RECAPPING MY 2016 FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT IN PORTLAND, OREGON

poop! where has the time gone?! we're already into spring of 2017 and i haven't even posted my recap of 2016, shame on me!! so here you go, my list of favorite places i enjoyed all of last year, with the addition of some of my favorite things to order! if you see words in blue, those are links to the menu's, go have a peak and drool with me!

FAVORITE HAPPY HOUR:


  • imperial: cocktails on draft-$5 vieux carre, fried chicken, and artisan cheese plate
  • three doors down: crostini with boquerones egg, and pickled egg, and eggplant parmesan
  • nel centro: duck leg confit on a happy hour menu, please and thank you! $6 house wines, and meatballs!
  • miya moto: the monkey brain and hawaiian tuna poke!

FOOD CART:


  • kim jong grillin': the spicy chicken bibim bowl, all the way!
  • chicken n guns: half a chicken, extra potatoes, and extra aji sauce!
  • guero: which is no longer a cart, but a brick and mortar:) the pollo pabil torta and the frida bowl!

COFFEE SPOTS:


  • kopi koffee: the cardamom coffee is my happy place
  • two strokes coffee: the vibe and friendly staff keep me coming back, oh and their mocha's!
  • water ave coffee: i usually just buy beans here for coffee at home and every once in awhile i'll enjoy their wonderful lite breakfast selections.

SUSHI SPOTS:


  • samurai blue: $3 hand rolls on happy hour, fire in the whole, willamette dragon, and the surf & turf rolls!
  • miya moto: all the usual suspects

BRUNCH:


  • bridges cafe & catering: best egg's benedict in the neighborhood, and the city breakfast with fried eggs is my comfort meal during these soggy winters
  • hunny milk: all of their dishes -and they change their offerings- a 'grown up coffee' and of coure an order of biscuits
  • tasty n sons: burmese red pork stew, chilaquiles,  and always shakshuka

MEAT SWEATS:


  • smokehouse tavern: deviled egg with hot link, and that amazing breakfast burrito! 
  • the people's pig: the pork shoulder sandwich with extra vinegar sauce, and jojo's when they have them!
  • ox: the clam chowder with smoked bone marrow, heirloom hominy with pork belly, and the beef skirt steak:)

so tell me what of my favorites are your favorites, and what of your personal favorites needs to become one of mine?


BUEN PROVECHO!

PORTLAND DINING MONTH 2017

five more days, five, count them! that's five days left to take advantage of over 120 incredibly discounted dining opportunities available across portland during portland dining month 2017.

portland dining month, now in its eight year, is winding down to the last five days as we approach the end of march. if you still don't know what pdm is allow me to break it down some more; basically, march is the best month for food lovers and curious dinners about the city. for the past eight years march has been the month to head out to a new -participating- portland area restaurant or swing by a standby to enjoy a three-course prix fixe dinner offered for only $29 -an incredibly discounted deal.

head to portlanddiningmonth.com to find a full list of participating restaurants and read the menu options available -yes, the guess work has been taken away of wondering who might have the type of meal you seek- as the pdm menu offerings are posted to salivate over! and if just heading out to eat at a discount isn't enough to move you, here's two extra things to make pdm extra awesome: 

  1. these are not just some hole in the wall greasy dinners, or chain restaurants that offer weekly coupons in the sunday prints, some participating restaurants are beyond local recognition and have national recognition with some highly sought after, james beard award nominations, finalists, and winners.
  2. if going to dinner at your favorite restaurant isn't enough of a reason to participate in portland dining month how about knowing that portland dining month has partnered up with the oregon food bank. for every reservation made online through portlanddiningmonth.com links a donation is made to the hunger-relief organization. the oregon food bank collects and distributes food among oregon and our neighbors in clark county, washington. not only does the ofb fight hunger but also works to uncover the root causes of hunger by offering nutrition education, strengthening local food systems and advocating for hunger relief at the local and federal level, visit www.oregonfoodbank.org to learn more!

