Good Eats – Portland, OR

One of our favorite things to do when visiting a city is to eat! We love all kinds of food from the dive to the finest restaurant – as long as the food is good! (And a clean environment is key too – sadly, there have been good restaurants we stopped going to because of visible grime.)  We’ve always loved eating in Portland and this trip was no exception – YUM!  Here are some of our favorite stops from our recent visit.

1. Queen of Sheba – Ethiopian restaurant

This place started off in the 1990s as an Ethiopian market and became a restaurant in 1996. Since then it’s received rave reviews. This is one of my favorite spots in Portland, ever since John and Gail (my brother-in-law and sister) took me there years ago. This was Bob’s first time there. The night we went, the service was unusually slow – I suspect someone must have called in sick because usually service is friendly and brisk. This did not detract from our experience, however. The food, as always, was superb. Ethiopian food is served family style on a tray of special bread (injera) and menu items are placed in dollops around the tray. You tear off pieces of the spongy bread and scoop up whatever item you want and place it all in your mouth. Fabulous! Some of my favorite items to order are Kik Wet – Split pea stew with warm spices, Misr Wet – Lentil stew with warm spices, Tibs Siga – Spicy sizzling beef in a hot berbere sauce, and Yedero Wet – Lemon washed chicken legs stewed in a spicy sauce topped with a hard-boiled egg. All the food is amazing and I always, always eat too much! For vegetarians, there are options for no meat meals.
2. The Cheese Plate – food cart

I can’t recall exactly, but I think Portland was where I first heard of food carts. Now they are prolific and everywhere! Surprise surprise, I had yet to eat at one! Gail indulged me one evening and took me to The Cheese Plate at 2231 NE Alberta Street.

We arrived early enough that there were no lines and we were able to secure a picnic table for the three of us (my 4-1/2 year old niece joined us). It was hard not to just order everything on the menu, but we did manage to narrow it down some. We ordered kale chips, soft boiled eggs with caviar, hazelnut and popcorn party mix, olives, the cheese plate, and fried cheese. Everything was fresh and delicious but my favorite was the fried goat cheese which was wrapped up in philo dough (I think).

And of course we had to get dessert. Now THAT was something to write home about for sure! If you are ever in the area, it’s worth a visit to this cart just for their fudge brownie with blue cheese topped by a port wine drizzle! The combination of chocolate and blue cheese sounds weird, but they are perfect together! Slightly tart but not overwhelming. My niece practically devoured it on her own! I may have to try playing with a recipe to see if I can make something like that at home.

3. Voodoo Donuts

Need I say more? This doughnut shop has been featured on numerous food and travel shows and in magazines for their wild doughnuts, like voodoo doll, maple bacon bar, and dirt (oreo cookies) doughtnut, along with some more slightly risque choices. 😉 It may seem like a gimmick, but those doughnuts taste amazing! The flavors are fabulous and the doughnuts supremely fresh. Truly the best doughnuts! There’s a reason why there’s a long line out the door! Ah, but we have an in….

That’s my stepson (Bob’s son) Jason who is a manager at Voodoo! WOOHOO! We stopped by for a boxful and skipped the line (thanks Jason)! YUMMMMM! (Good thing I don’t live there because I’d be a billion pounds from eating my way through their menu!)

4. Whiskey Soda Lounge

My brother-in-law, John, is a bit of a beer connoisseur, so when he learned that the Whiskey Soda Lounge served jelly beer (bia wun), he had to visit and we wanted to, too! What is bia wun?  It’s basically slushy beer. Now, I am not a beer drinker and typically don’t like beer, but this beer? Delicious! Bottles of Singha beer (which are pretty light as beers go) are placed in a special machine that churns and cools the beer until it’s slushy. The waitress gives a quick pound of bottle to floor, pops off the top, throws in a straw (!) and hands it to you to make sure the foam doesn’t overflow – and after a time, it stops foaming and you can enjoy this amazingly refreshing drink! We also ordered appetizers and my favorite was a special – fresh corn fritters with chili oil dipping sauce. So fresh and delicious! Those of you in the foodie know have undoubtedly heard of Portland’s best Thai joint Pok Pok. The Whiskey Soda Lounge is owned by Pok Pok’s owner so expect the same outstanding food without waiting in a long line. Or at least wait there until your number is called (since it’s right across the street).
5. Thai Peacock

A great find! Jason, Bob’s son, recommended this place while the three of us were looking for lunch after visiting the Japanese Tea Garden. The food was delicious – some of the best Thai food I’ve had in a while. Plus Jason introduced me to a great dish I’d never had before: pad se-ew – kind of like pad thai but with wide noodles (think chow fun over chow mein). I hope to order it the next time I find myself at a Thai restaurant. Oh and big plus for the restaurant? It’s located just across from one of my all time favorite bookstores ever – Powell’s Books! And yes, we went there, and yes I bought books! Lots!

