Let's head out to Slims. We HAVE been going occasionally on Friday nights, as "adoptees" of the St Johns Neighborhood Association Group (mostly made up of young couples now buying up what seems to be the last â€œaffordableâ€ housing in Portland), a very eclectic young diverse group of young people whom we've found fun, inclusive, and friendly. Theyâ€™re from ALL over the country. Weâ€™ve been joining this group on a few Friday nights at any one of the little St Johns dives just starting up. For example, One is a tiny one-room combo beer/wine & Gelato joint. That's IT! That is ALL he sells, and, by the way, he's a little stoned most hours he's open --- which are only at night. To use the bathroom at this little joint, the owner lifts his counter, you pass through his work space and the bathroom is right in the corner. These "Fantastic Friday" events began at Proper Eats, the little hippie vegan joint across from the fun St Johns one-owner theater. But since then, theyâ€™ve met at lots of â€œjointsâ€â€¦â€¦.. Slims, Portsmouth Brew Pub, The Gelato Joint, McMenamans, no, not Dadâ€™s, etc. But about Slims. VERY surprisingly, we found one intriguing foodie thing going on there and pursued that surprise. SLIMâ€™s Bar & Restaurant is a dark old joint right in the center-of-St Johns. It's smoky. It does karaoke. It was sold about a year ago and surprises all around when the Identity of the new owner became known. Hamed, was born in Saudi Arabia, but educated here at Lewis & Clark. He met Michie there, a beautiful Japanese girl who also came to principally learn English. They have lived together since, and they have come to love Portland. Hamed saw Slimâ€™s (& St Johns for that matter) as a good business opportunity. He's wanted to improve the joint to become part of the new â€œSt Johnsâ€. Wisely, I believe, he's refused to drive out the old blue collar Karaoke crowd, so he goes slow with changes. Some donâ€™t see these subtle changes coming. The surprise we found here is that Michie, among other talents, is a GOURMET CHEF! !!!! She LOVES to cook. She came into Slims seeing greasy grade c- bar food being carried out of a tiny dank kitchen. She wanted to bring new imagination in here. Her first attempts were met with big objections by the old timers who'd been coming here for years.... Today, she still plans on eventually ridding her "menu" of that crappy bar food (you know, "Tots and Fries", "Fried Cheese Sticks", Freezer Hamburger Pattie between a bun with Velveeta Cheese for the bar hamburger, and on and on. (She tells you herself, â€œDonâ€™t order thatâ€¦.itâ€™s just bad bar food!â€. In the meantime, she has cleaned UP the kitchen, trained a couple of people to work with her and now offers specials plus these standards: 1. Edamame boiled and salted appetizer. Yum. 2. Mediterranean Plate - hummus, vegetables, and Pita Bread (Did Hamed inspire this?) 3. Braised Beef in Penne Pasta 4. V Pocket - a Falafel Sandwich w/maters, cukes, tahini, chips 5. Grilled Romain Salad - with shrimp 6. Bites - NY Steak bites w/teriyaki & rice 7. Fresh - Grilled Chicken and home made basil/parsley pesto w/penne pasta 8. Satay - Skewers of beef or chicken w/vegetables & rice 9. Lemongrass Coconut Curry 10. Mushroom quesadillas. How about that? Some of those old timers are now coming there and being introduced to imaginative new things that this clientele hasn't seen. It seems more and more are liking the new food, and newcomers are finding this place. We fell in love with her complete personality and chef ambitions, and told her we WANT TO BRING our neighbors in to experience her cooking experience. She was thrilled someone would recognize her big efforts here. She gave us her cell phone number and said simply, â€œcall me 24 hours ahead, let me know how many and what youâ€™d like. I would LOVE to cook for you and your friends.â€ So. We sent out the invite up here. Everyone in our little hamlet wants to go. So it's set! ELEVEN of us are booked to arrive at blue-collar smoky dive SLIM's next Tuesday evening, 1800 hours. Michie is now planning the family style menu she'll be serving us. She's going to call Sunday to let me know the menu and cost per person..............I think THIS is truly going to be a unique silly adventure for us all......... I hope we take some pictures..............for a few of my dear neighbors, this will probably their first time into a place like this for years. Ah. Big livin' here in Portland, eh?
**IF you only read this the 1st day it was posted, there's been a correction in the recipe: 2 16 oz cans of stewed tomatoes, not 1...............(see below) / mark 0800 January 31, 2008***This came from friend Krysta........it's a few ingredients yes, but it's TOO easy. NO pre-cooking of anything......EVERYTHING gets mixed together right up front, in the oven, stir once an hour....and you have a delicious thick winter stew. NOTE: Cinnamon! Do NOT omit, this, it's the key to a unique delicious flavor. And on the other hand, don't overdose with it either............... Oven Stew Ingredients: 2 lbs. stew meat 2 c. potatoes, chopped 2 c. carrots, chopped 4 Tbsp. tapioca 4 Tbsp. flour 1 Tbsp. sugar Â½ cups onion, chopped 1 slice bread, cubed 2 cups celery, chopped 2 16-oz. cans whole tomatoes (chopped) 1 Tbsp. salt Â½ tsp. cinnamon Â½ tsp. ginger *heavy cream *celery salt to taste Directions: Mix all ingredients in a large Dutch oven/roasting pan. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 4 hours. Stir every hour. This recipe will make a large pot of stew. Before serving, put heavy cream in individual servings of stew, if desired. That way you can re-heat the leftovers without worrying about the cream not reheating right. Celery salt added to taste is also very good in this stew, although it is great with out either (celery salt or cream). TIPS: When you FIRST mix this together prior to baking, it will look like it's too dry and you'll be tempted to add more liquid. No need to. As it cooks over 3 hours, all the water content comes out of the vegetables, meat, and blends into a rich sauce.