Tuesday, 2 August 2011

USA 2011: Portland Part 2

Warning: This post is pretty light on food, but does include the three actual non-food activities that I did in Portland. Think of it as a small break for gentle digestion before we move on to the next three days, which involved hardcore extreme eating. Of course if you just want food, just scroll down to the food pictures in this post and then wait for the next one!!

I ate my pie while walking to my next destination. On my way, I went by many cute coloured houses. This house is pink! As much as I love pink, I am not sure I would want to live in a pink coloured house.

My destination was the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for a little break before dinner. It ended up being a longer walk than I bargained for - the street I had planned on walking down was closed due to roadworks (seriously, there were so many roadworks going on in PDX...) so I had to backtrack. At this point I had been walking for ages so I was super happy to see OMSI at last.

The sky was ominous, but it didn't rain so I was glad about that! OMSI is essentially a science centre, I like science centres and this had been recommended by a friend. It was pretty fun, with all the usual gimmicks these things have. Lots of activities and puzzles to do, though I think they are more fun if you have someone with you. I also went to the planetarium (my first planetarium visit that I can remember) and watched Journey to the Stars, which was very pretty. It was narrated by Whoopi Goldberg though, and her voice kept reminding me of her hyena character from The Lion King. It needed someone more soothing.

Outside they had a Doppler On Wheels, which is something that people use when chasing storms. It's all very Twister. I went inside and had a peek at the screens. According to my storm chaser friend Beth, this is super cool.

After OMSI I started my walk to my dinner destination. The thing about PDX is this, everything is kind of spread out and just randomly sprinkled through the neighbourhoods, so most of the time I never was 100% sure I was going to the right place until I was suddenly upon it. I was walking past blocks of houses, and some industrial type set ups, starting to panic a little bit when I finally stumbled across my destination.

Portobello Trattoria had been highly recommended on the PPK Forums. It was pretty crowded when I got there, but one of the plus sides of being the single traveller is that you will often get seated pretty much straight away at the bar. They had a comfy bar too.

The best thing about sitting at the bar was Lauren Fitzgerald, the totally awesome bar person. She was super nice and super chatty, and kept me so entertained that I bearly had my Kindle open at all. Lauren is the creator of all the drinks at Portobello, right down to her housemade soda flavours. I'm not a drinker, so I selected a mocktail. This is Blossom. Blossom is delicious, but I cannot remember everything that was in it and it is not on the current menu up on the web (they have seasonal menus). I do remember it had lemon juice, black tea and some kind of flower-flavoured stuff. Anyway, it was delicious! Plus it had an edible flower. Cute!

Lauren was full of helpful information about serving sizes and the like to help me get the most out of my dining experience. The dishes come in a small and main size, so I decided to have two small dishes. To balance out the richness of my other choice (see below), I chose this amazing Spinach and Strawberry Salad that had strawberries, spinach, almonds, pickled red onions (OMG could eat these forever) and a black pepper dressing. It was sensational!

I had checked out their website before I arrived, and knew that this was going to be on my list. It is Thyme-Potato Gnocchi with Fresh Morels: gnocchi with morels, leek, asparagus and cashew cream. Oh my goodness, this was good. Rich and delicious. I loved it!

For dessert I had seen a coconut creme brulee on the website that sounded amazing, but was not on the menu at the restaurant. I had to spend some time perusing the dessert menu, because there were several amazing options. In the end I chose this Chocolate Rosemary Torte and oh wow. So rich and decadent and so amazing!

I loved eating at Portobello. It was fun sitting at the bar chatting with Lauren and watching her mix drinks. She has previously lived in San Francisco and worked at Millenium, so she wrote out a list of a few places that I should go to for eating when I got to San Francisco. The couple next to me were also having a great time, so it was a really fun atmosphere in general. Plus I got to see every single dish that came out of the kitchen, it was like a food p*rn parade! On the way out I passed by the lovely Melbourne bloggers K and Toby from In The Mood For Noodles. In a twist of fate, we were all in PDX at the same time and staying at the same hotel! K and Toby were meeting up with a friend for dinner at Portobello, so we made plans to meet at the hotel the next day for vegan fun times. They also shared with me the bus route back to our hotel, which I was grateful for because I had already walked so much during the day.

As a side note, Portobello is across the road from Los Gorditos, which has vegan and gluten free options. I didn't make it there during my trip.

The next morning I rose early to head out to Washington Park and the Rose Gardens that PDX is famous for. Did you know that it only costs $4.75 in PDX for an all-day all-zone public transport ticket? And that the public transport is reliable and well coordinated?? ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME BRISBANE??

Anyway, the Rose Gardens are very pretty. There were lots of people there, including families, and it was lovely to watch people strolling about literally stopping to smell the roses! I took loads of photos, because there were so many beautiful flowers there, but here are just a few for you.

This last photo is my favourite. This variety of rose is called 'Walking On Sunshine' (I want to quit my job and become a professional rose variety namer! So many great names) and inside you can see this cool little spider friend. I keep imagining him strutting along signing out 'I'm walking on sunshine.... whooooooo'. In my head he is a musical spider.

Of course, what trip to nature would be complete without SQUIRRELS! The rose gardens look out over Washington Park and have lovely views to the city. Just over the wall of the rose garden was this family of SQUIRRELS! enjoying a little sunshine and grass. I'm sorry, but as long as I live I will never stop being in love with SQUIRRELS!

Washington Park is also home to the Portland Japanese Gardens, and as I had time spare and I love Japanese gardens, I went for a look.

I really loved it here. It was beautiful and so peaceful (except for when there were kids screaming around). I took a guided tour and there was so much fascinating information. The garden is actually made up for five different styles of Japanese gardens, and has created this beautiful setting out of plants native to the Portland area. I highly recommend it.

Then it was back on the bus and the MAX and back to the hotel. I had some people to meet and some serious eating to do. I hope you enjoyed this brief interlude, come back next time with your comfy pants on!


  1. wow Susan I am just loving these travel/food posts...! so fantastic to see all the amazing vegan food (and fun adventures...!) you've had on your travels. I always find it a bit of a drag finding decent food when I am travelling. I recently came back from 2 weeks in Canada and didn't manage to find any where near as many goodies as you did. (though I probably didn't do quite the same amount of research!). Vancouver was pretty good, but small towns through the rockies... not so much...!
    Looking forward to reading (and salivating over!) the rest of your trip.
    I so have a hankering for donuts now.
    juanita (aka photo_diva)

    oh, and for what it's worth, they do serve vegan meals on the trans-Tasman flights! I did the same flight with Air New Zealand from Bris to Auckland and got my VVML!

  2. I love roses, beautiful shots. I agree with you about the great public transport system. Here's an adventure my friend Sarah and I had on our first night in Portland involving a bus and a chihuahua you might like!