Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Portland Hotspots

I feel so fortunate to live in a city that is so vibrant and full of fun places that are unique and special.  I am even more fortunate that I can easily walk to all of them and normally have a partner in crime two steps ahead of me checking places out and giving them the thumbs up.  I then tag along to see what all the fuss is about. I normally learn that there is good reason for the fuss.  Here are a few of my current favorite food and beverage places in Portland.

First Fave: North Point

This little gem is tucked away on Silver Street. As you walk up you are drawn in by the amazing decorations, inviting summer patio and the chalkboard that always has a witty saying. Once inside things get even better.  It has a long bar and you can be sure that the bartender will be friendly and that at least one of the owners will be by to chat.  The drinks are impressive, the food a nice compliment to the drinks and even the bathroom is a place you might want to spend a bit of time! The pear martini is a signature but the beer and wine lists are also splendid.

Next Fave: Local 188 and Sonny's

Two distinct places but same owner so I have lumped Local 188 and Sonny's together.  They both have amazing atmospheres, great drinks and yummy food.  I adore the yam fries at Sonny's and even though I get a wee bit embarrassed at the size of the plate I always manage to take care of most of the plate.  Both places have fantastic infused vodkas. Local 188 is a great, easy location with fun seating areas, great bartenders (theme anyone) and just as fun for a loud get together as it is for a quiet dinner for two.

Here are a couple of beverages from Local 188:

Another Fave: Zapoteca

I first went to Zapoteca during Restaurant week and their special menu had a wonderful vegan option that was basically one of the best meals I've ever had.  Combine that with fantastic drinks and I was sold.  Turns out they have a full vegetarian/vegan menu available all of the time.  

Here is the menu from restaurant week,  I has the veggie tacos with arugula.  OMG yum.

And here is their fantastic margarita:

I could name many, many other places but for now these are my top spots.  There are a couple of newer places that I'm anxious to try out though.  One is MJs Wine Bar.  I have a Living Social deal to use on food and drink.  The other place is Outliers which is just down the street from me and looks amazing!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Eve Food

I love pulling a meal together and having my parents over for good food and company on Christmas Eve.  This year I didn't have time off and only left work a few hours early so it made for a crazed afternoon but everything came off without a hitch and a good night was had by all.  And I did it with only two glasses of white wine and 2 glasses of sparking prosecco.  

I made a vegan lasagna.  I put the sauce together on Sunday so that it had a couple of days for the flavors to develop and I admit it smelled and tasted really yummy!

Here is the finished product:

I always make a big salad with festive pomegranate seed garnish:

I also made way too many cookies!

These are peppermint chocolate chip:

And here are pumpkin oatmeal chip cookies:

At one point my kitchen looked like a tornado ripped through.  This is just one small corner of the disaster scene:

But here is the table all set and ready to filled with wine and food!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


How is it that I can despise snow but think decorative snowmen are absolutely adorable?  It makes absolutely no sense but here are a few of the men hanging out around my place this time of year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Costa Rica Review in Pics

I'm a bad blogger I know.  I'm supposed to post every day about all of the exciting fun travel times I experienced in November.  It's now December and the trip is in the past and I should move on to more relevant topics.  So, I'm a bad blogger but it's MY blog and I suppose I'll do with it what I please!

When I went to New Orleans, Mexico and Aruba I forced myself to pick one picture from each unique place.  The trip to Costa Rica was so diverse that each location felt like it's own individual trip.  I started out in a large, modern city, I was in the mountains, I was in the jungle, I was at volcanoes, I was at the diverse!!  So, I am going to choose just one photo from each location. This might even be harder than the other trip!

The first stop was in the capital city of San Jose.  The hotel was absolutely amazing and modern and it was directly across from a huge three story mall.  We took a day trip to attempt to see a volcano.  Trouble is that 70% of the time the volcano is fogged in and you can't see a thing.  That was the case this day.  However, on the way to the volcano we randomly drove past what ended up being the most special sight of the day for me.  Before the trip I had read about the ox carts that are used in Costa Rica and how they brightly decorate them and that it was a fun souvenir item to pick up.  I was amazed when we drove past this farmer, with his ox, on the side of the road collecting greens to feed the ox with his amazing brightly colored ox cart.  The fact that this cart was being used in a daily mundane routine task blew my mind.  Such beauty in the simplicity.
Here are two pictures which might be cheating but oh well:

After a two night stay in San Jose we boarded a boat to travel to our lodge in Tortugeuro.  The lodge has no tv, air conditioning, telephone, sporadic Internet and a ton of wildlife.  While here I took four river cruises, woke to the sounds of howler monkeys, swam in the turtle shaped pool and I got to see newly born turtles race for the water.  It's almost impossible to pick one moment but I sort of fell in love with these monkeys.  This guy looks so cool just laid back and relaxing.  

After rustic Tortuguero it felt like Fortuna was a metropolitan city but it's actually a very small town right at the base of a volcano.  It is here that I went zip lining.  I spent several hours zipping across 13 lines including a Tarzan swing right in the middle.  It was an amazing once in a life experience and it overshadows everything else that happened in Fortuna.  Eco Glide

From Fortuna we headed to Guanacaste to the JW Marriott beach resort.  I spent all day laying next to the pool and swimming in the ocean.  The pool is the largest infinity pool in Central America and you stand at the edge and it looks like you could just step right into the ocean.  I started drinking fruity drinks at 10 am and I sat in the sun until my body cried uncle. It was such a nice respite after long travel packed days. I don't have many pictures because I left my phone and camera in the room all day.  It was one of those days to just live on the other side of the camera lens.  Here is my hotel room and I will just share that after several days of not being able to flush toilet paper we all agreed that flushing was a highlight of this room!  It's one of those "you had to be there to appreciate it " things!

From there it was time to head back to San Jose for one last night before leaving.  At the hotel my dear Carlos kept popping up sort of like "Where's Waldo",  Part of the joy of the trip was having Carlos Arredondo shadowing our group and sharing the experience with us.  He photo bombed our group picture (he's the blue speck in the back with the bright light shining over him-coincidence?) and here is a better picture of this dear man.

I returned to the United States and I was really thrilled to be back on US soil even if it was Newark.  I'm fortunate I got to experience this once in a life time trip and more fortunate that I had things at home to look forward to return to.