At the beginning of February I met up with two of my best friends in New Orleans, LA to celebrate 17 years of friendship. While the trip didn’t fall on our anniversary (you better believe we have one!), we wanted to make it a celebration of our relationship and strove to create an awesome long weekend of fun, friends, and so much food! Spoiler alert: we were successful! The three of us are scattered in different cities around the United States now (Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; and Philadelphia, PA) and we picked New Orleans since it was kinda-sorta in the middle.Continue reading “What to Do During a Long Weekend in New Orleans”
Lemon Veggie Wild Rice
Well, it’s officially autumn here in Portland! The leaves are falling, the skies are grey, and it’s been raining a good amount. Autumn makes me want warm food, a hot fire, and a good book. Since I keep my pantry well stocked with yummy grains and non-perishables, I often buy a bunch of veggies to sauté together which I throw on top of rice or lentils or whatever else Fred Meyer’s organic bulk section is stocking. I decided to mix it up a little bit the other day and stumbled into this yummy new dish I’ll be cooking up for years to come. I brought it to my
first-cousin-once-removed-in-law’s uncle’s 76th birthday (sometimes it’s easier to simplify familial relationships). I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious this simple dish is! Give yourself some time in the kitchen to get everything going, but then pop it into the oven and socialize until it’s time to eat. Covered after removing from the oven, this will stay plenty hot for 30-40 minutes, so it really is great for taking to a friend’s house or to make ahead for your own gathering!
Lemon Veggie Wild Rice
Serves 6-8 as main dish and 12-14 people as a side.
1.5 cups organic, tri-color wild rice
2 cups organic vegetable broth
1.75 cups water
1/2 stick butter or 2 tablespoons olive oil
5 small, organic carrots
4 stalks organic celery
1 small onion (I used a yellow onion, but a red onion would taste amazing in this!)
1 medium, organic leek
6-8 leaves sliced, fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/3 cup chopped, fresh parsley
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 organic lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
feta cheese to sprinkle
Start by putting the rice, broth and water in a medium sized pot over high heat, bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 20-30 mins until water is absorbed. Melt butter (or heat oil) over medium heat in 4 quart dutch oven (or other large oven safe vessel). Chop carrots and celery and add to pot with butter, sauté for 5-1o minutes, stirring frequently. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Chop leek, and onions and add to carrot celery pot, sauté together ten minutes, stirring frequently. Test rice, it should be soft with a slight crunch. Once rice is cooked, turn off heat on both pots and add rice to sautéd veggies. Add cranberries, salt, pepper, sliced almonds, and the grated rind and juice of one lemon. Stir together, cover with lid, and place in oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove lid, and let rest for ten minutes, then serve sprinkled with feta cheese.
Let me know if you try making this! It’s perfect for a fall night, but the easily found ingredients make it a dish that can be served year round.
Mango Mint Salad
I’m sharing another recipe from the dishes I served at my birthday party today! Remember the spread? The colorful crostini? Here is something equally simple that you can totally make ahead of time! Boom! Easy! My favorite.
I’ve always just loved mangos. My mom always gave them to us during the summer when I was little. She’d cut them up into little “porcupines” as we called it and we’d use our teeth to scrape off chunks of the delicious fruit, the juices running down our chins until we were sticky messes. Don’t worry, this recipe isn’t anywhere near that messy.
My favorite way to cut mangos — for this recipe and just for eating in general– is to slice the mango on either side of the pit. You should end up with 3 pieces, each about one-third the size of the mango, the pit piece being the smallest. Take each side and slice a grid into the flesh of the fruit with your knife. Then use your fingers to push on the peel side of the piece of fruit until it’s “inside-out” and looks like a series of rectangular projections on a hillside (or a porcupine!). Then use your knife to slice off the projection fruit flesh.
This Mango Mint Salad is easy, peasy. It requires only three ingredients and can be whipped up in a few minutes. It’s a great use for slightly over-ripened mangos and can be stored in the fridge for a few days, then brought to room temperature, before serving. It’s great for a side dish at lunch or breakfast. It’s a great dish to bring to a barbecue on a hot summer day. With organic mangos at Berkeley Bowl selling at 10 for $5.00 in the summers, I’m guaranteed to make this dish another half dozen times this season alone!