— debbi

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Categories: Good Eats, Oregon | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Hiking Silver Falls

After driving 12 plus hours from our home in the Peninsula/Bay Area of California, we arrived late at my sister’s home in Portland, OR. Not so late that my 4-1/2 year old niece couldn’t properly and enthusiastically greet us, however! Our first full day there, Bob went white water rafting on a class 4 river (his first time) with John, my brother-in-law and John’s 18 year old son. They had a blast – and Bob saw bald eagles, osprey, and river otters. (I opted for the less adventurous but just as fun outing to the outets to go shopping with my sister and niece.)

The following day, at John’s suggestion, Bob and I drove 1-1/2 hours to Silver Falls State Park where we hiked most of the 8.7 mile Trail of Ten Falls. Because we parked at the North entrance, we were able to see most of the falls on our four hour hike (we stopped a lot to gawk at the waterfalls and to take photos). The landscape of Oregon is visibly different than Northern CA – more rocky and very green with amazing rivers.

Hiking here was like being lost in time.

Upper North Falls – 65 ft

North Falls – 136 ft  We were able to hike behind the falls. Amazing!

Us in shadow on a bridge.

The river views were soothing.

Double Falls – 178 ft, the largest in the park. I had fun scrambling around on the rocks below (and proudly did NOT slip and fall)!

We saw a lot of butterflies and birds too far away for me to identify. A small garter snake crossed the path right in front of me, and we saw a lizard skitter in the bushes. It was an invigorating, fabulous hike – one of my favorites, ever!

Categories: hiking, Oregon | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Feast at The Beast

Bob and I celebrated our 14th anniversary a few days early by dining at Beast in Portland, Oregon. I first heard of Beast when Chef Naomi Pomeroy competed on Iron Chef America (and if I remember correctly, just narrowly lost). She was recognized in Food and Wine Magazine as one of ten best new chefs in 2009. Her restaurant has also received numerous accolades. If the name of the restaurant doesn’t already make it obvious, the web site states that vegetarians would find eating there a challenge. There are no substitutions as the kitchen is small (and in view of the diners which makes for great entertainment).

The kitchen at work, preparing our first course.

Imagine being invited to a large dinner party. That’s what it’s like at Beast. Community seating (two large tables) and a set menu give the meal an air of being invited to someone’s home for dinner. Dinners are only served Wednesday through Saturday twice with seatings at 6 and 8:45 PM. The 6-course menu changes weekly. Bob and I were wowed for sure by every single course! I’m still thinking about the dishes and wishing I could revisit them all. There’s great attention to detail for flavor, freshness, and plating.

I didn’t take photos of every course, I was too focused on just relishing every bite. The first course was a carrot veloute with fried pickled ramps and parsley oil. The soup was sweet but not overly so, and the fried ramps and parsley oil were fabulous accompaniments. I wanted to be able to drink an entire bowl of this fabulous soup!

Course two was a highlight for me. A charcuterie plate of amazing flavors!  My two favorite bites off the above plate was the steak tartare with quail egg and the foie gras bon bon. YUM!

The main course featured duck breast with cherry-pinot noir duck jus and new potato salad with summer herbs and bacon. Probably some of the best duck breast I’ve ever had – perfectly seared with a crisp skin on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Not at all chewy. The potato salad was slightly tart and delicious. I overheard the young man to my left say to his date, “I don’t like potato salad, but I really like this!”

Course four was a salad of mixed greens, albacore tuna toasts, with Sungold tomato vinaigrette. To me, the proof of the genius of Chef Pomeroy was in the salad. I mean, it’s salad! Green stuff with dressing. But….this was the most amazing salad I’ve had in my life! It was fresh and not overdressed. I could taste every element of the salad including leaves of chiso (I don’t know the American word for this crisp sour leaf often used in Japanese cooking for wrapping sushi and pickling umeboshi). In fact, since returning home, Bob and I have started adding chiso (from our garden) to our salads. Love it!

The fifth course was a cheese plate with Angelino plums, candied hazelnuts, anise shortbread, and wild flower honey. I can’t recall the names of the cheeses, but they were all spectacular (I happen to love love love cheese)!

