Put a Tums on It
Portland, I love you. I love your adorable half-size city blocks and your fancy drinking fountains at every street corner. I love your Saturday Market with personalized garden gnomes and too many jewelry booths to count. I love your book store, the best one in the world, I think. Most of all, I love your abundance of delicious restaurants and incredible breweries.
We did Portland up right, but I have no pictures to show you because I’m usually super embarrassed about taking photos at restaurants. Instead I offer up a very specific list of things we tried, because I’m a nerd and want to remember this for later.
–Pok Pok: I was almost scared to go here because I didn’t want it to disappoint…but it really, really didn’t. Chicken wings were the absolute highlight, of course. I looked like an absolute savage idiot while eating them, but I cared not a whit. They were phenomenal in every way — crispy, sticky, spicy, tender. I feel like an asshole when I try to describe food but holy crap, they were ridiculous. They knocked Phnom Penh right off my carefully plotted chicken wing chart. The other stuff we ordered was good, but next time I would just get two orders of the chicken wings and not have to share with Mark.
–Pine State Biscuits: We had this incredible day that started at Pine State Biscuits and ended at Kenny and Zuke’s, with three stops in the middle. It was pretty phenomenal. Believe the hype about this place. It really doesn’t matter what you order as long as it involves fried chicken and a biscuit in some capacity.
–Salt & Straw: Directly across from Pine State Biscuits is Salt & Straw. Did my huge biscuity breakfast mean I couldn’t have breakfast dessert? I am insulted that you would even insinuate that, fake invisible reader. Deeply insulted. To be completely honest, I couldn’t even finish half of the single scoop I ordered (and Mark didn’t help at all because he had ordered bacon and cheese on top his fried chicken biscuit and therefore was out of commission for like three hours, which sucked but also gave me the golden opportunity to say, “I told you so”), but that coffee and bourbon ice cream was incredible. I also had a sample of their pad thai iced tea flavour, which sounds absolutely bonkers, but was subtle and so refreshing, and laced with sweetened condensed milk. Yum.
-Then we ate some apple pie at Random Order which was delicious and used an all-butter crust (something I am picky and bossy about) and involved vanilla and salted caramel. I would have enjoyed it more had I not been so full (see: previous two bullet points).
-Drinkwise, we had a lot of great cocktails, but my hands-down favourite was at Teardrop Lounge, a place we were quite obviously not cool/well-dressed enough for, but whatever. I’m really a cocktail novice, and thought about asking the bartender to make me a surprise drink, but then I spotted the Salt-n-Pepa on the menu: chili-infused aquavit, tequila, lime, agave nectar, and fennel salt. I’ve never had a drink like it — it was spicy, but also super smooth, and the fennel salt was so good I would put it on pretty much anything. Shoop shoop.
-I think Mark’s favourite place in PDX is Bailey’s Taproom, a small bar that has 20 rotating taps and serves no other type of alcohol or food. There’s an adorable bartender who looks just like Seth Rogen, and there’s so much thought put into the draught list. It’s the kind of place where you can order pretty much anything at random and it’ll definitely be the best beer ever.
-I could totally keep going, but I have to mention my personal favourite meal, at Grüner. We sat at the bar and had fantastic cocktails, and then shared a plate of malfatti — ricotta and nettle dumplings that were so ethereal and light that they pretty much melted in your mouth. I could have stopped there and been totally satisfied, but we also ordered their famous burger, which was exactly as good as I’d anticipated, and we also ordered a kale salad. That sounds super boring, and when Mark pointed it out, I was like, “Hell no! I don’t have time for salads!” but the bartender recommended it as well, and it turned out to be one of my favourite dishes from the trip. It was composed of ribboned kale with farro, kohlrabi, carrots, radishes, asiago and this perfectly creamy lemon-thyme dressing. It was so springy and nutty and fresh and utterly delicious. Of all the foods we ate on our brief trip, this is the one I wanted to replicate the most, and after a bit of snooping around the Internet, found this recipe, which is based on a Grüner salad, though a slight variation of one, I think. I made it last night for some girlfriends (a totally cliché lady dinner party that involved SO MUCH baby talk and also eating chocolate cake straight from the platter before dinner was served) and though it wasn’t quite spot-on, it was pretty damn good. I added a couple tablespoons of sour cream to the dressing, since I remember the Grüner one being quite creamy. This is a perfect spring salad! Make and eat.
All that food and booze was great, but coming home was the best. We picked up our sweet dog from the kennel, and resumed real life. Real, mundane, utterly fantastic life. With a dog in a hoodie.