portland getaway: part II

in the beginning of march, chris and i headed back down to portland to explore and taste all the delicious food it has to offer. since it’s been about 2.5 years since we were last there (how is that possible?) i thought i’d share an update on some of our favorite spots to eat, because let’s be honest, that’s all we do when we visit another city.

we took the amtrak early saturday morning, we’re talking 7:30am, and made it in to Portland just around 11am. the train is my favorite way to travel to portland. it’s easy to check-in & get on, it’s relaxing, and there is great scenery. if you’re ever traveling from seattle to portland, or really anywhere – check out amtrak.

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we planned to spend most of our time on the east side of the river on hawthorne and division so we found a hotel in that area. normally we like to try to save money by staying in airbnbs when we travel, but in portland it’s more cost-effective to stay in a hotel, which is my preference, so win-win for me!

okay, on to the good stuff… food, food, & more food! when i go out to eat i’m always hoping for a magical experience, otherwise, maybe we should have just stayed home & cooked. anyone else feel that way? there’s not a single spot that we went to that didn’t leave us craving more.

first stop was lunch at bollywood theater. from the street you can tell that it’s going to rock your socks off. it’s inside of a california-style abode building with beautiful plants and a large patio covered with cafe lights. then you step inside. there’s bollywood films playing on the wall and there is this rustic, yet hip feel about the place. owner troy maclarity’s hope in starting bollywood theater was to bring the atmosphere of india to portland.

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the menu consists of an array of indian street food options, with a short list of small plates. there are tons of vegetarian options and a few amazing meat picks. here’s what chris & i ordered: pork vindaloo (a portugese-influenced dish), gobi manchurian (an indo-chinese cauliflower dish), and paratha (flatbread). and oh my, were we impressed! the food was full of flavor, perfectly cooked, and an all-together experience.

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once you’ve finished your meal you can head over to their little market area and buy cookbooks, spices, and other ingredients to recreate your experience back at home. if you’re ever in portland – don’t miss this one.

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seattle’s donut scene is pretty lackluster, at least in comparison to what i’ve experienced in los angeles. so, when we go to portland i always like to make a trip to bluestar donuts. it’s the closest thing i can find to sidecar doughnuts, which are the best. ever.

anyway, we stopped in after lunch, just before they closed. surprisingly, they still had a good number of options left. i snagged the last raspberry rosemary buttermilk (YUM) and chris got the OG (horxata glaze). these donuts are sweet, but their flavor packs a punch! i’d definitely recommend the raspberry rosemary. and if you are going anytime soon, bring me back one, please.

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it’s not a trip to portland if we don’t stop at pok pok, twice. saturday night we stopped by our favorite spot in rose city. yes, we waited an hour & a half, and yes it was totally worth it. we always get the same thing when we go here: wings & coconut curry. also sticky rice, always opt for sticky rice when you can. it’s chewy and a comfort to your taste buds as you eat the flaming hot wings (they also offer a non-spicy version).

for our second dessert of the day, we walked over to eb & bean. think pink berry, but organic and local, and i’m not even trying to be ironic. there’s not much more to it than that, though it is so delicious! i went with the same combo i’d go for at pink berry – original frozen yogurt with gummy bears. it’s such a winning combo that chris tried it too. the best part is when the gummy bears freeze and get suuuuper chewy.

sunday we went to pine state biscuits for breakfast, again a must-go-to for us whenever we’re in portland. i always (if you haven’t noticed by now, i’m a creature of habit) grab the same, over stuffed, sammie – the reggie. biscuit with an egg, bacon, fried chicken, and gravy. i try to be healthy and keep my gravy on the side. 😉 my advice, get up and go early to beat the rush.

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after breakfast we checked out of our hotel and found our way over to the west side of portland. a year ago if we had gone to portland we probably would have stopped by at least 3 coffee shops, but we recently stopped drinking coffee, or really caffeine. i know, we’re so lame, but maybe i’ll tell you more about it another time. this trip we did go to heart for some americanos and sunshine. and yes, the sun shines in march in portland. it was even warm enough to sit outside!

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we hit up pok pok again for lunch. this time we went to their location in the alphabet district and tried a new dish – who even are we?? we got muu paa kham waan (boar collar) and sticky rice. if you don’t like spicy food, don’t go near this dish, in chris’ words “it burned my mouth to ashes.” we should have known better since the dish comes with greens chilled on a pile of crushed ice to help with the spice. the waitress told us she likes to eat the ice to cool her palette.. YEAH IT WAS SPICY. still, packed full of flavor and i’m glad we tried it! oh, and i can’t forget about the drinking vinegar. pok pok makes their own drinking vinegars that they mix with soda water. it’s the perfect balance of sweet & tart and a healthy alternative to soda. we tried one of their seasonal flavor – blood orange – and it was of course perfect.

after lunch we were still a bit hungry and really needed to cool our mouths off so we walked through the alphabet district to salt & straw. we waited in line for a while, and even though seattle now has 2 locations, it was totally worth it! we got the ice cream flight, 4 half scoops of any flavor. our picks were pots of gold & rainbows (lucky charms), coava coffee & cocanu craque, honey lavender, and meyer lemon meringue. all the flavors were great, we were definitely surprised by the lucky charms one, but i think our favorite was coava coffee. which, good news for you all, it’s a permanent flavor.

last place we check out was the solo club. i’ll say this, people in portland know how to brunch… until 3 in the afternoon. chris and i rolled into solo club around 2pm and i’m fairly confident everyone there had been brunching since 10am. this spot has a cuban / caribbean vibe with lots of plants, vibrant green, brass, tile, tons of natural light – it felt like a mini get away. we sat down for a quick refresher and some good people watching. i had a glass of sangria and chris tried some vermouth. i regret not taking a picture, but you all should check this spot out, especially in the spring/summer as they have a nice patio area.

sorry for my lack of photos, i promise to do better by you next time! also, if you are looking for non-food things to do in portland, i have some thoughts on that too, but it’s really just not as fun to write about.

