MY BIRTHDAY FOOD AND COCKTAIL CRAWL IN PORTLAND

HOW DOES ONE CELEBRATE HER BIRTHDAY ON A WEEKDAY... LET ME SHOW YOU HOW!

My birthday rolled around at the beginning of May and, as tradition would have it, I took a whole day to be selfish; doing all of the very things that make me happy  -outside of time with my little family.

So what kind of trouble would I get myself into for my birthday ?

Let me start by telling you I love a day off in the middle of the week, better than a weekend. So, naturally, as my birthday fell on a Tuesday I took the whole day off. This meant so many great things: little to no wait for highly coveted seats at top Portland places (which do not take reservations), no added costs of hiring a sitter since my child was at daycare, little to no traffic while hopping about town, and, a FULL day to myself at my leisure, THE BEST!

Before this wonderful day arrived I made a list or two of the restaurants and things I really wanted to do. Through much deliberation and I was able to sort my day out by timeline and location. I wrote out a Birthday Girl itinerary and woke up in the best mood as I had prepared myself a full day of eating, drinking, and general happy moments!

As luck would have it, I could only reach one gal pal to meet for breakfast but I still had a great day spent mostly alone. 

In true fashion I kick-started the day by getting a good sweat session in at the gym at a leisurely pace -which is uncommon since I only have 40 minutes most mornings- and promptly sat on the sofa -still smelly and hot from post gym bliss- and enjoyed my morning coffee. After a long shower I was ready to start birthday funday as planned:


Sweedeedee is a cute little shop in NE Portland that gives off massive Scandinavian vibes. This breakfast and lunch spot is always a weekend hit -with the lines to prove it-, and they make an insanely sweet pie that is often raved about. Leave it to me to make use of a weekday to conquer this place -instead of waiting with the throngs on a weekend.  

Ordered: breakfast sandwich on a biscuit, cornmeal cakes, and a slice of salted honey pie!

  • 10:30a coffee to go at Proud Mary

After my hearty and savory-sweet breakfast at Sweedeedee I needed to cut through the sugar and grease with a nice cup of coffee so I took a quick drive up to Proud Mary Coffee, a fine breakfast cafe and coffee shop with quite a huge following on the weekends. I ordered a cup of coffee to go expecting to head home and rest up for an hour. That was until I found myself driving pass confetti lined streets. I pulled my car over and realized it was petal confetti from all of the bloomed cherry blossoms. The sidewalks and some streets were lined heavily, it was a beautiful sight, so naturally, I had to document it. 

Spring is such a beautiful time of year in Portland. The contrasting splash of spring colors breaks up the grey skies and brightens up the dull weather.

  • 1 p.m. House Spirits Distillery Tour

One of the greatest things about Portland is we have zero shortage of fine artisans within close proximity who are perfecting their craft and graciously sharing it with us all much like House Spirits Distillery does, a local distillery located in SE Portland offering distilling tours right where production of their award-winning spirits are made. All spirits are small batch made and ethically sourced and here is where you can find made-from-scratch Krogstad Aquavit, Volstead Vodka, Casa Magdalena Rum, and many limited release spirits. The staff is incredibly helpful and very happy to explain the process, from the grain to the barrel, and the tours are a real behind the scenes glimpse into the productions of small batch spirits. 

House Spirits Distillery offers daily tours of the largest whiskey distillery in Oregon. Each tour is $20 per person and includes a spirit flight and a taste of House Spirits' whiskey wash.  

  • Weekday Tours available at the top of every hour, starting at 1p
  • Weekend Tours available at 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays
  • 2:30p time to soak up the booze at  Maurice.

After tasting numerous samples of House Spirits Distillery spirits I had a wee bit of time to kill so I concluded that the most fitting of ways to burn some time was to enjoy delightful pastry treats and bites from Maurice, a cute Scandinavian luncheon shop in Downtown. 

