Perfect PDX Surf Weekend

A few months ago we were searching for a couple to join us at the coast for a weekend of yurting and surfing. After texting and emailing everyone we knew, it was my parents that ended up coming with us and it was a lot of fun. The practice of reaching out generated a lot of fun conversations through, and sparked my friend Emily and her husband Ryan to say “we can’t go, but let’s get something on the calendar!” and we did! We set aside a late July weekend and before we knew it, it was here. We made plans to do a quick weekend trip to Portland and tacked on a surf day in Manzanita. Result: seriously one of the best trips ever!

Now, let’s backtrack a bit. Emily and I had actually only ever met 3 times prior, but had always instantly hit it off. Matt and Ryan were added to the mix last time we hung out, at a mutual friend’s wedding over two years ago (!) but we all clicked so well that it was not had to imagine that this trip would be awesome.

Matt and I woke up early, strapped our surf board to the roof of the car and hopped on a 7:30 ferry to Southworth (super sneaky bonus of living on Vashon…no I-5 to get to the coast!) and were walking down the trail to Short Sands by noon. We love this beach and had surfed on a prior trip, but this time the conditions were perfect. No current at all. Great clean sets of gentle but largeish waves. We both caught some amazing rides. We rented 1 board (we are in the market for a second for us) and switched back and forth with ours. The water was clear and warm (for PNW standards) and we were in the water until after 5PM surfing until we could surf no more.

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A week prior we snagged an opening at Nehalem Bay State Park campground (super crowded campsite, but free hot showers and easy access to the beach) and set up camp. We got a pizza and salad to go at Marzanos and ate it on the beach while watching the sun go down. Then we slept; exhausted from a full day in the water.

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By 7:30 the next morning we had packed up and left with the rest of the campground still asleep. Breakfast was coffee and chocolate chip zucchini bread on the beach, we checked out Indian Beach at Ecola State Park to kill 20 minutes while the surf shop opened, returned out board and hit the road to Portland.

Emily and Ryan welcomed us to their sweet new house in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, and then we headed out for a full day of adventure, food and good conversation. As I mentioned, we really do not know each other that well, and it was so refreshing to have a full day to learn more about each other! We hit up all four quadrants of Portland and so much good food.

Stop 1: ¿Por Que No? for tacos. This hole in the wall gem was awesome. Matt and I shared 5 different tacos and ate them like wine tasting…lightest to darkest starting with the pescado and ending with smoky barbacoa. My favorite? Carnitas. So good!

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Stop 2: Saturday Market. What is there to say about the Saturday Market? Art vendors, food trucks, promenade along the river? Great time to just be outdoors in Portland. Emily and I both picked up some local art and the husbands talked about beer…which took us to our next stop…

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Stop 3: Bridgeport Brewery for some summertime refreshment. Let’s just say 20oz glasses of IPA in the summer made us all a little extra happy and it was nice that Emily is pregnant and happy to be our DD. Lots and lots of laughter and stories over beers drummed up conversation about dinner (aka more food!) and the idea of sushi. Emily got a glint in her eye and hatched a plan to take us to another neighborhood.

Stop 4: Saburo’s Sushi. Hole in the wall, nothing fancy from the outside…except that usually it has at least a 90 minute wait. We lucked out with a 20 minute wait. BEST SUSHI EVER! Huge rolls, super fresh, reasonably priced. We tried 5 or 6 different rolls and had leftovers. Leftovers from sushi? That NEVER happens! Real crab in the California roll even. We will be back.

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Stop 5: game shop #1 and #2 to buy Settlers of Catan.

Stop 6: attempted Salt and Straw ice cream but saw the line and just went home to play games!

After an evening of games we crashed, and the next morning went for breakfast and then parted ways. It was so much fun to catch up with Ryan and Emily and see their beautiful city.

Matt and I had a few more to-dos in town…unfortunately checking out the surf shops for used boards was out since they are closed Sunday (boo!). What was a success was revisiting Sat and Straw. Ice cream right after breakfast? Why not! That is what road trips are for right?!

