Monday, September 18, 2017

Portland: Food

Every year, Dan and I try to take a week-long vacation as a couple.  For our 2017 trip, we decided to take a road trip through parts of Oregon and Washington!

Portland is a delicious foodie city!  While we were there, we definitely ate our fill.  A ton of places were walking distance (or a super quick Lyft) from our Airbnb in southeast Portland.  If you have a bad meal in Portland, you're doing it wrong.

Fifty Licks Ice Cream
Everyone talks about Salt & Straw (and their line is out the door), but another spot with a line out the door that we found was Fifty Licks.  Since it was in our Airbnb neighborhood, we ventured out for some scoops.  

I loved the smell of them making fresh waffle cones!  I got to see them making and shaping them as we waited in line.  There was limited seating, but we got our cones for walking since it was a bit crazy in there at the time.

As for the ice cream?  Buttery, fatty, deliciousness.  Just how ice cream is supposed to taste!  I'd highlight recommend it.

Cascade Brewing Barrel House
Just a quick (dark) pic from Cascade, because it's definitely worth mentioning.  Dan is a huge fan of good sour beers, so Cascade was a must-visit for us in Portland.  He liked the taproom, and they had a great selection.  While we didn't eat there, it's close to a lot of restaurants and serves its own food,  so you definitely should pop in for a visit.

We met up with my college buddy and his wife at one of their favorite Portland restaurants, Al-Amir.  Serving Lebanese and Mediterranean fare, I had no idea we were in for a family-style feast!  The food was fresh, aromatic, flavorful, and tasty.  It's unassuming from the outside, but once you're in you feel like family for sure.  Dan loves Lebanese food, especially lamb dishes.  We really enjoyed our meal at Al-Amir.

One of the spots walking distance from our Airbnb (and highly recommended by our hosts) was Screen Door.  YES YES YES.  This place is a must!  I'm a huge fan of breakfast foods and brunch, and this place was awesome.  It was jam-packed with people too, always a good sign.

The food came in huge portions.  It was decadent.  I could eat there every day for a week and not get through all the things I wanted to try.  Again, I'm a breakfast fanatic, and this menu was amazing.  I went with the vanilla bean brioche French toast.  I think Dan got the waffle with fried chicken.  I loved every bite, and I'd love to come back here.

Blue Star Donuts
Here's another one where we went with a local reco over the iconic reco.  We'd eaten Voodoo Doughnuts in Austin, so we figured we should try the place that locals told us was even better: Blue Star Donuts.  These are seriously good doughnuts, but you'd be hard-pressed to finish more than one in a sitting!  So much flavor and density!   If you like a cake donut and foodie flavors, this place is for you.

Our one mistake?  We had no idea the day we decided to get these donuts was National Donut Day.  So basically it was perfect for Instagram, not perfect for lines.  We chose one particular Blue Star donut shop based on it being the most residential, so our line wasn't so bad as others faced that day.

EastBurn was another spot walking distance from our Airbnb.  We headed over looking for dinner, and this place also had a great list for beer and whiskey.  I loved the super hipster cage chairs hanging on their stage as seating, but Dan and I weren't up for braving them.  I totally have a fear that I'll sit in one and it'll fall and hurt my pride... and I might not be able to eat without making a mess! LOL

We made the mistake of ordering a delicious appetizer, meaning my (tasty) gut bomb of a sandwich was entirely too much food for me to finish, but boy was it flavorful.  I think I got the brisket sandwich, but looking back I was too busy inhaling it to remember months back.  I'm pretty sure it was the brisket, because a Korean inspired sauce is always my jam!

Do you have a favorite spot in Portland for great food and drink?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Portland: Washington Park

Every year, Dan and I try to take a week-long vacation as a couple.  For our 2017 trip, we decided to take a road trip through parts of Oregon and Washington!

At the end of our vacation, Dan and I spent a couple of days in Portland.  I'll be honest, we were pretty worn out after a week of road-tripping, so we took it easy during our stay.  Portland is a great city.  While I think Seattle is more our style, we found that the food and beer in Portland is fantastic (follow-up post coming on that later), and we spent an entire day exploring one area: Washington Park.  We loved that once you get there, you can take shuttles around to different areas.  We hit up three of the big ones!

We love zoos, so we often try to visit AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums when we're traveling to different cities.  This zoo is one of our favorites in the U.S. now, mostly because we absolutely fell in love with their elephant exhibit!  It's also really reasonably priced even for adult tickets, so we were fans.

We seriously could not get over these two elephants, little sister and big brother, as she nudged him to play in the water.  They were so active and animated, and they seemed really happy.  The rest of the elephants entered the water after them too.

Also of note, the restaurant at the zoo entrance is actually really good.  It's not badly priced, and the food was yummy.  So if you're hungry and in the park, it's a safe bet to grab a bite there.

This garden is actually a public park!  You can visit it free of charge.  In 1917, a group of enthusiasts in Portland came up with the idea to have an American rose test garden, and now they are sent tons of roses from all over the world to "house" together here.  There are over 7,000 rose plants of approximately 550 varieties in the gardens.

I was just in love with the variety!  The sizes, the colors... the yellows were probably my favorite (it's my fav color after all!) but the huge roses with a zillion petals made my heart swoon.  Even Dan really enjoyed literally taking time to stop and smell the roses.

This garden involves a LOT of walking, y'all.  So just be prepared.  But it's got eight garden styles and some beautiful settings and zoos.  It's not a cheap price of entry for what you get to see, but if you're at the nearby rose garden it's an easy add-on to your Washington Park visit.  There's also some great views, since you climb a huge hill to get to everything.

Isn't the view stunning?  Mount Hood is there in the background, but being in the Japanese garden I kept thinking it could be Mount Fuji LOL.

Washington Park was probably our favorite place overall in Portland!

P.S.  We really loved our Airbnb (see it here).  It was a little basement efficiency unit for two people (no full kitchen, but we didn't need one!) with separate entrance and safe neighborhood for walking.  It was nice and cozy, and we loved the area and its restaurants.  Sign up for Airbnb here with my referral link for $40 off your first trip!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Seattle: Downtown & More

Every year, Dan and I try to take a week-long vacation as a couple.  For our 2017 trip, we decided to take a road trip through parts of Oregon and Washington!

While in Seattle, we'd heard the view from Kerry Park was the best panoramic.  Of course, our timing wasn't great, as Mount Rainier was hidden from view and it was overcast/drizzly.  Such is the unpredictable weather of Seattle, right?  There's not much around the park if you're walking, so it's kind of a "stop and smell the roses" then move on sort of thing.

Given the rain, we felt like our time would be best spent indoors, drinking!  We were going to meet a couple of my old friends at a brewery, but since we got there early we wandered over to a neighboring cider maker, Number 6 Cider.  I LOVE hard cider, and the fact that we could sample a flight!

After that, we headed over to Holy Mountain Brewing Company.  Dan loved that their beers, merch, and other themes related to his favorite metal music/bands.

And of course, since it was Dan's first trip to Seattle, we had to visit the original Starbucks and Pike Place Market.  I think he was a little underwhelmed, but that may have been because he didn't like the crowds of people.

Lastly, I didn't want to leave a city with a Din Tai Fung without having some soup dumplings.  Thankfully, our friends obliged and took us there for a wonderful shared dinner of Taiwanese goodies!

We love you, Seattle!
You're delicious and beautiful.

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