On October 2, 2015, Z and I arrived in Portland, Oregon. A week before, we had left our home and families to drive cross-country to this city we had already fallen in love with.
When we came out here, we committed to a year, knowing we'd eventually want to return to our house, our loved ones, and our cubicles. (We both work remotely for Boston-based companies).
And here we are: even though we extended our time here a teeny bit, it's almost time for us to pack up the car again and make the trek home. I'm very excited for our cross-country trip - we're taking a different route this time, and double the days to see everything we can - and I am so excited to be home with our families. But I never could have guessed how hard it would be to leave our home here in Oregon.
Tumalo Falls in Bend.
Yes, the scenery, the food, the beer - it's all amazing here. Hell, even the coffee is incredible! All of these things make leaving hard, but the people - the lifelong friends we've made - make it the hardest.
And as I drench my keyboard in bittersweet tears, I am comforted to know we'll be back here. Many, many times. Portland, Oregon has officially become our second home - even if we're not rich enough [yet] to make that officially true. It's our second home in our souls, as cheesy as that sounds. We made some lasting memories and friendships in our year+ here; we have our favorite restaurants, bars, and bartenders; and our favorite day trips, such as to the Coast and hiking through the Gorge.
If there's one thing I learned from this crazy thing we did - you know, dropping our lives to do something totally different for a year - is that, if you can do something like this: DO IT. We almost didn't. But we were able to make it work, no matter how crazy it sounded in our minds initially. And if you really want to do something like this, you just have to do it. Life's too short not to. I would have totally regretted not doing this, but the worst part would have been not knowing just how life-changing, in the best way possible, this move actually was going to be.
Portland: Thanks for everything. We're sure going to miss you.
Ah, fall. The time of year for crisp, gloriously chilly temperatures; vibrant foliage; pumpkin everything; and an excuse to have curry incorporated into every meal.
Curry is so warming, so comforting, so delightfully spicy and flavorful that I find myself using it all the time once the temperatures begin to drop. Whether I'm using a spice blend, a paste, or concocting some sort of curry sauce - I just love the aromas, flavors, and fingernail-staining of it all.
So, it's no surprise that one of my first recipes this fall is filled with curry flavor. (Side note: I used Upton's Naturals Thai Curry Jackfruit here because I had some in the fridge, but feel free to use your favorite jackfruit, or even tofu, chicken, etc. This dish is very versatile!).
Lime wedges, extra chopped scallions, and chopped cilantro for garnish
1.) In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over low heat. Add 1 clove of the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the red curry paste along with the spices and grated fresh ginger. Add the coconut milk, and stir until thoroughly mixed. Turn heat to simmer and set aside.
2.) In a skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat, then add the onion, remaining garlic, and green onions. Stir-fry until golden, then add the red pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the jackfruit. Stir until the jackfruit is thoroughly heated and the vegetables are tender. Season as needed with salt and black pepper.
3.) To serve, place a portion of noodles in a medium-size bowl and top with veggies as desired. Ladle some coconut curry sauce over the noodles and veggies, then top off with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, scallions, and cilantro. (We also added chopped pistachios to ours, for extra protein and crunch. Highly recommended, but certainly not necessary).
This dish is super easy to whip up, and I loved all of the aromas and flavors that came with it.
Happy autumn, all! What's your favorite thing about fall?
Last month, several friends from Boston visited us in Oregon so we could explore Crater Lake. We drove from Portland to Bend, then Crater Lake, then up to the Coast for a few days of road trippin', camping, and hiking.
Crater Lake, as you can see, is a sight to behold, and a must-visit if and when you're in Oregon. (It's a little over four hours from Portland). Mazama Village Campground was perfect for our "glamping" adventure - once you reserve a spot ahead of time, you can drive to find a vacant campsite, park your car right there, and unload accordingly. (The only odd thing is that, even though we reserved a spot, we still had to drive around to find a vacant one versus having our own spot pre-claimed).
Many hikes are within a short driving distance from Mazama, boasting gorgeous views at all angles of the mighty lake.
It was a fantastic trip - one I wish we had time to do again before we leave! (More on that soon...).
On most Fridays, I'll share a beer I particularly enjoy, and think you might as well. This series will feature beers from all over the U.S. (and when we're lucky, the world). Cheers!
Um, apparently I haven't written a Beer Friday post in over a month? I promise, at some point, this will be a regular thing again...
But for today, we're talking about fresh hops (sometimes called "wet hops"). Fresh hops are bold and unblemished hop oils, and they only drop in Oregon once a year - but they go quickly - so I've been trying to get my hands on #allofthebeers before they disappear!
One particular fresh hop beer I've enjoyed so far is Fort George's Fresh IPA (we actually visited the brewery in Astoria a few weeks ago). Here's why it rocks:
Tasting Notes: Super clean, and borderline crushable, this is a fantastic IPA for those of you who might not love the hop bombs. It's also a great transitional IPA from summer to fall - still light and slightly citrus-y, with a bit more malt flavor and floral, grassy notes.
Pairing Suggestion: Although this beer is nicely complex and flavorful, it's still on the lighter side - so I'd pair it with something a little more bold, like spicy Thai (or Indian) food. It can also stand up to the heaviness (read: grease) of a great bar pie...so go ahead and treat yo self. Where Can I Find It? For my Oregon friends, this beer is widely available in 16-ounce cans and on-tap throughout the state - but only for a limited time! Click here to see where it's available near you.
