Scouting: Portland, Oregon

The second half of our trip to the Pacific Northwest took us to Portland, Eugene and along the Oregon Coast for some rose gardening, football watching, wine tasting, and sea lion spotting (in that order).

I spent the first 21 years of my life in Upstate New York and there were glimmers of the rolling hills and misty woods that reminded me of home, but then I’d realize that the trees were fuzzy with moss and the rocks along the water were jagged and be recalled to how different the landscape is in the Northwest. The forests and mountains are spectacular and I seriously could not get enough of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach and the wild, windy coastline.

  International Test Garden, Portland  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

International Test Garden, Portland | Image: Laura Messersmith

   Willamette Valley Wine Country, Oregon    | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Willamette Valley Wine Country, Oregon | Image: Laura Messersmith

   Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon  | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon | Image: Laura Messersmith

Most of our city time was in Portland and we were there for such a short time that this is in no way a comprehensive list, just the places I visited and would love to go back to the next time we’re in town:

Blue Star Donuts I usually avoid donuts, not because I don’t like them - I like them too much, but willpower wasn’t up to the temptation of Blue Star and I totally caved. Luckily there were six of us, so it wasn’t a big stretch to get a dozen in assorted flavors. My personal favorites: Lemon Poppy Seed (teeth aching lemon is a good thing in my book), Old Fashioned Buttermilk, and surprise flavor Blueberry, Bourbon & Basil.

Alder & Co I knew Alder and I were on the same page as soon as I spotted the table of cookbooks near the window – Mimi Thorisson, Buvette, Yotam Ottolenghi – and then there were the beautiful wool blankets, linen napkins, polished wood measuring spoons… then there are the flowers by Hilary Horvath. If it were possible to live in a store I’d move in.

  Oregon Coast   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Oregon Coast | Image: Laura Messersmith

Powell’s Books is a Portland institution and if the selection of cookbooks (two whole aisles!) is any indication of the variety available…. I could easily lose a whole afternoon browsing in that place. A book lover’s dream.

Ox Since we only had one night in Portland we wanted to be sure we chose our restaurant carefully. Ox came highly recommended (thanks, Alex & George!) and it seemed like an ideal place for our costumed Halloween dinner – we were pretty sure they’d be cool with having the cast of Clue as guests. We were right on both counts. Again, having six people helped us cover a lot of ground on the menu and stand outs for me were the ribeye, caramelized cauliflower, and the “everything” bagel seasoned brussel sprouts.

Heart Roasters & Stumptown Coffee Roasters kept us caffeinated over our two days in Portland which is no small feat given our hectic schedule and jet lag. Both of these spots are a quick walk from downtown and are solid choices when you want a little jolt or a place to rest up for the next adventure.

   Oregon Coast    | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Oregon Coast | Image: Laura Messersmith