Exporing Portland, Oregon: Part 1

Portland was named the number one food city in America in Tom Sietsema’s story that ran in December 2015 The Washington Post, The 10 Best Food Cities in America, Ranked.” The timing could not have been more perfect.  In late November, my husband and I were talking about going on a trip.  We wanted a road trip to be part of the adventure.  Some place that we haven’t been to.  A destination with good food and new sites to see. Portland was the first place that came to mind (prior to reading this article).  We could drive up Highway 5, through Mount Shasta, and make stops at a few small towns along the way.  We booked an Airbnb for a week, from December 26 – January 3 and the planning began.  Planning is part of my job. I am a PR consultant in the hospitality industry and very lucky to not only work with very talented chefs and restaurateurs but to work in an industry that I truly love — food and hospitality.  I spent a few late nights diving into Sietsema’s article – reading about the restaurants he recommended, in addition to one of my favorite sources when traveling — the “36 Hours” column in the New York Times. I have referenced that when traveling to places that are near where we live to International destinations, including Barcelona and Lyon. It’s always a great mix of some well-known spots and some hidden gems.  With these two references, combined with some other great articles found in Bon Appetit magazine, Food & Wine magazine, and recommendations from some of my foodie friends, the list of restaurants, bars, and local boutique shops to check out was growing to be very long. To no surprise for those that know me (and my Type A personality!), I created a spreadsheet.  I mapped out each restaurant and bar by neighborhood. I had various columns that included their hours, whether or not they took reservations, happy hours, and notes on some must-try dishes. We had exactly 5 nights in Portland because two days were essentially shot due to the drive (about 9 hours each way).  Now came the tricky part. How to fit in all of these amazing spots? Before even leaving for the trip, I knew we’d make another journey to Portland at some point over the next couple of years, so started to narrow down the list and felt very satisfied with the end result.

Now the journey begins, in this 3-part series of exploring Portland, told mostly in photos mixed in with brief captions and other anecdotes. The end of the series includes a list of all of the places we visited, and that I’d recommend you add to your list, for easy reference.

Bon appetit!

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Stop #1: Breadboard Restaurant. After crossing the border into Portland, we needed a spot to grab food and Ashland has been on the list as a good place to check out on the road trip from SF -> Portland. Known for the Shakespeare Festival, which takes place at the theater in town. Another reason to visit:  the fluffy buttermilk pancakes made from scratch at Breadboard Restaurant . Just off the main road through town, this little diner is filled with charm, and some of the nicest people I’ve come across (actually, a take-away from the entire trip: people in Oregon are very friendly!)

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We made it! Taking in the views on one of Portland’s nine bridges entering downtown.  We walked from our house (Albert Arts District) to the Pearl District, which is just over 4 miles each way.  Walking through the different neighborhoods is, in my opinion, the best way to get a feel for the town and to stumble on places and things you might have missed if you weren’t on foot.  We really lucked out with the weather. While it was cold (barely 30 degrees!), almost the entire week was sunny and blue skies.

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Stop #2: Kachka. Our first night in Portland couldn’t have started off any more perfectly. I’d be reading a lot about Kachka, a spot known for Russian-fare and house-infused vodkas.  We arrived at 5pm, to find it packed already. Luckily, there were two spots that had just opened up at the bar.  The bartender gave us two shots of their earl grey-infused vodka, alongside some Russian cookies. Delicious!

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Herring ‘Under a Fur Coat’ at Kachka – not only did the description sound delicious — a Russian, 7-layer dip with herring, potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, mayo and eggs  — but how could you pass up a dish with that name? It was amazing.

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Stop #3: Ox. This Portland hotspot came highly recommended by some foodie friends and has always been on my list. We had a reservation and choose a spot at the chefs counter, which is my favorite place to dine.  Not only for a chance to see all the action, but to interact with the talented people creating the food. Ox serves Argentinean-inspired food cooked in a wood-fired grill all in a beautiful, hip setting.

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Grilled Cauliflower w/ a tahini-feta puree and a selection of housemade chorizo, perfectly cooked @ Ox.

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House-made sorbet and a coffee to end the night @ Ox.

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One of the best empanadas I’ve ever had: spiced beef, green olive and raisin @ Ox.

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On to the next day, Stop #1: Clyde Common. Known for their handcrafted cocktails and located in a hip part of town, this was on our list to check out.  The bar was already buzzing at 5:30 p.m. and we snagged two stools at the bar. Beautiful, open space with communal tables and a fun group behind the bar.