As a huge supporter of variety and treating one's self, I had to order an assortment of bites like Chef Kristen's Smorbord De Jour which featured cottage cheese, rhubarb, greens, and peaches. Then, I moved on to more of her sweet offerings like the creamy and velvety smooth Black Pepper Cheesecake, the most creamy bite to spread across the roof of your mouth -in all the cheesecake bites you have ever tried. If I had the words to describe it so eloquently I would. better yet, just imagine sweet whipped butter melting into toast and that is this cheesecake. Lastly, I tried the Bird Seed Coconut Tea Cake, served warm and topped with a generous dollop of fresh butter and a golden pour of honey. Crunchy and nuttier than a squirrel turd but, absolutely tasty, make this a priority when you visit. that is, if she doesn't sell out. 

  • 4p. Happy Hour at Departure with my food baes

With a whole day to myself, a babysitter on deck, and no time card to punch-out on I set myself up on a happy hour date with some of my favorite girlfriends. The destination, Departure. Departure is the ultra-hip restaurant on the 15th floor inside the of the swanky Nines Hotel. The restaurant is run by executive chef Gregory Gourdet, a Top Chef season 12 contestant and a beloved participant in Portland's local food festival Feast Portland. Departure's cuisine is pan-asian and does it ever satisfy the need for a variety of Asian dishes, tropical desserts and cocktails. Departure is the place to go for stunning views of Portland's cityscape and asian fusion bites. 

Ordered: Half of the Happy Hour Menu and a birthday dessert. Departure is an amazing place to eat for anyone with diet restrictions, they are vegan, gluten-free, diary-free, and vegetarian friendly! 

This last adventure of the night was a delicious spanish-inspired dinner at Bar Casa Vale, one of my favorite go-to spots for wood-fired seafood, tapas, and gin and tonics served in goblets. 


Well, there you have it. A full day of eating and drinking on a weekday. I know, I could have crammed way more fun adventures into my day but since I go to the gym extra early (6a) I knew it was going to be a very long day, plus, add having to put a kid to bed before going out to my last destination and that amounts to a even longer day on my feet. I was just a happy kid to do most of everything I wanted to do and even got some downtime in with my main squeeze. Below are the remaining things that made the list but not the cut for the day.

Great weekday birthday alternatives:

  • Kennedy Soaking Pools
  • Knot Springs
  • Brunch at Tasty n Alder
  • Spend an afternoon hitting balls at Top Golf
  • Food cart crawl through downtown
  • Dessert crawl down SE 28th (There is a lot of soft serve and desserts right on this street).
  • Coffee crawl through SE Portland.

SPANISH INSPIRED WEEKEND BRUNCH AT BAR CASA VALE

Bar Casa Vale

215 SE 9th Ave.

Portland, OR 97214

www.barcasavale.com

Weekend Brunch: Satruday + Sunday 10a -3p

Closed all day Monday

Week day Dinner: 5p - midnight. Friday: 4p - midnight.

Saturday: 10a - midnight. Sunday: 10a -10p

SPANISH-INSPIRED BRUNCH AT BAR CASA VALE

Portland's favorite place for colossal sized Gin + Tonic's, an assortment of sherry and fortified wines, tapas, and wood-fired raciones is now offering Spanish-inspired brunch starting Saturday, February 10th.

Located near the busy bar and restaurant heavy area of SE portland is Bar Casa Vale, easy to miss and hard to find but the extra effort to locate is rewarded with delicious toothsome dishes and boozy cocktails. The space is beautiful, sun-filled, cozy, and a real breath of fresh air while most places are shrouded in dim lighting. Interested in just a drink, hop on a bar stool and sit amongst like-minded company. Want to dine al fresco but covered from the elements, perfect, head to their patio seating near their wood burning fire pit. 

This past weekend I attended a media brunch preview of Bar Casa Vale's new morning offerings, and I wish I could have stayed put all day. The menu is sheer perfection; from the boozy brunch cocktails to the artisanal toast offerings,  no plate was left uncleaned. If you're in the mood for a traditional breakfast you're check out the wrong spot. At BCV you will certainly not find a short stack of pancakes with bacon or a carafe of o.j. to build your own mimosa's. Instead, you will find hearty cuts of bread hiding underneath toppings like Chicken Liver and Pistachio with chocolate, warm cazuela's filled with drippy hearty bites, and please order that warm Cinnamon roll doused with a sweet tangy tangerine curd, it's everything familiar about brunch but better. 

