The Bite and Portland Adventuring

The view from our room in Jantzen Beach

I am a lucky lady. With my mister teaching and the boys still school-aged, we end up with nearly 3 months of time to do whatever we want for “summer vacation”. Luckily, Craig is also a musician, which means we get to spend some of that time traveling to various festivals, cities, places with an array of new foods, restaurants, and opportunities to try new things.

The mister and I made a trip to Portland, OR. last weekend which, fortunately, wasn’t laden with load-in and sound-check times, nor kids to keep up with… It’s fun traveling with the boys, too, but that ends up being a whole different trip: one filled with more scheduled activities and much less spontaneity. Portland has become one of our favorite cities to visit, along with San Francisco. I admit, I am an island/ small-town kind of girl and never imagined I’d even consider living in a larger city. However, Portland and San Francisco both, are among the few cities I would think about living in if Craig and I decide that’s a venture we want to explore some day when the kids are grown.

It just so happened that The Bite of Oregon was happening while we were in town. The Bite featured a number of restaurant samplings from all over Oregon, a number of food carts from the city, Oregon craft beers and wine, chef competitions, and lots of fun. On top of that, the event was right alongside the gorgeous Willamette River. We spent Friday tasting numerous dishes, including some of the following:

Bay shrimp and dungeness crab cakes with a pinot gris mustard from Salty’s. Craig said this was the “crabbiest crab cake” he’d ever had–and I have to agree, completely. It was delicious and probably my favorite sampling overall.

Jazzy Bowl from Cafe Yumm. This was a concoction of jasmine rice, Yumm! Sauce, organic red beans, avocado, mild salsa, olives, Tillamook cheddar, sour cream, and cilantro. The blend was fantastic… Yumm Sauce definitely adds to the overall tastiness… It’s a magical sauce made of oil, almonds, brewer’s yeast, garbanzo beans, soybeans, water, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and curry powder. (Deliciousness.)

Wisconsin mac & cheese from Noodles & Company. A simple blend of cheddar and jack cheese with elbow macaroni and cream, then topped with more cheese. This was very good, super creamy and very cheesy. I liked its simplicity (so did the mister).

Confit Chinese eggplant with caramelized artisan goat cheese and heirloom gazpacho foam from London Grill. I did not care for this dish one bit. I did manage to swallow my one bite, barely… The Mister enjoyed it, though. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took a bite — maybe something warm; the eggplant, however, was cold and sticky in consistency. Not my favorite combo. The caramelized goat cheese on top was my favorite part about the whole dish: very rich and creamy, but also nicely crisp on top.

“Dancing Drumsticks” from Sweet Lemon Vegan Bistro. I was very excited to try these — they’re marinated soy protein “drumsticks” charbroiled with lemongrass, topped with sesame seeds. They were very crisp, tasted remarkably like chicken, and came very close in consistency to meat as well. The tangy teriyaki soy-based sauce was very tasty, too.

Korean short rib tacos with kimchee and bean sprouts from the Koi Fusion PDX food cart. I rarely eat beef, but everyone was raving about these tacos and I decided to try them. I’m glad I did–these tacos were incredibly good. The shredded beef was extremely tender and sweet, paired nicely with the spicy kimchee I requested, and the crisp bite of the bean sprouts. All the flavors came together amazingly well.

Neapolitan cake from Gerry Frank’s Konditorei. This cake was HUGE. I was a little apprehensive about getting it at first, feeling quite full from our previous samplings… But the mister and I shared a piece anyway. I was pleasantly surprised. The cake was very light, not heavy and overpowering like it looked as if it would be. Each of the cake layers were very fluffy and moist. Both the strawberry mousse and chocolate mousse was nicely rich between each cake layer. The outer layer of buttercream was the heaviest part of the whole cake, but balanced nicely overall.

Craig and I shared a sake flight from SakéOne. The five saké flight was quite tasty! My favorites were the plum saké, which was sweeter than any sake I’ve had before, and the G Joy saké, which was probably the most robust wine we tried. The end of our flight included a saké mojito cocktail, which was very pleasant. The slightly dry Momokawa Diamond saké blended nicely with the hint of mint and lime.

We also shared an oatmeal stout from Seven Brides Brewing, “Oatmeal Ellie.” Typically I prefer dark beers, which is why we sampled this stout. The taste was much lighter than it appeared. Overall, Oatmeal Ellie was okay, but I wasn’t partial to ordering up a second one.

Thankfully there’s still nearly a month of summer vacation time here… Hopefully filled with more opportunities to travel and eat fantastical new foods…

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