Portland is one of my absolute favorite cities, and while I think it’s partially because I spend more time there for business than any other city, I think it’s not unfounded.
One of my (and the world’s) favorite bloggers Joanna Goddard is planning a trip there soon and I figured, might as well put my list of things to do online so instead of forwarding an email around (as I’ve been doing for the past couple years), I can share it more easily.
So a few caveats: I don’t have kids, I rarely leave Portland proper, I’m a vegetarian so most of these restaurants have a veggie option, and I’m not a huge nature fan (hiking, etc). That being said, there are still SO many cool things to do, eat, and drink in Portland.
- Nong’s Khao Man Gai (food cart or full location- note hours/menus vary)
- Food Carts (PDX is known for their food carts – which are kind of like LA’s food trucks but permanent, and often clustered together to take up entire blocks. Some favorites: Dump Truck, Brunch Box, Small Pharaoh)
- Screen Door (sit-down, SO GOOD, Cajun/Southern, no reservations)
- Pine State Biscuits (breakfast/brunch)
- Andina (tapas, downtown, great sangria)
- Veritable Quandry (my favorite “nice” restaurants in Downtown –
- Pok Pok (thai) – not life changing (like Lotus of Siam in Vegas), but really really good
- Mother’s – homey food, great service, nice location in downtown
- Luc Luc (vietnamese, downtown)
- Blossoming Lotus (tons of clean, veggie options)
Haven’t been, but heard good things: Tasty n Sons/Tasty n Alder for brunch or any time, and Ken’s Artisan Bakery, a little further outside of the city (good if you’re driving from the Bay)
- Voodoo donuts is a tourist institution, and a great example of “Keep Portland Weird” – open 24 hours, more touristy, but note that I think the donuts are just okay…
- Blue Star Donuts more fancy, more pricey, BUT SO GOOD! (Note they sell out most days, so go early!)
- Salt & Straw ice cream, 3 locations – the best. Flavors I LOVE: Olive Oil, Honey Lavender, Pear Blue Cheese
- Everywhere good should have Stumptown Coffee
- Lots of breweries if you like beer – like Deschutes (and there are others outside of downtown if you have a car)
- Happy Hour is big in PDX like Seattle – both at normal HH times and late night — Portland City Grill has a BEAUTIFUL view at night (Saucebox is popular too)
- Powells (must do, biggest new/used bookstore in the world) – if you love books/reading/browsing, it’s a great way to kill a few hours between meals
- Multnomah Falls (~30 minutes east) – you can hike or opt to just take in the view
- International Rose Garden
- Japanese Garden
- Portland movie theaters are really interesting — many have bars/restaurants and are adults-only, plus are cheap (like Bagdad, or Living Room Theaters)
- Portland Aerial Tram
- Go shopping! No sales tax in Portland (learning to calculate gratuity without tax as a reference is pretty jarring)
And I know I’m missing things too — so let me know! I already bookmarked these fountains that Joanna posted about this morning… good thing I’m heading back up there next month. Woo!
I recently heard about this idea of making “noodles” out of vegetables (most commonly zucchinis) and had. to. do. it. It’s definitely not a new thing and has been around for a while among the raw/vegan/paleo world because an alternative to refined flour pasta… could be a winner!
The only barrier to entry is that you need a kitchen tool to accomplish it– either a spiral vegetable cutter like this one, or a hand tool like this or this. I went back and forth but ended up just getting the Padero plastic one–it was only $30 and in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal. I don’t love that it’s another appliance I have to store and/or give up counter space for, but if it’ll help us eat cleaner, then it’s worth it!
Finally put it on the meal plan and bought some zucchini–read the instructions (I really do!) and watched a couple YouTube videos to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. It’s super simple–you can peel (or not) but should trim the ends so they’re not rounded — then you press them into the base of the machine and then twist, twist, twist! Watch a video, it’ll make more sense.
Here it is in action–Put it on top of a cutting board because they just pour out!
Here’s how many “noodles” I ended up with after 1 package of Trader Joe’s organic zucchini–enough for 4. It’s recommended that you salt them and let them “sweat” out their moisture (kind of like eggplant) on top of paper towels.
We’re still new to it, so I didn’t go completely raw and microwaved them for a minute to get them a little less crunchy… then tossed them with pesto (again, Trader Joe’s) and a mix of crimini & white mushrooms that I sauteed with a tiny bit of olive oil. I added chicken to B’s meal, but left mine as is.
Verdict: The machine is SUPER easy to use and easy to clean (so critical). The zucchini pasta was good, but not noodles… so I’ll probably try to microwave them a tiny bit longer. Alternatively, may try to turn it into a pasta-salad type of meal where the crunch is necessary. Can also use this machine for cutting other veggies (it comes with more than one style of cutter) so there will definitely be more meals with it!
Has anyone else try this before? Either zucchini noodles or the machine in general?
Some people ask about what it is that I eat as a vegan, and especially as one who tries to avoid carbs/refined foods as much as possible. I’m not always “good” about eating like this, but when I am, it’s especially satisfying to know that I’m doing my body good.
Here’s an example of a meal I had for dinner yesterday (and lunch today) and have had before…
The salad I just made up– almost entirely with ingredients from Trader Joe’s: organic baby lettuce, shredded carrots, organic avocado, toasted almond slivers, fresh ground pepper, and a tiny bit of this AWESOME mis0-sesame dressing from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.
The miso-vegetable soup is an adaptation of this recipe from Eating Well (uh, they actually are pretty different) and I cook a bigger batch (leftovers, woo!):
- Boil 10 cups water in a big pot, once boiling, carefully take a cup of the hot water out (I do it using a Pyrex liquid measuring cup) and mix in 1/4-1/2cup miso (1/2 if you like a lotta miso) until it’s dissolved, then incorporate back into the liquid and bring it back to boiling
- Meanwhile, wipe/dry/chop up 2 packages of shitake mushrooms (from Trader Joe’s), rise/trim/cut 1 bag sugar snap peas (again, from TJ’s), rinse/cut 6 big green onions, rinse/dry 3 cups spinach, wash/shred carrots (if you don’t have shredded carrots already)
- Once the miso water is boiling again, turn the heat back down to medium and add the carrots and mushrooms, stir/cook for 3-5 minutes (you don’t want the mushrooms too soft at this point)
- Then add the snow peas, spinach, and scallions and simmer for another 5 minutes, then serve!
- If you wait too long, the veggies get kind of mushy… and you can also add tofu if you’d like, but apparently there are some negative views on unfermented soy, so I don’t.
Let me know if you try either and enjoy!