MANGO MINT SALAD
Serves as a side dish for 4-8 people
4 – Organic Mangos
3 – Organic Limes
15-20 – Medium-Sized Organic Mint Leaves (freshly plucked from the stem)
Cut the mangos into bite sized pieces no larger than three-quarters of an inch. Place into medium sized bowl. Juice the limes and add the liquid to the mangos. Slice the mint leaves into small pieces and stir into the mangos. Let rest for at least thirty minutes, stirring occasionally, before serving. The rest period allow the mango to absorb more of the lime juice.
Wasn’t that quick and easy? I promise it’s so delicious, you have to try! I made it the day of my party and then again this weekend to bring to a crab feed. It’s incredibly yummy. I even paired it with avocado toast for breakfast a couple days after my party.
Does anyone else have a fruit that just screams summer to them? That’s what mangos do for me! They’re so inspiring, I know as soon as they come to under $1/each in the grocery store, it’s time for sand, sunscreen, and some lazy, hazy days of summer!
Colorful Spring Crostini
You remember my birthday party spread? Delicious spring ingredients and lots of finger foods!
I am mildly obsessed with crostini. You’ve seen my fall fave, Pomegranate, Butternut Squash Crostini, and I’m here today to share some delightful spring combinations! This isn’t an exact recipe, but rather a guideline on a great, easy, and colorful way to make a huge variety of crostini.
For my party, I started with a few basic crostini ingredients: baguettes and spreads. I knew I was going have quite a few people over, so I thinly sliced two baguettes and toasted the little pieces in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-7 minutes. I wanted them to be golden, but not browned at all and just perfectly crunchy. While they were toasting, I made my spreads. Since I was doing many different flavor variations on the toppings, my spreads were basic. I used about 12 ounces of ricotta per baguette, mixing it with a bit of cream so it would spread more smoothly. I then took half of the ricotta-cream mixture and microplaned in the rind of one lemon as well as the juice. You could easily add some chopped fresh herbs at this stage too. After that it was all the toppings! The night before I’d roasted my veggies for about 10-15 minutes with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil, leaving the vegetable-y taste: cherry tomatoes, thin slivers of zucchini and carrot, red bell pepper. I whipped up a little caramelized onion: letting it sizzle gently on the stove for just under and hour before adding a bit of water and some balsamic vinegar. I also boiled some asparagus for about 5 minutes until it was just cooked, but still had a bit of a crunch. Other toppings I used included toasted almond slivers, walnuts, and pinenuts, avocado, and cucumber. After that, it was just a little more flavor with herbs: fresh mint, basil, and dill thinly sliced and sprinkled on top. On some crostini I gently drizzled a little honey to bring out a bit of sweet flavor.
Simple right? And oh so delicious. It was a lot of toppings, but the prep was simple and I did most of the cooking the night before. The day of, I took all the veggies out of the refrigerator and brought them to room temperature before putting all the crostini together. It was quick and painless and abso-freaking-lutely gorgeous!
Here are some of my favorite flavor combinations:
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Asparagus, Toasted Almonds, Dill
Ricotta Spread, Basil, Honey
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Avocado, Dill
Ricotta Spread, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Basil
Ricotta Spread, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Bell Pepper
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Carrot, Mint
Ricotta Spread, Caramelized Onion, Toasted Almonds
Ricotta Spread, Walnuts, Honey
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Zucchini, Basil, Toasted Almonds,
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Roasted Zucchini, Roasted Carrot, Dill,
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Caramelized Onion, Walnuts
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pear, Almond, Basil
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pear, Walnut, Honey
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Basil, Pine Nuts
Lemon-Ricotta Spread, Pine Nuts, Roasted Zucchini, Dill
The best part is an hour and a half of prep with just a little bit of a whole lot of ingredients gets you a wonderful plethora of creative and colorful crostini! At my party I was able to prep some other dishes that involved more knowledge of the recipe, while putting three great helpers on crostini duty. I gave them my list of suggestions, but they enjoyed coming up with their own creative combinations, leading to a delightful, varying snack.
What’s your favorite party food? Do you like to prep a bunch of food before hand or cook everything the day of?
This past Saturday I turned
thirty-five twenty-four and despite my wish to be about ten years older, it was a wonderful birthday weekend!
