Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Portland ponderings

So, we spent most of last week in Portland. I flew out on Tuesday to meet Jess, who had been in Anaheim for a conference and flew up to Portland. We had been to Portland about three years ago and fell in love with it. It's a beautiful city of parks and roses and great food, coupled with an abundance of homeless people and weather that's very unpredictable.

If you like Seattle, you will love Portland, because Portland is much nicer. Much. nicer.

I left Tuesday at 7:30p NY time, arriving PDX at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday morning. JetBlue nonstop flight. I don't care what JetBlue says about their extra legroom and "leather" seats, the seats themselves are still as uncomfortable as those on any plane, and the legroom makes them only slightly more tolerable...slightly. They are still torture devices. Couple that with a 6.5 hour flight with no food served, and you have a flight from hell. The only redeeming thing at all was the 36 channels of DirecTV with the provided headset, so that I could turn up the volume loud enough to drown out the squalling infant sitting 5 rows back.

Arriving in Portland, late but safe, we waited at the luggage carousel, where I met a woman I had seen boarding the plane in NY with a service dog. Turns out she trains service dogs and works with people who need them. The dog was an adorable Australian Kelpie, and his name was LaRue. He was adorable, cuddly, and personable. So we visited about Portland and she gave me some restaurant recommendations. One of them was Nuestra Cocina on Division Street.

Next day, went to breakfast at Zell's; it was delicious. We had the wild salmon omelettes (because when you are in Portland or Seattle, you just don't get better salmon anywhere). Drove out to the the beautiful Wahkeena Falls and then to the stunningly huge Multnomah Falls which is just up the road from Wahkeena. The skies were mostly overcast, but cleared some as we were returning to the highway. Figures. But then it rained like crazy, so that gave us some consolation that the fleeting moments of blue sky we got at Multnomah were lucky.

Returned to town, grabbed a bad sandwich at Subway, met up with a friend and then went to dinner at Jake's Crawfish Bar, which is always a good meal. The calamari is terrific there. The crabcakes were amazing. The chocolate mousse, to die for. The service was also terrific. The first of a number of restaurants to be opened by the duo of McCormick and Schmick, I'd say it's the best...we ate at an M & S steakhouse in Seattle once and it was not worth it.

Thursday, we went had a huge pancake breakfast at Bijou cafe, and while it was delicious, it wasn't as good as Zell's. We're noticing that Portlanders are a very "green" group. Natural fiber clothing. Earth shoes. Ultra-casual clothing. I felt overdressed wherever we went. For the guys, hooded nubby pullovers (maybe hemp) over flannel shirts, with jeans or cotton pants. Vegan and vegetarian choices on most every menu. For the girls, natural, unsprayed hairstyles, very little makeup, very casual clothes. Yet curiously, smoking in restaurants and bars still exists here. Interesting little paradoxes like that are all over Portland. More about that tomorrow.

We spent Thursday evening with Todd and Pony and they were kind enough to have us guest on their podcast, which we follow regularly. Oh, it was a blast! We felt like we knew these guys well already (we had met Todd on a blogger trip to NYC about 4 years ago, and had followed Pony for almost as long on his blog), and they were just as crazy funny as we knew they would be. You'll need to check out their podcast here to know what I'm talking about.

We went out to dinner with Pony and two other blogger friends, Andy and Brian, whose partner Mark writes a blog from Dallas. Andy used to live in NYC (we miss you!) and we met him and Mark and Brian at our first blogger barbeque back in 2004. Blogging has been such a great way to meet friends!

At any rate, Friday's Oregonian had a terrific food review section that was perfectly timed. We used it to check out several places. Friday morning we had the best breakfast of the entire trip at Mother's Bistro. Fabulous food, every bite of it. If you like biscuits and gravy, these were the absolute best I have ever had. Jess had the wild salmon omelette and it was the best of the entire trip. It exceeded the Zell's omelette by far.

Friday's dinner was at Nuestra Cocina, highly rated by my flight companion as well as many local food magazines. They were right. They made about the best margarita on the rocks (Cadillac) that I have ever tasted. I also had a delicious and very spicy, peppery mahi mahi ceviche and then a carne asada that rocked. Wow. It's hard to impress me with Mexican food, but this was impressive.

Saturday, we went to Industrial Cafe for lunch. The Oregonian had hailed its chicken pot pie as the best in Portland. They were not wrong. It was an experience. Jess had the chipped beef gravy on toast, also terrific. You can't get chipped beef in New York. Poop. I always used to like it when my mom made that dish, and so I told Jess I'd make it when we got back home, but didn't remember seeing the chipped beef in the store...because I hadn't. They don't carry it here. Rats! For dessert, we went to a little french boulangerie (again from the Oregonian) St. Honore Bakery that had a mesmerizingly tongue-tingling tarte citron. I got Jess a chocolate eclair. Both were wonderful. We ate them while sitting by a nearby park. We then went on a park crawl, hitting a number of parks and enjoying most of them immensely. The leaves were starting to turn, and they were so pretty, especially the aspens and maples. My favorite was the Washington Park and Hoyt Arboretum which was atop a very high mountain overlooking downtown. What a view.

Saturday night, we met up with Todd and Pony again, and Andy and Pony's partner Chopper. We went to a little place called Pause that was only about a block from their house. If I had a place that close by with food that good, I'd weigh 350 lbs. The spinach artichoke dip and crab-shrimp dip appetizers were so tasty. I had an amazing Cuban sandwich that wasn't really authentic, but was delicious nonetheless. Jess had a killer steak sandwich with a chipotle dressing and that was amazing, too. The skin-on fries covered in kosher salt were excellent. I could have eaten them all night.

Alas, the evening (and the trip) had come to an end - we had to get to the airport for our 11:59 redeye flight. It was a miserable flight home, but the trip had been so good, it didn't matter much.

Okay, that's all I have for today. Come back tomorrow for some pictures of the falls.


At 10:14 AM, October 10, 2007, Blogger Julie said...

Ohhh! You guys did it up! I love reading about all of the yummy places you hit! I love Portland so much and reading about other people's experiences are such fun!
I LOVED you guys on the show! I can't wait to come up with a song that features my new gift!

At 2:51 PM, October 10, 2007, Blogger Brooklyn Bitch said...

Oh my god! Thank you for writing this! I have to sit down and read it all the way through tonight (I am at work at the moment!). But, addROC and are a planning to move out to Portland in a year or 2 and I am sooo excited to read your thoughts and get the skinny before we go visit.

At 2:38 AM, October 11, 2007, Blogger Cincy Diva said...

I am up for a job in Portland. I was glad to read about it. Sounds like I would enjoy living there. One question...how do you go to a crawfish bar and not get the crawfish? Must be my southern upbringing LOL.

At 9:56 PM, October 11, 2007, Blogger Marc said...

Geez, everyone's moving to Portland!

Julie - wish we could have met! We love listening to you on the show.

BB - I'll tell you whatever you want to know about it!

Cincy - I'm highly allergic to crawfish, and Jess doesn't like it. But there's other seafood I love, and Jake's is a seafood place.

At 11:48 PM, October 11, 2007, Blogger pinknest said...

oh fun!!! i miss the pacific northwest now. i'm definitely making portland a stop next time.


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