the stereotypical spring break trip tends to be something beachy and warm. and yet, somehow portland has been on a lot more radars recently, including mine and a couple of my friends'. so it became spring break 2017: portland edition. we stopped by for a couple days, and it was drizzly and cold and decidedly sand/swimsuit/sun-free, but fun all the same.
our trip started with croissants at nuvrei. it shouldn't be surprising that this was our first stop, since the pastry/sugar addict (aka me) planned out our food for the weekend. we ended up trying 4 different ones: plain, sesame, chocolate and pistachio rose. oh my, these were so buttery and flaky and overall incredible. the plain or sesame is best if you really want a pure croissant experience, but might i recommend the sesame if you have to pick? it's so nutty and toasty, and you can still focus on the buttery croissant. also, if you want a sweet croissant, i recommend the pistachio rose. you can get chocolate any other time, at any other bakery. but the pistachio rose is a revelation. the texture is similar to an almond croissant, but instead it has fudgey pistachio frangipane and crunchy pistachios and a touch of rose (not soapy or too much at all, especially coming from someone who doesn't like rose).
it was rainy and grey, but we still managed to make it to st. john's bridge (the image at the top of this post) and tom mccall waterfront park. the former was like the golden gate bridge, except so much prettier and less crowded, and the latter was teeming with soft pink cherry blossoms. not bad for a sleepy sunday morning.
we opted for arepa bowls at teote for lunch. they looked small but were pretty hearty! (we were also still buttered up from all those croissants). i liked the pernil the best, since the tender braised pork shoulder was paired with mounds of vinegary cabbage slaw and tasted the most balanced to me. the pabellon and el diablo were tasty as well, though on the sweeter side.
after lunch, we met up with s's friend k from high school (i've talked to him maybe once or twice, but that's about it), and when he was trying to figure out where to take us, the conversation went something like this:
me and s: "is there anything white around here?"
k: "i mean, there's a bunch of white people..."
me and s: "no, are the actual walls the color white?"
what can i say, b really enjoys the color white. you need to see her instagram feed to believe it.
there's branches of salt and straw in sf and la, so i didn't feel the need to stop by a location while we were in portland. however, i was excited by the prospect of wiz bang bar, salt and straw's soft serve sister. on the left, roasted strawberry coconut soft serve with a black sesame shell. on the right, chocolate soft serve with a chocolate shell. the roasted strawberry coconut soft serve was a very fresh strawberry, though not very heavy on the coconut, which i wish came through more. the black sesame shell was nutty and soso inventive, albeit not the best for pairing with the roasted strawberry coconut soft serve. the chocolate was great... until b dropped it. very 18 flavors-esque, complete with the sniffs (and a snapchat accompanied by mild wailing).
we were planning on going to a jazz restaurant, since that and seeing nature were s's big to do's. but it's very hard to find a restaurant and not a bar/club (ya girl wasn't 21 yet). we actually found one that was scheduled to have live jazz 6-9pm... and then we ended up napping and didn't get up until 8pm. we decided it wasn't worth it since we'd have max 30 minutes to hear it, and opted for pok pok noi instead.
i was prepared for a long wait, and was expecting to get there and not end up actually staying, but surprise surprise, we got seated almost as soon as we walked into the door. we got the sai ua samun phrai, vietnamese fish sauce wings and papaya pok pok. the papaya pok pok, aka their green papaya salad, was really fresh and crunchy and tangy and nice to break up the other meaty things, but man, the heat creeps up on you (well, me at least). the wings were super crispy and garlicky and a bit on the salty side; some rice, as well as their mound of quick-pickled daikon and carrots helped, though. i do wish they gave us more pickles (s kept taking them alllll and i took to casually hoarding some on my plate). my favorite of the night was the sai ua samun phrai, aka their curried, herby sausage. it was super tender and i have no idea how to even describe the flavor besides complex and amazing. plus, it came with pork rinds (YESSSS) and steamed kabocha. overall a pretty tasty meal, though i'm not sure that the small portion size (this was perfect for 3 semi-hungry girls but i can imagine some unhappy patrons if you're hangry) was worth the price.
