As I was trying to come up with which “perfect” recipe to share in my 500th post on Cooking With Willis, it occurred to me that there is no such thing as a “perfect” recipe. I toyed with finally getting around to sharing about our cooking experience in Cape Town, another new wonderful muffin recipe (I’ve been on a muffin kick recently), some of the vegan dishes we’ve been making as of late, or a host of other things. But instead I thought why not write about something a little less typical? There’s nothing particularly significant about crossing the 500 threshold at this point in time, particularly when my enthusiasm for the blog has been clearly waning, in light of new opportunities filling my time. So why not write about what I want to write about, instead of going through the litany of detailing a new recipe, which involves photo editing, uploading, recipe writing, content writing, etc. It’s not that I lack content or recipes – I think I’ve just needed a little break from trying to keep up the pace we were going! It’s harder than it looks, even if you’re just an itty bitty little blog.
So for #500, I give you Portland. Portland. Portland Portland Portland. City of Food. City of Beer. City of Coffee. City of “you must try X place.” We have been dying to visit Portland for awhile now, which only intensified upon moving to Washington. With the Rose City only a couple hours within reach, we finally double-downed on picking a weekend to go, finding an AirBNB to crash in, and loosely plotting the “first-time visit to PDX” list of things to do. We picked a late fall weekend that ended up being clear and sunny, we stayed in a tiny house that was shockingly roomy, and ate all the things we possibly could in a 48-hour time period. We barely scratched the surface and I don’t know if we could confidently be the ones saying “try this place” or “try that place” but we certainly thoroughly enjoyed our first trip to the city. We’re driving to California for Christmas and will likely stay again for our anniversary, on the way back, to see and do more in PDX.
The down and dirty of our first trip involved the following:
Got into town, went to McMenamins Chapel Pub down the street, ate snacks, sampled beer. All in all, good experience. Kind of quiet for a Friday night, but McMenamins is this cool group that takes historic buildings and flips them into event spaces/bars/breweries/cool things. They just bought a second building in Tacoma, so we were curious to see some of their Portland work. We approve. Beer was really good, too. They had a Harry Potter beer, the stuff of wizards.
Got ourselves up from our tiny loft and went to top-rated Barista in the downtown area. We drank beautiful lattes and ate some sort of twice-baked croissant pastry thing that has no equivalent in the human, non-PDX-world. There’s a guy who works at Barista who’s won the espresso-pulling contest or something like that. They mean serious business. Beat the crowd by 20 minutes, a recurring trend throughout our weekend. Apparently East Coast time is faster than Portland, plus 20 minutes.
View from our tiny house loft
Walked around, eventually landing in Powell’s Bookstore where we spent an indeterminate amount of time, mostly in the cookbook section, with an equally long venture to the travel section. Bought more than we needed, including our current kitchen obsession, Thug Kitchen Cookbook. You will pee your pants while being offended by the language, and somehow forget that it’s entirely vegan cooking. Would buy again and again.
Worked up an appetite in Powell’s, so we consulted Yelp for some tacos for lunch. Landed on Los Gorditos, which was around the corner, offered regular, vegetarian and vegan menus, and had one $ sign. Solid choice, amazing tacos for both the carnivore and the herbivore. My favorite was my onion taco (sounds gross, but it was the best thing ever) and Will devoured his carnitas. Would eat again.
Veg plate – onion taco in the back right
Once the tacos settled, it was time for what we anticipated to be brewery #1 for the day. It ended up being brewery #only. A classic choice for Portland: Rogue. Having tried their beers before, we knew what we were in for. We settled down with a trivia game, two flights of beer with a mix of their classic recipes and some bizarre ones, and started drinking. After two flights, we decided we really needed to try their hard liquor flight. Don’t know if it was the beer, liquor or what, but our favorite drink from Rogue was their spruce gin. Don’t knock it ’til ya try it.
After one PDX institution, it was time to try another, so off to VooDoo Doughnut we went. We travelled to the original, stood in a short-enough line, ordered our doughnuts, and enjoyed. Will went with a classic maple bacon while I stuck to the “pothole” in honor of my father-in-law having a personal interaction with a pothole the week prior to our trip (he’s fine – just a little worse for wear). These doughnuts seemed like they were gone in seconds. Were they the best doughnuts we’ve ever eaten? Probably not. Would we eat them again? Yes. Would we stand in line for more than 10 minutes to eat them? Not necessarily. But, a must-do for every first-time PDX visitor.
From VooDoo, it was time to reload on coffee. Dragged ourselves down to Stumptown a block away for some strong brews. Too cold for their cold brew that we’ve already come to love, but a strong (coffee) drink was in order. Pictured at the top! From Stumptown, we ran home to rest up before our next venture: cat cafe.
Visiting a cat cafe has been on my list of things to do and Portland offered a great opportunity. We visited Purrington’s Cat Lounge where we spent an hour hanging out with a bunch of cool cats. We skipped the drinks (Rogue really did us in) and instead opted for a pot of tea and a quiet spot on a bench. Eventually, we grabbed some toys and started interacting more seriously with the cats. One took a liking to Will (she’s been adopted since we visited) and the guy in my lap will probably get adopted soon because he was just a puddle of love. It’s a fun concept and a great way to get to know some cats if you’re in the market for adoption! Also just a great way to relax in a quiet space with some other crazy cat people. Oh and we also met a college friend of one of our good friends, Courtney. Small freakin’ world.
From Purrington’s, it was time for dinner. We took a recommendation from a friend and the internet and went to Pok Pok. North Thai cuisine is the menu and it was fun, different and tasted fabulous. Not a ton of veggie options, so I went with a fish curry, while Will selected something meaty that had all the spices. I don’t recall if he cried. It may have happened. But a great place to go to stretch your palate, particularly if you’ve not had North Thai cuisine before. It’s like a mix of Thai food and Indian food, with a non-distinct Asian flair. Oh and try the drinks – they’re weird, but refreshing and good.
From Pok Pok, we went home to rest our stomachs before braving the cold one last time for the day to go to Salt and Straw. Another friend and internet recommended joint, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to top off the night with homespun ice cream. Since it wasn’t too far, we bundled up and went back out and it was worth it. They had lots of weird Thanksgiving-related recipes, but I stuck to classic vanilla and a scoop of brownie ice cream, while Will went with Stumptown Bourbon. Would go back for the novelty of it, but not necessarily every trip. Got a lot of personalized attention because yet again, for the fourth time that day, we beat the crowd by 20 minutes. It went from a few couples on dates to about 40 people crammed in a small shop while we ate. Kind of unreal.
You didn’t realized we fit all of that into one day, did you?!? Saturday was a long, but good one. Sunday we chilled at the tiny house watching Spurs on Telemundo. We forgive the announcer for calling Eriksen, Sigurdsson, every damn time. It also gave us time to turn to Yelp for a brunch place. While many popular joints were calling our names (biscuits! diner!), after having spent to much stomach space and money on food Saturday, we wanted to go low-budget and low-key on Sunday. When Waffle Window hit the radar, there was no turning back. I went sweet, Will went savory, both of us were satisfied. The perfect cap to a food-filled weekend!
So there you have it folks! A food recap of our time in Portland and post #500 is in the books. May we find motivation for 100 more! Thanks for reading!