Friday, March 15, 2013

What I Ate in Portland

I am blessed enough to have a few friends with whom I've been close since high school. Time, marriage, and jobs have result in everyone being spread out across the country, but we do our best to stay in touch. So when Caitlin and Kris moved to Portland last fall to be part of Hinson Baptist Church, and Southwest ran a sale a few months later, plans for a reunion were in motion. The timing worked out to be a good break for Bekah, whose husband is on a year-long deployment. (Even though I miss Jason on his trips away, it’s nothing compared to the year on your own with two kids. God has given that woman serious grace!  Plus, travelling with kids is no joke.  Thanks, Bekah, for making the trip despite the trunk-load of stuff that you had to bring across the country.)

Caitlin, our wonderful host

Because this trip was on the heels of our Africa trip, the only thing I really had time to research was where to eat, so I think that’s about all we did (priorities!). If we had been there when it was a little warmer, I would have loved to check out more of the hiking or gardens. Another blog I read had a nice list of things to do in Portland right after we got back, so I’d probably have done some more of these things if I’d know.

When we made the plans I kind of forgot Kris and Caitlin live in a place the size of our condo, which is to say: way too small for three extra adults and two kids. Rose and I ended up staying at the Hotel Monaco, which if you have ever stayed in a Kimpton hotel, you know is amazing! It's right in the middle of downtown, walkable to lots of good eating, shopping, the river walk and Powell's. They upgraded us so we got a sweet suite (get it!) and (because Rose found their secret password of the month) free breakfast.

So Portland was a really fun city. A little grey, a little granola. Known for being environmentally friendly, coffee, food and micro brews it is my kind of place. Well.. mostly. I'm not used to feeling like I'm the pretentious one because I'm wearing a pea coat and not a Marmot jacket. Plus, it was the first time I've had a friend who takes more extreme steps to recycle than I do (although Caitlin will be the first to admit she only composts because it's the law). I guess I didn't realize there was such a different vibe between East Coast and Northwest. One person asked me about that show "House of Cards" upon learning I am from DC, which I thought was funny.  (I don't watch the show so could only pass along hearsay.)  I loved the abundance of good eats, neighborhoods with unique character, and boutiques filled with items made by independent artisans. (What does that word "artisan" even mean? It just seems to fit in Portland so I said it.) We went to the zoo, took a drive up Mount Hood, saw the view from Council Crest, Multnoma Falls, and explored Powell's bookstore. But really the main thing we did was eat. Like, sometimes we had to find things to do to fill the time between meals, which usually meant getting a coffee or a snack. So here is the list:

Red Star Tavern (American, at the hotel): I had the caldo verde (pork w chilies, chard & potatoes), with the Occidental brewing hefeweizen, and both were some of my favorites of the trip.

Broder (Scandinavian): I was a little disappointed with the lefse. Mostly because I was wanting the sweet version my grandpa used to make and this one had a savory and slightly sour taste. Rose loved her breakfast though.

Stumptown Coffee: So famous. Enough said.

Pok Pok (Asian): Their special fish sauce wings and pineapple vinegar soda were unique and flavorful enough that I'd definitely go back, though, what I think was the Cha Ca "La Vong" (a fish vermicelli dish) was somewhat bland.

Tasty 'n Sons (American): Here we split a bunch of dishes and they were all so so wonderful (French toast, sausage ragu polenta, fried chicken and cheddar biscuit, mortician chicken hash).

Timberline Lodge hot chocolate: we did this more for the scenic drive, though the hot chocolate was pretty scenic as well.

St Jack's (French): I don't even like tomatoes but their tomato soup w puffed pastry was delicious as were the steak frites.

Food truck: of course we had to eat at a food truck! DC has food trucks that drive around but Portland's were more like "food trailers" as they were all set up in a designated parking lot and didn't appear especially mobile. Either way, I got a huge Pad Thai for $5, so they've got us beat on price.

Coava Coffee: this place wins for the tastiest cappuccino, coolest space (it's in a woodworking shop) and most expensive beans, though they comp your drink if you tell them it's your first time there. (Although don't tell them that if you've been there before. What? I wasn't conjuring up dishonest ways to get free stuff!)

And some pictures.. I forgot to bring the charger for my big camera so these are just iPhone pics and I never did get a good one of us girls together:

These kiddos couldn't handle the excitement!
Multnoma Falls

Timmy is four, which is a really fun age because he can hold conversations, but his logic is not always the same as adult logic.  We were driving down a bumpy road and every bump he'd ask me, "ARE YOU OK?" I'd say, "I'm ok, are you ok?"  And then he'd launch into an explanation of what I really should have said instead, "When I say 'Are you ok?' you say 'Are you ok?'" 

"But Timmy, that's what I said."   And then the same conversation would occur the next bump.

Left to right and clockwise: Tasty 'n Sons, lefse from Broder, Timberline Lodge hot chocolate, and Pok Pok 

Stunning views from Mt. Hood

Was that it? If that's not enough for you, I can send you my spreadsheet based off the Eater top 38 list and a few other sources.  After this I put on my stretchy pants and didn't make it home because I was over the allowable weight limit for the plane ride home. Not really, but I did force myself to jog one morning.

Honestly it was awesome just to hang out with good friends. We had lots of talks, laughs, and maybe even unknowingly broke some laws. I'm sure we'll be back, and this time I'll remember to pack some Tupperware as well as a flannel shirt and some Toms.

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