Last week Josh and I visited the Pacific Northwest, and I got to be in Seattle for the very first time. Josh's family is from Washington and his parents and brother live in Oregon, so 'twas a win! Almost a year ago, we spent only a weekend in Portland, and it was way too short to enjoy the scene and to make matters worse, I did not pack the appropriate clothes for the fall weather. So this year, we made sure I had a nice coat (with a hood), I bought scarfs and boots, and I brought the many comfy sweatshirts I've accumulated and don't wear until February. Needless to say, this Californian girl was prepared for rainy below 50 degree climate this time around.
Portland is beautiful guys, and I fell in love with the Pearl District and the Alphabet District. The Pearl District is filled with great restaurants and stores, and everything is within walking distance. So you can park your car in one spot and then hit up a bunch of places that day. Powell's City of Books is a must. It is a huge bookstore, so huge that they have a map for us tourists. I was able to find most of the books I wanted, and with Oregon's no-sales-tax I was seriously tempted to get all of them, but I opted to just purchase the new Bitch Planet volume one graphic novel. Also in the Pearl District, I adored Moulé, it's the perfect store to find gifts for an assortment of people that you wouldn't know what to get otherwise.
In the Alphabet District, on 23rd Street, is a row of shops and they all have such great character to them so the designer in me was squee-ing in glee over how beautiful their branding was. I especially fell in love with Tender Loving Empire, I seriously could have bought everything from that store, they had greeting cards, notebooks, prints (we left the store with three new prints to frame) and adorable jewelry. The photo on the right is from Hand-Eye Supply, the interiors of that shop are rad and they had so many pens, I wanted to buy all the unnecessary pens. If Josh and I didn't have to lug everything in our small carry-on suitcases, we would have done all our Christmas shopping in Portland (even though I wanted to get more things for myself).
But the highlight of being in Portland was the food, the food was so damn good. Above is a short list of the places we tried that I wish I would take you all to. Vacationing a random week in early November was advantageous in that we didn't have to experience long waits for a table and for the arrival of the food. Also, the service in all of those restaurants were fantastic. For instance, at Pok Pok our server overhead us talking about Josh's brother's shellfish allergy, and before we began guessing what dishes might have shellfish, the server handed us a separate menu that clearly lists what dishes have shellfish, gluten, is vegan, etc.
Tasty and Sons and Laurelhurst Market are great dinner places. At Tasty and Sons Josh's parents and us ate family style, as in we each ordered something but we share with the table. We split the Low Country Meat and Cheese Board, the Sliders "Chateau Blanc," the Salmon Special, and the Cider Brined Pork Chop with a side of their "Craft" Mac 'n Cheese. But their dish that I will never forget was from their dessert menu, the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Grappa-soaked Oregon Strawberries. The most delightful sweet I've had in my life.
My favorite brunch meal, hands down, Tilt It Up in the Pearl District. Known for their burgers, we all decided to order their biscuit sandwiches because 11:00am is a tad too early for a meaty burger, in my opinion. They were served hot (and I'm sucker for food items served hot) and the biscuit was just the right amount of flaky and fluffy, and the fried chicken with pickles were mmm so good, I can't even describe it because I'm snacking on grapes as I type this and I am starting to get envious of the me a week ago.
Just say "noooo" to Voodoo Donuts when you're in Portland, just trust. When we landed in the Portland airport, I saw a handful of people carrying those pink donut boxes with "Voodoo Donuts" stamped all over it and I just shook my head. Blue Star donuts have the best texture of dough I've ever bitten into (and I have had a plenty of donuts in my day) and the flavor choices are bomb. My favorites to get are the Blueberry Bourbon and Basil donut and the Lemon Poppyseed donut. But you should really check out all the types: Dulce de Leche with Hazelnut, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Hard Apple Cider Fritter, Real Maple and Bacon, and Chocolate Almond Ganache. I'm so excited that I can go to Venice here in California for my fix.
Stumptown Coffee is a very pretty chain of coffee houses. Their coffee beans are available online and there's a location in Los Angeles, but we still like to get a cup of joe or in my case, hot chocolate, when we are in Portland. I'm not a coffee person, but Josh is, and he enjoys their brews.
Okay, I know you can get Salt and Straw in Los Angeles now too but when in Rome, right? Pictured to the right is what Josh ordered (but I have more attractive hands) which was the Freckled Woodblock Chocolate. He loves chocolate ice cream and I love my fruit flavors, so I always get the Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, from their seasonal menu we sampled their Sweet Potato with Maple Pecan, Buttered Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, and their Salted Carmel Thanksgiving Turkey. If I had a bigger appetite, I'd get a scoop of each in their waffle cone.
So we spent three and half glorious days in Portland feasting and spending our money on local goods, but we only had one day in Seattle before going to Bellingham for Josh's cousin's wedding (which is the reason for this vacation). First stop was the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge, such a quirky statue that you can climb around. Then we walked toward the Space Needle, which we didn't go up, rather we spent our money on tickets to the EMP Museum (Experience Music Project). For $25 general admission, we went to the most awesome exhibitions I've ever been to: Indie Game Revolution, Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic, Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film, and Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction. If you follow me on Snapchat, that was the day I made 50+ Snapchats and I'm so not sorry because again, the designer-nerd in me loved how they presented everything. We ended our Seattle day at Pike Place Market. I was able to capture the most hilarious thing; you know how they are known for throwing fish in the market, well this poor woman was volunteered by her friend to catch the fish, but on both tries she would last minute raise her arms up in the air because she really did not want the fish caught in her arms with her nice leather jacket on. So the fish was never caught on the other side.
Before we got all smexy looking for the wedding (as you can see to your left) we stopped by the Seattle Premium Outlets and we got Josh's entire ensemble there thanks to J.Crew Factory and Banana Republic. When we arrived in Bellingham, we found out that Bellingham is quite the college town. They had breweries it seemed on every block. We went to Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro and goodness, college kids are looking like high school kids to me now.
Josh and I split the Smoked Salmon Sandwich on homemade Focaccia, and the Pork Banh Mi. Both were pretty good, especially with their side caesar salads. But if somehow we are ever in the Bellingham area again, we will definitely return to Aslan Brewing Co. The outside of the building has an awesome mural and the inside matches with the amount of coolness this place has. Instead of the typical pub food, they have a lot of gluten-free/vegan options. Along with not being a coffee person, I'm not much of a beer person, but Aslan is a micro-brewery and from Josh's purchase of their hat, I can tell that he really liked the food and spirits.
We returned our apartment almost ten pounds heavier but it was so relaxing and fun being with Josh's family. Let's just say that I've never had people be so appalled that we've been dating for seven years and he still hasn't put a ring on it. Soon guys, soon.