12 hours in Portland
Since we’re living in Tacoma now, the drive to Portland, Oregon is a mere two hours long. That being said, neither of us could remember the last time we found ourselves exploring the hipster-laden city.
This trip was more of a work trip. We have a few fun pieces due on various outlets and we decided that if we were going to venture out to Portland for work, we were going to make the best of it. Our one year wedding anniversary was only a few day before and since we spent the day driving across the state, this trip could be a second chance at celebration.
We started our day with food trucks. Multiple food trucks. Big Ass Sandwiches was our first stop and we ended up purchasing the very sandwich for which the truck is named after. A ciabbata bun, topped with flavorful roast beef, grilled onions, and then slathered in a cheesy bechamel sauce. Pacing ourselves, we took a few bites and then wrapped up the leftovers and placed them in a cooler in the car. We then jumped around town, making stops at any food truck that sounded temping and delicious. One of my personal favorites was the Mexican-Asian fusion truck, KOi Fusion. Chris and I sampled a pork burrito that packed a flavor explosion. It was all of my favorite Korean flavors wrapped in a warm tortilla.
We went on to sample plates of gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, reindeer sausages, and almond stuffed dates that were wrapped in bacon from paleo truck, Cultured Caveman. Needless to say, we found ourselves with full bellies and a cooler stuffed with leftovers.
After we had stuffed ourselves on food trucks we decided to walk around downtown and do a fair amount of window shopping. It was around this time that we both started feeling a little sick. We had been going too hard the week before with early wake ups and not nearly enough sleep. Feeling fevered and exhausted, we toyed with the idea of buying movie tickets just so we could take a brief nap during the showing, but there wasn’t anything playing for another hour or two. We almost resigned to napping in our car in the parking garage, but we were paying for parking by the hour and decided that we could find a more, shall we way, picturesque spot.
Chris ended up driving us to Washington Park where we parked our car near the archery range. I reclined my seat and passed out to the sound of arrows meeting the targets and the crunching of gravel beneath the feet of joggers. After an hour and half slumber we both felt rested and rejuvenated enough to head back into town. Not wanting to exert ourselves too much, we knew just the place we had to go.
Powell’s bookstore is one of my favorite places in all of Portland. Still recovering from our nap, we slowly moseyed up and down the aisles picking up armfuls of books as we went along. Not wanting to spend a fortune, both Chris and I narrowed down our selections to two books a piece. I settled on Wild by Cheryl Strayed (I recently finished and fell in love with Tiny Beautiful Things and had been pining for this one for a while) and Wildwood by The Decemberists’ singer-song writer, Colin Meloy. I’m not going to lie, when the young woman at the register informed me of who the author was, I became a little skeptical but after completing a few pages, faith had been restored. It makes sense, after all, that a renowned songwriter could conjure a beautiful, captivating, and descriptive tale. Plus, look at that cover art. I was drawn to it immediately.
After over an hour spent drinking coffee and reading excerpts from our bookstore plunder, we hustled back to the car where we both managed a Superman-like quick change. We had 7 o’clock dinner reservations at the historic Heathman Restaurant & Bar and wanted to look our best. After donning fancy shirts and a few spritzes of perfume, we made our way to dinner.
By this point, our epic food truck lunch was seven hours behind us and-miraculously-we were starving. We parked the car and made our way to a much anticipated dinner at the Heathman Restaurant & Bar.
We were seated upon arriving and immediately grabbed the prepared menus in front of us. We discovered that the Heathman’s Chef Michael Stanton creates seasonal tasting menus based on different regions in France. The newest menu features dishes inspired by the Loire Valley. The Heathman Restaurant is noted as one of the finest French-American restaurants in the city and with Chef Stanton at the helm, it is easy to see why. With his fine-tuned, classic French cooking techniques, Chef Stanton transforms traditional dishes using seasonal Pacific Northwest ingredients celebrated by locals and visitors alike. And celebrating, we were.
The six-course tasting menu had all of the flavors of what we can only imagine autumn tastes like in the Loire Valley. Each dish had a depth and flavor to it that made for the perfect dining experience. If I had to choose a favorite course it would be the fourth, Noisettes de Porc aux Pruneaux, braised pork, hazelnut, prune, with a vouvray jus. It’s exactly what one would want to indulge in after a long fall day spent picking pumpkins and raking leaves in the chilly autumn air. If the setting wasn’t as fancy, I might have been tempted to lick the plate. It was that good.
Chris was also a big fan of the pork with the Petit Poisson de Mer (house smoked rock fish, creamed onion, and tomato olive tapenade), coming in at a close second. He also enjoyed the wine pairings. With each course he would rotate between bites of his meal and appreciative sips of his wine. Sommelier James Rahn achieved two thumbs up from Chris who also enjoyed a little fall-inspired libation dubbed the Orchard Old Fashioned (Maker’s Mark bourbon, Clear Creek pear brandy syrup, and organic baked apple bitters).
Our meal was two hours of delicious bliss. One that we would highly recommend to anyone in the Portland area. Leaving with full bellies and happy hearts, we stumbled into our car and took off for home. What started out as a one-day work trip, ended up being a 12-hour staycation that left us with a greater yearning to revisit Portland in the future.