Category Archives: Food

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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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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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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Hog Island Oyster Co. Reopens in Ferry Building

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Hog Island Oyster Co. just reopened their oyster bar in San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building after being closed for a few months for expansion. Hog Island was one of the opening tenants of the ferry building during its transformation as a food marketplace in 2003. It’s a very popular spot in SF for locals and tourists alike. Tomales Bay, on the coast of Northern California, is where they harvest and shuck the amazing, hand raised, sustainable oysters and shellfish.

The newly opened space has an expanded bar and much more seating. There is still a line outside, but don’t be intimated by it – it moves pretty quickly and it’s all worth the wait!  We were able to get one of the best seats – right at the oyster bar, overlooking the Bay Bridge and front row seats to watch their team shucking oysters.  We ordered the half dozen chef’s selection and an order of the grilled oysters, paired with their bloody mary and a glass of prosecco.  We will be back to indulge again at Hog Island over oysters and cocktails.

And since it was a Saturday, we wandered around the amazing farmer’s market and took home gorgeous purple and bright orange flowers that look perfect in the loft.

xo.

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A Visit to the new Blue Bottle Coffee, Oakland

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Coffee is quite the trend here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I admit it – I’m a coffee snob.  I do cappuccino’s and latte’s. Double shots. Whole or soy milk. And I love getting my coffee “for here” and taking an extra 10 minutes to sit and enjoy it. Especially when you get to enjoy the beautiful space.  Most of our Blue Bottle Coffee trips are to visit their stand at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning at the Ferry Building.  Word got out that they opened a new spot in Oakland, and not just any new coffee spot.  The Blue Bottle opened in Oakland’s historic W.C. Morse building.  The architecture is stunning.

They serve their normal menu plus a few other specialty drinks crafted by the baristas such as a Shakerato with espresso, ice and simple syrup; a Parisian-inspired Sowden Soft Brew Au Lait; and a Cascara Fizz, which includes cascara tea, sparkling water, simple syrup, and a wedge of lemon. They have a beautiful, help-yourself area of goodies ranging from Belgian-style street waffles to steel-cut oats, elegant cakes, and other delicious goods.

I will definitely be back (and the lines aren’t as long as their SF locations)!

xo.

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Temescal Alley

Temescal1Donuts! There is a new generation of donuts – from Doughnut Dolly to Donut Savant, Dynamo Donuts and more. And I love donuts. They remind me of childhood – about once a month, my dad would go to the donut shop early Sunday morning and get my brother and I some of our favorites – old fashioned chocolate, maple bars and sprinkled donuts.  As you approach Temescal Alley, you notice a line and yes, it’s for Doughnut Dolly. It’s a cute, super small donut store. You enter and they have donuts in a basket – simple, sugar crusted donuts – and you have three choices for fillings that are piped in to order. On our trip to this lovely shop, we tried a lavendar honey filling – amazing!

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Temescal6Temescal Alley is Oakland’s hip and vibrant that has a bohemian vibe with a range of small shops from artisan clothing to sweets to handcrafted jewelry.

xo.

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Sunday in Oakland

photo 2Adam Tucker oxfords; Rag & Bone distressed skinny jeans; Zara coat with leather accents; Trouve silk black blouse from Nordstrom; Brahmin bag and Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses. On location in Rockridge in front of a beautiful bright purple door.

photo 7On location in front of Box & Bells in Oakland.

photo 6Brunch at TOAST in Oakland.

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photo 3Spring vegatable frittata with holey cow cheese, garlic toast and mixed greens; biscuits and egg.

photo 1The Trappist in Oakland. Amazing beers on tap.

xo.

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