Sunday, July 07, 2013

Portland, Oregon: Top Twelve

The AMHL Photographer and I visited Portland, Oregon for the first time last week. We knew about Portland’s most famous donut establishment but were too busy discovering the magic of Portland’s Alphabet District/Nob Hill and West Side, or exploring Northwest Oregon/Southwest Washington, to do the Voo Doo.

I present, then, the Top Twelve reasons to visit Portland:

1.    Salt & Straw: This establishment serves products from Delicious Donuts, but the Salt & Straw’s main draw is ice cream, many of the flavors concocted with bizarre, but complementary ingredients and flavors. I recommend the Goat Cheese/Marionberry/Habanero and Grandma Malek’s Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache. Hockey fans will find at least one employee who knows the Bruins lost Game Six against the Black Hawks and who knows that the local junior team, the Winterhawks, won the 2013 Western Hockey League championship.

2.    Former Bruin Andrew Ference played for the Winter Hawks (the team changed its name from Winter Hawks to Winterhawks in 2009). Other alumni include Joe Morrow, Cam Neely, Glen Wesley, Brad Isbister and Byron Dafoe.

3.   Portland tends to be Eco/Ference-friendly.

4.    Blue Star Donuts: Gaining popularity in the West Side, there are still too many Portlanders who haven’t yet heard of this shop. A dedicated pastry chef (from New England) combines local and organic ingredients and a French brioche recipe to produce donuts like the Blackberry Compote & Peanut Butter Powder.

5.   Inclined to walk off the calories? Portland is home to steep geography. Climb the Southwest Hills.

6.    Or walk from Blue Star Donuts to Lardo—and then order the Mixed Greens Salad: local greens, rainbow carrots, radishes, fennel and honey champagne vinaigrette.

7.    Drive to Cannon Beach, seventy-five miles northwest of Portland. Park at the Tolovana State Recreation site. We arrived shortly after sunrise on a Tuesday morning, the smoke from burning driftwood lingering but the beach almost all too ourselves. Haystack Rock jutting from the ocean floor and Pigeon Guillemots flocking to the pine-clad cliffs, Cannon Beach didn’t disappoint my wife, the photographer. Drive back to Portland via Route 30 and gaze at Mount St. Helens.

8.    Corylus avellana. Oregon doesn’t have the climate to grow coffee beans, but the state produces Gretzky-like numbers (99% of the U.S. crop) if you’re talking hazelnuts.

9.    Astoria, OR: Get your fill of hazelnuts in the salad named Oregon Hazelnut, prepared at the Wet Dog Cafe. Then consider climbing the Astoria Column—or at least discover the Lewis and Clark influence on this area.

10.  Portland nicknames: The Rose City, Stumptown, Beervana, Bridgetown, PDX

11.  More non-donut food favorites: Savor the empanada (grilled corn, sweet potato & Manchego filling, arugula, fried chickpeas, cilantro-lime crème fraîche) at Serrato, the tacos (best black beans I can recall tasting) at Santa Fe Taqueria, and the build-your-own pizza (pepperoni and pineapple) at Pizzicato Pizza on 23rd Street.

12.  Back to Blue Star, where this writing is on the wall: “Keep Calm and Eat Donuts.” The Blueberry, Bourbon & Basil is the best-selling. 
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