Video: ManHauls Meets Secret Aardvark

I became a huge fan of YouTube dudes ManHauls awhile back while researching BirchBox Men reviews. Bucky and Matt made me seriously LOL, so I subscribed to their channel. When they did a ‘lil video about their impressive hot sauce collection, I immediately noticed it was missing something important: Secret Aardvark Habanero Hot Sauce!

I knew I needed to remedy that massive missing piece in their collection (die-hard ‘Bama fans, or not), so I sent them of a bottle.

What I didn’t expect was that they’d make a sweet video about their thoughts and feelings on the sauce. Check out the video above to see how many ManHauls “beards” they awarded Secret Aardvark!

Of course, if you live in Portland and don’t already know about Secret Aardvark, you’re not just missing the boat, you’re missing the mf’ing yacht of hot sauces. It’s truly the best around…even if a bottle will set you back about $6 and it can be hard to find.

Secret Aardvark has two other saucy varieties: the Drunken Garlic Black Bean and the Drunken Jerk (not to be confused with the PDX bridge-and-tunnel crowd at Blitz or Splash Bar or The Crown Room or Barrel Room or…OK, OK, just jokin’).

Currently Secret Aardvark is available at various retail outlets in Oregon and Washington (and one random shop in NYC), but you can also order the spicy stuff online.

Also, be sure to check out ManHauls’ awesome beauty guru wives over at EleventhGorgeous!

Stumptown Profile: Beaverton Foods

Beaverton Foods
Website | Twitter | Facebook
By Sarah Keech
Photos by Matt Wong

If you’re anything like me, you’ve loved Beaver Brand mustards and horseradish products for a long time. But, did you know they’re all produced in the Portland area? Did you know the entire company came out of the trials and tribulations of a young mother just trying to survive the Great Depression?

I was recently invited to tour Beaverton Foods, and learning the history and visiting the spot where these quality products are made has certainly made me a lifelong fan…well, it really didn’t take too much convincing!

The History

Times were tight in 1929 in Beaverton, Oregon, so when Rose Biggi needed to put food on her family’s table, she became resourceful. She ground and bottled horseradish from her family’s farmland and traded it for local butcher’s meat to use in her spaghetti sauce.

A few years later, Rose had a chance meeting with Eve Meyer, the wife of Fred G. Meyer, who at the time was just opening up his first supermarket in downtown Portland. Rose began selling her horseradish at the new Fred Meyer store, which was no small feat as, at that time, traveling to downtown Portland from Beaverton was an all day journey and there were no paved roads. (And you thought travelling on Highway 26 was bad!)

Those small initial endeavors have evolved into what is now Beaverton Foods, the largest specialty condiment producer in the United States.

Rose’s son, Gene Biggi, now 83, is the current president and the driving force behind the company’s expansion in the condiment market, but growing this specialty company took many years and many, many taste tests to get to where it is now.

Gene initially expanded the business by creating the company’s first mustard, which all came about while he was on a date with his girlfriend at a Chinese food restaurant in Beaverton when he was only 19. Inspired by the flavor the restaurant’s hot mustard, Gene asked the chef how it was made and then set out to recreate the product in a more consumer-friendly manner. The resulting product, Hot Chinese Mustard, took two to three years for him to develop and perfect, and it can still be found in stores today.

With a keen eye for what his customers are looking for, Gene is also responsible for the first gourmet Sweet and Hot Mustard made in the U.S., and first Honey Mustard to be made and sold anywhere.

A constant innovator, Gene is credited as one of the first in the condiment marketplace to realize the importance of using plastic squeeze bottles instead of glass in the bottling process to ensure safety, freshness and ease of use for his customers.

The Company Today

More than 80 years and four generations later, the company remains loyal to its Washington County roots and business is thriving. Beaverton Foods is the corporate umbrella for many of the condiment brands you see in your grocery store and restaurants, including Beaver Brand and Inglehoffer. In fact, their products can be found in 98 percent of grocery stories in the U.S.

The business remains controlled by the Biggi family, with Gene’s son, Domonic, is the Executive Vice President and his grandson, Jeffrey, serves as the Food Service Manager.

Innovation and an eye for the future are still very important to their business. Some of their latest products to hit the market directly incorporate a growing food trend: bacon. But unlike similar bacon condiments (i.e., bacon mayonnaise), their products are healthier (low in fat, cholesterol and calories), yet the bacon flavor is bold.

Beaverton Foods is also taking on a new product line, authentic wasabi. In December 2010, the company purchased Pacific Farms of Florence to expand into the real wasabi market—which is very rare outside of Japan. With wasabi, the company added new equipment to their facility for processing and they hope to increase their wasabi sales as the national sushi trend continues to flourish.

