ashley's vista

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

Eating, living and breathing in beautiful Portland.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My foodie experiences lately

Well, it has once again been an embarrassingly long time since I wrote a post last. Wanted to give an update. Over the past couple of years, I have been able to enjoy and indulge in some amazing food made by some of the best chefs in the world. For that, I am grateful. It's amazing how much your palate can change just from a couple of years of refinement. Most recently, I attended the 2010 Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, where I tasted samples of 50 of world's the best chefs' cuisine. There were plenty of stand-out dishes, but I would have to say my favorite was Iron Chef Morimoto's shredded pork in endive salad cups. So yummy!

Anyways, being a Portland native, I'm loving the fact that I can discover new things each day. The never-ending culinary scene (in which chefs are following the trend of growing their own produce) happens to be my shit right now. This last weekend, I would venture to say that I overindulged a little too much, eating out three nights in a row. But it was well worth it. Thursday night, my boyfriend and I (BTW, he's a veg, but is a total foodie as well, which I'm so happy about) made our second visit to Vindhalho, which serves food that I would say is a fuse between American and Indian food. I wasn't too impressed with the food (which was also my impression when I walked away the first time we ate there), it just wasn't traditional enough for me. The veggie pakoras were pretty good, and so was the chutney trio that we ordered to go with our poppadoms. One of the main dishes was the Sang Paneer, which was a mixture of tomato, spinach, tofu and fresh cheese on a bed of yellow rice. The sauce was good, but not seasoned enough, and not spicy enough. The other dish we shared was the vegetable korma, which was ok, but different. A sauce that consists of ground up nuts is not what I would traditionally order at and Indian joint, so I'm glad that it was the dish that by boyfriend ended up ordering because he had to eat it. In my opinion, Vindalho is definitely worth trying if you're looking for Indian food with a twist (not to mention paying a shit ton of money), but doesn't make me want to come back for more. If I want good, cracky Indian food, I'll go to my trusty Swagat's in NW.

Friday night we went to Ken's Artisan Pizza. We were able to walk right up and sit at the bar, in which we were waited on by Ken himself. Very nice guy, you can tell he loves his job and the restaurant industry. The bf ordered the margherita pizza, that came with a bed of arugula on top. It was so delicious and the arugula wasn't overbearing on the basil. I ordered the olive pizza, which had mozzarella, whole black olives and rosemary- I added red onion for some more flavor. Both pizzas had a perfectly cooked crust, and the dough was thin and crispy on the outside and fluffy/chewy on the inside. Also, both pizzas were delicious, and we'll definitely be going back. It's just a hop, skip and a jump from my place.

On Saturday night we had a triple date night, and went to Toro Bravo. This place serves amazing tapas, and is definitely good for groups. The wait was two hours (they unfortunately don't take reservations on the weekend) but that was fine because we wandered down to the White Eagle and sat on the patio and a had a couple of drinkypoos while we were waiting. Anyways, Toro Bravo recently changed its menu (another thing that I love: the menu is changed on a seasonal basis), and was probably the best that I've had there so far. We ordered the braised leeks with salbitxada, which were awesome, but I felt like it should have been on a piece of toasted bread or something. After that, we ordered singing pig greens with grapefruit, blue cheese, pickled red onion & almonds, radicchio salad with green olive toast & manchego vinaigrette, potatoes bravas, and the tortilla espanola with nettles. Both salads were fresh and delicious, I liked the second salad more because I like the bitterness of radicchio. Potato bravas were cubed potatoes with what seemed like a red pepper cream sauce, or some kind of harissa- nonetheless the dish was simple and well-seasoned. The tortilla espanola with nettles was like a potato and nettle quiche, without the crust. My first encounter with cooked nettles was a couple of visits ago, and this dish is always one that we order whenever we go to Toro Bravo. Next we ordered the grilled flat bread with black truffle cheese & arugula, harissa stewed butternut squash with crumbled sheep's cheese, sauteed chard with sunny side up egg, seared scallops with romesco, and the cubano sandwich. The grilled flatbread was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and the truffle cheese was amazing-definitely the hero of the dish. The butternut squash stew is so god damn good! To put it this way, if you don't really like butternut squash or have never had it before, try Toro Bravo's version and you will love it. The sauteed chard with an egg was also one of my favs of the evening, cutting into the yolk and watching it spread all over the chard is so satisfying for some reason. By the time I could get a bite of the scallops and the cubano sandwich, I was so full, that's all I had of each dish, just a taste. The scallops were seared perfectly, and is something that I would order again. Dessert was the churros and chocolate, almond ice cream with a shot of espresso, and the molten lava cake. Yeah, molten lava cake is overdone, bla bla bla, but it's still good. The churros and chocolate was by far my favorite, think of a chewy cinnamon and sugar pastry dipped in melted dark, bitter chocolate. The damage at the end wasn't that bad either. Along with all of the food, each person had two drinks, and the ticket was under $200. Out of the three restaurants, I would definitely go back to Ken's and Toro Bravo anytime.