for the past three years i've been an active diner during portland dining month, usually hitting a restaurant a week. although pdm is the time to try new restaurants there are two that always land as top choices among my list of places; aviary and little bird. my yearly strategy for sorting through all of the restaurant menu's is to look at restaurants that have been sitting in my 'places-to-try' queue and then comb through some of my standby favorite pdm participating restaurants. after writing up a little list of places that i am inspired to try for the month i then go through and re-read the menu's carefully, i like places that offer a choice for all courses, and, of course, those who offer the best looking desserts! places that offer choices is huge, especially when dining with a friend, or friends, more people means more plate options and the possibility of even sharing -the whole reason of having friends, right! and as far as the dessert portion, well if you know me then you may know how hard it can be for me to express the importance of dessert. any place can whip up a quick pot de creme or dish up an ice cream scoop with a hot fudge drizzle, so when a restaurant goes the extra step to make a special dessert land on their pdm menu i go bananas over it. think about this, when was the last time you actually had room for dessert when dining out? i hardly, if ever do. so when i go out for pdm i can justify ordering dessert as it's right there, part of my courses, and how am i going to dismiss my third course? nope, won't do it!

after i square away those dining logistics i then set up reservations using the portlanddiningmonth.com website and start inviting friends to join me, let's just say i have yet to take issue with finding dining companions.

below are my three dining month adventures:


stop #3 AVIARY

this isn't my first time dining at AVIARY, i've dined here twice for pdm and again for dinner outside of dining month. in terms of 'bang for your buck', dining month is the best time to test aviary's offerings as the plates run a bit steep and might not be as fulfilling as a barbeque meal would be but the combination of flavors and textures is meant for taste 

drinks are not included in the pdm menu but make a great addition to the experience.

the dining area is light filled and allows for fresh air when the weather is warm and the big windows are open

first course:

  • steamed manila clams with sherry, guanciale, sugar snap peas and coriander

*my dining companion and i both ordered the first course*

second course options (above):

  • lamb two ways with roasted leg and hoisin-glazed belly, taro tots, scallion and water chestnut gremolata
  • pan seared tasmanian sea trout yuzu with fennel, tamarind and savoy cabbage *my favorite dish from our entire meal*

third course choices:

  • chocolate hazelnut cake with espresso ice cream and passion fruit
  • coconut tapioca with mango sorbed and caramel cremeux *a close second*

departure offered two choices for each of the three courses and each dish was delicious in it's own savory asian influenced and prepared way. 

above photos:

  • first course: chicken tom kha soup with coconut milk, mushroom, galangal, and makrut lime
  • second course: beef noodles with shiitake, chili, and yu choi
  • third course: coconut ash chocolate cake with marionberry and coconut caramel ice cream
  • first course: roasted cauliflower and snow peas with charred lemongrass, chilies, and puffed wild rice
  • second course: shrimp and long bean prik khing curry with white rice
  • third course: frozen passion fruit mouse with kumquat, calamansi, and almond crumble *my favorite dish of the six i tried!*

stop #1 LA MOULE

La Moule did not offer choices for the courses so the following dishes are what was offered on their dining month menu:

  • first course: crispy bay shrimp wedge with snap peas, radish, bacon, with a dill 'ranchovy' dressing. *my favorite of the three courses*
  • second course: manhattan moules with penn cove mussels, tomato, garlic, new potato, celery seed and oyster crackers
  • third course: chocolate pot de creme with hazelnut brittle, frangelicio chantilly cream and candied orange zest.

 

although i have visited three participating restaurants i still have one more to go, my last stop, THE HAIRY LOBSTER! am looking forward to some fried chicken and sticky toffee pudding!


disclosure: i was invited to participate in Portland Dining Month on behalf of my friends at Travel Portland.  i received a complimentary meal at Aviary -my choosing- for myself and a guest. i've eaten at Aviary numerous times on my own dime and will certainly continue to look forward to their portland dining month menu every year!


BUEN PROVECHO!

OMBRÉ SMOOTHIES WITH GENESIS JUICE

hey guys! we're a few days away from the start of spring and who else can't wait? wait a second, i can answer that, it looks like mother nature sure can... it's looking to another week of rain for us portland folks ;( oh well. to combat some winter blues i've blended up some colorful ombré smoothies using my favorite cold pressed strawberry apple genesis organic juice

besides looking forward to daylight savings, what are you doing to chase these winter blues?


OMBRÉ SMOOTHIES WITH GENESIS ORGANIC STRAWBERRY APPLE JUICE

DIRECTIONS:

INGREDIENTS:

first layer: blend the strawberry apple Genesis Organic Juice, 1 acai packet, ice, and 2oz coconut milk until smooth. pour out 1/3 of your cups space and freeze for 10-15 minutes. *freezing between the layers will help to keep the layers separated while we build them, otherwise you'll wind up with the layers bleeding (yep, i totally forgot to freeze, thus my layers bled). reserve remaining smoothie -we will start diluting this base.

second layer: to the remaining base add 2 oz of coconut milk, and 1/2 c. yogurt (or in my case 4 cubes). blend until smooth and lump free. pour out enough smoothie to build an additional layer on top of the beginning layer, sticking with 1/3 of the cups space. freeze and do not rinse out your blender.

third layer: to achieve a lighter color i recommend pouring off a little of the remaining base (about 1/3 of a cup), and to that base add 4 tbsp. full-fat coconut milk. blend until smooth and pour on top of the the previously frozen base. ta-da! add toppings and enjoy immediately!

i hope yours turns out better looking than mine, because Y O U will remember to freeze between the layers!