Friday evening I threw a big birthday party at my house. I absolutely love having parties. They don’t need to be formal or a lot of work to be fun! I did most of my party prep on Thursday evening after work so Friday I had plenty time to do the last few things before my guests arrived. Lucky me, I had some wonderful helpers on Friday who helped get everything ready to go in the last few minutes so I had time to shower!
I’ll be sharing a few recipes the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to give you a little preview. We prepped quite a spread. My personal food mantra is there is never too much. I’ve inherited a love of food and feeding people from my father’s side of the family. I simply am not comfortable when I have visitors unless there is a drink in their hand and a snack in their mouth. I have aunts who simply will not rest when you come over, unless you’ve eaten a post-dinner snack and have a bowl of ice cream with homemade fudge sauce in your hand. It’s one of the most endearing qualities of my extended family. These are definitely traits that have been passed on from my parent’s generation to my cousins and I. My food table was quickly full!
So at the party I wanted to do a few simple things. I prepped a quick version of my delicious, thick, vegan Butternut Squash Soup on Thursday evening. On Friday I quickly heated up a veggie broth, added everything I’d roasted the day before, and pureed it all together. Then my three helpers (my darling sister Bronwyn, and two of my best friends, Hannah & Nicole) put together a small army of crostini, the toppings of which I’d also prepped on Thursday. Now I love a good crostini, they’re delicious! I’ve already shared my favorite fall appetizer, a Pomegranate, Butternut Squash, Lemon Ricotta crostini and these spring versions were just as easy! They came out just gorgeous and oh so colorful! I promise they also tasted as good as they looked. Other foods I served? A delicious (but small) Mango-Mint Salad, a cheese plate, and a Spring Veggie Couscous salad. Yum! To top off the entire evening of eating, my sister made an absolutely gorgeous chocolate raspberry cake. It was beautiful! Chocolate raspberry is my dream cake so I was in dessert heaven.
For my actual birthday on Saturday, I went out to brunch with my parents and sister at a place in North Berkeley called Cafe Leila. The food was alright. I think the pastries are the way to go at that place, but I ordered pancakes. They were a bit undercooked. Oops! Their selection of teas and lattes is pretty amazing though. We all shared one of their cronuts as well. That was flakey and delicious! My parents gifted me an amazing sewing machine that does an amazing number of awesome stitches so look forward to some sewing tutorials in the future! First step? Hemming some curtains for my bedroom!
After brunch my parents left and my friend Hannah arrived. My sister, Hannah, and I then all headed down the California coast towards Santa Cruz! We got a super late start, leaving shortly after 1:00pm. We took 92 over the San Mateo Bridge and over into Half Moon Bay. Before we got to the cute town, we stopped at some of the nurseries to see the amazing array of plants. The greenhouses were humid and simple signs reading “Orchids for Sale” did nothing to disclose the amazing sites within. Orchids as far as you could see in every direction. In every color! It was beautiful!
In another greenhouse, there were amazing carnivorous plants (many of which I wanted to buy considering our summer fly problem!) and nestled among them tiny fairy houses. It was so cute! And these carnivorous plants were so interesting and unusual.
Lastly there were the succulents and cacti! Plants to die for! I wanted to take all of them home and slowly kill them (my go-to method for succulent care). They were so beautiful though!
After I’d died and gone to heaven at the nurseries we continued the little ways down Highway 92 into Half Moon Bay where we stopped briefly for sandwich snacks at a small deli and creeped on adorable chicks at the cute hay and feed store on Main Street. Some day I will get to go in and buy those baby chicks rather than just looking! Seriously, there is nothing cuter, y’all!
After our pit stop, we hopped onto Highway One and continued down the beautiful coast, stopping occasionally to take in the ocean views. At one point we found what seemed to be a wind surfing convention. Literally dozens of windsurfers were winding their way around in the water by this one beach. It was beautiful and so colorful! All the colors of the sails seemed so joyful against the backdrop of the blue ocean and sky.
