Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vacation Eating Extravaganza: Portland

I’m back!  Okay, I’ve been back for like two weeks, but I’ve been busy with work and life and just getting back into the groove of things.  Scott and I spend 12 days driving around the Pacific northwest, and we had an AMAZING time!  We wish we could move there right now.  We started in Portland, which I loved.  It is a great food town with a laid back vibe, and I could see myself living there.
When we first arrived, we had dinner at a place called the Little Bird Bistro.  It is this adorable French bistro.  Scott and I shared one of the best charcuterie plates I have ever had. Everything was made in-house, and you could tell that even though there were only a few bites of each type, they were each made with love.  The truffle crème brulee was divine, but so rich I was glad I had Scott to share it with!  I then had the confit of Poussin aka baby chicken.  I’m not a huge fan of chicken, but I figured in a place called “Little Bird Bistro” they better make a ROCKING chicken.  And I was right.  It was super tender, and just melted off the bone. 
The next morning, we had to make a pilgrimage to Voodoo donuts.  I figured that it was something you just have to do.  So we went, and it was worth every tooth-rotting sugar filled bite. Scott of course got the infamous maple-bacon bar, and I had a donut covered in fruit loops.  We decided to split the Memphis Mafia, which is fried dough with banana chunks and Cinnamon sugar, covered in a glaze of chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts, and chocolate chips. We ate about half of that before I felt like a diabetic coma was coming on.
Since we had such giant breakfast both days in Portland, we decided to just skip lunch.  For our second dinner, we went to Gruner, a modern German restaurants where I ate carbs covered in cheese, and it was great! Gruner was on GQ’s top ten best new restaurants in 2010, and Christopher Israel, the chef was nominated for a James Beard award in 2011.
Scott and I started by sharing the  crisp polenta croquettes stuffed with raclette cheese, and then I had the  tarte flambée:  alsatian “pizza” with sweet onions, smoky bacon, fromage blanc, chives, which could have been an entrée.  The croquettes were delightfully crispy and the cheese just oozed from the inside.  The “pizza” was on a super-thin crust that was rich enough to stand up to the bacon and cheese.  For my entrée, I had the quark spätzle with chanterelles, edelweiss black forest ham, riesling, crème fraîche, asiago & chives aka more carbs and cheese (and pork!). It was so so rich, but in a great way.
 On our second day, for breakfast we went across the bridge to Pine State Biscuits. Another ridiculous meal that was totally delicious.  I had the Reggie, which is a biscuit with fried chicken, bacon, cheese and gravy. Scott had the Chatfield, which is the same as the Reggie but with apple butter instead of gravy. I’m not sure who won this one, because they were both delicious. For dinner that night we went on a beer crawl and just had appetizers.  We started at Bridgeport Brewing Company, where we each had a beer sampler and pretzels with beer spread.  I really enjoyed the beers at Bridgeport.  They were fresh and all had good clean flavors. 
We then moved onto Rogue, where we had kobe meatballs stuffed with blue cheese, and buffalo chips, which were super thick cup potato chips in buffalo sauce.  We also had beer samplers at Rogue, but you got to pick which beers you wanted.  I chose beers like Morimoto Soba Ale and Yellow Snow IPA.  Finally we ended up at Deschutes, which was my least favorite.  First of all, the service was terrible.  It was impossible to get anyone to help you when standing in the bar area, and there were clearly waiters that were supposed to be working that area.  We only had one beer each there, and it was just okay.  There we had a grilled Washington Pear and goat cheese flatbread, that was made with a spent grain dough.  The dough made of the spent grains was interesting, but overall was not very exciting.
Finally on our last morning in Portland, before we headed out to Yakima, we had breakfast at Kenny and Zukes, which was right next to the Ace Hotel where we stayed.  I had the 222, which was 2 eggs, 2 slices of pastrami and 2 latkes, and a bialy. The bialy was a little softer than the kind I am used to from New York, but it was really good in a different way.  The pastrami was AMAZING.  It was sliced thickly, and almost reminded me of bacon.  Speaking of which, I need to get Scott to smoke me some pastrami! 
That is just the first installment of my vacation eating extravaganza.  More will be coming soon!

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