Scroll below to see a few of the dishes I sampled:

Brunch Cocktails: Sparkling Sangria with cava, white port, and citrus in the background, and Agua de Valencia with gin, vodka, citrus, and cava. Both drinks carried citrus notes, ice, and, of course, booze. A perfect balance for all of the savory dishes we were about to try.

Warm Cinnamon Roll: Fluffy, yeasty, topped with tangerine curd and chocolate shavings.

Chicken Liver Toast with thinly sliced apple, endive, parsley, and browned butter. This is one huge hunk of toast and possibly one of my favorite dishes I had tried from their brunch menu. For pete's sake the plate comes with a steak knife, this toast means business!

Chocolate Toast: Crunchy, yet fluffy bread topped with pistachio butter, a generous dose of chocolate and olive oil. This toast isn't your basic coffee shop toast, t

Fried Chicken with churros, honey, and manchego, and chocolate toast with a nice sprinkling of flakey sea salt. 

If seeking a hearty toothsome dish do not skip any of the Cauela's, specifically the Rotisserie Lamb Cazuela baked with artichoke, chickpea, topped with salsa verde, and poached eggs. Have a hangover and need something hearty to fill your stomach, then order a Cazuela. Served piping hot and fresh from the hearth, these round dishes come with perfectly poached eggs, ready to rip and spill open  at the slightest tug. The only thing missing was crusty bread to mop it all up. 

Aside from Bar Casa Vale's Brunch menu is their hearth-centric dinner plates featuring Charred Octopus, Grilled Spot Prawns, and my personal favorite, the Lamb Cazuela. If only in the mood for cocktails and a few small bites, this is your spot. The bar program features many cocktails with a new twist like the PX Old Fashion with Mt. Gay Rum, Pedro Ximenez, and Angostura. And, there are plenty of small plates known as Tapas and Pintxos to nibble one while enjoying your libations. 

What dish are you excited to try?


disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview of Bar Casa Vale's newly launched brunch offerings. While there I received complimentary cocktails and plates of my choosing. My invite was not in exchange for a positive review, all opinions shared are my own.

DIM SUM AT BOKE BOWL WEST

BOKE BOWL WEST
1200 NW 18TH AVE
dim sum service Saturday + Sunday 11am- 3pm
bokebowl.com

Please tell me you've been to Boke Bowl at least once for a customized bowl of ramen,  or even better, for an order of MY FAVORITE steamed bao filled with an assortment of savory fillings like pork belly, beef brisket, and my number one pick fried chicken, as well as their somewhat sweeter and nostalgic option, the peanut butter and jelly bao. Aside from Boke Bowl's delicious bowls of ramen noodles and rice bowls is their new knock out addition to the brunch scene, dim sum!

I was recently invited to try Boke Bowl West's version of dim sum rolling cart service on a lovely Saturday afternoon


So what's the deal with dim sum?

Dim sum is not your average breakfast situation, there isn't a standard table side service or even casual counter service, instead, dim sum is a sit down situation where carts of steaming baskets filled with bit sized items are wheeled around the room from table to table. While the cart is at your table you can choose from a variety of offerings that are currently stocked on said cart or ask for a special dim sum item fresh from the kitchen

so how does this all go down at Boke Bowl West?

If you fancy yourself a special cocktail or something besides water, order that at the counter and let them know you're interested in Dim Sum, you'll be seated and given a stamp card. Once seated, you just hang out as the carts filled with steaming pots are wheeled by. The biggest difference is not ordering your food items from the counter, unless you'd like to order off the regular menu.


::WHAT WE ENJOYED::

If you're already at Boke Bowl during the breakfast hour you had better take care of any electrolyte deficiencies you may have and order yourself bloody mary, a traditional meal in a glass; besides a delicious lime, tomato, and fish sauce bace, this bloody comes with a delicious piece of Boke's fried chicken! I had a non-alcoholic one and still loved it!

So many options available, just a little look at how we're handling all of the choices.

The dim sum items are charged as small, medium, and large, and also grouped into "from the steam cart" and "from the hot cart or kitchen."

