Monday, April 21, 2014

Another trip abroad… Scotland to London for Whisky and Cake!

BnB in South Creake, Norfolk UK

This will be our third trip abroad in the past few years and it's quite addicting I might add.  Once we went for the very first time, I was hooked and could literally go every year and be totally okay with it.

Our trip in 2011 was quite nice and spending almost all of our time in the UK not too far from London was perfect.  They speak English there and so it goes… we really felt at home.  The only time there was language trouble was the two days out of the two weeks we spent in France.  I could seriously take it or leave it even with the Louvre the Eiffel Tower and those French pastries… C'est la vie.



From the moment we arrived in Norwich and in to the village of South Creake, I was enthralled by the sweet villages and hamlets we drove through to get there. The fields of green and the tall hedges and hares the size of small dogs were all wonderfully exciting.  History was unfolding right before my eyes and everything I read about, learned about and was expecting to see was just how I thought it should be. What I didn't expect was to fall so explicitly and immediately in love with the English countryside. Maybe it was the romance of it all with those castles and visions of kings and queens and horses traipsing the countryside or perhaps it was that I was just so darned jet lagged that it all seemed like a dream at first sight.

A few years later and we are doing this all again however, we're leaving France out of this itinerary and taking in the highlands of Scotland… the Whisky Trail to be exact.  Flying in to Edinburgh and then high tailing it to Grantown for the first five nights of our journey.

I will enjoy blogging from the UK and sharing stories of my adventures for a month beginning this weekend.  Believe it or not, Dallas Texas is our first stop as it's sweet little Lukas's first birthday and we have to be there to help him celebrate it.

I will try not to trapse too far or indulge too much without a note or two along with some photos to share.  Enjoy and thank you for coming along with me.


Bircham Windmill, Norfolk UK


Wells Next The Sea, Beach Cottage UK


note:  The cake part comes in at every single tea stop.  Sometimes it's Millionaires Shortbread but mostly it's cake.  Do you know what the official sweet of Scotland is?  Shortbread!!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Beer Tours in Portland… The Haunted Pub Crawl by Beer Quest PDX!

History on the Pub Crawl!
It's not a secret to anyone that I really love beer so when the opportunity came along for me to go on this haunted pub crawl in Portland, I jumped at the chance.  Anytime you give me a beer and a story, I'm in!

On the tour in downtown Portland!
The Beer Quest PDX pub crawl was a great way to walk, see some of the city and enjoy beer along the way.  I have to admit that although the beer was good, I really enjoyed the history lesson as well.  That went along with the haunted stories and tales of people that have been part of Portland's history at some point and though they are no longer physically with us, they are truly still a part of this vibrant city.  Even if you have always lived in Portland or are new here or even just visiting, play the tourist and enjoy one of the tours offered here.  You will always learn something new.

I highly recommend this and other tours with Beer Quest PDX… just click on the link and book your tour.  The Easter Tours are coming up and they boast of Beer, Ghosts and Easter Eggs which sounds like an interesting combination in a city that loves anything just a little out of the ordinary.

Beer Tasting!

Skidmore Fountain!


note:  though I did not pay for this tour, my thoughts are my own!  Thank you Beer Quest PDX for the tour!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Natural Habitats for creepy crawlers right in our own gardens!

Kitchen designs, bathroom designs, and more ∨

Browse through a wide selection of decorators and find the perfect fit for your bedroom remodel.
Find new small kitchen appliances on Houzz, including a food processor, mixer, juicer or waffle maker.

Easter in Portland… dinner with friends and family!


Spring is here and now I have this awesome list of some great places to share your Easter dinner with friends and family!  Find your favorite or try someplace new and enjoy Spring in Portland!



Andina offers their full regular lunch and dinner menu along with live music in the evening to top off any Easter celebration. Diners can enjoy Andina’s novo Peruvian items including two celebrated lamb dishes; Corderito de los Andes, a succulent double rack of grass-fed lamb, grilled to order, and served with a Peruvian potato-two cheese timbale with a roasted pepper demi-glace or Seco a la Nortena, an old family recipe—lamb shank slow-cooked in the Northern Peruvian style, in a rich cilantro-black beer sauce, served with a classic guiso de frijoles, garlic rice and salsa criolla. Their Spring Performance Series brings flamingo Ramba performers Toque Libre to Tupai beginning at 6:45pm. Reservations for the performance are required and can be made by calling Andina at 503-228-9535. The cover charge is $18 along with a $20 per person table minimum. All performances will begin at 6:45pm, with doors opening at 6pm and the evening will finish at 10pm The lively Bar Mestizo will feature a performance by Danny Romero from 7 - 10pm