45 minute wait for 7 people on a monday morning at 10am for tasty n alder. don't you have to go to work, people?! anyways, there's lots of shops to pop into, so the wait isn't too bad if you wander. s and i split the potatoes bravas and korean fried chicken. the potatoes bravas were crispy potatoes in a tomatoey, slightly bbq-esque sauce topped with runny eggs and a creamy garlic aioli. it was good, though definitely heavy. the korean fried chicken (pictured above) was my favorite of the two, with crispy nuggets of gochujang-rich chicken, quick-pickled cucumbers, kimchi, runny eggs, and rice. also tried some of b's tasty steak and cheddar eggs. the steak looked like steak in chicken nugget shapes (weird...) and i didn't try that (not a huge fan of steak in general), though the cornbread was crispy and the scrambled eggs had an obscene, but delicious, amount of cheese.
and because even i can't eat nonstop all day, we drove 30 minutes out to the columbia river gorge, where there are waterfalls everywhere. above is latourell falls, and below is multnomah falls. they're really nice because you don't have to go hike to find them. park, then bam, they're there. perfect if you want your waterfalls with a side of instant gratification.
now, after all that hard labor (ha), we needed some refreshments. s and b got drinks at tea bar, though i opted to wait for ice cream. s's rose tea was very subtle, with a slight floral note and a gentle sweetening courtesy of honey. b's hong kong milk tea was fine, though the tea was a bit sweet for my taste and the boba was chewier than i'm used to.
then onto ice cream at fifty licks, because my self-control is particularly limited in the face of unusual (but not weird. i don't need to try humphry slocombe's prosciutto) ice cream flavors. their famed thai rice was toasty, though i had it in my head that it was thai sticky rice AND mango in the ice cream, which was not true. i really liked the coconut lemon saffron though, since the coconut and lemon really came through. it was creamy from the coconut, with a hint of citrus from the lemon. mmm. s got the vanilla, which was a basic albeit tasty version of vanilla. b got the chocolate, which had FUDGEY BITS OF CHOCOLATE MIXED IN. bye wiz bang's chocolate, you don't hold a candle to fifty licks' chocolate. and you can get a freshly waffle cone for free, no upgrade needed. and 1 "mini" (pretty sizeable though, and plenty for me) scoop is $2.50. what is this madness and can it come to the bay area and/or orange county? please and thank you.
we had planned to go to screen door for brunch, but ended up at tasty n alder instead. and then we found out that it was open for dinner, and were there in a heartbeat. we all opted for the screen door plate, which comes with a piece of cornbread and lets you pick 3 of the sides. i went for the fried catfish, bread pudding and beet salad, the latter two of which were on their special locals/organics list for the day. the catfish was flaky and moist, with a super crispy cornmeal breading, and was delicious with the pickle-y remoulade. the bread pudding had mushrooms, brie, leeks and kale and was topped with a celery root cream sauce. the bread pudding itself was tender and eggy, and the melty cheese and velvety sauce made it feel even more lux. i balanced things out a bit with the beet salad, which had beets and citrus and greens and avocado and goat cheese. so good, and you can bet your butt that i will be recreating this at home. s and b both got mac and cheese (which came with an entire lid of melted, crusty cheese and the creamiest, cheesiest noodles ever), as well as sweet potato fries (crispy and tender and sweet but nothing to write home about). s got fried chicken, and there was some judgement since that was the 3rd fried chicken thing in 2 days, but it was so worth. the chicken was so crispy on the outside, and the meat was so juicy. and it had a hint of smoke. even though the viet fish sauce wings from pok pok and the korean fried chicken from tasty n alder were good, this was hands down the best fried chicken we had all weekend. i'm not the biggest meat lover out there, but even i can say that it was a pretty solid way to close out our 2 days in portland.
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