This past Saturday was my 17th wedding anniversary – did you know that the 17th anniversary is the turquoise anniversary? Me neither. I decided to forgo all kinds of turquoise items and instead continue the gastronomic gluttony of Thanksgiving. After all, nothing screams romance like indigestion. My dearest hubby planned our morning and early afternoon adventures and I was in charge of dinner. Let me share a few high points with you.
We started by meeting Portland Walking Tour’s Nan at the Heathman Hotel for the Epicurean Excursion through the Pearl District of Portland. This is a wonderful experience, regardless of how much of a “foodie” you may or may not think of yourself. For this self-diagnosed food-fanatic, it was marvelous. Here’s some highlights.
Our first stop was for a taste of the famous Tomato Orange Bisque from Elephant’s Delicatessen. As much as I would love each and every one of you to go down and buy huge vats of that soup, here’s the recipe for those too far away to enjoy it. In a word, this is amazing soup. It also was the first taste of tomato soup my tomato hating husband has had in over 35 years! This is a man who gags at the sight of a tomato, so the fact that he liked it, speaks volumes.
Then, we headed off to Portland’s oldest craft brewery – BridgePort Brewing Company. Nan left us in the Brewmaster Todd’s capable hands and we toured the brewery. Whew! There is a whole lotta science to making, er crafting, a good beer. We tasted the various roasted grains, smelled hops, and tasted beers. To continue the Elephant’s experience, it was the first time I managed to swallow much of a beer without gagging. I also learned that beer, much like wine, is affected by its pairing with food (I guess that is a “well, duh!” statement!) greatly impacts the flavor of beer. Who knows, you may someday see me downing a beer with a burger. However, for those of you who consider yourself firmly in the beer drinking camp, I could suggest that you pick up some BridgePort beer. Each and every Bridgeport beer is bottled right here in Portland – whoo-hoo. AND, Todd showed us their garbage dumpster. They have one of those small (think office sized) dumpster that each and every piece of garbage from the brewery and the entire restaurant/bakery goes into. It goes to the landfill twice a week. Talk about a great recycling and composting program. If you are of the mind to support local businesses who are green, BridgePort is the brewery for you.
We also headed into the back area of the Pearl Bakery for a private taste-testing of several of their signature breads and pastries. If you’ve never been to the Pearl, you are so missing out. This is good bread that is made in the European way. In other words, it’s about as far from Wonderbread as you can get. Not that there is anything wrong with Wonderbread, if that’s what you like, mind you.
It was a difficult choice, but the gibassier beat out the croissant and the baguette for top gastronomic marks for this girl. Gather up a few friends, head down to the Pearl Bakery and create your own taste test – let me know what you loved! Of course, you may find you share my struggle – choices, choices, choices. Sometimes, you just have to call it a tie.
Nan also took us to In Good Taste for a mustard and wine tasting. Let me just sum up that stop with this: try it, you’ll like it! Here’s a few pics.
In addition to mustards, In Good Taste has a fantastic selection of salts and spices – many of which I had never heard of before. There is also a great selection of cook books and knives. I am hoping to take a cooking class here in my near future – the layout of the space is great and they have many fabulous (and famous, holy cow!) chefs come in.
A distinct focus of the Epicurean Excursion is something called FLOSS – fresh, local, organic, sustainable, seasonable. When you eat at venues which embrace the FLOSS approach, your palette really benefits, not to mention how such practices affect the local community.One of the FLOSS restaurants we stopped at is Portland’s own Hot Lips Pizza. Hubby and I have been there before, but we just thought the pizza was great – we didn’t realize how amazing the company is as well. Nan brought us out a glass of Hot Lips’ site-made fruit pop made with local berries (very yummy!) and a slice of the day’s special. Let’s just say we had happy tummies.
All too soon, and after several other stops, our tour came to an end. If you have a chance to try the Epicurean Excursion through Portland Walking Tours, I recommend it. And Nan, you were fantastic!
I decided that a Spanish Coffee from Huber’s (Portland’s oldest restaurant) was called for as we walked to our dinner destination. If you’ve never been to Huber’s, I can give it an enthusiastic thumb’s up. I do have to caution you – if you are a bit of a light-weight, and your husband is a bit of a prankster, take his cell-phone away from him before you drink one of those Spanish coffees. Egad, let’s just say it had an impact on this girl.
Then, we headed down the waterfront to the Veritable Quandary for dinner. We had the bacon wrapped dates and the pumpkin empanada for appetizers (the dates are fantastic!), the Cream of Potato soup and Poached Egg, Smoked Bacon & Butter Lettuce on Crispy Cornbread salad for a first course (hubby is still raving over the salad), and the Osso Bucco and Seared Scallops Wrapped in Pancetta for our main course. And, of course, we finished the evening with coffees and the chocolate Nocello souffle for dessert.
All in all, it was a fantastic day of gastronomic delights. Of course, it was a really good idea that we walked quite a bit because I’m pretty sure I eclipsed my recommended caloric intake. But I have to say, it was a fabulous way to celebrate the past 17 years with my sweetie and I can only hope to have such a fabulous repeat on our 34th!