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Stop #2: Olympic Provisions.  Probably on most people’s list, this was a must. Not only do I love a good charcuterie plate and order one any chance I get, but especially at this spot, it was a must and what we came for.  The housemade charcuterie is delicious, unique and flavorful and so good, that we decided to try a few other things from the rustic, European-inspired menu. This is the Chef’s Choice – a selection of five meats, pickles and bread.

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Stop #3: Expatriate. A very hip bar serving global bites and cocktails in the Northeast district of Portland.  We had to get the popular Jame’s Beard Onion & Butter Sandwich – so simple, yet so amazing! It’s pretty much a piece of toast with butter, onions, parsley and grey salt!

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The fried jalapeno bite – also delicious!

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!

xx

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Behind-the-Scenes: Timbuk2 Launches Stylish New Lux Line, FEMME

The San Francisco-based Timbuk2 recently launched their latest collection, TIMBUK2 FEMME, a new lux women’s line that is very stylish, yet practical. I’ve always loved the Timbuk2 bags (my husband has one!) and have pegged them to be more outdoorsy and for men. Well, this new line proves me wrong.

Timbuk2 hosted a preview event to showcase the new line.  CEO Patti Cazzato, a veteran of the fashion industry, led us on a tour of the studio where the magic happens: from design boards, to rows and rows of fabric, to the production of the bags and essentially what are their offices, as well! She told us the story behind Timbuk2 and how today, it’s becoming more of a lifestyle brand with the launch of Femme.  The new collection was designed by Patti and Senior Design Director Andrea Chynoweth who has an impressive pedigree: Gemma Kahng, Vivienne Westwood, Levi Strauss.  Seeing the bags lined up on the racks, I feel in love immediately. The first thing that came to mind was how these would be perfect for work. My version of “casual” is more dressed up than most, and bags are a huge part of that. I’ve always used bags that are great for work but something that looks nice and can be brought out to dinner or an event post-work.  These new bags are that perfect bridge between work and something that works for the evening, as well: think wine night with your girlfriends, a dinner date, stopping by the mall, attending a work event, etc.  The designs feature a range of color-blocking: from my favorite, the “Black n Tan” to a dark blue and gray version.  I love the different fabrics used on the bags – the leather complements the other materials, adding a touch of chic. Prices for the bags range between $198 – $398 and as of now, come in four different styles:

Femme Messenger – Harkening back to Timbuk2’s hero bag but with a twist: all leather construction lends an elevated look to the everyday cyclists’ favorite bag.

Satchel Backpack – Inspired by the shape of a vintage Persian carpetbag, this luxe piece can be worn as a backpack or carried as a tote, helping to smooth the transition from work to play.

Fanny Pack – This miniature version of the classic Timbuk2 messenger is for women who want a chic hands-free bag with more compact storage: perfect for the festival or concert goer.

Boxy Tote – A modern and minimal shoulder bag with a slim profile that can carry everything you’ll need for the day and night.

Check out the beautiful lookbook and below are photos from the event and directly from the collection.

FEMME BACKPACK M_463-4-1182_Fall2015_Lifestyle007The Satchel Backpack. Photo credit: Timbuk2.

FEMME BACKPACK M_463-4-1182_Fall2015_Lifestyle018The Satchel Backpack. Photo credit: Timbuk2.

IMG_8139The Black n Tan Satchel Backpack (my favorite!) Photo credit: Yasemin Sussman. 

IMG_8145In the studio where each back is customized made. Photo credit: Yasemin Sussman.

IMG_8148All that denim!  Photo credit: Yasemin Sussman.

IMG_8149Endless fabric choices in many textures and colors. Photo credit: Yasemin Sussman.

IMG_8154Photo Credit: Yasemin Sussman.

IMG_8155Sneak preview of the Spring 2016 inspiration design boards for the new collection. Photo credit: Yasemin Sussman.

IMG_8156Design boards of different fabric choices. Photo credit: Yasemin Sussman.

IMG_8136The Satchel Backpacks on display. Photo credit: Yasemin Sussman.

IMG_8138The Femme Messenger (another favorite). Photo credit: Yasemin Sussman.

I always love supporting local companies and have added the Satchel Backpack in “Black n Tan” to my holiday “wish list” (or may have to get sooner!)

Happy Shopping!

xx.


