Longer Days and Sunshine

When you live in a city like Portland, and you're a lover of the sun, weeks like the one we're having are like trying to find a bamboo toothpick in a haystack -- they're incredible tough to come by. And though the temperature is still a bit chilly, these bright blue skies and rays of sunshine paint our Portland faces with smiles and fill our heads with thoughts of what we know will be ahead.

For any Portland foodie who awaits the sounds, sights and smells of springtime in the Rose City, what lays ahead is famers' market season. The nationally recognized Portland Famers' Market at Portland State University opens on March 20, and the crew at PFM are welcoming two new spot this year where patrons can get their hands on all their locally grown, freshest fresh produce at Pioneer Courthouse Square and on NW 23rd Avenue at Savier. To read more about the new locations, click here. And for a list of farmers' markets all over Oregon, visit the Oregon Famers' Markets Association.

It pains me to say that our sunny days are short-lived for now. We have a couple of more days of seeing the big orange orb in the sky, but then it's back to rain for a while. Regardless, I'll continue to do what other Portlanders do and hang on for a few more months. The best days this city has to offer will soon be upon us!

Some other things I just loved this week:

  • A visit to the coffee shop formerly known as Sydney's. Sydney's shut down for a day or two a short time ago, but the space has been re-opened and dons the name Breken Kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised to see not much had changed in the transition, and was further surprised by a lovely chicken salad sandwich I dined on while spending an afternoon there with laptop in tow. Delish.
  • KOi Fusion tacos...in a bar. On Friday night I headed out into the Pearl with a friend for a cocktail and some eats. We went to check out the place formerly known as Studio 1. It's now KOi 1, which I learned was owned by the same folks that make their way around the city in the KOi Fusion Korean taco truck. Brilliant. Same great delicious eats indoors that makes for bar food unlike any other around town!
  • The James Beard Foundation semifinalist nominees were announced this week, and Portland represented in 12 spots. To read more, visit my update at Examiner.com.     
  • Ah, Oregon wine country. It was an absolutely perfect weekend to head out to Dundee and visit some favorite - as well as never-tried-before - wineries for some wine tasting in the sunshine. I was impressed that in about four hours, four girls visited five wineries and even stopped for lunch. Wineries graced with our presence were: Erath, Torii Mor, Lange, DePonte Cellars and Sokol Blosser. The fabulous lunch spot - which has never disappointed - was Dundee Bistro. The wineries were great, but, hands down, the winner of the day was Torii Mor with it's friendly and energetic staff (Scott & Tina) that just wanted us to have a good time, and it's amazing wine. I haven't stopped thinking about its 2006 Late Bottled Vintage Port. It's only sold at the winery. I think I'll be making a trip out there soon to pick up a bottle. Unfortunately, the pictures I had taken of the day aren't uploading to Blogger at this time. All the more reason for you to get yourself out and visit the haunts yourself. 


Sharing a Little Love

On the evening of a day dedicated to love, it's easy to reflect on special loves of your life. And whether you're part of a perfect pair, or if you're single, you may go down memory lane of past loves, or simply think of the other things in your life that bring love and joy to you as the weeks go by.

What better day, then, to take the blog in a slightly new direction. This blog that, believe it or not, has many times been on the potential chopping list of things to let go of in my life. But somehow I just can never completely and permanently *dispose* of what I've written here - though the frequency of posts seems to grow less and less. But I love it. It's my blog and I just can't let it go. Today it's my Valentine, and my gift to it is a new commitment to posting. Once a week. My thoughts are to approach it as a weekly column, or reflection, of what I'm thinking about in this great big world of culinary stuffs, as well as of a few of the things that stood out to me during the week. So here we go for weekly column post number one. Happy Valentine's Day.

When I was thinking about today I couldn't help but think about special people in my life, my friends and family - those who bring lots of laughs to my days and nights. Naturally, many of those laughs and memorable times take place over food, either at some one's home, or out at a favorite city venue. I'll admit lately that it's usually the latter of the two. This thinking took me back to a post I read a month or so ago from film critic Roger Ebert. It was a post he had written on his column at the Chicago Sun Times regarding his what may be the most crippling piece of his battle with thyroid cancer.

Due to multiple, extreme surgeries, Ebert can no longer talk, drink or eat. He can't eat. His body receives food through a tube. He can only communicate via a computer.

The post he wrote was incredibly touching as it reflected on what he missed most about eating. It wasn't necessarily the taste of an incredible meal, but the company he kept and conversations he had while dining. Ebert can no longer truly participate in the act of dining with groups of people, and sharing in the conversation and laughter that is undoubtedly a guarantee when you're with those who are special to you. The article is lengthy, but I highly recommend reading it by clicking here.

I'm a huge believer that eating isn't always about the food. Sound crazy coming from a former culinary student? Maybe, but there are many times when I'll be out with people who I feel are just looking to be critical almost the very moment they walk in to a place. To those people I say: relax. Take in the ambiance, the mood, the way you feel, and most importantly, pay attention to the company you're with. In all honestly, you may very well forget how absolutely delectable that braised beef short rib was, but the conversation will linger on (hopefully) in your memories for years to come.

Some other things that I loved this week.
  • A Velvet Painting cupcake from Cupcake Jones. I love cupcakes, but rarely eat them. I had been craving one for a little over a week. While walking in the Pearl with a friend last week, I decided that day was the day. I hopped in to Cupcake Jones and never looked back. It was an absolute delight and made my day - possibly my week.

    Photo courtesy of Cupcake Jones
    • Purchasing my own jar of Nutella. I've had Nutella in crêpes at restaurants, but I've actually never purchased my own jar. I splurged this week. I'm still trying to decide if that was the best idea. If you're a lover of the chocolate and hazelnut combo, it is truly heaven on earth.
    • Giving a bag of dark chocolate hearts to a boy *friend*. A friendly gesture I couldn't resist when I saw the bag at Elephant's Delicatessen on SW Park. He's a good friend and loves dark chocolate more than any man I know. Maybe more than any woman I know. I thought he was going to tear up. It was sweet.
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