Portland’s vibe is mellow and friendly; its culture is food-forward. We, newbies, came to eat, taste wine (apologies to the breweries), and walk. We expected cool temperatures but arrived at the height of a heat wave, so we paced ourselves and sought refuge in air-conditioned cafes and shops. The locals proudly pointed out great spots.
was but a teaser for Saturday’s (8:30am - 2pm) bountiful market at Portland State University. We nibbled samples for breakfast — roasted hazelnuts, berries and cherries of varied colors, and fresh cheeses and breads — and filled a shopping bag of ingredients for dinners in our nearby Airbnb. I wanted more Freddy Guys Hazelnuts than I could pack and learned they ship anywhere in the USA. The gluten-free artisan breads from New Cascadia Traditional are tastier than any I've ever found before.
Springwater Farm offers a variety of locally grown mushrooms that added a woodsy flavor to our risotto supper.
For hungry vegetarians like me, Portland has food choices unmatched in most cities. And if the markets and restaurants aren't enough, you'll find entire blocks of food trucks parked every day. If you're cooking for yourself, try the upscale Zupan's Market at Burnside and 23rd, and add a bottle of Pinot Noir or a German Riesling from Vinopolis.
After fueling ourselves at the markets, we viewed the city from the Willamette River boardwalk. Portland was hosting its annual Waterfront Blues Festival, and we caught echoing melodies as we strolled.
We tried to catch a river breeze too and escape the heat, but the direct sun drove us back into the shade.
After tallying 8 - 9 miles of daily walking, we decided to splurge at a few great eateries. We skipped the famous Voodoo Doughnut (the line took 45 minutes) and saved up for savory meals.
We ate our favorite dinner at the Mediterranean Exploration Company where the staff was attentive and courteous but never hovering.
(Photo by David L. Reamer, from website)
We started with radicchio with cherries and yogurt dressing that softly balanced the tartness of a fennel salad with candied pecans and lemon vinaigrette. Food came family style—oniony hummus, crisp falafel with tahini and pickles, and salmon carpaccio. My husband raved about the delicate flavors in the Chreime, a tripolitany Jewish fish stew; and we finished dinner with a cardamom ice cream Affogato with a delicately spiced Turkish coffee and chocolate covered pistachios.
The long walk back to our apartment gave us the chance to digest and take in the bustling nightlife in the Pearl District.
We timed our last Portland food and wine adventure with the final game of the FIFA Women's World Cup match. We sat all afternoon at Taste on 23rd, a wine bar with small plates and an amiable staff, and cheered for the American soccer team.
Our server, Dillon, asked about our wine preferences and carefully selected six tasting glasses of Oregon Pinot Noir. With that we ordered ComtÉ and Nababbo cheese plates, lavender hazelnut bruschetta, and pancetta wrapped scallops.
The Heydon Road and Patton Valley Pinots won out, and my entourage ordered more when we moved to a prime TV-watching spot at the bar.
Leland Hart, part-owner and chef at Taste, kept busy while we fist-bumped every American goal. He popped truffle-oil popcorn, prepared a clam steamer, and oversaw his sous chef who prepped the Alaskan scallops and charcuterie from Zoe's Meats.
(all photos by the author unless otherwise noted)
Our meal and afternoon ended with an American victory, and we wore a celebratory smile as we hoofed back to our air-conditioned apartment.