Thursday night I got a well deserved break from my diet. I went with a group of people to Nostrana(1401 SE Morrison Ave) for happy hour. To those of you out of the loop, Nostrana is an Italian, Slow Food restaurant. They offer high quality Italian food and just recently introduced a happy hour menu. Their happy hour goes from nine until close every night. They usually seat until 11. The happy hour menu offers the following options:
Pizza Margherita - house-made mozzarella, tomato and basil - $5 Pizza Marinara - tomato, garlic and oregano - $5 Charcuterie - selection of artisanal and house-made meats with accoutrements - $5 Insalata Nostrana - radicchio and Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary and sage croutons in a Caesar style dressing - $5 Olive Plate - $3 Bar Nuts - $3 From the rooster bar: Moretti pale lager - $3 Hales’ Red Menace amber ale - $3 Campari & soda - $4 White or red wine by the glass - $5
Their Pizza Margerita is the standout option on this happy hour menu. The Pizza Marinara is also good but it does not come with cheese on it. The cheese on the Marg is the most milky, delicious Mozzarella and it is made in house. This is truly an artisan pizza. The fact that it is five bucks is rediculous. It can hold its own against any of the artisan pizzas in town in my opinion. (Apizza Sholls, Ken's Artisan Pizza, Tastebuds) The fact of the matter is at these places with will pay three times as much for the same pizza and the quality is comparable if not inferior. You can hardly walk into Pizzacotto or Pizza Shmeeza without paying five bucks. You may walk out with a slice and a half or two slices of mediocre pizza for that price. When you sit down at Nostrana for happy hour you get whole artisan, wood-oven pizza(approximately 12 inches) for five bucks. The service is also stellar and on two previous visits we were given whole loaves of ciabatta bread as their baker made too much bread and they make it fresh daily. Their regular menu is also amazing and their bar/wine list is not to be forgotten about. I look forward to an opportunity to go to Nostrana off happy hour. Who knows when that will be. I also tried the Insalata Nostrana, which was delicious. The serving was kind of small though and I have been told by others that have ordered it on happy hour that it is usually bigger. Either way it is still worth ordering. I suggest getting down to Nostrana for happy hour sometime soon. I also have heard of another artisan style, Italian joint in NE Portland called, Firehouse(711 NE Dekum St). I have heard people describe it as the Nostrana of NE. They also offer a happy hour that is slightly more expensive. Hopefully I can put up a review for that in the near future. I forgot my camera, so this is a Margerita Pizza + Pepperoni from Nostrana that I found on the internet.
Besides food, I have been getting excited about The Dead going on tour. I was concerned that this may be a novely act due to the fact that Jerry Garcia is no longer part of the band and they are hella old. But I was driving in my car listening to the Grateful Dead channel on Sirius and there was a live feed of a show from Worcester, MA and they sounded really good. We have tickets for the show at the Gorge where they will be playing along side The Allman Brothers Band and it seems like it is shaping up to be a real good time. I have been listening to lots of Grateful Dead shows recently and I really cannot get enough of them at the moment. I found a really hot version of Cassidy that I keep playing. You can listen to a streaming version of it here. Its really an amazing song. Also, I have been rereading a great book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. It talks about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. They were major protagonists in the pschodelic era and pioneers of the hippy movement. They are just a very interesting group of people from an interesting time. They were also intrumental in the creation and promotion of the Grateful Dead. A member of the Merry Pranksters and a huge beat personality was Neal Cassady. He was also the protagonist, Dean Moriarty, of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, another great book. If you have not read The Electric Kool-Aid AcidTest or On the Road you should go to the library or Barnes and Noble right now because its quite possible that you suck. So, I was wondeirng if the song Cassidy was about Neal Cassady as he was an instrumental part of the Grateful Dead's maturation process and a major part of that "scene." Cassady died in 1968 and the song debuted in The Dead's lineup in the early 70's so it would make sense. Well, I consulted Uncle Google and what I found out was that it was in fact about the passing of Cassady and the birth of Cassidy Law, the daughter of a prominent member of that scene, among other things. I read about it on a piece callled "Cassidy's Tale," (click for the link) by John Perry Barlow, who co-wrote the song with Bob Weir, guitarist of the Grateful Dead. It is a well written piece and I found it interesting and entertaining. Take a listen to Cassidy and read "Cassidy's Tale," if you have a free moment.
On a final note, I'd like to thank the people that are reading my blog. I like that people are actually reading what I put out (all six of you and my mother). If there are one or two more of you out there I would like to encourage you to register and follow my blog so I know who you are. Also, if there is any restaurant information you personally want or reviews you want me to write ,I encourage you to contact me or write in the comments section your question/request. I will also try to update my blog more frequently, but I am extremely lazy. Until next time have a veggie taco on me. (This was actually my dinner tonight and it was delicious and healthy)