By the time we got into Santa Cruz it was already pretty late. We stopped first at Penny Ice Creamery for Bitter Carmel cones topped with toasted marshmallow fluff. If you haven’t tried this yet, do it! It’s the most amazing combination! The only Penny Ice Creamery to have this combo, seemingly, is the one on 41st Street, so be sure to plan accordingly! We walked with our cones down to Pleasure Point where we found a nice bench to finish devouring them. We spotted a pod of dolphins in the distance which made it even more lovely. We walked down East Cliff for a little while, watching the surfers and beach-goers.
After our short walk, we headed to Pacific Ave for some window shopping before finishing the evening with dinner at I Love Sushi (we got four of the five Vegetarian Special Rolls and split them) and a bowl of soul at Verve Coffee. All too soon it was time to hit the road, but it had been a truly lovely birthday!
What do you like to do for your birthdays? Celebrate with a big party? A few friends? Just spend time with your family?
We Ate Our Way Through Portland – PART II
Post Saturday and Sunday we were full. Very satiated. Don’t worry, though. We kept eating. Monday morning in Portland. Day three of our trip. We we woke up early. REALLY early. We dropped Scott off at work at 6:40am. Then we went back to the house and saw Nikki off before hopping into Nikki’s car and heading to Pip’s Doughnuts. Why don’t more people talk about Pip’s Doughnuts?! This place is AMAZING! First of all, it’s on the cutest little street. NE Fremont Street looks like something straight out of the 1940’s. The buildings all told a story. We ended up wandering through the surrounding neighborhood as well, the houses were all adorable! They all looked different and were painted fun colors. The cottages and craftsman style homes all seemed so historical and stylish compared with California’s constant stream of ranch style homes painted beige or grey with black trim.
Let’s go inside Pip’s though and get to the good stuff. First of all, they had these cute cans filled with succulents. Too cute!
I’ve always wanted to do something like this! Just need cans that look old, but are still waterproof. Anyways, Nicole and I waited for a short bit, ordered our food, and quickly got a table. We split the Chai Latte Flight and eight doughnuts. We loved every flavor of doughnut we tried, my favorite was the Dirty Wu, but the Meyer Lemon Pear Butter was fresh and delicious, you can’t go wrong with Raw Honey and Sea Salt, or the Nutella and Sea Salt. Basically anything with sea salt is amazing. Nicole loved the Candied Bacon and Maple too. And oh my god. The chai flight. This was my personal heaven, y’all. Five kinds of chai lattes. Each tastier than the next. My favorite was a bit surprising. The Emmylou is non-caffeinated and made from an herbal tea with lavender, camomile, and chrysanthemum. It taste like relaxation and yoga breaths, lazy Sundays and rainy days by the fire. Amazing. My next favorite was the King & I, which was more of a traditional chai. Nicole preferred Ginger Rodgers and Heart of Gold. The former was gingery and spicy, the latter had hints of coconut and turmeric. Neither of us really liked the Smokey Robinson, which, as you may have guessed from the name, had a distinct smokey flavor. We finished the doughnuts as well as four of the chais and left half a cup of the Smokey Robinson behind.
After Pip’s we headed to Alberta which quickly became our favorite little street in Portland. There were so many cute shops and we shopped till we dropped. I bought a cute dog collar at Healthy Pets Northwest for my parent’s pooch who recently outgrew her old one. We both bought tank dresses at Frock which was a cute store with happy colors and lots of cool clothing. We both adored Digs which had a cool mix of home items, gardening supplies, and some clothing. They had so many cool containers and tons of air plants. I fell in love with a Turkish towel bathrobe, but the price tag had me balking.
And, then it was time to eat again. Yup. We ate more. And more. And more. This time we stopped at Pine State Biscuits.
We nommed on The Regina and The Double Down. Lot’s of eggs. Lot’s of gravy. Plenty of deliciousness. Nicole and I were splitting almost every meal at this point. We just wanted to be able to try all the options. It was amazing. Here’s The Regina in all her glory. We gobbled down The Double Down before I could snap a picture.
After gorging ourselves once again, we stumbled outside and discovered two awesome mural walls. One had a fantastic message, which I very much appreciated it.
Of course, we had to take some pictures. We propped my phone up on a bush, then a random car (scaring the owner who was getting a haircut enough for him to send the stylist out to make sure we weren’t doing anything bad to it! Oops! Sorry!) and set the timer.
We had some fun with that. I love how the colors of the mural pop against our black and grey outfits. Sometimes taking a good picture is all about finding the right setting.
