Family Vacation to Oregon: Portland

The Great Dorsey Vacation 2017 all started with a cute little weekend stay in Portland.  Joey and I didn’t plan on going there for the third summer in a row but A) we were already flying into PDX and B) my sister and Wayne had never seen our favorite little city, so we felt it 100% necessary to spend a few days there.

I thought this might be the trip where I grew a little bit tired of Portland and instead, I just loved it a whole lot more.  Even without a stop at Pip’s, it still managed to be the very best, because: warmth and blue skies that made for walk everywhere weather, getting to try new restaurants/coffee shops but also show off our favorites, a bike share program that meant seeing Portland from different angles and being with two people who were equally up for ice cream every night.

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We checked into our rental house, quickly realized it did not have air-conditioning (THE HORROR!), then walked up the street for dinner.  Por Que No?  That is the question!  We walked past this place last time we were here and where there’s a long line, there must be good food.  Usually, at least.  Turns out, the line moves really fast and we didn’t even have a hard time snagging a street-side table after ordering at the counter.  The carnitas taco is what dreams are made of.  Afterwards, Ruby Jewel for dessert because it was just a block away and after seeing Peanut Butter Cookie Dough on the menu, I was sold.

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The best way to start a Saturday in Portland is to take a morning walk and stumble across a “Before I die…” chalk wall then stumble across the sidewalk and skin your hand and the corner of your phone at the same time then breakfast and a trip to the Farmers’ Market, so we did just that.  We hit Bijou Café then walked up to the market and man, was it bustling!  The joy of watching someone experience that barrage of perfect produce is just the best.  And we bought a half flat of berries that were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Afternoon activities involved coffee at Heart, Powell’s City of Books and lunch at Pine Street Market.

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But my favorite part of the day was renting bikes and riding along the river!  It was hot and I was the slowest but it was so perfect and ended with a quick (and scenic) ride on the aerial tram.  When we were done being hot and sweaty we headed back to our place to rest before heading out to dinner at Podnah’s Pit.  I liked my pulled pork but I LOVED Joey’s ribs.  We hit up that Salt & Straw line after dinner and get this, I got a carrot cake-flavored ice cream that was one of the best (and most creative) scoops I’ve ever eaten.  Unanimous opinion: Salt & Straw > Ruby Jewel.  And now you know.

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Sunday morning, we packed up and headed to one final Portland breakfast at Besaw’s and look, the area it was in was very nice and trendy and there was free coffee while we waited, but the service was just so-so.  The food was GREAT though!  Do you even see that butter swirl?  We met up with my parents afterwards to do a big old grocery haul for the rest of the week on the coast and then I just had to grab one last coffee at Case Study.  Ciao for now, Portland!

Where We Stayed: Beautiful Detached Cottage in Mississippi Neighborhood 

Where We Ate/Drank: 

Por Que No? // Don’t let the line scare you off.  It moves quickly and the reward at the end is creamy guac, crispy chips and strong margaritas.  Please please order a carnitas taco.  You won’t regret it!

Ruby Jewel //  If you’re visiting Portland and can only visit one ice cream shop, make it Salt & Straw but if you’re visiting for the third summer in a row and you’ve been to Salt & Straw twice already, try Ruby Jewel!  The small scoop is the perfect post-taco treat.

Bijou Café // This place has a diner feel in that slightly grungy but you don’t notice because the service is so good and the food is so unpretentious kind of way that I totally dug.  We sat at the counter, drank coffee and people watched.  I really loved my cauliflower-kale hash and Joey was SO into his fried chicken and pancakes.

Heart Coffee Roasters // I am head over heels for their coffee beans and their minimalist café aesthetic.  Nuff said.

Pine Street Market // I got a so-so slice of pizza and salad at Trifecta Annex but everyone else had what looked like a really good burger from Bless Your Heart Burgers and I wonder if I’ll ever learn to just order whatever Joey orders because he always wins.

Podnah’s Pit Barbecue // They were out of brisket when we got there and I think we were all a little bit sad but everything on my plate was good (though not great) and I really really liked the rib Joey graciously gifted me.

Salt & Straw // The most unique flavors, that are all spot on and served with a smile.  Just do it, okay?

Besaw’s // Free coffee while you wait and maybe service was just off on the day we went?  But the food was really really good.  Get the Farmer’s Hash because: bacon, cheddar and that big old fluffy biscuit!

Case Study Coffee // I really dig that light fixture over the coffee bar and the barista who rang me up was very nice, but what can I say?  My heart belongs to Heart.

What We Did:

Portland Farmers’ Market // If you’re not impressed by this FM, you’re not human!  I am completely BLOWN AWAY by the sheer abundance and quality of the things that grow so beautifully in the Pacific Northwest.

