Pok Pok Noi: Som Cocktails+
We had an extravagant four day visit to Portland to catch up on some new places and revisit some favorites. Day #2 we wanted to revisit the NE Alberta Street neighborhood with unique shopping and bar hopping without the gale force winds and rain of our previous visit. The highlights of strolling up one side of Alberta six or eight blocks and down the other were clear. We loved Redbird Studios, all hand made items, bought fabulous letterpress note cards and could have bought much more. The selection at Cord nearby was fascinating and curated like a museum. I almost bought a waxed canvas bag I still think about. If it's there when we go back, it's mine. After exciting window shopping in the 97 degree heat Binks was the the place to cool off with a beverage.
The lunch we'd promised ourselves after shopping was the new Pok Pok close by. When we arrived the sign on the door said NOPE and there was no line! Two picnic tables out front are a friendly way to deal with the usual hungry people waiting. The door soon opened to reveal a long long narrow bar area that opened to a large covered patio area. The menu is much smaller, more like the top ten favorites from the big siblings, charcoal roasted hen, Ike's wings, papaya salad and a few specials. We tried a northern Thai mild curry noodle soup and a papaya salad with shredded pork. I couldn't resist trying a fresh grapefruit beverage, the Hunny, with tequila, lime and honey som, straight up and very refreshing. Cool food on a hot day as you might imagine lusting after while traveling in south east Asia.
Being the marketeer he is, Andy Ricker misses no opportunities to put his goods in your hands and mouth. Behind the bar was a irresistible display of his line of drinking vinegars, some call shrubs, he calls SOMs. One splash is delicious in a glass of sparkling water but of course he has created drink recipes that showcase the intense flavors. An acid lover, such as I am, drinks a spoonful from time to time to get that vinegar bite with a sweet herbal surround. Isn't vinegar medicinal? I like Som also instead of a squeeze of lime or lemon in a cocktail or in a vinaigrette for a lively salad. The flavor is addictive.
A kindred spirit created a drink called the Thai Gin Rickie with the Thai Basil Som, gin and soda water garnished with mint and cucumber. We like it!