After wandering back down Alberta we hopped into the car with the plan to hit up Powell’s Books and the Pearl District before picking up Nikki at her office. Fail. We drove down Mississippi Street and quickly realized we needed to stop and venture into the shops on this cute street as well!
We headed into PDXchange, a fair trade and local store, where I bough a necklace made from a bullet in which a trellis pattern had been melted. Miraculously, at the end of the trip TSA did let me wear this through security!
We stopped for coffee and tea at the Fresh Pot before continuing to pop into every shop along the street. Before long, it was time to pick up Nikki so we headed south towards her office. We actually arrived a bit early so we stopped in at the nearby Goodwill Superstore and ended up buying coordinating silver containers at $3 buck a pop. We plan on planting succulents in them. After we nabbed Nikki, we decided to stop in at Grand Marketplace to oooh and ahhh at all the antiques.
There was lots of silver similar to what we’d just purchased at the Goodwill Superstore, but for 10 times the price, but many other things caught my eye. The displays were so artful and fun! You felt like you were in a bohemian apartment in the 1920’s. It was delightful to walk around the large shop.
One day, I’m building myself a big kitchen island that looks like the above. So beautifully worn, so functional. We managed to convince Nikki to hit up the Motherland while we were some what near by. This is when I got really excited!
No trip to Portland would be complete without a stop at Powell’s Books! I wish I could say I spent my time exploring the entire store, but in truth, I quickly picked up a copy of Wildwood as a hostess gift for Nikki and then dove into the urban agriculture section immersing myself in books on backyard chickens and goats. For an hour. I could have stayed for ten hours in that section alone!
After Powell’s we picked up Scott from their house and headed to the Chapel Pub for dinner. We got a cozy little table right next to a small fireplace. I used my girl scout skills to take the fire from coals to brightly burning flames. I ordered a hot buttered rum for the first time. Literally the best drink I’ve ever tried. My new favorite. So good and creamy! Definitely searching out a local place to try that again.
Then we ate. So. Much. Food. Greek tater tots and Cajun french fries? Yes please. Nikki and I both got veggie burgers. Then we split dessert. We ate and ate and ate. I couldn’t even look at food afterwards. That night we fell into bed, happy, full, and exhausted. Nicole was leaving the next day and we still had things to do!
Tuesday morning, Nicole woke up early and dropped Scott off at work. When she got back, I woke up, threw on clothes, and then we took Nikki to her office. We then had what we called “dirty breakfast” still half-asleep, partially in last nights clothes, unshowered. We planned to return to Nikki’s to clean up after our meal. We went to Zell’s which was close to Nikki’s office. We ordered Eggs Florentine and a German Pancake with Pear Butter and slices. Nicole and I both make these Germanic style pancakes (recipes courtesy of our Oma’s, mine German, hers Dutch), but this one was puffier than our own. It was fluffy and delicious. Yum. After breakfast (how could we ever eat again?!), we headed back to Nikki’s to clean up before driving over to the west side to visit Washington Park.
We drove through the beautiful park for a while, admiring the stunning forest before wandering out into the wealthy neighborhoods surrounding the park. We spent the next hour looking at houses in the hills before it was time to drive Nicole to the airport. I dropped her off with a hug and a see you at work soon! Then I hit the highway towards Multnomah Falls. Wow, it was a gorgeous drive and when I was arrived it was once again, like walking into a fairy tale. The little lodge looked like a tiny medieval inn, ready to bed down lonely travelers for the the night. The falls? Absolutely stunning.
Everything was misty from the falls, a light dew descending on anything and everything within sight. The damp atmosphere gave plenty of moss the energy to grow, making everything gorgeously green. Moss covered stairs right out of my dreams.
Moss covered stone walls inspired me to pet them. Repeatedly. Seriously, Portland is so green! It’s the place that defines the word lush. Lush greenery abounds.
I climbed up to the bridge to take this shot of the water descending into the first pool. See how the mist is being throw off the falls? It was truly magical.
The water rushed by, roaring from the first fall into the pool, before falling once again, somehow even more violently into the second pool below.