2/3 c. strawberry apple genesis organic juice

1 pkg. acai

1c. ice

4 oz coconut milk, divided

1/2 c. yogurt**

4 tbsp. full fat coconut milk

assorted toppings:

strawberries, kiwi, chia seed pudding

**for making smoothies i like to freeze extra yogurt in ice cube trays, by doing so i don't have to worry about expired yogurt and it works great in smoothies. 


BUEN PROVECHO!


thank you GENESIS ORGANIC JUICE for sponsoring this post!

MARUKIN RAMEN HAS SECRETS!

MARUKIN RAMEN

Pine Street Market

126 SW 2nd Ave

Portland, OR 97204

SE Ankeny St.

609 SE Ankeny, suite A

Portland, OR 97214

dine-in & take-away options available.

marukinramen.com

who doesn't like a warm bowl of ramen? tell me. i have yet to meet person that cannot find comfort in a warm bowl of salty broth filled with slurpy noodles and perhaps my favorite part, the beautiful and ever creamy 6 minute egg.

a few weeks ago i was invited to try out MARUKIN RAMEN'S newly launched menu items including their newest secret ramen -a super limited and hard to make ebi ramen-, and some wonderful additions to their to-go items.

those additions inlude their donburi (rice bowls), nukazuke (japanese pickled vegetables),  salmon nakazuke (japanese style marinated salmon and pickled vegetables), and nakazuke (japanese pickled vegetables). take a look below to see most of the wonderful things i was able to try (and i say most because i wasn't able to take photos of everything, my mouth was too busy doing research).

sides

daikon salad / nukazuke / salmon nukazuke / + / chicken karaage

the daikon salad is a refreshing mixture of shredded daikon, carrots, and green onion with an ume plum vinaigrette/ nukazuke is a mixture of pickled japanese vegetables/ salmon nanbanzuke is a japanese style marinated salmon/ chicken karaage is a moist japanese style fried chicken served with a japanese style tartar sauce.

ebi karaage

a deep fried tiger shrimp with a japanese style tartar sauce


the donburi bowls


before i give away the secret, did you know that MARUKIN RAMEN was founded in 1994 in tokyo, japan. they currently have over 10 locations with one of those locations being the first any only stateside restaurant and it's right here in portland, oregon.

being a ramen shop that is highly specialized in ramen means each and every bowl is crafted with care and served at optimum temperature, making ramen to-go a great idea but harmful to the integrity of their homemade noodles ramen noodles (as the noodles will continue to soak up the broth and breakdown). therefore MARUKIN RAMEN does not offer their beautiful bowls of noodles to-go, so take a moment and slurp up a bowl and grab some of those awesome sides or a donburi bowl -as mentioned above- to go!

the super secret ramen

while here on a media preview i was super fortunate to try the super secret ebi ramen, a rich tiger shrimp and chicken-based broth with sea salt. this vibrant and beautiful bowl of ramen comes topped with succulent and plump tiger shrimp, boc choy, a mushroom age-tofu mix, kikurage, and negri. 

the process behind making the ebi ramen is a multi-day process, making the ebi bowls of ramen super rare and limited to only 30 bowls on the select days it is even offered. the most direct way to learn which days and location is offering is to follow along on their social media channels: instagram @marukinram or facebook. i'd be sure to follow along because once that last bowl is offered up, there is no given time when the next opportunity to try the ebi ramen will be. 

so next time you're looking for some ramen to find solace from this brutal pacific northwest winter head over to either of the two MARUKIN RAMEN locations and order up a bowl of comfort.

thank you to marukin ramen's owners and chefs, for serving up an excellent variety of dishes and ramens to try and to Little Green Pickle for setting up the fantastic media event highlighting their house made noodles and dishes to go.


disclosure: i was invited to attend a media preview of Marukin Ramen's newly launched to-go offerings and ramens, while there i received complimentary tastings. all opinions shared are my own and not in exchange for a positive review.