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West Oakland to Old Oakland

Trouble Coffee quietly opened a new location in West Oakland a few weeks ago. I have explored the many wonderful neighborhoods of Oakland but haven’t spent any time in West Oakland.  There have been a few stories about it being an area that’s on track for change. I do believe it’s headed in that direction, but I’m sure it will take some time.  There are streets with boarded-up houses and abandoned warehouses but there are also new developments popping up and signs of construction. This is a good thing and I hope the character, culture and diversity of Oakland that many of us love is kept, despite the slow gentrification of even this neighborhood.

Trouble Coffee is in a residential area,  located on a corner across from an old brick building.  Irongate bars surround the outside of the cafe, but as soon as you walk inside, you’re transported to a minimalist and zen dream.  All of the walls are white with natural light beaming in from the large windows surrounding all sides of the storefront.  In the corner, is a large white table with bench seating surrounding two sides of the table and additional stools at the bar. I ordered a latte to enjoy in one of their handmade white ceramic cups with a slice of their famous toast. As one of the baristas was preparing our coffee, another cut a thick slice of bread, toasted it and topped it with cinnamon and sugar.  There is no menu so you have to know what you want or ask what they’d recommend.

From West Oakland, we headed over to Old Oakland, the historic district of downtown Oakland. It is Oakland’s hidden gem. The beautiful architecture has been preserved and new boutique shops have continued to pop up, adding to the vibrant neighborhood.  Swan’s Market is a must-visit and one of my favorite places.  It’s a very small version of a food hall.  The large open room filled with beautiful wooden tables that feature a mix of seating for two, four or larger communal tables. It’s hard to have a favorite in terms of the food because each spot is unique – B-Dama, Cosecha, The Cook and Her Farmer, Miss Ollie’s, and other vendors that make this a foodie hotspot.

I love our new home in Berkeley and being that much closer to Oakland.

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Looking inside Trouble Coffee in West Oakland.

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The free outdoor library on Willow Street across from Trouble Coffee.

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The brick lined streets of Old Oakland. 

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The vintage-style bistro in Old Oakland serving seasonal Italian food.

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Inside Ratto’s International Market & Deli. Amazing sandwiches!!!

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The bar at The Cook and Her Farmer inside Swan’s Market.

xo.

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What I Wore

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On location at one of my favorite places in the world – the San Francisco Ferry Building.  It was a balmy 75 degress on this February day. I’m wearing a top from Madewell, H&M short jacket, Rag & Bones ‘Kensington’ skinny & stretch jeans, Halogen ‘Daphne’ oxfords from Nordstrom, and my black Brahmin handbag (various styles), also from Nordstrom.

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It was sunny but much colder this day, also on location at the San Francisco Ferry Building.  I’m wearing my Anthropologie coat, leopard/chartreuse Nordstrom scarf, dark denim 7 for All Mankind jeans from Nordstrom, GAP patent ankle booties, my black ‘Transport Tote’ from Madewell and a grey Goorin Bros hat.

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Strolling around Berkeley and discovered this fabulous warehouse. I’m wearing my ripped Zara jeans, Nordstrom blouse and Nordstrom sweater (from last season and one of my favorite layering pieces!), Urban Outfitters gold feathers necklace, Anthropologie sunglasses and my black Brahmin handbag

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It was a hot, muggy day in Colorado for our friend’s wedding which meant something simple and light.  I wore this beautiful, flowy Zara skirt, with a simple black tank from Nordstrom paired with my black ‘Transport Tote’ from Madewell and Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses.

xo.

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Tastes + Sips from the Good Food Awards 2015

In its fifth year, the Good Food Awards celebrates food producers, farmers and artisans in 11 different categories: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, pickles, preserve, spirits, oil and honey. This is one of my favorite events in San Francisco and I’ve made sure to attend every year, and it keeps getting better and better!   The Marketplace takes place at the beautiful San Francisco Ferry Building with tables lined up outside all along the building.   The place is buzzing with people there for the Saturday Farmer’s Market, the crowd that wanders through the Ferry Building and others there to enjoy tastes and sips from the winners of the Good Food Awards. The coffee section is the best way to start to get your own buzz.  I enjoyed tastes from Blue Bottle, Square One, and Noble Coffee Roasters.  I then move on to the charcuterie and cheese, slowly moving from table to table, sampling and talking to the owners/producers themselves, some local and others that have traveled from the East Coast.  Then it’s time for sweets, starting with tastes of the preserves and honey, and ending with chocolate. I was so excited to see Zoe’s Chocolate there as a winner, all the way from Waynesboro, PA where my husband’s from! We then made our way over to the Beer & Spirits tasting.  The Forbidden Planet from Bluejacket Brewery out of DC was one of my favorites and I also enjoyed the really unique Black Currant Cider from Finnriver Farm & Cidery based in Washington.