After exploring my way up the path a bit, I turned around hopped back into Nikki’s little Honda Fit. I drove back into Portland, grabbed some delicious Palak Paneer Fries from a food truck, and wandered around the Pearl District for a while, venturing back into Powell’s Books, but still not able to leave the urban agriculture section!
Then it was time to pick up Nikki from work again. We headed back out to her house where we met up with Scott and his friend Josh, then went out again to– you guessed it– eat! We went to Swift and Union. Everything was yummy. Nikki and I split the Tofu Sando and the Beet Veggie Burger with goat cheese. Blow your mind good. I was so full at this point, I was pretty sure I’d never need to eat again after I flew home from Portland. But don’t worry, that didn’t stop us. We hopped back into the car and drove out after dessert. We hit up Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts. At 8:30pm the east side location had absolutely no line whatsoever. We went in and made our selections.
I got a chocolate doughnut with Coco Pebbles. Nikki got one with Oreos and peanut butter. Scott got a Butterfingers doughnut and a Scooby Doo dog one that donated to the local Humane Society. We ate most of them and saved the rest. We were all so so so full!
We got home in full food coma mode and soon hit the hay. The next morning, we were off! After everyone was dropped off at work, I headed back to Washington Park, exploring the rose-less Rose Garden (too early in the year), the Holocaust memorial, and walking along some of the less muddy paths. The camilla bushes everywhere were blooming, sprinkling bright color splashes in the lush greenery.
All too soon, my trip was coming to a close. I filled up the car with gas, headed back to Nikki’s, grabbed my bags, and called my uber. Off to the airport I made it through security and on to my plane with thoughts of adorable and colorful craftsman style homes and a very full belly.
Have you ever been to Portland? What did you do? All I want now is to go back!
We Ate Our Way Through Portland – PART I
I skipped out of work last Friday grinning like a fool in excitement. On Saturday, I hopped on a plane to Portland, Oregon with my good friend Nicole! It was time for an adventure. And time to relax. But mostly? It was time to explore!
I was going to compile a big list of things we did in Portland, but then I realized, we mostly just ate. So instead of a big What We Did In Portland post, here’s a combo, What We
Did Ate in Portland post. Because honestly, no one’s going to care what we did when you see pictures of what we ate!
We left Saturday morning very early. I set my alarm for 5:15am. I planned to call Nicole at 5:30am to make sure she was awake. The Girl-Who-Never-Sleeps deserves another 15 mins, I figured. But, before I could call, Nicole was texting me. Yay! Both awake. I grabbed some toast with jam, threw on some clothes and called an uber. We we’re going to meet at the 19th Street BART station, but I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to walk to BART. I arrived 20 minutes early instead. Oops! But, really, that’s not atypical for me when I travel. I love punctuality! Nicole arrived with 2 minutes to spare and we took the BART train to SFO and hopped on our flight. We were exactly on time (like Nicole likes it) and I didn’t break out in hives stressing about not being an hour early! So any day that doesn’t begin in hives is a good one. 🙂
When we arrived in Portland Nicole’s awesome, interior designer friend, Nikki, picked us up at the airport. I knew I liked Nikki within minutes because she introduced me to the term “Pet-ophile” when talking about how she and her boyfriend Scott like to stare at dogs at the park and daydream about having one of their own. Which is exactly how I feel about every dog/cat/chicken I’ve ever met. I could tell we were going to be on the same page. From now on I shall refer to myself as a “pet-ophile” whenever possible. Because it’s hilarious!
Nikki drove us back to her house where we were staying and I met her boyfriend Scott who quickly became the funniest person I have ever met. Every other sentence out of his mouth was a joke and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in my life! Nicole and I put on contacts and then we piled back into Nikki’s car (sans Scott) and headed to Hawthorne Street. We started out in a relaxed fashion, walking down Hawthorne and popping into any shop that caught our fancy like Lounge Lizard (oh my god, thrifting in Portland is so much better priced!), sipping at a mead tasting at Mead Market (oh, yes, now I’m daydreaming of beekeeping!), and wandering further. We considered stopping at Jam on Hawthorne for brunch, but a 45 minute wait had us walking further (though now I’m looking at their menu and my stomach is growling). I wanted to stop at some food trucks, but Nicole convinced me to venture further. We ended up at the perfect place! The Hazel Room was not only adorable, but so delicious! I found this picture just googling it, and now I’m wishing we’d been there in the snow. Look how adorable!
