing college kids. He was always so dapper, so put together. His hair was always perfect. His clothes were always Gap. I remember walking at dusk with a group of friends and talking about him. We said some hurtful things, as children do. I remember looking back for some reason and realizing that he had been sitting off to the side of the road in the shadow of a tree. I knew he heard us, heard me.

The next year he was leading a small group that I was a part of. He never let on that he had heard me before, but I know he did. He was too proud. I hope he forgave me. My favorite moments with him that summer was when he was driving us around in that huge van, singing. That voice, my God.

We faded into and out of each other’s lives for a couple of years. He had graduated and was working in admissions, I was busy building who I was into some semblance of personality. We still hung out on occasion, with our small group of friends, but not all the time.

I really connected with him after I graduated. He invited me to join a group at his apartment in Boston for a New Years Eve party. We hung out, listened to music, ate bad food and drank terrible drinks and just loved being together. All of us. We went downtown for New Years and practically froze. We were young and happy.

After that visit he and I started talking almost every day. We found out that we had so much more in common than we ever thought. We confided in each other. We racked up phone bills. We became close. He had started a new relationship and was falling in love. He seemed happy to share his stories with me.

And then one night he didn’t call when he was supposed to. I figured that he was busy, or out, and thought nothing of it. His roommate called me later. He had been trying to reach everyone my friend knew. He found my number on the phone bill.

My friend had died that day, from a senseless stupid random disease. In a matter of hours, he went from feeling fine to feeling a little sick to falling into a coma to dying.

None of us were prepared. How do you say goodbye to a friend that young? What about all of the plans that he had? What about the happiness he had so recently found? Why would this be allowed to happen?

And his friends came together. We talked about him. We shared our individual stories. We found out that he was special to each of us, in different ways. His gift was making us all feel that we meant something special to him.

With joy, I remember.

Dexter Scantlebury, 2-15-1998.

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The Salt Exchange

Time: 7:30 pm, Friday night

With: George

Where: The Salt Exchange, 245 Commercial Street, Portland

Why: Valentine’s Date

George and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s day a little early by treating ourselves to a dinner that costs more than 20 bucks and wasn’t just protein and veggies. Yay! Carbs! We had never been to The Salt Exchange (TSE), so being enterprising gays who love new experiences, we rolled the dice and made our reservation. Not that we needed to – there were plenty of seats to go around.

TSE is decorated in “contemporary” style. So (as I have sadly come to expect in any Portland restaurant) there was the requisite exposed brick wall, the high ceilings, the minimalist decor, and a local artist’s art.

 

Crows, watching us eat.

Hana

Our waitress, Hana, was attentive and sweet. I am a stickler for not using the same utensil with any successive course, and she was there with a fresh fork or spoon or knife as needed. Our food was brought quickly (as I hoped it would be, due to the lack of others  in the restaurant) and unobtrusively. Our water glasses were always full and we never found ourselves wanting for anything. Excellent service.

 

Apple Blueberry Scrumptiousness

I ordered a lovely apple blueberry martini, made with vodka, apple and lemon pucker, and that Maine Blueberry soda that I can never remember the name of. I know it sounds kinda cloying and sweet but it was really crisp and refreshing. Hana dropped off some homemade garlic chips (yum) and some french bread with teensy cubes of butter and salt (fine). George had a glass of red.

TSE is a small plate restaurant, so go expecting to order 3 to 5 small items for your dinner. And bring your wallet. It’s a tish expensive considering the 4 or 5 bites you receive of each dish.

I started with Crab Cakes (spicy!), moved on to Sweet Potato Soup (the highlight of the meal), had Poached Pear Salad for the first time (goat cheesy!) and finished with the Stuffed Chicken (a leg (boo)). George had Potato Croquettes (eh), Brocoli and Scallop soup (awesome!) and the “Local And Sustainable Daily Fish Preparation” (fine).

Truth? The soup was the best course. My crab and his potato croquettes were tasty but ordinary. I had 1/4 of a pear on my salad (although I loved the hazelnuts). And really? A chicken leg? And fish with gravy? I expected more for the price.

I don’t think I would recommend TSE for a first date. Maybe a second, once you know you like the person and if you don’t mind spending a pretty penny for teensy plates. The food was just ordinary, with occasional dashes of inspiration. What can I say? When you try new things it’s sometimes a crap shoot.

Hana rocked, though. Yay Hana!

And now, some glamour photos (note that all of these are shown larger than they are in real life):

Spicy Crab Cakes

Potato Croquettes

Sweet Potato Soup

Port Poached Pears

Stuffed Chicken

The Sustainable Fish

The Menu

 

This post is my first foray into Group blogging  – see www.portlandfoodmap.com  for more bloggy stuff from other more famous folks. (Valentine’s Day Dating Advice)

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Friday Night Judgement

In which I am flattered. ..Or not?

Last Friday George and I went to Blackstone’s. Yes, alright, take it in. The old married couple went out on the town. And get this – it was for the third weekend in a row. Right? Right?!? Who’s fancy now? (The answer is us.)

We have some new gays in our lives – Ryan, who works with George, and Peter. Who also works with George. It’s always a delicate situation to make new friends, and even more so with new gays. You never know how much of your true self to show, or how much of their true selves you are seeing. Thank god they seem normal (…so far) (Hi Boys!). They are cheerful and personable and don’t have any obvious ticks or cringe-inducing social tendencies. And thankfully, they think we don’t, either. Heh.

We were hangin’ with the men at Blackstone’s, chatting and laughing and minding our own business, when we were approached by a, shall we say, “diminutive” gay. He was staggeringly drunk. He pointed at George, at me, and at Peter, and told us that he could “take” us all. I’m assuming that he meant that he could beat us up (incidentally, he could not), and not “take” in a biblical sense (again, he could not). He boozily went on his way.

A little later in the evening Ryan was at the bar getting more libations when our little drunken friend made his re-approach. He pointed once more to George and announced “You are pretty”. George, in turn, blinked silently at the tiny gay. He swiveled to Peter and loudly stated “You are pretty, too”. Peter thanked him warmly. Then he turned to me, pointed, squinted, paused, and yelled out “But you? You are HANDSOME”.

So – thoughts? Is this as good as pretty? Am I the manlier of our trio? Should I assume that it is ok to be handsome and not pretty? Someone bolster my flagging ego, quickly!

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