 

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Bagels for Saturday

So it’s probably time that we talk about some of the great places that Chris and I like to eat at. The first of many is Eltana, a wood-fired bagel shop. We discovered this gem a few weeks after moving here, and eating there has become a Saturday breakfast tradition.

Eltana is a Mediterranean-inspired bagel shop in the heart of Capitol Hill, sitting between Pike and Pine. They have the cutest little bagels – yes they’re small – and the most flavorful spreads. Their list includes: scallion cream cheese, fig apricot compote, almond butter, harissa hummus, spicy garlic cream cheese, etc. Now I need to be honest with you, I do not like cream cheese. I don’t even like being near it, but my love for bagels runs deep. Eltana is the perfect place for me and all you cream cheese lovers.

When we go we always stick to our favorites. We never go outside of the comfort of our perfect bagel combo. For Chris, it’s a plain bagel with scallion cream cheese (he hates onions but loves this spread). And for me, it’s  a sesame wheat bagel with almond butter. Their almond butter changed my life.

Probably my favorite part about Eltana, and what truly keeps me going back, are the weekly crossword puzzles. I love puzzles -jigsaw, sudoku, you name it – but until I went to Eltana I had never come close to getting one clue right on a crossword. Now I’m hooked, and not just on the easy-peasy ones at Eltana, but the beefy, NY Times ones too. That’s right, I’m really smart.

After we finish eating / around the time Chris gets bored of crosswording, we head a few blocks down the street to Stumptown. It’s not our favorite cafe in Seattle but they have delicious mochas! They use a liquid chocolate mixture so there’s none of that chocolate pool at the bottom of your cup and then they dust the top with some chocolate powder. Mm!

Last Saturday as we were making the trek to Stumptown we noticed that Mighty-O-Donuts is putting a new shop smack dab in the middle of Eltana and Stumptown. All great food outings include 3 stops, am I right or did I just make that up? Needless to say, pretty soon we might just have the perfect combination for a food-coma-filled Saturday: bagels, mochas, donuts.

Meal Planning

My favorite part of the day is mealtime. Yes, I mean mealtime. Not breakfast or lunch or dinner  – all of them. I love every meal! I love to eat and, thankfully, I married someone who is equally excited about food.

Back when Chris and I were dating, all of our dates were planned around good coffee and good food. When we got engaged and made our first budget together, we skimped on every category we could in order to put as much money as possible toward eating out. And I’m not ashamed to say that that hasn’t really changed. For us, nothing could be better than a great meal!

Together we have lived in 3 distinct and very food-savvy places: Los Angeles, Louisville, and Seattle. I know that you’re all thinking, “LOUISVILLE?!” Take that attitude home and go to Louisville – you won’t be disappointed. (I’ll share some of our favorite places to eat out another time.)

More recently, we’ve decided to save money by eating out less and cooking at home. So far, so good! But, cooking meals at home takes lots of planning and that’s what were here to talk about: how to plan healthy, easy, AND delicious meals. It feels daunting, but it’s doable and even fun! We scour magazines, cookbooks, and the Internet each week for new and old recipes.

The easiest meal for us to plan is breakfast (though making it has become a little more complicated). A few months ago we stopped eating cereal and started eating more wholesome foods (no, we’re not paleo, vegetarian, vegan, you name it): eggs, bacon, fruit, oatmeal, or even muffins, waffles, or toast from scratch. That’s not all for one morning but it’s an assortment that we rotate through.

Lunch is our least favorite. What do people eat for lunch?! For us, it usually ends up being left overs.

Our favorite meal? Definitely dinner. There are so many options and it’s the most fun to cook. We both work full time, though, so right now the challenge is to find dinners that are quick. There’s almost always Indian food on the menu and “Fish Fry Friday” (we have yet to actually fry it).

Once we’ve gotten our meals figured out, we’re off to the stores – yes, more than one. We usually get a few things from one of the farmer’s markets and then shop around at  2, MAYBE 3, grocery stores. It sounds crazy but each one has unique things to offer and some things at better prices than others.

On Sundays we’ll prep a few things for the week, like chicken stock or English muffin bread. Then we’re off! We cook together every few nights, try to make enough for leftovers.

So what’s been on the menu this week?

Pork Tamales (Joy of Cooking)

African Peanut Soup (The Oregonian Cookbook)

Pesto Chicken Power Bowl (made up dish)

Brussel Sprout and Sweet Potato Hash (Love and Lemons Blog)

Fish – we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it

With the exception of the tamales, these are some easy and tasty meals! I’ll keep sharing our weekly menus for you to try, as well. In the words of Julia Child, “bon appetite.”