Nikki got the Vegetarian Bee Gees biscuit and gravy (I know, right, she’s also a vegetarian. Like she wasn’t already awesome!), and Nicole and I began the first of many shared meals, splitting the Rose Tea Crepes and Bubble & Squeak with a sunny side up egg.. We almost skipped the former, but we were so glad we didn’t as it was AMAZING. So good, you could really taste the rose-i-ness. Plus it was smothered in whipped cream and anything with whipped cream is my favorite. The Bubble & Squeak was maybe a bit healthier (okay, a lot healthier) with potatoes and veggies, but not nearly as exciting. Once we devoured our meal (literally took Nicole and I less than ten minutes to finish everything), we began meandering further down the street significantly more satisfied.
We stopped at nearly every shop, never buying a thing, but touching everything. It was fun to explore. Portland has some really cute vintage shops, thrift stores, and paper goods stores. We had a blast! We then ventured over to Division Street walking down 37th through a gorgeous residential neighborhood. There we stopped at Artifact which had lots of cool vintage clothes and furnishings. Nicole almost bought shoes. Since we were in the neighborhood, we couldn’t help but hit up the famous Salt & Straw. The Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons was flat out the best ice cream I’ve ever tried in my life you guys!
Then we walked back to Nikki’s car and drove along the Willamette River to the St. John’s Bridge. It was a gorgeous day, but at this point, clouds had started to roll in. We wandered through the shops in St. John’s (while I relived every St. John’s moment from my newest favorite kid’s book Wildwood), before walking out onto the bridge a bit. I snapped this pic of Nicole and Nikki and then we headed down to the park under the bridge.
When we got to the park below, a wedding had just taken place! Naturally, I stalked the happy couple a bit.
But the gorgeous bridge took up plenty of my attention. The architecture was amazing. Modern gothic and bee-ay-yoo-tee-full!
We decided to try and take a few pictures of the three of us while we were there so I propped my camera up on a wooden post and set the time. Fifteen pictures later we got one that was pretty cute.
…as well as some fairly amusing outtakes!
Regardless, we had fun! And we were exhausted. We headed back to Nikki’s to relax after a long day. We stopped by Green Zebra Grocery for cheese, soup, and a baguette before crashing on Nikki’s couch and watching a dolphin documentary on Netflix, Dolphins: a Spy in the Pod. The documentary was hilarious and involved spy-creatures. Everything was “the first time this has ever been recorded” and we learned all about urogenital slits. Yup, you read that right. We headed to bed early.
We woke up the next morning, Sunday, and headed to Milk Glass Market for breakfast. There was a bit of a line, but as soon as we ordered a table opened up. Nicole and I got excited and over ordered: Fig & Anise Panini with goat cheese, Bread pudding with marscapone and jam, a snack hard boiled egg, and a Biscuit with tomato marmalade, and cheese. Scott got a cinnamon roll that he graciously shared. We basically rolled out of there! The decoration of the space was super cute! I wish I’d snapped more than a quick and dirty iPhone shot. Check out their website for awesome brunch space ideas. I just love those bread boards.
After breakfast we jumped into Nikki’s car and drove up to the Pittock Mansion. This was another Wildwood spot and I was excited. I love big houses and I cannot lie, (those other brothers can’t deny). We pulled up and parked. It was gorgeous! The weather was misty, but no rain yet. The views from the Mansion were incredible. You could see the entire city of Portland as well as the surrounding forests and hills.
I loved seeing the ship yards through the trees.
We tried to take a picture of ourselves in front of the view, but it started raining and the water droplets on my lens made Scott a little fuzzy. We managed to squeeze in a semi-normal shot.
The Mansion itself was beautiful too, but honestly, nothing man-made holds a candle to nature.
Inside were gorgeous rooms and furniture. The museum collected furnishings to showcase different styles of the period rather than preserving a moment in time. My favorite room? The pantry!
Outside again, Scott tried to scare us…
…it did not succeed. Then Nikki hopped on his back and they raced Nicole up the hill towards a trail head.
Surprisingly, Nicole lost.
The trail was ridiculously muddy, so we didn’t hike it, but Scott ran down the trail a little ways. Hi, tiny Scott!
