Reporting back from Portland!
As promised, I wanted to report back and relay my appreciation to you all for your incredible advice. So, I'll begin:
This was our winery day... all the wineries had open houses, which was nice. We started with Archery Summit, which was my favorite. There was live music and cheese pairings as well, and the dark chocolate paired incredibly with that last wine. We bought the 2006 Red Hills Estate Pinot Noir, which was incredible Luckily, due to the special Thanksgiving weekend ceremonies, we got a discount--from $85 down to $68! Pricey, but worth it. We also visited Ken Wright, Elk Cove, WillaKenzie, Owen Roe (tasting at the Horse Radish), and Domaine Serene. I wasn't as impressed with Ken Wright and WillaKenzie as I thought I would be, but all of the wineries were great. We also bought 2 Elk Cove bottles, a white for my dad, and a red for me. We drove back, checked into our hotel/settled down, and went to Toro Bravo. It was a great way to kick off the Portland visit! It was delicious, and the cocktails were well made too (yes, I was pretty drunk by the end of the night... all that wine tasting and 2 cocktails...). We had a spicy octopus and prawn stew, sauteed chanterelles on griddled bread, and seared scallop with romesco. The seared scallops were my favorite... so succulent and perfectly cooked.
Went to the farmer's market... and WOW, such amazing produce. I was very very impressed. I spent pretty much until 11:30 at the market, and didn't want to leave. I was almost dragged off... and sad that I didn't live there so that I could buy everything. We bought smoked salmon, Oregonzola cheese from Rouge, Burdock root (yes, I brought Burdock root in the plane), Plum jam, pickled beets, some pears... I might be forgetting something. The point is, I'm jealous of you all who have access every week!
We then walked around and finally went to the Clear Creek Distillery, which thankfully was having an open house. I was thoroughly impressed... we met the nicest people (they gave me their numbers if I ever wanted to go back! Such a down to earth city!) and had some excellent drinks. Unfortunately, the state of Oregon is very strict with alcohol and recently instituted a law so that we could only taste 5 types. The most interesting was the Doug Fir brandy... unusual and acquired, but still very well made. We also tasted some grappa, liquors, and other brandies. We ended up coming back with the 8 year apple brandy, pear liquor, and cranberry liquor. I really wanted to get the pear brandy, but was told that I could get that in Chicago, so I thought I shouldn't take up valuable space in my suitcase. The tour was very interesting; I loved hearing about the process and asked tons of questions.
By the time we got to lunch it was about 3 pm, and I was ready for some Karam. I had the artichoke stew with basmati rice, and it was the best Middle Eastern food I've ever had. Which says a lot, because my parents are Israeli. My dad had the meat combo on hummus, and he liked it so much that he was trying to convince me to just try some, even though I'm vegetarian. I also had the spinach and lentil soup, which was delightful. The dessert however... was incredible. I've never had anything quite like it... I think it was called Knafe B- something (not typical Knafe, which I've had). I was stuffed and thought I would only have a bite, but ended up eating half. It was worth it. We then went to Powell's... and all I have to say is that I was in heaven. I must have spent at least 3 hours there, and ending up buying 8 books! We went to the technical store as well for my dad, and I ended up reading bunch on Food Science. Once again, extremely jealous.
For dinner, we started out for apps at Andina. This was one of my favorite restaurants that I've eaten in for sure. We only had the cebiche, mussels, and octopus tapas to save room for later (the plan was to go to Tanuki). I discovered that Tear Drop was very close, and so made a detour to go. Hands down, best drinks I've ever had. The bartenders were so nice and patient, and let me try anything I wanted. I ended getting the most well balanced cocktails (2 of them), and enjoyed every sip. I want to move to Portland just for that bar. And the Ransom Gin. I'm still sad that I didn't have time to buy any to take home... I loved that the bar wasn't too pretentious, either (unlike the Violet Hour, which is a somewhat comparable mixology type place in Chicago). We drove to Tanuki, and to my extreme disappointment, it was closed! We drove around and went to Navarre for small plates. Though I'm sad that I didn't get to go to Tanuki, I was more than satisfied with Navarre. Simple dishes prepared beautifully... I don't remember all that we had, but I do remember the arugula and chanterelles, trout in parchment paper, beets with ricotta salata... and once again, the people were just wonderful. We were the only people there (it was about 11), and we ended up staying and talking to them for 40 minutes after the meal.
We had breakfast in the hotel, and went to the Japanese Gardens. I loved the gardens, it was beautiful and peaceful. We went to the Hawthorne district, which was very cool (once again, went to both Powell's, and spent a while in the store specializing in cooking). We browsed, got a fish taco at a stand, and decided to go to Mississippi for the food cart scene. We sampled a bit of each--Ruby Dragon (delicious miso soup with kale, ginger, carrots, buckwheat noodles), Native Bowl (Gravy bowl... mmm hearty and perfect), and a sushi place (forgot the name) where we got veggie sushi. After that we walked around Alberta, and then ended up driving back to Washington to go back to visiting my sister.
All in all, it was an incredible trip, and I absolutely loved Portland. Was sad to leave, but I know that I'll be back for more! The culture pretty much exemplifies my character, and I've already made plans to take my mom out there as well. Next time I'll try the microbreweries and take advantage of the happy hour scene...
Thanks everyone for all the help, it was great advice!
Sounds as if you had an ok time (understatement!).
Glad you made it to Tear Drop, my favorite bar. Lack of pretentiousness is something I love about PDX.
Try returning to the farmers' market June-Sept, the peak of berry/peach/melon season. The market after Thanksgiving can be quiet, with several vendors taking the day off.
It's "Rogue" Creamery. They come from the Rogue River Valley. One of their blue cheeses won Best of Show out of 1326 entries at the American Cheese Society show.
Girlfriend and I made it to Clear Creek Saturday, had a great time. Had we been given more than five samples, we would have been trashed! We got the Pear Brandy & Oregon Brandy. The Doug Fir we found odd, and the only one we couldn't finish.
Thanks for the report!
I was a bit tipsy after the tour... but yes, I would love to go back! What were some of your favorites from Clear Creek?
I was told about the Farmer's Market, but despite being a slow day, it was still pretty busy for my standards. I was planning on going back in the spring, but I think I might have to make it for the summer... there's nothing like a good peach...
Does anyone know if I can order Ransom from their website? I tried to look but there didn't seem to be an option to do so...