One of our dear, fellow food-obsessed friends here in Portland has been giving us the same "demand" since we moved here: "Go to PaaDee."
After almost a year of being here, we finally gave into his orders a few weeks ago.
PaaDee (which means "to bring good things") serves up modern Thai dishes in an intimate, bustling setting in SE Portland. The decor's a little funky, the employees are friendly, and everything from the food to the cocktails is inventive yet familiar.
Our meal on this particular night kicked off with cocktails (naturally). Since we dined here so long ago - and I'm the worst blogger ever - I don't remember what cocktail I ordered, but it was delightfully strong and delicious. (As was Z's).
For an appetizer, we went with a Brussels sprouts dish (a special that night) that was fantastic. The Brussels sprouts were cooked perfectly, and the flavor was wonderfully savory and interesting. I could eat this every night.
PaaDee's dinner menu is organized by Snacks, Soup & Salad, Noodles & More, Entrees, and Vegetables (vegetarian-friendly entrees). I went with the Pad Ma Khua ($10), and added wild prawns for an extra $3. The original dish consists of Japanese eggplant, red bell pepper, scallions, onions, basil, and sweet chile paste. (It was also served with rice on the side).
This dish was seasoned perfectly, and I loved how vibrant all of the colors were! If you're a seafood fan, definitely add the wild prawns - they helped add additional flavor, texture, and some protein to the dish.
Overall, we loved our first visit to PaaDee. Our only regret is not taking our friend's advice sooner!
Before I had to fly back to Boston (on Labor Day) for work, Z and I took full advantage of our holiday weekend. We kicked things off Friday afternoon, first stopping at de Garde Brewing in Tillamook, and then making the gorgeous sunset ride into Astoria (about 1.5 hours away).
Astoria is a place I've wanted to check out for a while now. Z and I love the Oregon Coast, and Astoria is saturated with history (and the house from The Goonies is there, which is extra cool).
We stayed at an Airbnb Friday night, which was located right in downtown Astoria...AKA only a short walk to the breweries we wanted to visit. Astoria's downtown is located right on the water, so everywhere we went during our short stay had lovely, ship-filled views.
Some of our most noteworthy stops in Astoria included:
The Riverwalk in Astoria stretches for over 6 miles, but we enjoyed walking just a short distance of that after our breakfast (see below). The Riverwalk was a nice way to get around the downtown area on a beautiful day - right along the water, with lovely views everywhere you look.
Fort George was high on our must-visit list. The brewery has two different settings, including their Public House (with an upstairs and downstairs menu) and, right next door, their Lovell Brewery & Taproom. We had dinner upstairs in the Public House Friday night, where mason jars full of beer and delicious pizzas (and a just OK tofu banh mi) hit the spot. On Saturday afternoon, we hit up the taproom, where the beer list was more "special" (i.e., featured several brewery-only beers, which the Public House lacked). Oh, and the bartender at the taproom put fresh hops in my 3-Way IPA sample (pictured above). Winning!
To be honest, I wasn't a big fan of the beer I tried at Buoy (their IPA). However, their taproom floor is open to the water below - where several seals were sleeping! It was really cool to drink a pint and watch the show below us. We checked out Buoy right before it closed Friday night, but I'd be open to going back during the day time to enjoy their views of the river (and more seals, obviously).
It looks incredibly unimpressive from the outside, but this teeny little joint pushes out some incredible breakfast dishes - with plenty of vegetarian options to boot. There are only a few booths, as well as bar stools overlooking the one chef/griddle, which is where we delightfully sat and enjoyed the show. We were lucky to go here on an unusually quiet weekend, but expect some wait time (it's worth it!) if you're not as fortunate as we were.
There are many other places to visit in Astoria, but we made the most of our short trip!
How did you spend the last long weekend of summer?
It's too hot to cook, and - despite what all my Facebook friends say - it's still summer...and I'm lazy these days. Which is why this blog has been seriously lacking in recipes lately. (Come the REAL fall, I'll start cooking again. I promise).
Anyway, my laziness has led me to whip up all of the no-cooking-required recipes I can (which equates to about one per week these days). And when I was looking for a way to use up leftover chickpeas recently, these hot weather-friendly sandwiches were born.
This recipe is completely customizable, depending on what you like in your sandwiches. And if you have a 15-ounce can of chickpeas lying around, you can still use that with the ingredients below (it won't make much of a difference in terms of flavor/texture). But whatever you do...just make these. I promise you'll like them.
-2 slices Havarti cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)
-1/2 avocado, sliced
1.) In a food processor, pulse chickpeas until slightly mashed, but not pureed (you want some texture; not hummus). You can also mash the chickpeas with a fork, if you don't have a food processor.
2.) Transfer chickpeas to a small bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise and dill pickles; season with salt and black pepper.
3.) Toast the bread lightly, with a slice of cheese on two of the slices of bread, to let it melt. Lightly smash 1/4 of the avocado evenly on two slices of bread. Scoop the chickpea mixture evenly over the avocado (you may have some leftover, depending on how full you want your sandwiches). Layer as you wish with additional ingredients (I added tomato, arugula, and a drizzle of Dijon).
This really is a great alternative to tuna, or even egg salad (although, I do love a good egg salad). This here is protein-packed and not drenched in mayonnaise, so you can feel full without any of the guilt.
Now...make a batch of these, get outside, and go enjoy the rest of your summer!