Sunday, October 14, 2007

Portland, Oregon- beer, chocolate, cheese and wine

We loved Portland, even with the chilly drizzly weather, it seemed like a lovely place. The people all seemed really nice and very funny, properly nice like they meant it. You could tell from their bellies that they liked a good pint and we also loved the surrounding outdoors. We were sad to leave and even after 4 days there, felt we hadn't even scratched the surface.

Day 1
We arrived at 8pm, enough time to wander out and get a pint and a snacky dinner before retiring. Our hotel was right in Downtown, so we started walking and came upon Henry's Tavern. It was a lively place and perfect for what we wanted.

My favourite thing we had was the spinach and artichoke dip. I'm not normally a fan, but it was really full of spinach and very tasty instead of the nasty weird vinegary pale green stuff I'm used to. Went really well with the heferweisen too!

Day 2
Bacon was a necessity in order to get Andy moving, so we found a lovely little cafe, Bijou Cafe. It was all decked out in blue check tablecloths and had the requisite bacon, and I enjoyed a nice bowl of oatmeal with raisins, hazelnuts and brown sugar. Mmmm. After wandering around in the cold for several hours, I started feeling quite miserable so the perfect solution was a lunch from mothers bistro. I had some warming vegetable bisque with half an egg sandwich and Andy enjoyed a real stick-to-your-ribs crab cake sandwich with some delicious fries. That was all very warming, with some local beer. I loved that they gave us a couple of delightful cookies with the check.

After all that eating we needed to do much more yomping, we wandered around checking all the cool shops in the Pearl District and nearly got lost in Powells but finally made it back out as the sun was starting to set. We looked for a reviving cup of tea at the hotel but couldn't find one, so headed back out to sample some of the bars that Portland is famous for. There was a nice little one at the corner of our road near our hotel so we started there, then made our way up to the Rogue brewery. We had a nice couple of pints, but the smoke really put us off, we ended up moving on, thinking it was about time for dinner, but we ended up in a rather soulless pub, if we were back home it would have been a Weatherspoons pub! We finally came upon Jake's Famous Crawfish (only now do I realise its part of a gigantic chain!!) and settled on a salad (now thats very uncharacteristic of andy!!) and crabcakes to share and quite a nice pint. It was good people watching but pretty average food. Oh well, at least we were close to our beds!

Day 3
I really fancied trying one of the bakeries for brekkie so we wandered over to Pearl Bakery. It was delicious, Andy was sated with a ham and gruyere croissant, I had a delicious chocolate croissant, and we shared a gibassier, a rich eggy dough with aniseed in and sugar on top. MMM. Highly recommend it.

This gave us lots of energy for exploring and we decided to make the most of the good weather forecast to go and explore. We drove to the coast, had a yomp around on some cliffs, then drove down to the pelican brewery for lunch. By this time we were absolutely starving and ended up a ridiculous amount of fried food! We got an enormous stack of onion rings and fish and chips. The chips were tops, the rest of it was a bit average. We celebrated our feast by running up a gigantic sand dune. That made us feel a bit better but andy felt a bit gippy from all that fried stuff well into the evening.

e popped into the Tillamook Cheese Factory on the way back. We loved looking at the workings of the factory and the cool robots (andy's favourite being the one that 'poos cheese into a bag'). And we got to try the cheese curds, mmmm squeaky!!

Thanks so much to Noble rot for putting up with us getting there, putting our name down for a table, then changing our mind twice! We had a few lovely glasses of wine, a delicious cheese plates and a salad with macaroni cheese. We really enjoyed it there, a really nice little neighbourhood bar.

Day 4

On Saturday I decided that more bacon was in order and we found a trendy little place, Cafe in the Pearl. They satisfied andy's liking for bacon, and I had some giant granola pancakes of which I just about managed half!! It was more interesting people watching, although it was a bit full of kiddies.
There seem to be an awful lot more kids per capita than anywhere I've been apart from Wall Mart. That gave us lots of energy, I got to pop into some more shops (yay tax free!!) and then we made our way up to the japanese garden. Very cool. We also had a wander around the rose garden and it was all very nice but we were chilled through to the bone.

We then went and dumped the car and made a pilgrimage to Sahagun Homemade Chocolates. I had a cup of chocolate and a delicious caramel with a hazlenut on top. Crikey! I got one of those
big chocolate buzzes on and felt quite strange!

Having satisfied my indulgence we continued west to the Elephants Deli, and enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine. Getting a bit peckish we decided to order a cheese plate. Forgetting we were in a deli, when the guy asked how much we wanted to spend we said '$20' and ended up with what seemed like our own body weights in beautiful double brie, stilton and something very stinky with ash running through.

After doing our best and finishing the bread, we walked the cheese around our systems for a bit by enjoying the delights of SW 21st street shops. There were some wonderful shops, I picked up some very cool boots.
We then got all dolled up for our special evening. We had a nice glass of wine at Vino Paradiso which contrasting with all the guide books, which said it was impossibly poncy, was actually friendly and empty with very cool artwork.

We then made our way to Blue Hour. Now that was impossibly trendy and I certainly felt a bit out of place, but I had my nice shirt on and they were very nice to us, although there was confusion over our table, and I'd have been happier just being seated and fed, instead of waiting and moving to another table. The highlight of the meal was definitely the main course, I had a beautiful sole, Andy had a delicious duck two ways. It was a truly lovely meal and a very nice experience.

I think the most amusing thing was what we decided was a 'cheese sommalier', a white jacketed man who had a bunch of cheeses encased in a perspex box, with many flourishes and much explanation. It conjured up images of Monty Python type humour and we couldnt help but snigger a little bit! Unfortunately we'd had more than enough cheese that day so we didnt get to see it first hand.

Day 5
We went for a walk along the river and gaped at all the marathon runners, then made our way to Veritable Quandry for brunch. Unfortunately it was a bit of a mixed bag, as Andy didnt read the menu very carefully, so he ended up with the bacon egg and french toast. Sweet french toast is really not his thing so he dint really enjoy it. Thankfully it was served with a delicious potato cake. I had a really delicious piece of rainbow trout, the skin beautifully crunchy, with a lovely lemony hollandaise sauce and arugula.

We managed a quick trip to the waterfall before going back to the airport and enjoyed a delicious picnic, the leftover cheese with some nice multigrain bread and salads from the elephants deli. I also enjoyed one of their walnut squares on the plane on the way home and it was absolutely wonderful.

We left Portland a little sad, and cant wait to go back and see more!

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