First vacation of the year – check! I’m finally now at an age where it has become maybe not a little bit easier, but more convenient for my cousins and I to get together. When we were younger, we were on family trips and there were a lot more people around, but now that we’re adults, we get to plan the trip and we get to do all the things we like doing. There’s a sort of an independence that comes with it and I think that’s why I enjoyed my weekend in Portland so much. A handful of my cousins are still in school ie) Grad school, dental school, etc. They’re all smarty pants! Kristie and I have never actually been to Portland before and since one of our cousins is currently living there and in school, we knew it would be the perfect place to visit first.
I had been itching to experience Portland for myself because for years all I’ve heard was that it was better than Seattle, worse than Seattle, more hipster than Seattle, etc. And now that I’ve finally seen it, I have my own opinions to make. First off, Portland is gorgeous. The trees, the bridges, the water – all things that reminded me of home without actually being at home. I love the little neighborhoods – Alberta, Alphabet District, Pearl, NW 23rd – it’s like any other major city that has their own area. I did, however, find the pace of Portland to be much slower, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something I’m not used to. Our cousin also let us borrow his car the first day we were there and I found it to be fairly straightforward to get around. Let’s talk about the things we ate though since that’s usually the only reason why we write these posts.
I was recommended to try Pok Pok by a couple of people before my trip so right off the plane, this was our first stop. To be honest, I wasn’t blown away, but then again, since it was just my cousin and I – we only really ordered two dishes. She ordered the Laap Pet Isaan – Spicy Northeastern Thai chopped duck salad with duck liver and skin, lemongrass herbs, toasted rice paper, dried chilies, lime juice and fish sauce while I got the Hoi Thawt – crispy broken crepe with steamed mussels, eggs, garlic, chives, and bean sprouts served up with their Shark Sri Racha sauce. Kristie’s salad was a little bit too spicy for me and I ordered my dish because…seafood, but also because it reminded me of a dish that I used to eat when I was younger that my mom is notorious for making in our family. All of the flavors were very good, but I think in order for us to make a decision on Pok Pok, we would’ve needed to eat more and we just weren’t at that level.
Next up? Salt & Straw! For months, I’ve been telling friends visiting Portland to come to this place for their ice cream before I even had a chance to! Actually the weekend before I was in Portland, two of my co-workers visited their shop for the first time both in LA and in Portland. Salt & Straw is this city’s Molly Moon’s and it is phenomenal. If Kristie had it her way, we would’ve eaten it everyday, but 2/3 ain’t bad. Our first day there, her and I shared a flight of four flavors – (from front to back) Strawberry honey with black pepper, pear with blue cheese, sea salt with caramel ribbons, & Arbequna olive oil. The shop smells like a dream and the flavors are at times very strange, but so so good. I think we ered more on the safe side with our tasting. Also here are some endearing prints at their shop:
Voodoo Doughnuts is a famous staple in Portland and boy, did I have high expectations. I’m not sure what I thought I was going to be having specifically, but I was bracing myself for the best doughnut in the world! I apologize if I sound like a true hater with what I’m going to say next, but truth is truth. Upon arriving to the shop, we saw a bunch of doughnuts rotating around in a glass display. The frosting color looked off. They didn’t look appetizing, but we weren’t sure if that was because of the lighting or just overall presentation.
I mean… would you want to eat one of those?
So we figured we buy one and use it for prop. Two things we learned – they don’t customize doughnuts. Since none of them looked appetizing, we were wondering if we could just buy a plain one and get it frosted with a different color. Nope. Secondly, we wanted to cut a bigger hole out of it so that I could use it for my prop. Welp – they don’t have utensils there so there goes that. It’s cool though because we used a straw instead.
This was the shot Kristie got of me after my first bite. Shock? Dismay? Maybe a little bit of both. Krispy Kreme, we luv u 4eva.
Let’s talk about something else.
For dinner, the cousins and I treated ourselves out to a fancy dinner at Andina – a romantic and delicious Peruvian tapas restaurant. Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures because we were too busy stuffing our faces, but here are the things that we ordered that we definitely recommend.
- Red Sangria (I usually prefer white, but I’m happy with either tbh)
- ESPÁRRAGOS PERUANOS – grilled asparagus brushed with chimichurri
- EMPANADAS DE CARNE – ﬂaky pastry ﬁlled with slow-cooked beef, raisins and Botija olives
- PALTA RELLENA DE CANGREJO – avocado stuffed with crab, topped with a poached prawn
- CONCHAS A LA PARRILLA – grilled diver scallops with a tamari-brown sugar butter sauce and crispy onions
- ANTICUCHO DE PULPO – grilled octopus kebobs with chimichurri and a caper majado de papa
- ANTICUCHO DE CORAZÓN – marinated beef heart kebobs, served with a spicy salsa de rocoto
You’re welcome. Too good. If you go to Portland, just make sure you eat here.
I was really disappointed that I missed biscuits and gravy at work because of my trip so when I found out we were stopping by Pinestate Biscuits for brunch one day, I felt much better! The three of us each ordered three very different biscuit combos (mine with fried chicken and bacon of course) along with a hash-up to share. We are truly the family that eats. Now, we were slated to have a great experience and we couldn’t wait to eat our food, but the one buzzkill of our meal was having my meal arrive 10 minutes after my cousins. Unfortunately, the waitress, after letting me know my meal would arrive shortly, forgot about bringing me my dish and then blamed it on the fact that they were making more mushroom gravy (even though she set the plate down in front of me a minute later) and to top it off… with a full cooked (not sunny side up) egg. At that point, I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it, but it’s still a bummer nonetheless. Someone told me that in Portland, the hipster waiters and waitresses just don’t care that much about customer service, but I can’t confirm that with one incident.
On our way out of biscuits, we stopped by a design shop next door called LVLY and look what I spotted – the Ostrich Pillow! It exists! I tried to convince the guy running the shop that it would make a great scarf accessory, but he just wasn’t having any of it.
Everyone seemed to be in Portland the same weekend we were. One of my favorite makers – Prospect Goods – Instagrammed this mural and when I realized it was in the city we were in, I dragged my cousins to this very spot. It’s still just as cool to see in person and also hi – we love Lauryn Hill.
Being in the city was great, but we also wanted to try and get outdoors too. A short venture to Multnomah Falls was exactly what we were looking for.
Thanks Portland for a great weekend! Our last meal was Little Big Burger (without a picture, sadly) but dang – those fries… It made me crave In-N-Out the day after I got back which I satisfied.
It’s been a great start to 2015 so far and I’m looking forward to many more adventures with my family and friends this year!