What to do in Portland except brunch. I was heading into the city for my Forktown Foodie Tour this afternoon, and thought I’d try a downtown brunch location as I was over that way anyway. Skylar recommended Mothers, a Portland favourite.
I looked it up and there were a few recommended standout dishes, but the one that caught my eye was the Wild Salmon Hash with leeks, potatoes and a touch of cream, eggs and toast with whipped butter. The salmon here is so very pink and full of flavour – the dish was super heavy with all the cream, eggs, potatoes and bread but it was so delicious I couldn’t stop eating.
Next up, I wandered the boutiques of the Pearl District and bought a Portlandia ‘Put a bird on it!’ sticker. I head up to Powell’s City of Books, the worlds largest new and used bookstore.
To start our 3 hour tour, we sat in at Besaw’s, a neighbourhood staple since 1903.
We started with mimosas with a pear reduction, and a beet arugula salad. Besaw’s are known for using local ingredients, and they also have their own 16 lot garden out the back of the restaurant that they source a lot of their ingredients from.
We walked up the road to Kenny & Zukes for an incredible reuben sandwich made with everything housemade from the pastrami to the bread (except the sauerkraut which was made locally), a local oregon Goodlife pale ale, half sour pickles, and bagels with chive cream cheese. The most famous Jewish deli in the city, the pastrami is made with beef plate which they call ‘beef pork belly’.
Then down to Bull Run Distilling for a tour and a tasting of their rum, bourbon, vodka, gin and aquavit.
At this point we had consumed quite a bit of food and drink, but the tour was only half over. A short walk down the street to Wildwood, where they have been serving up seasonal cuisine with local ingredients since 1994. Founded by Cory Schreiber, a James Beard award winner, the restaurant supports local farms that practice sustainable agriculture.
Here we tried a bourbon and caramelized onion soup, a local red wine, and a pizza with taleggio, roasted garlic, spinach and chorizo from local Olympic Provisions.
Then down the road for what was the highlight of the tour for me, the PBJ Grilled food cart. I have never quite wrapped my head around the peanut butter and jelly craze of America – and especially grilled! I was a little dubious about this stop as how on earth could grilled PBJ’s match up to the rest of the amazing food we had tried. But Heidi of Forktown knows her stuff – this ended up being my favourite stop, perhaps just for the sheer surprise at how amazing the sandwiches were.
We started with The Spicy Thai, with Peanut Butter Sriracha, fresh basil, curry and orange marmalade on grilled challah. This was my favourite. The chef who owns the cart works with flavours until they combine perfectly, and this sandwich is a great example of this.
Next up the Oregonian, with Oregon hazelnut butter, Rogue Creamery Blue cheese, and housemade marionberry jam. Marionberrys are a blackberry cultivar bred right here in Oregon.
Last up was the Smoking Goat, with kalamata olive bread, housemade almond butter, Apple wood smoked bacon, goat cheese and apricot jam.
And then around the corner to our last stop, Two Tarts Bakery.
We tried a number of mini cookies to finish up the tour.
The Nob Hill area has a heap of cool boutiques, so after the tour I wandered 23rd for a while. I dropped into the Meadow, a salt, chocolate and bitters store and bought some local Oregon wood smoked chocolate.
After a long day, it was time to call it a night – I head back home and Skylar and I spent our Valentines night watching Thor. My feet were not up to any more walking!!
Berkeley is known as the home of ‘California Cuisine’, largely due to the pioneering of the Slow Food Movement in the USA by Alice Waters, who has run Chez Panisse in downtown’s ‘Gourmet Ghetto’ since 1971. Read about and watch my experience at Chez Panisse here.
Berkeley is full of community spirit and art – the University of California is the centre of the city, so it runs like a typical Uni town – full of people, creativity and life. Read more
The pastrami. Reading review after review, I was continually confronted with raving fans of Saul’s house-smoked, spice rubbed pastrami. So off we set on a 30 minute stroll into Berkeley’s ‘Gourmet Ghetto‘, an area of Northern Berkeley in which the ‘pursuit of quality is absolutely uncompromising’. Alice Waters’ (the president of the Slow Food US chapter) was largely responsible for this foodie revolution with the installation of her restaurant Chez Panisse in the area in the early 1970’s. But nowadays, you can find some of California’s most well known and celebrated food revolutionaries and a stack of remarkable quality dining options.
At Saul’s Restaurant & Delicatessen I ordered the toasted celery seed vodka, simple syrup and lemon cocktail. At US$8, I was tempted to keep ordering them… still used to Melbourne cocktail prices of around AU$18. The bloody mary was made with house pickle juice, but was definitely a meal in itself. Read more
Known as ‘the heart of artisan cheese-making country’, it’s been called the Normandy of Northern California. Artisan cheesemaking is experiencing a resurgence, and the Marin and Sonoma counties are home to the largest concentration of artisan cheesemakers in California.
22,000 acres of land are dedicated to making cheese and fermented milk products in the region. The free Sonoma Marin County Cheese Trail map guides you through the dozens of cheesemakers in the region.
Local cheesemakers say the salt air, cooling fog and abundant grasslands make their cheeses unlike any other.
In Point Reyes, we stopped in at foodie tourism destination Cowgirl Creamery (also known as Tomales Bay Foods) to pick up some local cheese and have lunch.
The grilled cheese seemed the best way to get the full cheese experience, and it was quite possibly the best grilled cheese I have ever eaten. With honey maple mustard and caramelised onions, on a soft, local sourdough: simple foods are so often the best.
We had a side of hot-smoked trout potato salad, and I picked up an amazing maple-smoked chevre to take home.