The company employs about 80 people at their Hillsboro manufacturing plant, and the Biggis are pleased that even through the tough days of our recent recession they never had to lay anyone off.

The Biggi family and Beaverton Foods certainly exemplify Oregon’s pioneer spirit that hard work, ingenuity and innovation do pay off.

So let us know: What’s your favorite Beaverton Food product?

Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Map It!
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★½

Portland has a lot of noodle options. Like, A LOT of noodle options. So when the buzz-a-thon about Boke Bowl opening their first permanent location began to spread via Twitter, I knew I was going to have to check it out…stat.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Boke Bowl craze actually dates back to September 2010 when the owners launched their first pop-up dinner, and since that first special event Boke Bowl has won the attention and affection of many a foodie and non-foodie alike.

I really didn’t know what to expect for my first lunchtime visit to their new SE Water Avenue location (just across from clarklewis and next door to Bunk Bar), but I did expect it to be crowded. And it was. We arrived just before noon on a Tuesday and the line stretched the length of the front windows…but luckily there is a good amount of standing room inside (otherwise that’s a big dealbreaker on rainy PDX days).

You order and pay at the counter and then (hopefully) find a seat. There’s a massive menu displayed on the wall and the ordering process is straightforward. Pick a dashi (Japanese-style stock) flavor, choose anything you would like to add on and you’re done!

Boke Bowl also offers a couple side dishes (kimchi, assorted pickles, etc.), steamed buns and desserts just in case that oversized bowl of noodles, veggies and deliciousness wasn’t quite filling enough.

I went with the pork and chicken dashi, which includes smoked pulled pork ($9) and my lunch pal went for the seafood miso dashi with shrimp ($10). We also indulged our sweet tooths and opted to get the chocolate with coconut cream Boke twinkie.

We were lucky enough on that visit to find a place to sit right away. There are several single tables, but the most common seating option is the communal long tables. While the communal style might seem a little awkward at first, you never really feel that your dining neighbors are too close for comfort. Continue reading Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Gallery: Bite of Oregon (Part 2)

Yet another wonderful Bite of Oregon weekend wrapped up Sunday evening, and I’m sure plenty of Portlanders and PDX visitors happily walked away with burstin’ bellies. We know we did!

Our Favorites
Entree: Pork ribs (Adam’s Rib, Salem)
Small plate: Kobe slider with wasabi mayo (Rogue, Portland)
Side: Asian spiced potato chips (The Reserve Vineyards, Aloha)
Dessert: Miss Hannah’s Gourmet Popcorn (Tualatin)
Wine: Sangria (Hip Chicks Do Wine, Portland)
Beer: Watershed IPA (Oakshire Brewing, Eugene)

What were your favorite Bite bites and bevvies??

We already can’t wait until 2012. Cheers!

Gallery: Bite of Oregon (Part 1)

Busy, BUSY weekend here in Stumptown. We have many more Bite photos to post, but in the meantime take a taste of the 2011 event! Cheers! P.S., The Bite runs 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, so you still have time to check out the delicious treats yourself.

Review: Pine State Biscuits

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Pine State Biscuits
3640 SE Belmont Street
Portland, Oregon 97214
(503) 236-3346
Map It!
Rating: ★★★★☆

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Who doesn’t love warm flaky biscuits? I certainly do, and one of my favorite meals of all time is biscuits and gravy. So when I heard about Pine State Biscuits, I knew I had to try it out.

When we arrived there was a line stretching all the way out the front door. It was a very warm sunny day, so the short wait to order wasn’t a problem. The restaurant is teeny-tiny, so most people were ordering to go. But we were brave and opted to eat there, hoping a table would free up before we got our food. Luckily we were able to snag the only four-person table there-be warned that there are only three tables and a small counter with stools. Take-out is going to be your best bet if you go during peak eating hours.

I was tempted by everything on their small menu, but opted for the McIsley ($6), a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, pickles, mustard and honey. I was completely satisfied with my choice. The chicken was moist and the combination was delicious. My only complaint (and one of my lunch companions agreed) was that the biscuits were a little on the dry side. Continue reading Review: Pine State Biscuits

HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel

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Sapphire Hotel
5008 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR
503-232-6333
**Opens at 4 p.m.
Map It!

Rating: ★★★★★

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Dark, candlelit and romantic, Sapphire Hotel is both a terrific place for a date or gathering with friends for happy hour. It’s an especially nice place to duck into on one of those long, rainy Stumptown winter afternoons, when you have some free time and you’re looking for a hearty snack and a good drink.

Tucked away on the east end of SE Hawthorne, Sapphire isn’t open for lunch (they SO should be!), but the happy hour is worth taking a late lunch and calling it an early workday. Happy hour runs everyday of the week from 4 to 6 p.m., and then picks up again from 10 p.m. to midnight (Sunday thru Thursday). Continue reading HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel