Archive for the ‘Portland’ Category

Pacific Northwest Road Trip 2007

August 6, 2007

Just got back from a 6 day jaunt around the pristine and spectacular Pacific Northwest, stopping in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. The trip was cloudless, seamless, no accidents, no trip-ups– just good times drinking, eating, discovering, and mellowing with my friend Kristi, who gets a cookie for putting up with me through 2 states, 2 countries, and all that mileage.

My traveling method is really to just go-with-the flow. Especially when you’re traveling with others, I think it’s important not to create any strict expectations about what to do/ where to eat. I did want to eat well, but I had only done a little research going out there, so we ended up getting stuck in a few tourist traps, but whatever, it happens. Here are a few highlights from the trip.

Kristi and I were super stoked when we drove by this Kwik-E-Mart in Seattle. Neither of us knew this was happening to 7-11s all over the country, and it was a very random, very welcome happenstance.

We of course got out of the car, got our Squishee on (the sign really does say Squishee!), and took pictures with Homer, Chief Wiggum, Apu and Ralphie. YES!!!


Seattle is known to be the coffee capital of the US. It is, of course, where Starbucks originated, and I was very looking forward to drinking some hardcore coffee.

My friend Dawn, who lived in Seattle for 3 years, recommended Espresso Vivace, in Capitol Hill, which was my favorite part of town. Look at my cappucino, isn’t it pretty! It was neat to watch the barista make the heart/ leaf design– she basically put the foam on top of the espresso, then with a quick flick of the wrist, created this work of art. And it tasted even better than it looks, really bold but not overpowering, at just the right temperature too.

Kristi’s hot cocoa was gorgeous too, with the whipped cream on one side and the foam with the design on the other. So cool! Watching these hot baristas made me want to master the art of coffee!

We went to Pike Place for their row of veggie, fruit, seafood, cheese, flowers and just-about-everything-else vendors, right alongside the water. Here’s a little clip of this one specific seafood vendor, famous for throwing the customers orders from one end of the counter to the other, and singing all the way through.

Kinda kitchy, but I loved it. It’s sorta hard to tell, but the guy behind the counter really did catch the huge fish! And these fishermen are all so HOT!

In Vancouver, we went to this great indoor market on Granville “Island” (not to be mistaken as a real island, it turned out). Here they house a plethora of local produce, bakeries, butchers, and like Pike Place, just about everything else.

How great are these little pieces seaweed, sold as “sea asparagus”. So cute! I’m sure it would be good in salad and soups.

I had one of these “salmon rolls” which is basically salmon rolled in pastry puff. Since the northwest is especially known for their salmon, this was a great little treat. For $2, it was the best deal ever!

Ironically, the best meal I had throughout the entire trip took place while I was waiting for my flight at the Seattle-Tacoma airport. By then, Kristi was already on her way back to San Diego, so I was all by my lonesome.

I had been saying to Kristi everyday, “let’s go get oysters today”, but for one reason or another, it never happened. Oysters of the northwest are absolutely the best, in my opinion, so I was totally stoked when I got a chance to sample a few before leaving. In the airport, of all places! Thank god for Anthony’s (it turns out it’s a chain!).

Overlooking the tarmac, I ordered a glass of chardonnay at the bar, along with a half dozen, local oysters. I wish I had taken a better picture, but they were all jewel-like creatures of wonder.

There were three different kinds: Baron Points, Snow Creeks, and Bay Waters (I’m pretty sure this is right).

The Baron Point oyster, above, was a luscious, plump beauty, that was milky and briny- just how I like them! The other ones were more subtle, with a little crunch, even, and airy. PERFECT.

After the oysters and another glass of wine, I was pretty wasted and ordered this fresh crab and avocado salad with a bold of clam chowder. The crab was so meaty and delicious! It was truly a fantastic meal, all for myself, to end a memorable journey.

Other good eats/ drinks from the trip that I unfortunately don’t have pictures of, but highly recommend:

– Hot dogs on the streets of Seattle and Vancouver. Best street dogs ever. In Seattle, they smear cream cheese on the bun, which was so good. I had a great dog in downtown Vancouver, from a cart on Robson Street- really good sausage, topped with grilled onions, a slew of various condiments (horseradish mustard and Sriracha, oh my!), on a delish deluxe bun. Yummy!

Linda’s Tavern Bar in Seattle, in Capitol Hill. Great little place. Best martini I’ve had in a while. We went twice!

– The bar Shanghai Tunnel, in Downtown Portland. I hear it’s haunted, as this underground place used to be where locals were lured and kidnapped (or “Shanghaiied”), then sold to ship captains to be slaves. The place was awesome- really seedy, kinda creepy. And you can smoke inside, which I appreciated. Good music too.

– The pho at Ballet, in Seattle was excellent. Large Vietnamese population, I take it. Lots of Vietnamese restaurants all around town. I’ve been super into Vietnamese lately- perfect for summertime!

– The Charlatan for affordable food and drinks in Vancouver. Steamed mussels were yummy, and they had this great, comfortable deck that was perfect for people watching.

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