Besaw's will serve Easter brunch featuring classic dishes for the whole family to enjoy. Located in the garden just west of the restaurant on NW Savier, is Besaw’s 2nd Annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 20th as well. Attractions for the day include sightings of the Besaw's Bunny, a craft table in front of the garden where children can decorate a bag before each egg hunt, pictures with the Besaw's Bunny, four scheduled times to hunt for eggs filled with treats; 10am,11am,12pm and 1pm. The Besaw’s Bunny may even be spotted hopping around NW 23rd visiting neighbors, waiting for a bus or enjoying his favorite snack from Food Front co-op. Families are encouraged to come for brunch and join Besaw’s in the garden for festivities while they wait for brunch.


This Easter Sunday stop in to Block’s for a simply prepared and fresh brunch that will give you the energy you need to excel at that Easter Egg Hunt. Block’s will be offering two special brunch items; a honey cinnamon French toast dish and a seasonal quiche featuring ingredients recently brought in from local farms. Their $5 mimosa will be available in addition to a special spring inspired mimosa. Brunch will be served from 8am - 3pm

For those who wish to enjoy tasty New York style bagels from the comfort of their own home, Bowery Bagels is creating the Easter Bag O'Brunch complete with everything needed for a delicious home brunch this Easter Sunday. Packed inside a sturdy, reusable CruMarket grocery bag, the Easter Bag O’Brunch is $80 and includes one dozen Bowery Bagels with over ten flavor choices, all the fixings for egg salad provided by KitchenCru artisans, decorated hard boiled eggs, 4 12oz Nantucket Nectars orange juices, napkins, knives, plate, and coffee with sugar, creams and cups for an additional $24. Pre-orders for Easter Bag O’Brunch must be made by Friday, April 18th at 2pm and are available for pick up on Easter Sunday from 7am - 2pm. To pre-order the Easter Bag O’Brunch, please visit Bowery Bagels online.


Cozy and soulful, The Country Cat is a truly made-from-scratch, farm-to-table restaurant that features daily brunch from 9am - 2pm. The American craft kitchen takes pride in serving the comforting, rich flavors of Midwestern cooking with locally sourced, Pacific Northwest ingredients. Visit on Easter Sunday and enjoy a french toast unlike any other by savoring Country Cat’s Cinnamon Swirl Challah French Toast made with a Makers Mark custard, and be sure to try Country Cat’s famous Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and kale. Reservations can be made at 503-408-1414.


Kerns Kitchen is just the place to enjoy Easter Brunch with family and friends. The Northeast neighborhood spot draws inspiration from the classic Italian style of minimal ingredients to create a menu of simple, fresh, full flavored comfort food. With Chef Nick Medici’s talent for making even the simplest everyday fare memorable, along with genuine, familiar service, Kerns Kitchen is as welcoming as your very own kitchen table. Join Kerns Kitchen for a warm and inviting Easter brunch this year from 8am - 2pm.


Open on April 20th at both Division and Union Way locations, Little T Baker will feature a number of mouthwatering sweets for dine in or to pick up for Easter festivities. Easter specials at Little T will be available daily beginning April 12th including a wide variety of treats including: T’s Pane di Pasqua, a traditional take on Italian Easter bread with candied citrus, meyer lemon zest, Neapolitan Grain Tart with fresh ricotta, vanilla pastry cream, candied orange symbolizing the return to spring, Easter Candy Brownie, Painted Easter Egg Cookies, Rhubarb Brown Butter Financier almond cakes, and a not-so-traditional Hot Cross Buns. Stop by Little T Baker this month for a supply of the best sweets to have on hand for Easter brunch.


This Easter season St. Honoré is offering authentic macarons in bright pastel, spring colors. The French delicacies make great Easter gifts or an addition to any Easter basket, meal or party. They are available throughout the month of April at all three St. Honoré locations in packs of four for $7.25, or individually at $1.85 each. Flavors include Lemon filled with lemon puree butter cream with a hint of vanilla bean, strawberry filled with a strawberry puree butter cream and a hint of rose water, cassis filled with a black currant cassis puree butter cream and Matcha (green tea) filled with a chocolate ganache and a hint of vanilla bean.