Until next foodie time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No Post in Long Time

Well, folks it has been way too long. So long that I almost thought for some weird reason my account had disappeared since I hadn't written a post in such a long time. Anyways, the reason being, I got a job. In the real world. A real world job. Which is awesome! I got an internship back during the summer of 2007, and got hired on shortly afterward. And, I can honestly say it has been a great experience. I work for a CFM, a public affairs, research and public relations firm. During my internship, I got to dabble with some interesting stuff, like helping to lobby on behalf of a measure that was at the federal level. Let's just say that was interesting. We went to pick up an old lady(old-people-calling was the extent of my help on this project while I was an intern), to take her to her member of congress in Salem to oppose the cuts to the measure. Well, turns out she had, ahem, problems with controlling some functions of the body, and to put it shortly, I wasn't sitting in the front seat on the drive back from Salem.

Also, my main work as an intern on the Tillamook Cheese account, and it still is. It has been an amazing learning experience and fun job overall. The people that I work with are great, and I've been able to travel to some unseen territory to represent Tillamook. Austin: very fun city, small liberal town in a big conservative state. Chicago: energy there was incredible - has an underground funk, yet slightly sophisticated feel to it. So much history and culture, definitely a city I will revisit. Aspen: beautiful and quite charming. Like Ashland, but in the mountains. Washington DC: I didn't travel there for Tillamook but was fortunate to travel to a city with so much history. Very business-ey and political. I didn't see one person wearing jeans in that city. And I was also careful to not wear my seersuckers. Park City: another beautiful city. Rolling meadows with lupines scattered everywhere, red and dark brown and purple mountains in the background. Not a city that I think I would care to live in, however. Seattle: of course I've been there before, but not for an event where I literally saw half of the city come out. The Bite of Seattle was the Pacific NW in a nutshell. Yuppies mixed with outdoorists, cyclists, naturlists, what ever. Just down to earth people.

So, that's where a majority of my time for about the past year has been spent, in a long-winded version.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Proliferation of Internet Advertising

Something that has recently been very annoying to me and that has been widely used as an advertising tactic are pop-ups. I have set as my homepage on my laptop, and every time I go to the Web site to peruse the news, a freaking pop-up jumps out at me on the right side of the page, covering the links to the news segments that I want to read. The worst part is that there aren't any of the "X Close" boxes in the upper or lower corners of the advertisements anymore, which gave me the wonderful option of selective exposure, and I could close the darn thing right away if I didn't want to watch the advertisement.

Now I just have to sit there and wait for the advertisement to be over, and of course I don't even pay any attention to it because I'm so frustrated that the pop-up is covering the link that I want to click on.

The average person is exposed to about 1,000 advertising messages daily, and with the rise of Internet advertising, that number can be expected to grow. The nuisance factor can be expected to grow along with it as well. What ever happened to selective exposure in advertising??

Labels: pop-up

Dove's Sleeveless Ready Campaign

Dove's "Are You Sleeveless Ready?" campaign has received a lot of criticism lately, especially from feminists. Yes, we have come a long way in regards to equality, and yes, some women might take offense to an advertising campaign that is trying to build self-esteem by targeting women's armpits. To me, this campaign is a good idea in theory; however, it exudes a little bit of puffery by claiming that a woman's armpit is going to be prettier if she applies Dove's Ultimate Clear deodorant to her pits.

There are some good highlights about the deodorant in the campaign like, be "naturally comfortable in the look and feel of your underarms," which is just a fancy way of saying your armpits won't smell if you use Dove's deodorant. I'm not so sure about its claim to "possess the confidence to wear underarm-baring fashion." The "new" self-esteem building deodorant is probably just the exact same deodorant Dove always offers, but now it's just in a new package with a different advertising angle.

