24 Hours in Portland

Last Saturday morning Lakshmi and I drove down to Portland in time for lunch at the Bombay Chaat House. We were so excited that each lunch was $5 that we bought two before realizing how much food we were about to receive. It turns out, $5 will get you pretty far at most Portland food carts.

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After hardly making a dent in our plates, yet feeling disgusted at how full we were, we waddled over to our hotel to drop off our bags and begin our adventure. Over the next six hours we walked all over the city stopping to gaze and graze along the way. After wandering the aisles in Powell’s bookstore, we stopped into the Icebreaker store so I could buy Alex a shirt. We then hit up one of the most beautiful stationary stores I’ve ever seen, Oblation Papers. We passed the ridiculously long line at Voodoo Doughnuts and decided to pass because we were still too full to think of eating. Those who were eating them outside had huge smiles on their faces so they must be doing something right. From there we wandered over to the Saturday Market which reminded me of traveling last year. Dozens of stalls were set up along the river selling everything from food (a common theme in Portland) to clothing to jewelry to local art. As it was a sunny day, there were children running and screaming through the fountains. The market is open year-round and seemed to attract both locals and tourists alike.

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We stopped into a beautiful grocery store, Zapan’s Market, to check out the produce selection and pick up a snack before heading back to figure out our dinner options. I had found a Mediterranean restaurant, Karam, on numerous blogs that had peaked my interest when I began researching for our trip. We were exhausted from walking all day so we walked in not really knowing what to expect. After ordering the Veggie Mazawat (basically an entree which offered all of the vegetarian appetizers) for $16 (we had learned to share after our lunch experience!), we were in heaven. The grape leaves were the best I’ve ever had – freshly rolled, soft, warm, and left a hint of citrus as an aftertaste. YUM. We made a note to ourselves to start looking for a Lebanese restaurant in Seattle. Any tips?

Before.

After.

We would have loved to eat at the food carts for dinner but we learned that most food carts are only open during the week and those that ARE open on the weekends close at 7pm.

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The next morning we got up and went for a run along the Willamette and then visited two bakeries on our way out of town, Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Di Prima Dolci. All I can say is that the Oregon pastry from Ken’s was like crack. It had blackberries and marionberries and warm, buttery goodness that put me in my happy place for the rest of the day (which helped because Alex called to say goodbye for a month at 3pm).

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(If only there was a way to get some Enya-like music to play when you look at this photo…)

If I haven’t already convinced you, Portland is a charming little town with lots to see, do, and, of course, eat. Lakshmi and I had a wonderful weekend together gorging ourselves and laughing. What more could you ask for in a friend?

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A healthy study snack

My friend Sharon raved about making “kale chips” last night so I decided to try them today while working on a paper and wishing I was outside enjoying the sunshine. I received a huge bunch of kale in my produce box yesterday so I removed the stems, chopped up the leaves, tossed them with olive oil, and sprinkled sea salt on them before arranging on a baking sheet. I baked the kale for 17 minutes at 300 and voila, a healthy snack was created! In my hand, they were so light and brittle that they reminded me of paper cupcake liners. They had a fantastic crispy texture and an earthy taste. I’ll definitely be making these again. Thanks Sharon!

Restaurant hopping around Seattle & Halibut cheeks

We spent the day (a sunny, 70 degree one I might add!) eating our hearts out with our friend Mark. We met late this morning to run in Discovery Park and then stopped at the Fishermen’s Terminal to see what was fresh to cook for dinner. The fishmonger recommended we try the fresh halibut cheek which we then purchased. (Apparently, halibut cheeks are sweet-flavored and considered a delicacy. We had to buy them!)¬†While we were waiting to pay for our fish, Mark went around the corner to buy some “chips” (without the fish) as an appetizer before we moved along to eat spicy delicious cuban sandwiches at Paseo in Ballard. ¬†Since we were in the area, we then stopped at Cafe Besalu for dessert which for me consisted of a buttery lemon cookie covered with tart lemon curd. YUM!

For dinner, we oiled, salted, peppered, and then broiled some asparagus “Sarah-style” to make what she has termed “asparagus french fries”. Then we made mashed potatoes with leeks and the halibut cheeks. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the cheeks were richer and more buttery than halibut fillets. Using Ice Cube’s words, “Today was a good day!”

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Mashed potatoes with Leeks

2-3 yukon potatoes
1/3-1/4 cup milk
2 TB butter
Salt and pepper
2 leeks, coarsely chopped (white and light green parts only)

Peel and slice the potatoes into 3/4 inch squares. Drop into a large pot of boiling water and boil until tender. Drain and put back into the pot. While you are boiling the potatoes, saute the leek in the butter on low until slightly brown (about 5-7 mins). Add the leeks to the potatoes (after they are drained) and the milk. Mash as desired. Add salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Halibut cheeks

Halibut cheeks (we had 1 lb but I’d recommend 3/4 lb for 2 people)
2 TB butter
Salt and pepper
2 TB flour

Salt and pepper both sides of the fish and lightly dredge in flour. Heat the butter in a nonstick pan until completely melted. Add the cheeks and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until done. Top the fish on the potatoes and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, or both.