From East Coast to West Coast, a Family Food Journey ~
My daughter moved to Portland in 2006 to attend college. I’ve been visiting 3-4 times a year just about every year since. Through my travels, I’ve discovered what I would call – the best Portland food events. First, my visits were all about doing the mom thing – checking on the dorm room, meeting new friends, buying necessities. Then, as my daughter (need a German translator?) became more established, visits became a chance to simply visit and learn about her new home. Up until 2015 she lived on the North side of Portland, near Portland State University and Washington Park. Now, she and her partner live on the more residentially oriented Southeast section of Portland, the Hawthorne District.
I loved everything about Northeast Portland. I didn’t need to rent a car because public transportation met most of my needs when I wasn’t simply walking. Now, I need a rental car because the Max light rail system doesn’t serve this area as easily when riding in from the airport. I still walk up and down Hawthorne Boulevard, shopping, eating, or simply sipping coffee and working while Sarah tends to the details of her life.
Bloody Marys ~
This morning we had an amazing brunch at Jam on Hawthorne. The highlight of my meal was a Bloody Mary called the Bram Stoker (it was a tasty bit of research for my garden fresh Bloody Mary recipe to be published this week!). Sarah was getting ready to teach at PSU, so she stayed with coffee (which was also excellent). It was a morning where one of us chill and the other wired. Quite the combination!
Mom Time ~
After a few days of hiking with Sarah in the Columbia River Gorge, I took an afternoon to myself. Surprisingly, Portland does not have many restaurants along the Willamette River (the north-flowing river that dissects the city in half), but I do have a favorite of the few that exist – Three Degrees, they have outstanding outdoor dining that is very welcoming to singles. I grabbed a rocker facing the water, ordered a Champagne cocktail and a cheese board, and settled in for a couple hours of reading. Every moment of the afternoon was simple and satisfying perfection.
Skill Building ~
The apex of my gastronomic vacation was a cooking class at Sur la Table in the Pearl District of Northwest Portland, as must-try in my list of great Portland food events. Sarah and I joined about a dozen other adult learners getting hands-on instruction in the art of Spanish Tapas. Here’s a description of the class if you are interested in the details – It was fun, organized, instructional and informative. The one new skill that I will be using frequently is grating tomatoes. This is a very simple way to access the meat of the tomato without the heat and mess of blanching. Of course, The Kitchn has already written about the skill. Use this link to learn more.
A Working Vacation ~
Most mid-days I spent at one of the many McMenamin’s brew pubs that are spread across Western Oregon and concentrated in Portland (another one of my favorite Portland food events!). They are very accommodating to patrons with laptops! McMenamins takes the concept of seasonal eating to a whole new level, they grow the majority of ingredients for the beers and spirits, as well as for their restaurants. If you want to experience this in its fullest expression, spend time at their Edgefield facility – Brewhouses, vineyards and wine cellars, several restaurants, an onsite glass blower, spa and putt putt golf course. If you check these out, post below about which one is your favorite.
I took a day to myself and traveled southwest from Portland to a town called McMinnville in the Yamhill Valley. I have friends who own a business called Can-Do Real Food. They have a brilliant little business model where they buy up surplus from area farms and turn them into value-added products for resale. While their specialty is most certainly their spaghetti sauce, I truly enjoyed the rhubarb fruit leather (OMG!). The town manages their farmers’ market well with its 65 vendors and 4,000 weekly shoppers. The market is open an impressive 6 hours each Thursday (noon to 6 pm). Here’s the link for more information.
The Farewell Dinner ~
I ended my tour of Portland food events with a family farewell meal at Jake’s Famous Crawfish. I had the bouillabaisse. It was an amazing end to a satisfying trip.
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