Oh! I’m drooling right now just looking at this picture of our final course – dessert! It was a chilled vanilla créme with apricot granite, and thyme tuille. As with all the other dishes, every element was perfect – delicious, flavorful, and working in perfect harmony with one another. I will reveal here that I have a bit of a strange allergy to dairy. I can eat cheeses, sour cream and butter (in small quantities) without any adverse affects. I can eat foods with dairy cooked into them in small amounts. However, I am unable to eat ice cream, cream cheese, or drink milk. Sigh. So when I saw this amazing dessert, I nearly wept knowing I couldn’t do more than take a little taste. Um…except after a nibble, I couldn’t stop eating it. The texture was that of thick custard, and the vanilla flavor fresh and sweet. I ate almost all of it and then worried about the negative after effects — which, miraculously, never happened! I’m deeming Chef Pomeroy a magician!

While we were feasting on our last couple of courses, the kitchen staff started preparing for the second seating. They worked like a well-oiled machine despite being on the quiet side. It was fun watching the action, but the best part was definitely eating the outstanding meal! Bravo Beast!

BEAST

5425 NE 30th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97211

503.841.6968

Reservations are a must!

Categories: Good Eats, Oregon | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Oregon Trail

Okay, so we didn’t really follow the Oregon Trail, but we are just back from a fabulous week in Oregon! We’ll be sharing our adventures here this week, after I get caught up! (Why isn’t coming home from a trip as relaxing and fun as being on one?)

Teasers:

Mt Shasta just before we cross from California to Oregon. (Yes, we drove – 12 hours, but worth the scenery and being able to bring along our rat terrier, Trixie.)

Food carts in Portland! YUM!

Amazing scenic hikes!

Delicious meals at fabulous restaurants!

Fabulous views on the coast!

Sunsets and campfires on the beach!

Photos of Trixie!

Photos of family!

Adventure and food (always food)!

I promise more details very soon!

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The Origin of the Name RaD Jams

Some of you may wonder (or not) where the title of this blog came from. A couple of summers ago, our backyard peach tree was very, very fruitful. (Pun intended, sorry.)  Bob loves food-related projects (he’s our resident chef), so he decided to make peach jam. He made lots and lots of jars of peach jam. My contribution? Coming up with a name for our “label” and writing out said labels. We are Bob and Debbi, but I didn’t think BaD Jam would fly, so I used Bob’s given name, Robert, and RaD Jams was born.  This summer, our plum tree is giving a lot of fruit. A LOT! Plums are my all time favorite summer fruit so I didn’t complain. They are sweet, tart, juicy, and absolutely delicious! But soon I couldn’t keep up and even as I gave away bagfuls to friends, we still had an overabundance. So, I made plum crisp, and Bob made plum jelly and plum bbq sauce. YUM! He’s also been collecting our herbs from our garden, drying them out, chopping finely, and putting them into spice canisters. (Family may expect some of the above as gifts very soon!) Currently, our house smells like chives.

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A Day By The Bay

We live on the Peninsula of the Bay Area in California. We get warm sunny summer days that cool off in the evenings through the mornings. Perfect, for me! San Francisco, on the other hand, can be covered in fog and be on the cool side in the summer. (I always think fall is the best time to visit San Francisco.) Bob and I debated, one sunny Saturday morning, whether or not to risk a morning drive into the city to go to the Ferry Building and Farmer’s Market there. We bundled up in layers (always the best option when heading out and about in the Bay Area) and drove the short twenty-five minutes to the Ferry Building. It was still early, 10:30 AM, but as we walked from the parking structure to the building, it was already warm enough for us to peel off a layer. Gorgeous weather!

We started off by walking all the way down to Pier 33 for our early lunch reservations. The restaurant we went to was fine, but doesn’t warrant the time and space for a write up. We did pass another restaurant on our walk back to the Ferry Building that we hope to try next time.

By the time we arrived at the Ferry Building close to 1, it was bursting with people. It felt like summer with sunshine and warm temperatures. We spent a good couple of hours wandering the building, tasting, buying, and then heading outside to the Farmer’s Market for more tasting and shopping.

Our favorites stops in the Ferry Building include Chris Cosentino’s Boccalone (sausage/salami slices in a paper cone!),  Cowgirl Creamery (great variety – and we end up buying different cheeses every time, although we prefer stinky salty cheeses), and Recchiuti chocolates! Recchiuti is currently my favorite chocolate confectioner in the area – introduced to me by my Manhattan friend, Daphne (thank you)! The chocolate is creamy and rich and the flavors, amazing! My current favorite is the sesame nougat (milk chocolate caramel ganache and a crunchy sesame disk), but I also love the force noir (their darkest chocolate ganache with a touch of vanilla bean) and the fleur del sel (burnt caramel with French sea salt). Actually, I love them all and always have a hard time choosing which to bring home with me.  I tried Miette for the first time, although I’ve always been tempted by the gorgeous cupcakes and pastries in their display case, but never patient enough to wait in the long line. This time I did and bought each flavor of macaron offered. While I still favor Lette in Newport Beach, CA (which are comparable to the macarons I had in Paris) – Miette’s macarons were indeed fine. My favorite was the vanilla (which is odd for me since I’m a chocolate girl) and the hazelnut.