Urban Farmer will serve a decadent brunch on Easter Sunday, April 20th, from 9am - 3pm in the atrium. Guests can expect a vast variety of brunch fare including a cold and hot breakfast area including Warm Huckleberry and Woodblock Chocolate Monkey Bread, an omelet station, a deviled egg station, soup and salad, house charcuterie sliced to order and accompanying cheeses, a children’s station, the Urban Farmer grill with Slow Roasted Prime Rib and Cedar Plank Salmon, as well as an extensive dessert station featuring Hazelnut Dacquoise, Citrus Pot de creme, Caramel Pear Trifle and more from Pastry Chef Carrie Merrill. Pricing for Urban Farmer’s Easter Brunch is $54 per adult, $19 per child 10 and under, and kids under 4 eat free. Please call Urban Farmer at 503-222-4900 for reservations.


note: if you are looking to entertain the entire Easter weekend, please be sure to try some of my personal favorites:

Accanto
Ava Gene's
Mae Ploy
Bye and Bye
Produce Row
Broder
and…The Sugar Cube for dessert!



info by: Little Green Pickle and Broussard Communications

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gardens in Portland you need to see!

Leach Botanical Gardens… stone cottage on site!

Another Travel Oregon AskOR question with my reply.  I do love our gardens and if there's a hiking trail in involved, even better!  Enjoy my answer!

"What are the best botanical gardens to visit in Portland?"


I am the AskOR Portland expert and I am happy to answer your question for you.

I love gardens so I have been to many in Oregon and here in Portland as well.  My most favorite "botanical" garden is the Leach Botanical Garden:  http://www.leachgarden.org

I visited this garden late last summer/early fall and really loved it!  There are many trails and the gardens are plotted out by areas or names and are all easily navigated.  There is a great stone cabin on site as well.  The moss covered trees and stream that run through this garden along with the main house was home to a family years ago.  Now the main house and patio area are used for weddings and special events.  You can check out the site and plan your visit around their open hours, etc.

A few more gardens worthy of a visit in Portland:

The Portland Japanese Garden:  http://japanesegarden.com  Thee most colorful of any other garden in the area.

The Portland International Rose Test Garden:  http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder/index.cfm?&propertyid=1113&action=viewpark  I am a volunteer at this garden and will tell you than anytime of year is fine for a visit however, beginning in June is the best time to see the gorgeous roses in bloom.

The Hoyt Arboretum is another "must see!":  http://www.hoytarboretum.org and please see my blog with info on my three visits here last fall:




and these sites:


Also, please if you have time, you must go to the Oregon Garden:  http://www.oregongarden.org


And lastly… Lan Su Chinese Garden, the sweetest green spot near downtown Portland.  Go stroll the garden and have tea in the tea house.  Love this place: 


These links should give you some ideas for planning your trip to Oregon and Portland to see our beautiful gardens.  Please let me know if I can help you further.  I am happy to do so.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Portland Food Carts, Blossoms and a trek to the Hood River Valley and downtown Portland to find it all!

Alder St. Food Cart!

Loved the past few days checking out some food carts for myself and now to get this question… great timing!  Enjoy this question via Travel Oregon and my AskOR Portland Expert response!



"I am visiting Portland April 13th through 15th. Will the Cherry Blossoms still be visible or will the leaves have taken over? Also, I am staying at the Embassy Suites downtown, is there a Food Pod near there? I have never seen them and want to try out the variety of food."

I am the AskOR Portland expert and happy to answer your question.  Our city is in full bloom right this minute!  It's gorgeous with its pink and white blossoms everywhere esp on the waterfront.  So, at this point, I can say that there may not be a lot of blossoms left when you arrive in mid April however, there are areas nearby you may want to plan to visit.  I would certainly be sure to check out the city just in case there are some trees still in full blossom however, heading anywhere outside the city that takes you up in elevation may be your best bet.  

Some ideas:

The Portland International Rose Test Garden:  http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder/index.cfm?&propertyid=1113&action=viewpark  No roses yet but there are trees that may still be holding some blossoms.

The Portland Japanese Garden:  http://japanesegarden.com

The Hoyt Arboretum:  http://www.hoytarboretum.org

These spots are still within the city limits but are higher up!

