Thursday, 7 July 2011

Pacific North West Trip June 2011 - Portland and...

Ugh, it's weeks like this one that make me think that 3 day weekends are really not worth it. So much for achieving my ambition of being one of those 9.30am - or gasp, maybe even 10am - arrival people, it's been a full week of arriving at 7.30am and leaving at 7pm/8pm and being thankful if I get so much as a sniff of a lunch hour in between. At least my new team member started this week and although I am spending a lot of time training her my gut tells me that she will be a good fit. Fingers crossed my gut is not confused by all that fiber I've been eating.

One positive aspect of this week was, not one, but two spots of the Creative Cutie!!! Yay!! Our paths rarely cross so if I see him more than once a month it's a bonus, so twice in a week, on consecutive days at that, the sighting totally brightens my day even though I've long since given up on him as a romantic prospect - I have a couple of people I'm emailing with via OKCupid, although prospect#1 (26 - that's quite young isn't it, I feel a bit weird about someone that young approaching me, but I'm trying to keep an open mind) is bogged down with law school - school? Ugh, just call me Mrs. Robinson - at the moment and prospect#2 (51 - much more respectable age, a surfing real estate agent) is on an extended visit to see family in San Diego and has expressed interest in meeting, but won't be back NYC way until late July, just in time to coincide with my departure to LA/Vegas, so it will be August before we have an opportunity to meet - since while Creative Cutie used to stare at me a lot - initially making me completely paranoid about having missed a button, or having a big bogie on the end of my nose or something - he never DID anything, not so much as a smile, so I finally came to the conclusion that even if he was interested he wasn't interested enough to do anything about it. Anyway he looked good as always, but was dressed very casually in shorts and a t-shirt - it's amazing the outfits people get away with in the ad agency during summer - when I ran into him the first time outside the cafeteria after lunch with my new team member on Thursday, and whereas I was looking pretty good - not to sound conceited, but I got a LOT of compliments on my outfit that day including a "wow, you look CUTE" from Megan who didn't even like the dress I was wearing when I initially showed it to her online. For the record it was the blue sheath dress in the photo below - Anthropologie of course - I replaced the ribbon with a thick black leather belt - $9.99 from Daffy's natch - a black lightweight cotton cardigan and low peep toe wedge pumps - it was a very 1950s inspired look, which I wore with lightly padded underpinnings which put the girls very front and center a la Joan Holloway. Shove it Creative Cutie, see what you are missing!! I noted I didn't feel the usual lurch in my stomach that often accompanies seeing him, "maybe my crush is on the wane," I thought.

Unfortunately today my crush on him ramped right back up when I bumped into him in the lift and he looked unbelievably HOT in a pale pink shirt - yes, pink, who'd have thought? - and pale gray cotton pants. Damn him!!

Anyway I digress, on with the trip....

So we continued our 2 days in Portland the way we had begun, with amazing food. I have to confess I am something of an avid viewer of the Top Chef series on Bravo and so when self taught Portland chef Naomi Pomeroy started kicking arse on Top Chef Masters I fired up Google and started to do some research into her restaurant, Beast.

Now Beast differs from your standard restaurant experience in that they only offer a six course fixed price dinner 4 nights a week for $68 + $35 for a wine pairing - bargain - and a 4 course $35 fixed priced brunch - +$20 for the wine pairing -
on Sundays with communal seating across 2 large tables. I love love love the idea of a multi-course communal dinner, but in reality 6 courses is just too much food for me as I am typically a little and often eater - seriously this is why I need a boyfriend with a larger appetite who is more than happy to scoop up my leftovers - but I thought I'd be able to force down a 4 course brunch, so I took the liberty of assuming Megan would be okay with it and booked us a brunch reservation through Open Table - thankfully Megan was more than up for it.

Anyway, should you be in Portland I more than recommend Beast, even if you are dining alone since the communal table and open kitchen leads to a very social experience and our fellow diners were very chatty without the benefit of the social grease of alcohol. Business cards were exchanged, friends were made and I imagine that dinner is even more social than brunch since I assume more people would order the wine pairing.

Watching the chef's prepare for service...

One wall at Beast is full of food related quotes...this was a favourite of mine. Creative Cutie can quiche me ANYTIME ;-)

Our 4 course brunch menu on Sunday June 5th began with...

...Rhubarb Clafoutis, served with soft whipped cream and maple glazed bacon. Mmmm mmm mmm mmm mmmm and I don't even like rhubarb. Plus let's just say it out loud...DESSERT FIRST!!!! Breaking all the rules ;-)

I'll admit to pilfering this photo from this blog which also has a great review of Beast, because I was initially a little shy of whipping out my camera and acting like a foodiot!! The maple bacon tasted like candy!!

Our second course was Beast Hash, butter braised lamb, market potatoes, Maitake mushrooms, rapini, walla walla onions (never heard of those before, or maitake mushrooms for that matter) & English peas, a poached duck egg and Hollandaise, a sauce I am not the biggest fan of as I am over faced by it's richness, but the second dish was amazing and probably my favourite.

Next up was a cheese course which I didn't take a photo of because we all know what cheese looks like right, but the selection included a goat cheese, I didn't note where from but it had a bitter taste that I didn't particularly enjoy, a raw sheep's milk cheese from Idaho which was delicious and a raw cow's milk cheese from Switzerland. Anyway in lieu of a photo of cheese here's a bonus photo of my fellow diners enjoying their brunch.

The final course was a muscovado and goat's milk panna cotta with macerated strawberries. Heavenly!!

We left Beast feeling full, but not disgustingly so after our 4 courses, and took a bus followed by the MAX to Washington Park to see the International Rose Test Garden. Unfortunately there was a barely a rose in bloom when we visited, but it was still very pretty.

We walked back to downtown Portland after checking out the rose garden, passing this creepy sculpture outside of Jeld Wen Field along the way!!

We spent a few hours wandering around town working off our brunch and taking in some J Crew sale shopping and the riverside.

The oddly beautiful Steel bridge. It's lower deck transports rail and pedestrian/cyclist traffic while the upper deck ferries vehicular traffic and the MAX light rail. Apparently it's the only double deck bridge in the world with independent lifts. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I'm impressed.

Cyclists on the Steel bridge walkway waiting for the midsection to lower after being raised for river traffic

Having worked up an appetite we ended up at Brix Tavern in the Pearl District for dinner where we both plumped for the rotisserie chicken salad – hold the dressing – hoping to counteract the impact of our 4 course brunch, although perhaps the 2 glasses of Sokol Blossom Pinot Gris we washed it down with negated any positive benefits of the vegetables.

After dinner we stopped off at the Heathman Hotel Bar for a cocktail, as recommended by our Fodor’s guide, but meh the place was lacking in atmosphere, so we didn't stay too long before heading back to the Modera Hotel to pack for our early morning train journey to Seattle. We were tucked up in bed snoozing by 9.30pm!! Party on!!

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