It was a lovely way to spend a sunny summer morning!

Categories: California, Good Eats, hometown tourist | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness…

Saturday, Bob and I went to the California Academy of Sciences located in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. We wanted to visit the new earthquake exhibit which we found illuminating. It was a bit daunting for Bob to discover that our little house on the Peninsula sits uncomfortably close to the San Andreas fault, but as someone who has grown up along it, I didn’t worry. (We DO carry earthquake insurance.)

The main reason for my desire to go was the same that prompted me to purchase a membership – butterflies. For some reason, butterflies make me insanely happy. Maybe it started with my visit to the monarch wintering grounds in Mexico well over a decade ago. (See my travel article on that visit here.) Here are some photos of my joy.

(I know this isn’t a butterfly, but I love him just the same!)

I hope you’re enjoying your summer!

Categories: California, hometown tourist | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Japanese Tea Garden

A few days ago, Bob, my 17yo daughter, and I drove into San Francisco to spend a few hours in Golden Gate Park. We started off at the DeYoung Museum (of which we’re members) to see the Real to Real: Photographs from the Traina Collection exhibit. We enjoyed the photographs immensely. My daughter was thrilled to see photos by Lee Friedlander displayed, including one of her favorites.

After wandering the museum, we headed over next door to the Japanese Tea Garden. I have fond memories of visiting it often as a child and love being able to revisit it as an adult. We started off having tea and snacks and then leisurely wandered the garden.

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A lovely way to spend the day!

Categories: California, hometown tourist, photo | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Surf City, USA

We had a lovely week visiting my parents in Huntington Beach, CA. We love going there – we jokingly call my parents’ house our Beach House. It’s not a bad drive –  6 hours with one stop for gas and lunch in Kettleman City. We end up visiting three or four times a year at least. We fall into a routine and I sleep much more soundly. The beach is a short 1 – 2 miles away. Bob and I take Trixie on a walk to the beach at least twice a day. We love standing at the railing above the bike path, gazing at the ocean, watching the surfers and beach go-ers, listening to the soothing sound of the waves, and inhaling the scent of sand and salt.

That’s Bob and me in shadow. Trixie didn’t show up since she’s shorter than the shrubs. 😉

We tried a new thing this trip and rented one of those bicycle cars. Oof! Those things are heavy. Our fantasy of biking to Newport were quickly dashed and we never made it out of HB. We did have a great time, though!

Bob didn’t last long at the driver’s seat. Our daughter took over and did a fine job (except when I got out to take some photos and she peddled off a bit as a joke. ha ha).

I took a short break.

HB Pier and a couple of beach volleyball players.

I do love my new camera. The zoom is awesome and for the first time ever I was able to take some decent surfing photos. I do have to have a steady hand. Still figuring out the new camera, but having fun!

We had a great time as always! Coming soon, a sweet post on cupcakes and macarons!

Categories: California | Tags: | 6 Comments

Hiking Crystal Cove State Park

Bob and I are frequent visitors to Huntington Beach, California where my parents live. It’s about a 6 hour drive from our house to theirs. One of our favorite hiking spots is in Crystal Cove State Park which is located off PCH (the Pacific Coast Hwy) in Newport Beach. From the parking lot, we walk along a wooden boardwalk (where we’ve previously come across rattlesnakes) bordered by flora and fauna of the Southern California coastline. Off the boardwalk is a windy dirt path along the cliff that takes you down to the beach. At low tide, tidepools are filled with marine life. More often than not, we have the entire area to ourselves. Recently, we took our 17 year old daughter with us. She was, let’s say, less than enthusiastic to go hiking with us, but she ended up having a fabulous time!

It was difficult to choose what photos to share with you. We saw plenty of verbena, lupine, ground squirrels, phoebes, pelicans, anemone, crabs, lizards, and more! Bob got me a new camera (Canon PowerShot SX260HS) for my birthday – still a mostly compact, automatic one, but this one does give me the option to take the camera off of “Auto” and it has a 20x zoom. I had a blast using it and look forward to learning to use it better.

Cheers!

Categories: California, hiking | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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