If you love food, you have to go to Portland. Full stop.

Right by Voodoo Doughnuts!

My husband and I just got back from our 10 day honeymoon to Portland (and Newport), Oregon where we had the most amazing time! We saw waterfalls, wandered around in the huge Japanese garden and the International Rose Test Garden, enjoyed the wonders of Powell’s Books, visited wine country in the Willamette Valley, braved the icy (okay, 58 degree) wind to stroll along the beach in search of tide pools…and had some of the best meals we’ve ever eaten in our lives!!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter already got a preview of some of the great food we had, but it’s definitely going to take me more than one post to tell you all about it!  So stick around–I’ll try to get posts up as quickly as possible but it’ll take a little while to get all the photos edited, etc.

Part I:

Friday:  We got to Portland around dinner time (or after dinner time if you factor in the time difference!) so we decided to go to Saucebox since it was only a few short blocks from our hotel.  In retrospect, this was probably not the best place to go when you’re starving and tired from having spent the majority of your day on planes and in airports.  The service was extraordinarily slow (seemingly due to disorganized management more than anything else – our server seemed perfectly nice and competent when she was actually at our table) and the food, while good, was not quite able to compensate.  (Though the five spice cauliflower is definitely worth trying, and the jackfruit sorbet was quite tasty, as was the fudgy brownie).  But there is one reason why Saucebox should still definitely be on your list of places to go in Portland: their bartender.  The bartender at Saucebox is an absolute genius and you absolutely have to try their cocktails!  I had the Jade Scorpion which they describe as: “house-infused thai chili vodka, house-infused ginger vodka, muddled with thai basil, grapefruit, lemon-lime, finished with ginger brew”.  Basically it tastes like Thai food in a glass, and is the single best cocktail I have ever had in my life.

Yum!

The best cocktail ever.

Saturday:  The next day we hopped on the MAX train to go to the Portland State University farmer’s market.  Move over, Disney World, because I’m pretty sure that this farmer’s market is the happiest place on earth!  I believe the first words out of my mouth were: “I want to move here!!!!!”

Panorama!

Just one small part of the market.

The market was filled with booth after booth of delicious looking organic produce of every type imaginable–mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, greens, carrots, potatoes, beans, apricots, berries of every type…and CHERRIES!  So very many cherries!  Of course you had your regular Bings and pie cherries and ridiculously cheap Rainier cherries (seriously…we paid about $2.50 for a whole big bag of them!  They cost $8.99/lb at home!) but then there were other kinds which I had never heard of before (I wish I had written them all down!) including these huge cherries that filled your whole mouth with delicious cherry goodness!

My favorite kind of cherry ever!

Cherries!

At first we just wandered around in awe, admiring the great heaps of produce and then, as we hadn’t had breakfast yet, we got down to the business of sampling.  The free samples were abundant, with farmers at every booth encouraging you to try their products without pressuring you to buy anything.  We tried fresh milk from a nearby farm (they had an album with pictures of their cows!), fresh cheese, kimchee (there were four kinds!  I had never had kimchee before, but all were delicious!), blueberries, raspberries, golden raspberries, cherries (of course!), sea beans (salty!), and much more!  But farmers weren’t the only ones with booths there.  Local restaurants and bakeries had booths that were filling the air with delicious aromas!

Frying up fresh chicken to go with their hot biscuits!

The line was a mile long for Pine State Biscuits!

Hungry for something a bit more substantial than the samples we’d been trying, we made our way over to a booth that was selling pies. So many pies.  We hung back for a bit, wondering how we were ever to decide on a flavor and then we noticed the hand pies.  Cute little half-moon shaped pies that were just begging us to buy them.  I went for the Italian one–multiple kinds of salami, some spicy peppers, a bit of cheese…and the most flaky delicious crust you can possibly imagine!  My husband went for the vegetarian option of caramelized onions and bleu cheese–also delicious and coated in the same perfectly flaky crust!  We devoured them so quickly that I didn’t even think to snap a picture!  To go with our pies, we stopped at the next booth which was selling freshly made juices.  After trying some samples, we went with a strawberry hibiscus juice which the guy casually told us he’d made just last night at his place up the road.  So good!

As we sat on a bench listening to the live music (a singer accompanied by a cello…it gave my husband goosebumps!), we noticed another booth where a cooking demo was being set up!  This was not something we could pass up so we claimed a couple of chairs nearby and settled in to learn how to make vegetable spring rolls with hazelnut dipping sauce.  The awesome part was that she told us where we could find each ingredient at the market so had we wanted to go home and make the rolls right then, we totally could have done it!

Action shot!

Stir frying the veggies.

Once the cooking demo was done and we had devoured our bag of cherries and composted the pits (yes, there are bins for trash, each kind of recycling and compost strategically placed throughout the market!), we decided to head back towards downtown to go to the Saturday Market near the river.

The Saturday Market is huge, with booths upon booths of art of every kind imaginable, clothing, jewelry, and (of course) food!  By this point we were in need of lunch, so we set off in search of the Kathmandu Cafe, a well-reviewed booth selling vegetarian and Himalayan food.  The sun was out and the weather was warm, so it seemed like the whole city was out enjoying the market!  We made our way through the crowds, and eventually reached our goal; it was right next to booths selling Nigerian food and kettlecorn.

Right by the kettlecorn

We found it!

Momos

Momos – Himalayan dumplings

After wandering the market for a while and finding such treasures as windchimes and jewelry made out of silverware, we headed off in search of Powell’s books–the biggest book store I’ve ever seen!  Of course on our way there we walked past Voodoo Doughnuts which is located in a building covered in glitter paint and which had an epically long line snaking out the door (but that’s another post!).

Then after exploring the bookstore and a quick stop at Morso for gelato (the lemon vanilla custard rocked!) it was back to the hotel to get ready for dinner…

[To Be Continued…]

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