We waltzed in at 11:08am (no line!) and tried ~10 different flavors. I settled on VEGAN mint coconut chocolate whoopee pie. Seriously amazing and possibly some of the best ice cream I have ever had…and totally vegan/dairy free! We were impressed. Matt had excellent bourbon coffee and salted caramel swirl. We sat in the sunshine and enjoyed our ice cream. Perfect end to a weekend.

The drive back to Vashon was pretty painless. Sneaking up to Southworth and skipping I-5 is the way to go. Pulled up just in time for a boat and was home by 4:00. Awesome weekend…and cannot wait to go back to Portland!

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Tales from Belize: B’s Deli

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Our first drive through San Pedro was in the back of a taxi. We worked our way through the maze of one way streets, past the main round about and proceeded north out of town. There were many things to take in, but one detail stuck out in my memory: a little red food stand that was upgrading it’s front waiting area with fresh, white gravel. And then I forgot about it.

A few days later, Matt and I were on a quest for fry jack.  If anything sums up our trip it is the discovery of this delectable food: Cheap, delicious, filling and uniquely flavored to Belize (at least in my mind). What is it, you ask? Picture a cross between Indian fry bread and an elephant ear. Sometimes plain (dipped in honey or sugar) and sometimes stuffed, with exciting combinations like egg and ham or beans with chicken. Sometimes the stuffed jacks are filled then fried, other times just folded over the filling after the dough is golden brown. All are good.

We had sampled fry jack at other places but were in search of the San Pedro version. We were walking along and saw a small red food stand with a handwritten butcher paper sign indicating that our desired breakfast was made fresh inside. B’s Deli. We stepped up, ordered one, and had a seat. Only after we were sitting there playing peek-a-boo with an adorable 2 year old did we realize this was the same place that had only that week added the gravel floor.

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The fry jack did not disappoint. Fluffy and golden and stuffed with chicken and beans. What a breakfast. When we asked how much, $2.50 came as a surprise…Belize dollars. $1.25 for that delicious plate of fried fresh goodness. We were coming back.

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The next day we brought mom and dad. Four fry jacks all around (this time two of ham and egg and two of chicken), more peek-a-boo and full tummies afterwards.

Now the next morning was our final day on Ambergis, so of course we had to make one last trip. You can never have too many fry jacks! We walked up and the woman at the counter was happy to see her repeat customers. We told her that her fry jack was THE best and she asked us if we wanted the secret. She wrote down her recipe and invited us inside to learn how to make them.

We found space in the back of her tiny deli…the whole building was not more than 8×12, and learned the secret to her golden puffy dough. It was only then that we learned how lucky out timing was to eat her fry jack…she had only been open 5 days!

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If your adventures take you to San Pedro on Ambergis Caye, go visit B’s Deli. It is located on the North side of town, across the street from a bicycle shop almost at the bridge. Look for a red building with white gravel. The bubbly woman cooking there is great to talk to, her adorable “hurricane” daughter will bring a smile to your face, and the fry jack is delicious. I cannot wait to have another.

Pastry Triangles

Friday night was supposed to be a dinner party with good friends. After a rough, long week it was something Matt and I were looking forward to. Then our guest cancelled. We pressed on and made it a great evening for two. And to be honest, we needed that anyway.

We had a huge vat of chili simmering all day on the stove to go with yogurt cheddar cornbread. To stick with the southwest theme Matt wanted to make fried dough for dessert. Fried dough? I guess you could say I was skeptical. I guess I should learn to ignore that default response. His experiments are usually amazing.

This one was the best yet.

I love how well Matt understands ingredients. He understands ratios and ingredient properties to a degree that I don’t even consider when cooking. Interested in learning that yourself? He credits most of his knowledge and insight to two book series. He claims that if you want to truly become a high caliber kitchen stud, these two book series are the only references you need. He has collected these classic collections from thrift stores and garage sales over the past 10 years.

