Tag 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!


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!)


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.



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!


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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.



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!


The fried jalapeno bite – also delicious!

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!


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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.





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


Cheese tastings from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.


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


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


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


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. 




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!


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The London Plane and Bar Sajor: Seattle, Wash.


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.


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.



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


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).


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Hog Island Oyster Co. Reopens in Ferry Building







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.


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Sunset Magazine Culinary Tour + Banana Republic Tweed


The main lobby entrance at Sunset magazine headquarters in Menlo Park, CA. I was invited to join the IACP Culinary Tour at Sunset Magazine and honored to be with a very high profile group of food writers, chefs, authors and other key food industry people. The day started with a tour of the Sunset magazine campus, followed by a seminar and a 6-course menu. The dishes were all from various issues of Sunset Magazine and the menu featured:

TO START: Meyer lemon spritzer (November 1994); Gabriel’s guacamole (August 2006); Indian-spiced guacamole (March 2013)

MAIN DISHES: Grilled Skuna Bay salmon in a bay laurel “cage” (July 2013); Santa Maria-style trip-tip (Sunset Cookbook 2012); Fettucine with sorrel-almond pesto (June 2013); Chez Panisse’s baked goat cheese & spring lettuce salad (May 2007); Roasted asparagus with lemon (May 2005)

DESSERT: Brown sugar strawberry tart

Wente Vineyards Pinot Noir and Chardonnay; Anchor Steam Lager


A view of one of the many gardens located at Sunset magazine. They use the produce from these gardens in their test kitchens and outdoor kitchen.



The wine cellar at Sunset where they carry many award-winning and vintage wines. The oldest being a 1935 pinot noir from Simi Valley.


Loved the vintage Spanish furniture in the wine cellar and throughout the rest of the Sunset.


The whole Skuna Bay salmon wrapped in bay leave branches that was cooked on a grill with oakwood chips. Skuna Bay is a Vancouver Island.


Perfectly roasted asparagus with lemon.

Sunset_1 4 2013

Chez Panisse’s baked goat cheese and spring lettuce salad (my favorite dish).


Margo True, Food Editor with Sunset magazine, moderating the panel about culinary history of California food. Panelists included Jerry di  Vecchio (editor at Sunset magazine for 20+ years), Jonathan Gold (Restaurant Critic, Los Angeles Times), Joyce Goldstein (food writer, chef, restaurateur), Sibella Kraus (creator of the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and founding director of CUESA), Charles Perry  (food historian, food writer for Los Angeles Times).


And of course the outfit for the day: Top: Nordstrom – Trouve blouse; Skirt: Banana Republic; Shoes: Target – yes – Target; Watch:  Michael Kors.

Sunset Mag


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Red Shoes & Bundt’s





If you know me, you know my “specialty” is bundt cakes. I have always loved baking. I grew up baking with my dad – we loved making everyone’s birthday cakes from scratch and chocolate brownies. For awhile, I baked a lot of cupcakes. And then I bought the book, Cake Simple, that changed my “baking” life. It is an amazing book filled with different bundt cake recipes – ranging from simple brown sugar bundt cakes to “foodie” bundt cakes and decadent chocolate fudge cakes. The pictures are also really great!  I’ve made almost every bundt cake in the book and will now be going back through the book and making them again to complete perfection and also photographing the results.  I usually bake a bundt cake on Sunday nights and bring it into the office (I work in hospitality PR and we all love food) and we call it “Bundt Cake Monday’s”.   This week was a delicious lemon bundt cake – the fresh squeezed lemons really make the cake and the lemon frosting.

And onto equally important things – shoes! I found the perfect pair of shoes and out of all places from The City Target! I was strolling through to stock up on some household items and happen to walk past the shoe department. I saw this amazing red shoes with an ankle strap and perfect height! I wear them with many different outfits – from dark jeans to skirts and colored pants and get so many compliments on them. The red instantly brightens the day and any outfit.



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DailyBuzz Food Blogger Festival @CityView San Francisco

Yesterday kicked-off the 2012 DailyBuzz Food Blogger Festival in San Francisco! A great way to meet a lot of food bloggers and local vendors! Today was the Tasting at City View in The Metreon – a beautiful space with amazing views of the city and SFMOMA. We arrived at 1pm when the event started and were given a great reusable bag to start filling with goodies!

Our lovely Food blogger reusable bag! I’m already a huge fan of 18 Rabbits – my favorite granola bar is the Funky Fig & Cherries and I always buy the Gracious Granola with coconut. We were lucky to get a sample of the Cheeky Cherry Chocolate granola bar – can’t wait to try it!

Of course you can never go wrong with Ghiradelli chocolate and there wasn’t a shortage! They were so kind to giveaway full chocolate bars of the Intense Dark Cabernet Matinee that’s infused with a hint of blackberry and Cabernet flavors! They also had samples of the Sea Salt Soiree, Twilight Delight and Midnight Reverie all paired with Cupcake Vineyards. Another one of my favorites in the goodie bag was the bars by Clif Bar – KIT’S ORGANIC. Lots of different flavors and they are gluten-free!

Toot Sweet had cute boxes filled with samples of their artisan caramel – a pistachio rosemary and a salted honey. Really sweet and delicious!

I was so excited to see Biscuit Bender at the food festival today.  I saw their new kiosk that opened recently at the Ferry Building and have been anxious to try their biscuits.  We tried the classic and the double bacon – both delicious and perfectly made!

Three twins ice cream was another one of my favorites. They were serving 4 different flavors of their ice cream and we went for the cardamom because it was the most unique! It was very flavorful. The ice cream factory is in Petaluma and you can find it at Whole Foods and various other markets, as well as the Berkeley Farmer’s Market.

Alaska Seafood had a long table setup with beautiful whole fish! We sampled a halibut in a Thai curry sauce that was perfectly cooked and an Alaskan snowcrab cake. Very fresh fish and natural and sustainable.


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