Powell’s City of Books // If you’re a book nerd, how can you go to Portland and not go to Powell’s?  Heck, even if you aren’t a book nerd, how can you go to Portland and not go to Powell’s?  Get lost on an aisle in the section that calls to you most and peruse all the books there.

BIKETOWN // Sign up for this BEFOREHAND, so you’re not standing in the straight sun, waiting for the app to download at a snail’s pace.  Ride the Waterfront Park Trail to the Portland Aerial Tram then ride it up to see the city from above.

Weekend Things

It’s Monday but I’m in a good mood and I blame the weekend.  I wholeheartedly love the full-on summer month of July but man did it feel exhausting this year!  I hit the ground running with Shakespeare Fest, 4th of July and ambitious birthday cooking plans, followed by a trip to the mountains, three concerts, hosting a summer BBQ and celebrating my mom’s birthday.  All SO SO fun and 100% worth feeling a little overbooked, but boy am I ready for a bit of an August slow down.

We maybe got a good preview of that this weekend, because even though we had Friday dinner plans, a Saturday night concert and early morning breakfast on Sunday, everything still felt real calm, cool and collected.  Gimme all those R&R vibes!

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Can we start with Thursday, though?  Because it was my mom’s birthday and she had us over for lunch and that spread — salad, roasted garlic bread, jambalaya! — was so delicious and my mom was just too cute.  I love her so much!

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On Friday, we went out to celebrate at Mas Kaos and though it started shaky when we were the first table sat upstairs in what felt like a weird attic space, it filled in later on and then the food was really good!  I felt panicky all day wondering how I would possibly choose between pizza and tacos, but then just ordered both and truly felt I was living my best life.

Back at home, we threw on Frances Ha and right away we loved it.  Maybe didn’t love the second half quite as much, but we still really liked it overall.  And what a delightful surprise when Adam Driver showed up!

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Started out slow on Saturday by making a weirdo breakfast for Joey and I.  I saw this recipe for Sweet Corn Oatmeal with Peaches in Cooking Light last month and couldn’t get it out of my head!  It was more savory than I had expected but also oddly satisfying?  It was a little bit gloomy/had recently rained but I was so hellbent on going to the Farmers’ Market for the first time in 3 weeks that I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.  Got peaches, shishitos (finally!!!) and a bargain stripy squash (technical term) for 50 cents then biked home all smiley and happy.

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Afternoon shopping afterwards and I think everyone else had the same idea because Nordstrom Rack was PACKED.  Also, just want to tell you that Joey and I have been doing this thing where we forget to print concert tickets beforehand, which leads to driving to the office (did it TWO DAYS IN A ROW two weekends ago…) to use the printer or finding a Kinko’s.  What is even wrong with us?

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Saturday night was spent at Red Rocks for the Tedeschi Trucks Band.  FYI, it’s apparently “Te-de-SKI” which is cool because I only told about 100 people I was going to a “Te-de-shee” concert.  Anyway, we classed up our tailgate game with an actual table and chairs, plus takeout from BriDer.  It was probably double the price of our usual Illegal Pete’s tailgate dinner but looking back on those sweet potato tots, it was worth it.  Saw a real cute deer on our way into the amphitheater ♥

The actual concert was so great!  I’ve never been to a real jam band show so I didn’t know what to expect but everyone was dancing and singing and not even trying to pretend they weren’t smoking weed.  If you’ve never been to Red Rocks, that sort of thing is pretty normal but I think this was the most blatant display I’ve seen.  Most importantly though, I got to hear “Midnight in Harlem” live and Susan Tedeschi has an INCREDIBLE voice!

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Sunday started with breakfast at Snooze.  Joey’s grandparents had never been there and I was all too happy to join them for their inaugural visit.  Afterwards we “adulted” by going to the grocery store, making lunch salads for the week and taking a walk up the street to buy more coffee beans for iced coffee that I never actually made (FAIL).  I also made a double batch of freezer cookies because we were out (THE HORROR!) and that just wasn’t going to work.  Feels much better now that we’re re-stocked.

Hey, I actually made it to Sunday afternoon yoga!  Felt so good to make it there and to get a good stretch in.  Back at home, we cooked dinner together and it was the very best.  Actually, Joey was at the breading station making “fried” broccoli and told me he felt very stressed but I think he was being dramatic 🙂  We made tacos from The Savvy Cook and I was so blown away by the end result!  We even made our own flour tortillas and they were a little messy and time-consuming but otherwise completely easy.  I stuck the extras in the freezer (along with the leftover “chorizo” dip) so we can totally make this killer meal again and it will be a real breeze.

Could this post be any longer??  Um well, I could talk about Game of Thrones and it could be A LOT longer, but I’ll keep it brief and just say: Jon & Dany face to face at long last!  How thrilling!  What did you all think?!