  1. Foods of the World series
  2. The Good Cook series

Both are from TimeLife in the 1970s.

Last night’s epic dessert was not a recipe, but rather a creation based on technique and insight from these books. They look like beignets, but don’t have yeast. Ingredients like pie dough but added eggs, less fat ratio and are kneaded to develop gluten. They really are just a fried dough of Matt’s own creation. And they were EPIC. Light and clean, with flaky layers and caverns of air pockets perfect for scooping up whipped cream. The simple dough paired perfectly with the honey glaze, especially when the glaze itself was elevated with an unexpected (and utterly exquisite) pop of flavor from rice vinegar.

We served them on our blue china plates with a side of fresh whipped cream.

Pastry Triangles with Honey Glaze

Serves 4-6

Dough
1 cup flour
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs to ¼ cup water

Powdered sugar

Cinnamon

Honey glaze

Cut butter into ¾ cup flour. After dough starts to stick together, add additional ¼ cup and incorporate. Add salt and egg yolks until incorporated. Add 2 Tbs water and incorporate, kneading in additional flour and water until dough does not crack around edges (like and pie dough would). Kneed well (5-8 minutes by hand) and make dough into a ball and chill for at least an hour. While chilling, make the honey glaze.

Roll chilled dough flat, folding over on itself at least 15 times (think puff pastry), final rollout flat very thin (just under 1/8 inch) and cut into random triangles.

Fry dough in oil heated to 375 degrees until dough puffs and is golden brown.

Dust pastry with powdered sugar, honey glaze and fresh cinnamon. Serve hot with fresh whipped cream for dipping.

Honey glaze
¼ cup water
1/2 sugar
2 tbs honey
1 tsp rice vinegar

Dissolve ingredients in small saucepan until sugar fully dissolves. Cool before glazing pastry.

Moving to China

Well, china dishes that is 🙂

When Matt and I met we each had a set of dishes. I had some ceramic blue swirly ones, he had a mismatches set of vintage 70s era patterns. Both sets have served us well but we also inherited two sets of china…one from my great Grandmother, Ease, and a set from Matt’s grandmother, Elaine.

Now it seems that most inherited china is floral or gold or really fragile or ulgy…ie: sits in a cabinet for the until Christmas, is taken out once a year, fussed over, then stored again for another year. Or just not used at all. We lucked out with two sets of china that we LOVE, so much that we decided that they will be our everyday dishes. After all, they were our grandmother’s everyday dishes so why not us?

Last night I cleaned out the two sets of old dishes to make room for the china. We carefully unpacked, stacked and organized them into the cabinet. I could not stop looking at them! Ease’s dishes are vintage Johnson Brothers blue and white while Elaine’s are solid white with a petite pattern on the edges. Together they are a perfect matched/mismatched set! And also go perfectly with some bowls we got as a wedding gift.

So bring on the meals! Bring on the dinner parties, holidays, pizza nights and oatmeal mornings. We are celebrating with family heirlooms that are just too precious and beautiful to keep locked in a cabinet.

PDX: Channel Your Inner Hipster

Hipster I am not. I would venture to say that hippie is more my style, but even that does not quite fit. Vashonite does. Again, hipster: not so much…and this week it was obvious! I spent two day in Portland for work and boy did I feel like I stuck out! I spent a meal texting my best friend in Madison, WI, about the awkwardness and we at least decided that my bangs were an asset.

Oh Portland, what a wonderful city. Friendly people, amazing food, great cocktails, awesome public transportation and yep, a great close flight from Seattle.

On Tuesday I visited with good friends from my masters program at BGI, going out for good food and good drinks. I learned that house punch of the day is a major “thing” at least in the places we went. Served in course in vintage pressed glass cups. I am pleased to report that pickleback is also now part of my vocabulary.