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Charcuterie from Olympic Provisions based in Portland, Ore., is always my favorite. 

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Cheese tastings from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.

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This ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream out of Ohio was to die for, especially topped with the salted caramel sauce.

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The Mango Marmalade from The Royal Gourmet was bright and tropical! 

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RAFT was serving their soda syrups that are delicious to add to soda water.

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The Wild Blueberry compote from American Spoon tasted like eating tiny wild blueberries straight out of a jar and was one of the most unique compotes I’ve ever tasted. 

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Venus Spirits had a beautiful display and set-up, serving sips of their Gin. Based in Santa Cruz, they are on our list to visit once their tasting room opens (soon!)

I was also lucky to meet the owner/producer of Bloomery SweetShine who won for their Seasonal Pumpkin Spice spirits, which was good on it’s own but would also be amazing drizzled over a cheesecake or other dessert!

Congrats to all of the winners and the team for another great event!

xo.

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Sweet & Spark Trunk Show

The beautiful Marmalade Boutique on Union Street in San Francisco hosted a trunk show with sweet & spark  a couple of weeks ago and I was thrilled to go as I have always wanted to check out their jewelry. First of all, Marmalade Boutique is such a charming, well-curated store with fashion at affordable prices.  From tops and dresses to pillows and jewelry, the lovely owner, Hope Schaffer-Colling, carefully selects each piece from her travels around the world. Hope and her husband Pete also own The Mason Jar, another boutique with great interior design pieces. If you are in the neighborhood, you must stop by.

I really liked a lot of the pieces from sweet & spark, which consists mostly of curated vintage jewelry. The jewelry is unique and they have great collections that fit your specific style needs. Check out their Fall Trends; I am especially loving the Boho Chic. I love their story, too, being a father-daughter team that started this from spending their time together out and about at local flea markets (that included stops at the donut shop).🙂

It was a great event filled with fabulous company and delicious champagne (why not when you are shopping?!)

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xo.

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The London Plane and Bar Sajor: Seattle, Wash.

THE LONDON PLANE

This is long overdue but we had such a great time in beautiful Seattle.  It reminds me a lot of San Francisco.  Great vibe, people, right on the water….and a great food and coffee scene.  We were there celebrating my sister-in-laws graduation (she’s now a doctor!) and then spent a few days touring around (in which the itinerary was based around restaurants and food!)   The first stop we made was for lunch at The London Plan (thanks to the amazing recommendation from Madison Ginnett of Dessert Pocket). It’s located on the northeast corner in Pioneer Square and is part cafe, part specialty foods grocery, and part floral workshop (wish we had time for one of the workshops!)  It’s a collaboration between the teams of Sitka & Spruce, The Corson Building, Bar Sajor, Old Chaser Farm, and Marigold & Mint.londonplane3Subway tiles and floral decorations inside The London Plane.

londonplane5The open kitchen is phenomenal.

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londonplane4Part of the cafe where you can order baked goods to eat-in or take with you.

londonplane1For lunch, we started with the Spreads & Dips and got the sample of all four that included: caramelized cauliflower, caper & anchovy; beet hummus with harissa oil; lentil, carrot, feta & dill; roasted red pepper & cashew – served with the housemade naturally leavened sourdough with herb butter.  Second course was a trio of small salads that included: 1) honey-roasted carrots with chard leaves & stems, cumin & oil cured olives; 2) roasted asparagus & spring onions with pistachios & mint; 3) sprouting brassicas & potatoes with turmeric & mustard seed oil; 4) raw beets, fennel & radishes with ginger, lime & cilantro.  The food was delicious and the space was so open and bustling with Seattle-goers on their lunch breaks.

BAR SAJOR

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barsajor2Bar Sajor has a beautiful open kitchen with a wood-burning oven and an open wood fire. The space has so much rustic charm and the interior has palettes of white and blue with an Old Spanish World vibe. The ambiance is very lively – from the open kitchen to the bar and open seating.

barsajor1They start you with hot mint/stinging neddle/honey tea served in these gorgeous green and gold glasses.  The menu is very interesting and fresh and changes often. Chef/Owner, Matt Dillon, has done wonders with the food – known for his foraging, we had to get a dish with mushrooms. The night we were there, he was serving fiddlehead ferns that were cooked on the open wood fire

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barsajor4Our Seattle visit was much too short and we’ll definitely be back to explore the many other great restaurants it has to offer (including Sitka & Spruce, which is on the list).

xo.

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