The forest was lush, green, and gorgeous here. It looked like a fairy tale forest. I kept expecting Hansel & Gretel or Snow White to show up! As long as we avoided the Big Bad Wolf, I was happy.
After a bit, we once again climbed into Nikki’s little Honda Fit and drove down the hill. We parked on NW 23rd Street and shopped a bit. We only popped into a few stores, compared with the previous day’s visit-all-the-stores! attitude, this was more chill. Which I’m sure Scott appreciated. We soon got hungry, jumped back into the car and headed to Dove Vivi. We got there right when it opened at 4pm. Actually, we arrived at 3:50pm and took pictures of the building across the street to kill time, before heading in. Look how colorful the building was though! I loved that Portland was full of treasures like this.
At the restaurant, we ordered halfs of the daily special Mushroom pizza, the Corn pizza, and the Blue Thyme pizzas.Yum. These had cornmeal crusts, which I don’t recall ever eating before, they were crunchy and mouthwateringly good. We chatted up the waitress, enjoyed our meal, and laughed like banshees at everything. Even when Scott paused in cracking jokes, we found something to giggle over. Like the fact that Dove Vivi classified all their beverages and threw in this at the end:
“Also… Milk” became a bit of an inside joke for the rest of the trip. We would say it randomly, frequently. We did a bit of research following this and discovered that Milk is the Oregon State Beverage. If you think that’s weird, you’re correct, but, as it turns out, more than ten states have milk as their state beverage! So strange!
We ended the night with fruity drinks at The Alibi a tiki bar. A delicious way to finish off a busy weekend! Nikki and Scott had work the next day. Nicole and I were on our own! Time for adventures! I’ll talk more about what we
did ate in my next post.
How was your weekend? Take any trips? Have you been to Portland before? Did you eat everything?? I’m still so full you guys…
Easy Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek soup always intimidated me. I think because Julia Child and Potato Leek Soup are connected in my mind, I always assumed the soup was an elaborate and difficult one like so many French recipes. I was so very, very wrong. This is the easiest soup ever! If you’re ever in need of a quick dinner that involves very little effort and prep, make this soup. It’s the kind of recipe that involves chopping a few things, throwing them in water, and then reading a book or doing your taxes for an hour while it cooks. This is one of my favorite types of recipes: the lazy ones. Others in this category? My favorite breakfast dish: Steel Cut Oats. These are the perfect types of recipes to always keep in the back of your mind, things you can throw together at very little notice and still have time to shower before your friends arrive. They’re the basic white T-shirts of the cooking world!
A little while ago I was struck by the urge to make Potato Leek Soup. My Uncle Scott and Aunt Karolyn had made a big pot soon after Thanksgiving when some relatives and I visited them in Davis. I was impressed and intrigued. It’s been in the back of my mind ever since. So I picked up my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and flipped to Julia’s Potato Leek Soup. What do you know, there on the page, something along the lines of: “Chop these things. Throw them in water. Go take a shower and read a chapter of your book.” Thanks, Julia! After glancing at the recipe for less than a minute. I grabbed my keys and hit up Berkeley Bowl.
After I gathered my ingredients, I didn’t even bother looking at the recipe again. The measurements for this type of recipe you can fudge any which way. Perfect! I threw some potatoes in my Staub pot. I threw some leeks in too. I poured water over everything. Then I turned to my spices and went a little crazy, because #YOLO. And recipes are boring unless you spice things up a little. Below you’ll find my tweaks to this classic dish.
POTATO LEEK SOUP
6 medium-sized organic russet potatoes
2 stalks of organic leeks
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon organic nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon organic paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh organic sage
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
First wash, peel, and cut your potatoes into pieces no large than 1.5″. Then slice your leeks into rounds approximately 0.5″ thick. Place both vegetables into a 4-6 quart pot and add water (the liquid should cover the vegetables, but just barely). Add nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper and bring to a soft boil. Once the water bubbles, reduce heat to low and let cook until vegetables dissolve, about 40-60 mins, stirring occasionally. Use a spoon to help the vegetables integrate into the liquid. Chop your sage in the meantime and sprinkle into soup, saving some for garnish. Taste soup and add additional salt as needed. Serve immediately.