I’m still trying to catch up on posts, and yet I still seem to be almost two months behind on everything…

Here are the food highlights from my trip to Portland (Oregon) over Labor Day weekend:

Friday, 9/2/05

  • We arrived at our “downtown” hotel (which was nowhere near downtown, but for $40 per night via priceline we couldn’t complain too much). We decided to have a cocktail at the hotel bar, mainly because it was named “The Speckled Rooster”. It smelled like bleach and cigarettes, but after several cocktails neither of us cared. After a few hours I realized that I needed food, but even in my inebriated state I knew better than to eat at The Speckled Rooster.
  • We walked (stumbled?) down the street and found a restaurant called Colosso, where I encountered the worst drink I’ve ever had in my life. It was so bad that I’ve managed to purge the details from my mind, but I can tell you that it tasted like the bad, bitter Chinese medicine my grandma gives me when I’m sick. Despite the awful drinks, we had some great food: an enormous plate piled high with delicious cheeses, various salami and a wonderful cayenne-spiked fruit chutney. We also tried some charred lamb skewers with great, spicy, cucumber riata.

Saturday, 9/3/05

  • The next morning I was craving a big breakfast (a.k.a. hung-over) and B suggested Milo’s City Café. When I saw how many different kinds of eggs benedict they had on the menu, I was smitten. My eggs benedict came with pepper bacon, tomato and a wonderful, light and lemony hollandaise. I was full after the benedict, but my meal also came with a bowl of fresh fruit and a giant helping of yummy, deep fried potatoes.
  • After too much (window) shopping in Portland’s gorgeous kitchen stores, I wanted lunch outside and near the water. There weren’t too many choices, so we ended up at Three Degrees Restaurant at the RiverPlace Hotel. It skewed a touch too yuppie for my taste, but on this lazy, sunny Saturday afternoon it was perfect. We settled into rocking chairs on the enormous Southern-style wrap around deck and drank vodka lemonades and people watched. We made a light snack out of the house smoked salmon salad—which was surprisingly tasty.
  • For dinner, we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Portland: Gino’s. It’s not fancy by any means, but it serves really great Italian food in a down-home atmosphere. We started with an incredible scampi appetizer, which was basically a pile of shrimp sautéed in a ridiculous amount of garlic and wine. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the broth was heavenly with the accompanying wedges of garlic bread. I was saddened to hear they were out of porchetta that night, and I reluctantly ordered a simple, seared rib-eye steak. It was incredible. The steak was tender and flavorful and didn’t need any accompaniment except a touch of salt. Alongside was a nice sauté of fresh veggies. The only misstep on the plate was the mashed potatoes; they tasted fine but were ice cold. B had the seafood pasta, which was a lot like a bouillabaisse over pasta and it featured incredible, plump mussels, more shrimp, calamari and other bits of fish.

Sunday, 9/4/05

  • On Sunday we went to my favorite breakfast spot in Portland: Byways Cafe. To me, this is the epitome of a diner; comfy, kitschy, Americana style, a bustling and saucy waitstaff, and simple, but good breakfast fare. Oh, and really delicious table jam that tastes homemade.
  • I think we were petering out on food at this point, so we skipped lunch and had a quick, early dinner at La Buca. La Buca is a very casual, Italian eatery that is known for panini. I was torn between panini or the pulled pork over soft polenta; pulled pork won out. Unfortunately, it was a little greasy and the flavor tasted slightly off. B ordered the penne with four cheeses and sausage, which was pretty damn good.
  • After dinner we decided to grab a drink at Doug Fir. The space was absolutely amazing and the mix of materials was mind boggling; it was like a super-hip and modern log cabin. I fell in love with the place instantly. Unfortunately, the place was so crowded, noisy and pretentious that we didn’t stay long. It’s rumored that Doug Fir has excellent breakfasts, so next time I’m in Portland that will be a must.

Monday, 9/5/05

  • By our last day, we were thoroughly burned out on eating out, so we ordered in. Hotel breakfasts at high-end hotels are never that great, so it follows suit that hotel breakfasts at cheap hotels would be even worse. The eggs tasted fake, the bacon was burnt and the biscuits resembled paper weights. The hot chocolate transported us back to childhood camping trips with Swiss Miss on the campfire. Oddly enough, the combination of all these breakfast items was strangely satisfying and comforting.

Since this was a vacation, I decided to give my camera a break as well. Although, I just had to snap a picture of this license plate. I couldn’t resist.