Some other areas:

Hood River Valley:  http://hoodriver.org


Be sure if you head out to the Hood River valley, that you take I 84 of course but get off the main hwy and enjoy a scenic drive on the Historic Columbia River Hwy.  You will pass waterfalls and gorgeous turn outs including the Vista House on your route.  Closer to the Mt. Hood area, and even closer to the mountain itself, the areas near Parkdale, OR, will probably be blossoming like crazy!  Find pear and apple blossoms and perhaps enjoy the whole Fruit Loop Drive as I have provided the link above.  

Now about Food Carts!  I just literally answered a question regarding the food carts here in Portland so enjoy this bit of info I can share with you:


""Where can we find the food carts area in Portland?" 

I am the AskOR Portland expert and have some info for you regarding food carts here in Portland.  Most food carts are in what are called pods or groups of carts in specific areas of Portland.  The largest group or pod is downtown around the Alder and 12th Ave. areas.  A full city block and then some, these carts offer many different types of food from all over the world.  I was just there a few days ago with some friends visiting from SoCal and they enjoyed a German Food Cart and we walked away with German Brats and CurryWorst along with a great Bubble Tea Smoothie from another nearby cart.  

In this area, and even across the road, you will certainly keep busy sampling and enjoyed all the food and with carts offering desserts and coffee, etc. you can find all the food cart groups right here!  However... a few of my favorite food cart pods are in other areas of town one of which is on Alberta Street in NE Portland called The Cheese Platter.  Offering grilled cheese sandwiches, platters of breads, cheeses, fruit, etc. and a delicious cheddar ale soup completes the menu.  They also offer a vegan cheese platter as well.  This is a smaller pod and offers a little dessert cart and a few other choices.  At times you can find a live band, seating around a small fire pit or under a canopy depending on the weather.  There are at least a few other carts on this street but I will have to say, I have really enjoyed a cart pod on Belmont SE called, Good Food Here!  A larger pod offering coffee, burgers, sweets, biscuit sandwiches, fish and my favorite MacnCheese cart!  I will include some links here for you to check out as well.  Recently there was a book published regarding our Portland food carts and you may enjoy picking that up before coming to Portland.  

Here are a few links for you:





http://www.portlandwalkingtours.com/tours/flavor-street-food-cart-tour/ For a guided tour of our Portland Food Carts... I have been on many Portland Walking Tours so I recommend this company for a great tour!



Also, Portland has a ton of restaurants that have had humble beginnings in food carts and are now located in their "brick and mortar."  My favorite... The Sugar Cube on Alberta!  http://thesugarcubepdx.com  I highly suggest the Chocolate Black Out Cake and some coffee!

I hope this info gives you a head start on your food cart search here in the city of Portland.  Be sure to read the sites I've linked here and please let me know if I can be of any further help.  Also, if you have a cart you have heard a lot about, I'm happy to check it out before you arrive and give you some feedback.  Realize too that I've only listed the carts and pods I have personally been to.  There are many all over this area."  


Hope this info helps a lot!  Please let me know if I can help you further.  Enjoy your time here in Portland and hope you find some lovely blossoms... we'll hang on to Spring as long as we can:)!


Bubble Tea Smoothie.. carts on Alder!

Pistils Nursery on Miss Ave.

Note:  Please feel free to add your comments with your favorites.. I may be an expert but I don't know everything about Portland.  I'd love your input!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dining in Portland… Free House, another sweet spot that I love!



Every now and then a Portland restaurant or coffee house or brewery makes want to give it its very own story.  Free House in Portland gets its own shout out and here's why.

First off, the location is adorable.  Near 15th Avenue on Fremont, there's this sweet little strip mall akin to a small european village.  Lined with a real restaurant row of sorts, this spot is just darling and truly offers something for everyone.  Free House is perfectly situated here in the middle and is just the perfect setting for a little dinner and a lovely cocktail.



The cocktail list at Free House is pretty nice and the distilled goods list is miles long.  I chose an Eight Knot and Ray had a Mean Time Sour.  Both were delicious and refreshing and perfect for a sunny Spring Portland day on the east side.  We had the Smokey Mac n Cheese and a veggie grilled sandwich with house made chips with ranch and pickle. The menu isn't huge but what I really love is the variety, the size of the meals and the price.  You honestly cannot beat Free House as it has the whole package.

Go for the cocktails but you'll want those chips and maybe even that mac n chz too!



Find my full review for Free House on Yelp!