Talking about armpits is a little bit awkward, having an advertising campaign that claims that one's armpits are going to be prettier with the use of a particular deodorant is a little awkward as well.

Personally, I've had someone tell me I have nice armpits, and I honestly didn't know how to respond. Should I have said, "Thanks, your armpits aren't bad either" or should I have poked fun at the person for noticing my nether-body part? It's like saying, "Hey, I like your elbows." Just weird.

Trying to make a self-esteem building campaign out of armpits, which is a semi-awkward issue in itself, is a bold move on Dove's part. The campaign will likely reach its target audience, which are women in need of a good, strong deodorant for their pits. However, the campaign still exudes a little puffery, by saying that a woman's armpits will be prettier with the use of the Ultimate Clear deodorant.

Labels: Dove deodorant , Sleeveless Ready Campaign, feminist, criticism

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Marriott's Decision to Cater to Female Tenants

The grand opening of a new JW Marriott hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan has dedicated an entire floor solely to female travellers. This idea is good in theory, however I'm not so sure if it is a step forward or backward in light of the feminist civil rights movements and issues of equality.

Also, the spokesperson Andrea Groom highly contradicted herself when she said that if a male wanted to request a room on the female-only floor, "it's not going to be an issue...he won't be excluded." In this case Groom was likely trying to be sensitive of gay men's safety issues, in that if a gay man wanted to request a room on the female-only floor, he better get a room.

But what if a man requests a room on the female-only floor and ends up being a serial rapist or murderer? Is this man "not going to be excluded" from the female-only floor? How are the hotel's staff supposed to know the difference? There are likely already enough video cameras and security in the hotels that a female-only floor is not needed.

This new female-only floor is just not a good idea. If Marriott is going to cater to female tenants, then it also needs to cater to the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, ethnic minority and every other stereotyped group in society. I understand the positive effort that Marriott was trying to make by addressing the needs of its consumers, but to me this only discriminates against other groups in society, including females.

Labels: Grand Rapids Marriott

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mis-informed Clients on Public Relations

In a recent post on Guy Kawasaki's blog, "How to Change the World," Margie Fisher provides a list of the top ten reasons why PR doesn't work. As an aspiring PR practitioner, I could see how disconnects in communication could lead a client to believe that public relations is not working in their favor.

I especially agree with reason #9: "Clients get upset when the media coverage is not 100% accurate or not the kind of coverage that they wanted." My first press conference that I organized and hosted, the Campaign for Affordable Textbooks, I thought was a complete disaster. There were only two media contacts present to cover the event, plus a crowd of about 15 people. However, I managed to get some great guest speakers and ended up with a 30-second segment on one of the leading news stations in Eugene, as well as an article in the local newspaper. I later learned that a 30-second segment is a good thing, considering that most news segments are only about minute long anyways. But people who are not in public relations don't understand the media relations process, which is why it may be viewed as inefficient to some clients to have only a small segment on television. But in reality, it is a good thing if positive publicity related to a client ends up on the news, because that means the issue is newsworthy.

I also agree with reason #10: "Clients won't change their schedules for the media. Clients need to drop everything if the media calls." One of the main points that I learned in my PR writing class focused on specifics about media relations, and one tip I remember is to always answer a reporter's phone call, or at least always return it the same day. Denying the media will not only burn a bridge with what could be a pivotal media outlet, it will eliminate an opportunity that a client had to inform and communicate with the public.

Labels: PR services

Monday, May 28, 2007

PR 2.0

Public relations is much more than media relations. However, today it seems as if it is becoming more and more a blend of marketing, advertising and communications all in one. Look up a job listing for "public relations specialist" and it will probably fall under the category "Advertising/Marketing/Public Relations." Certainly one needs to have a expanded knowledge of the social media, such as social media press releases, business blogs, Technorati, Digg This, etc...but public relations is not strictly about media relations. The purpose of the media in public relations is to act as a medium for which the PR practitioner can get a message communicated effectively to the public, to influence behavior.

Of course there are many different publics with many different messages that need to be tailored and communicated accordingly to each specific audience, which is likely why we as PR practitioners are essentially having to learn all of the social media stuff.

And I have no problem keeping up with the technology (that seems to be changing every day at an exponential rate) that's used as a medium to get a PR message communicated to an audience. The future of journalism is technology.

Labels: social media