The menu also labels if the items are gluten-free or vegan, a win for everyone!

some of the amazing items we enjoyed:

  • chinese greens with oyster sauce
  • green beans in XO sauce
  • pork and cabbage pot stickers
  • hum bao -both vegan and pork styles
  • sweet rice
  • sui mai -both vegan and meat styles
  • rice noodles -all three varieties, shrimp, mushroom, and pork
  • bee local honey salted tart 
  • fried sesame balls

Although dim sum service is just for the weekends and at at the west side location, their regular menu is still available all day long. Having been a big fan of their ramen, steamed bao, and fried chicken with OD sauce for years, the option to have dim sum just makes my weekend brunch and lunch options so much better!

Thank you to Boke Bowl's co-owners Brannon Riceci and Patrick Fleming for serving us an excellent variety of dishes and to Little Green Pickle for setting up the fantastic media event! 


*disclosure:  i was invited to attend a hosted brunch event at Boke Bowl West to highlight their west side location's weekend dim sum offerings. all opinions shared are my own and not in exchange for a positive review. 

FEAST PORTLAND 2016 COUNTDOWN. TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE

13 MORE DAYS UNTIL FEAST KICK OFF!

You guys! We are so close to my favorite weekend in September, a weekend I've been planning my life around. Of course this isn't just any weekend, it's FEAST weekend, four days of eating, drinking, hands-on classes, dinners, tasting panels, main and fun-sized events all while meeting our foodie crushes, finding new food affairs, and most importantly feasting to put an end to childhood hunger. 

Last year I attended two main events: the Friday Night Market presented by USA Pears, and Saturday's Oregon Grand Bounty; both events left me wanting more! Scroll down to the very bottom to catch my recap of last years events!


WHAT IS FEAST? 

Feast is not a typical half day food festival, but rather a four day gastronomous affair filled with numerous workshops, hands-on classes, tasting panels, private dinners, and expansive main events for every food lover's dream. Not only is there food to be hand, but it's lots of "Portland" food which we all know is ranked really high among the nation we even have some of our own talented well known chef's cooking our of Portland, Oregon, how can you love food, live here, and not become a foodie?

Last year's 2015 feast was the first year i attended any of the events and let me begin by shaming myself and admitting that i had never been to any of the years prior...

from the moment i walked in to friday nights nigh market i was in heaven. just imagine 1 part harry potter welcoming feast, 1 part of every Bon Appetit's drool worthy layouts and covers, 1 dash of all of the magic that is a full thanksgiving dinner spread, a pinch of the surprise happiness you feel when someone brings in a fresh dozen of your favorite donuts to work, and 2 parts of all of the happiness you feel when you receive a gift certificate to one of your favorite dinner spots. that is what feast is to me!

if you love food, are an adventurous eater and follow the restaurant scene closer than the presidential elections than feast is the event for you. my childhood music crush could be in town for a secret show at mississippi studios and i would be in line at whole foods to have my cookbook signed by Yotam Ottolenghi or John Gorham, because that is where food is on my list of life priorities.

as soon as tickets went live for feast 2016 i immediately snagged tickets to Oregonian Media Group SMOKED! presented by Tillamook, and Brunch Village presented by Whole Foods. these two events were ones i did not attend the year prior and i made a vow to go this year. thankfully i was quick on the draw and had my strategy in place because SMOKED! sold out within hours and Brunch village wasn't far behind to sell out.  

aside from the above events, i was granted a feast 2016 blogger's pass for the following events: Friday and Saturday Grand Tasting, USA Pears Night Market present by Alaksa Airlines and a  Drink Tank presented by Imbibe tasting panel. i couldn't be more excited to be at two new-to-me main events this year as an attendee and to attend those listed above as a blogger, it certainly feels like a honor to help promote something i am already passionate about!

be sure to follow along on my social media trails:

i'll be running around four main events this year, plus a drink tank; be sure to follow along on my social media trails: instagram: @Maxenestrail and twitter: @Mytrailofcrumbs and follow hashtag: #maxeneatfeastpdx to sort out my coverage amongst the many other fabulous bloggers!

 


scenes from Friday Night Market 2015


scenes from Saturday Oregon Grand Tasting 2015

FEAST GRAND TASTING 2015

TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE FOR:


FRIDAY:

SATURDAY: