Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chris and Ashley

My brother, Chris and his fiancee, Ashley, are out visiting this week. They got here Thursday and for dinner we attempted a bike ride to the taco cart. Unfortunately, our bikes, even with the seats all the way down, were way too big for them, so we had to change our plan and walk instead. I will say that riding my road bike around for that little bit reminded me what a great bike it is. If I can carve out some time and get some nice weather I'd really like to attempt a 2-hour ride soon. My back has been doing so great lately that I have been hesitant to change my workouts much. But I do miss long rides and we've got the Cycle Oregon weekend ride this summer so I've got to get some training in!

Yesterday, we took them on an all-day marathon walking tour of Portland. I was a little worried the whole time that they were going to get exhausted and stop having fun. But, they were both troopers and I'm sure by the time the day was over we'd walked over 10 miles.

We started with a walk downtown, across the Willamette River where I got this nice shot of them with the city in the background.
Our next stop was the cart pod on SW 10th and SW Alder. First, we did a once-around to show them all their options. It's really astounding all the great food choices we have from carts in Portland. Lots of Thai, Vietnamese, barbecue, Japanese, Greek, hot dogs, Egyptian, Indian, Brazilian, Cuban, soup, German, organic healthy, NW, fish n chips, bubble tea and desserts and I'm sure more than I can't think of. Eating at a cart in Portland is a quintessential Portland experience. Peter decided on a gyro, I went for chicken yakisoba and Chris and Ashley went for fish n chips. We ate our meal in the Galleria, got dessert at Cafe Bleu and started the long walk up the the Japanese Garden.
Along the way, Chris had a little fun with the creepy baby face statues.

We had a nice view of Mt. St. Helens with my favorite bridge, the sweeping Fremont Bridge.
When we got to the Japanese garden, we headed first for the view of Mt. Hood. Amazing.
Then, we wandered around the garden, admiring the azaleas and Japanese maples, taking pictures of koi, watching the zen stick slowly fill with water, dip down into the bucket below then lift back up and slowly get filled with water again. Mesmerizing.
On the way home, we showed Chris and Ashley Matt Groening's Bart picture near Lincoln High.

Then, we came home for an hour and a half rest. Chris and Ashley fell right to sleep, Peter and I made sandwiches and walked Dexter and before we knew it it was time to leave for the hockey game.

We always walk to the Rose Garden from our house. It's much more fun than driving. To my amazement, Chris and Ashley were still up for it which was so much fun. I felt like I was not only sharing my city with my brother and future sister-in-law, but I was showing it to them in the way that I, myself, love to see it. In my head I thought as we were walking to the game, This is, hands down, the best visit I have ever had with a family member.

The hockey game was fun, even though the Winterhawks lost. Kootenay Ice actually won the WHL championship as a result, though, so it was fun to watch them get their trophies and celebrate.

On the way home we stopped for another quintessential Portland experience, Voodoo Donuts. It was packed! Peter and I decided to try the bacon maple bar for the first time. Ashley and Chris got a bacon maple bar to share and my favorite donut, The Old Dirty Bastard (oreo, chocolate and peanut butter). We walked home and sat around the table eating our donuts (delicious!) and talking and laughing until the wee hours of the morning. It was a great day.

Friday, May 6, 2011


We set out today after a solid morning workout (and a light breakfast) for a five-hour adventure around the city. First stop, Built to Grill to share an order of fried calamari, our current new food interest. The calamari was crispy and delicious, drizzled with lemon and served with marinara sauce.
Then, we set out for lunch. I was in the mood for SPICY so I decided on chicken fajitas served with corn tortillas and habanero salsa. Peter went with a Bohemian goulash that he enjoyed quite a bit.

We wandered over to Deschuttes Brewery next for a couple of nitro stouts. So good! Their coffee nitro stout could very well be the finest beer I've ever had in my life, but this was mighty tasty too.

Next, we ambled over to Pazzoria to hopefully find some cinnamon-y chocolate chip cookies, but sadly they were out. So, we walked over to the Heathman to see if we could participate in high tea. Unfortunately, high tea requires reservations and had started an hour earlier. We'll definitely have to do that sometime though. So, we settled on chocolate chip cookies (which were quite cinnamon-y) at the Nordstrom cafe, sitting out at the bistro tables across from Pioneer Courthouse square and sipping coffee.

While we sipped and nibbled, sitting there for quite some time, we talked about how neither one of us are multi-taskers. We both like to do one thing at a time. I guess we enjoy listening to music while we do cardio, but in general, we try to focus on one task at a time. We wondered if this is partly because we don't have children. Maybe it's a luxury to be able to focus solely on one thing, cooking or reading or cycling or writing. If it is, it's something I enjoy about my life.

We also got talking about our new Molecular Gastronomy kit we'd received in the mail a couple of days ago. We decided we wanted to play tonight with our new toys. So, we walked back over to the Pearl, to Sur La Table, and bought some not-to-expensive little serving dishes for amuse-bouches. Then we went to Whole Foods and bought some ingredients for our ideas.

After walking home, we set to work: We juiced, we measured, we blatzed in the cuisinart. When we were done we had 5 little dishes.

Little caprese salads made from Greek yogurt, tomato and powdered olive oil.

Shrimp with a lime, olive oil, jalapeno and cilantro sauce.

Fennel, salami and feta amuse-bouche drizzled with olive oil.
And these little kiwi things that were supposed to have little beads of rhubarb juice and mango juice sprinkled on top. The beads just melted so we obviously need to get better at that, but it was still mighty tasty.
A last minute addition to our feast was frozen coconut lychee jelly (like you get at the Asian grocery store) shaved over chocolate chips.

This was one of our most typical weekend days. Exercising a ton so we can eat like kings, wandering all over the city, thinking about life and food and somehow always finding something interesting to talk about even though we've been together for nearly 14 years. You know, when we got home, we were drenched with rain, but as I was writing this I had hardly remembered that. Good food, good fun, a good friend and a little adventure could never be dampened by a few raindrops.