The way love brought me to Portland:
The time my brother introduced me to his girlfriend (now wife), my heart was filled with triple-joy! Not only is she an incredibly open minded, funny and profound person, she also – and first and foremost makes my brother so heartwarmingly happy! It’s a sheer pleasure to watch them together. AND: she is from PORTLAND, Oregon! OMG!
Portland – a city that has been in my mind and on my list for quite some time now. I’ve heard so much about it. The food scene supposedly reinvents and revolutionizes itself there: Portland is the birthplace of the food truc scene, there are 53 breweries in the city and craft beer literally is a celebrity there. Portland is also known to be an “ecological paradise”, home of “lust for life” and a stronghold for the creative people. All of that situated perfectly in between the Pacific and the mountains….
Virtually a city that could satisfy my longing for tasty food, wonderful markets, DIY-input and love for the outdoors right to the spot? As you can tell I took off from Munich with really high expectations. The whole family and off we went – and I can tell you: I really wasn’t disappointed!
Where to begin? With the FOOD! 6 culinary reasons to fall in love with Portland:
There would be so much to tell, however, since (nearly) everything in our family is about food, I’ll start right there:
1. Farmers markets
Can you remember where I am drawn to first, once I visit new countries or cities? Right: the markets. Portland has an incredible count of 23 different farmers makets spread around the city. In summer you can find regional, often also organically farmed products at any day of the week.
On our second day in Portland we took a trip to the probably largest “farmersmarket” in Portland with the kids. Due to jetlag we were all awake anyways so we hopped on the bus headed for downtown. On the premises of Portland State University a sensational number of 150 booth are lining up. A great abundance of freshly sold fruits and vegetables. Additionally you’ll find bread, pastries, honey, smoked salmon, oysters, etc. – there is hardly anything you won’t find. Amidst a couple of those ach so very necessary food trucks to get you through the day!
Live music is carrying you from booth to booth and your senses are continuously beeing stimulated. It’s a real colour explosion! Fresh herbs are spreading captivating scents and there is something to try at every corner…
12 years ago, me and my husband returned from an extended stay in Hawaii and wanted to open a food-truck in Munich. If only we had clung to that idea – we had been the pioneers here in Germany. However, courage left us back then – all these bureaucratic hurdles in Germany. I have to admit, we obviously were not determined enough.
But the profound love for these mini-restaurants on wheels remained. The freshness of the food is hardly surpassable combined with the gathering of the trucks to add the variety to the fresh food. The Portlandians call these food-truck groupings “pods”. Paradise! The only thing: You’re spoilt for choice! What we did, we went to many different trucks and got a little something from every stand, regrouped and put everything on the table to have a feast with a great variety. That’s my kind of indulgement: fresh, regional and many many different cultures! Everything mixed together! Awesome! I felt like levitating through those food areas until the reality of a full stomach unfortunately brought me back down on the ground – still fulfilled though!
Another GIGANTIC advantage of those food-truck-pods: due to the vast variety also the picky little eaters will find something. Depending on the level of experimentation the kids can pick and choose themselves. And if the craving for something savoury is temporarily exhausted, you can always survive on…
The most legendary donut shop surely is Vodoo Doughnuts. You can find the craziest and weirdest creations and even get married there. We didn’t go inside since there was quite a line and there is just so much more equally exciting to see in Portland…
We intensively checked out Blue Star Donuts instead and it proofed to be really yummy. The plain and simple design of the stores immediately cought my attention – I know stars have seen their best days and many of you might already be over them, but for me they’re still working somehow…
The ingredients for the delicious brioche-dough come directly from regional farmers and other than the classic flavours you can always chose a couple of seasonal varieties. Amongst others we tried “blueberry bourbon basil”, “passion fruit cocoa nib” and “maple bacon”. All of them were really tasty and especially the well liked US-combination of bacon and something sweet was exhilarating!
4. Ice cream!
While we are at the mouth watering sweet stuff… Next stop ice cream. Portland is ice-cream-heaven and it doesn’t always have to be sweet!
Salt & Straw is the name of the current ice-cream mecca of Portland! One more thing we tried on our very first day. 19 hours of travel time and totally tired out children plus parents were calling for ice-cream.
Somehow the company name says it all “Salt & Straw”. The ice cream is delicious, the flavours are fancy (the purists among us “I only eat strawberry ice cream” only have little to choose from), the ingredients come straight from the farmers and in front of the stores you’ll often find long lines made of hipsters and families that are all patiently waiting their turn.
My favourite flavour was “green fennel & maple”! I didn’t expect that but the taste was so well balanced – a very special treat!
Coffee-culture is BIG in Portland! Some serious passion in roasting and creating is involved and I am certain that one or two coffee-trends have originated right here in Portland.
You won’t get and don’t want to get around a Stumptown Coffee. It is brewed with dedication and love. It’s just great to stop in one of those many cafés, take a quick break and watch the baristas do their jobs. Real experts who just know what they are doing. The coffee beans are imported straight from the plantations – no detour, no middleman. I’ve never had a bad coffee here – people seem to know how to handle the coffee from roasting to preparation – regardless of the kind you chose: espresso, cappuccino or a cold brew!
6. Eating out in Portland – something satisfactory as well!
One restaurant I’d like to point out was: the Beast – outstanding cuisine and a very pleasant ambience. There is only one menu for everybody and an amazing sequence of dishes is served to you. Just sit down, relax and – if you are not way too curious – let yourself be surprised of what comes next. The whole evening takes place seated on a long dining table and is accompanied by a great selection of wines! This time I just enjoyed and left my camera in it’s bag…
The Mediterranean Exploration Company. We indulged in a little aperitif and then returned to one of my favorite styles of ordering many many starters just plastering our table with them. Without exception, I liked every single one of it. The dishes were seasoned very subtle and often had a surprising twist to the overall taste. Absolutely worth a stop!
Of course there are countless places worth visiting! Often we were touring with ‘bag and baggage’ including my 3 boys, my parents, my sister in law, her parents, etc. and we ended up in some really nice asian restaurants. Very family friendly and the food – super tasty! One is Mio Sushi , where my brother’s mother in law took care of what to order and in no time the table was filled with delicacies. Sometimes its wonderful not having to decide what to order and just eat what you’ll find in front of you – a little bit of this, a little bit of that…
PORTLAND is a must go destination for all of you who like food and enjoy the variety!! There is no discussion about that. What else there is to do (and there is a lot), I’ll write about in a seperate post…but I am curious: what is your food capital?