Wednesday I was at work events all day, with a few hours in the afternoon to find my hotel, grab dinner and pop into a few neat shops downtown. I texted my friend Alana for a dinner suggestion and found myself at what felt like the ultimate “Portland” place: Clyde Common. Communal tables, an esoterically vague and intriguing menu (thanks for the description inspiration Jenny!) and a very ironically hipster wait staff. Thank goodness I felt cool with my new bright orange clutch and bangs. Only JUST cool enough to pull off a solo dinner though.

Dinner was amazing: a happy hour green salad with a super good dressing alongside a lemon/ginger/honey cocktail. Super summery…great for the 90+degree day. I was seduced by many things on the menu, but ultimately went with a plate of pickled beef lips with marrow cream and cucumbers and a plate of raw cow milk cheese with honey, rhubarb compote and beet bread. And why not apricot upsidown cake for dessert? It was such a good meal. I just wish I could have shared it with someone else!

After such a long, hot day I feel quickly asleep in my airconditioned hotel room. Sweet talking the desk clerk got me a great room on the 21st floor of the Hilton with a stunning view of the West Hills. But I did not sleep too well. I never do without Matt.

Two days was enough and it was time to go home. Thrusday was a MAX ride to the airport followed by the short flight back to Seattle.

It was 20 degrees cooler and much more comfortable when we landed! I worked for the afternoon and then met Matt in Georgetown for a great dinner date (thank you Travelzoo coupon deal!) at Via Tribunali. Then a quick zip in a car2go back to West Seattle in time to catch the ferry home. HOME! Ah, nothing beats it.

This weekend is the Strawberry Festival on Vashon and we are not leaving the island. Not that we would want to with all the fun stuff happening…but if we tried it is a nightmare ferry line. We plan to go the parade, eat street food, shop for some local art and prepare for our summer BBQ next weekend. Busy weekend ahead!

Growing

In only a month our garden has changed so much! What were once pristine dark earthen beds are now covered in strong adolescent plants and the pathways are engulfed in weeds and footprints. It is a beautiful sight.

Tomatoes have been blooming and growing inches each day. These exceptionally warm and sunny spring days have worked magic. We finally found our 5 Brassica oleraceas popping up between weeds (broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts). I had avoided weeding because I could not tell what was a veggie and what was a weed…and also arugula came up EVERWHERE from the previous garden! The strawberries came…and were enjoyed by some nibbling critter. We are devising a protective cover cage for next time.

This past week the summer squashed poked through the soil. We harvested our first spinach and baby lettuce for salads last night. A new addition of pepper plants are starting off to a good start too.

This summer will be a bounty.

Leveling Up

On Tuesday afternoon I sent Matt a text: “I’ve leveled up!”

I had just completed a hour long conference presentation that was a great success alongside a high profile group of leaders from my company. And I had held my own. It felt like I earned my entrance to a new level of professionalism.

The extra boost of confidence from (my first!) new blazer may have helped.

It was a great weekend of work travel that did not feel that much like work. I saw friends, worked out of our really cool Spokane office building, spent time with inspiring people, stayed in the wonderful Davenport hotels, and ate SO MUCH epically good food. And really good wine. Bonus: I got to see my Alma Mater, Washington State University!

It was a weekend that affirmed that I am on a good path, and one that fits me well. I am learning all the time, and more importantly, figuring out who I need to learn from in order to grow in the direction I want.

After this trip to Spokane and Moscow, I have a new list of to-check-out places for my Eastern WA friends:

Spokane:

Davenport Hotel and Tower: I stayed in both and think they are both wonderful…Tower is a little quieter, better for working in the rooms but the Historic one has more charm and much better room service options

Clover: great local food restaurant. It is in a house so super funky cool vibe to go with amazing food.

Latah Bistro: this place is essentially in a strip mall but the food is OUTRAGOUS! We shared a feast of bread/cheese/nibbles and then shared 3 entrees for the table…and wine, and dessert. The pile of mini chocolate cakes…to die for. Go. It is so good.

Moscow, ID:

Nectar: this great wine bar and bistro was such a treat. Everything on the menu looked good, but I had a flight of sauvignon blanc (found a new favorite wine!) and a really good trout dinner. So good.