Portland Musings

I've been in Portland, Oregon, now for about a week. Initially I was going to come here for a few days before heading up to a wedding in Seattle. I love Portland, and have since the first moment I saw this small city. But soon after I mentioned that, after two long years, I would be heading up to the Pacific Northwest, I received an inquiry asking whether I might be interested in teaching my baking classes in Portland. Yes, I immediately replied, I'd be honored to.

And so here I am, for two luxurious, long weeks. I could not be happier. Fourteen days to explore, eat, nibble, adventure, photograph, visit, suntan, bake, go to farmers' markets, stain my fingers with berry juices, talk to farmers,berry picking, make new friends, re-acquaint, stroll, drive, and just take it all in.

Some highlights of my trip so far:

A perfectly executed, seasonal, eclectic dinner at 23 Hoyt, in Northwest.
Late night tapas at Toro Bravo. Find yourself there? Get the grilled onions.
Pecan pie made with real leaf lard at Podnah's. (I'll be going back for the ribs, mark my word.)
An inspired fennel and golden raisin scone at Bakery Bar.
Perhaps some of the most amazing nectarines of my entire life at the Saturday Portland Farmers' market.
Marionberries.
Blueberries from Sauvie Island, picked by me.
Refreshing, smooth & sweet cold-steeped iced coffee at Random Order Coffee House. Their baked goods are also amazing. I have now eaten the bacon-green onion muffin twice.
Stumptown coffee.
Three spot-on, seasonal fresh fruit desserts at Blue Hour. (Jenny Raines, who was a pastry person at Chez Panisse for many years, is the pastry chef there now.)
The best French bread outside of France at Fleur de Lis Bakery in Northeast.
Succulent tacos (my favorite is their carnitas), bright agua frescas and fresh chips at Por Que No? on the hip and hopping N. Mississippi street.

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With two classes and one week left I am hoping to get jumped up on some of the best tasting caffeine in North America, eat and explore what may be my future home. I love the nooks and crannies of Portland: the self-supporting neighborhoods, the community driven mentality of businesses, the effusive Portlanders who want to make sure I taste and see and go to their favorite spots. I love the trees that make wide arcs of shade, the various bridges connecting west to east, and the feeling you get when you're here. Like opening a business and buying a house are not just possibilities, but realities for someone like me.

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I love living in Northern California, don't get me wrong. But Portland might well be in my future. So it's important that I sniff my way around, pay attention to the details, and have fun while I'm snooping.

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