Last week I celebrated another birthday here and so with these happy memories forefront in my mind, I give you a recent list of five things in Portland for which I am hugely grateful.
Sure, many of you are gearing up for travel with spring break starting today, but for those who are planning coming here or are getting ready to enjoy a Portland stay-cation, there’s lots to celebrate and enjoy on a daily basis.
Here are five of my current favorite things about Portland right now.
Let’s start with perhaps my treasured feature of my house.
ONE. Front Porches — mine and those all around town.
I use and decorate my front porch year-round.
It’s like a second living room.
A place to highlight seasonal delights.
A spot for quiet time with a loved one.
My porch often serves as an informal place to invite people over and hang out.
Not only is the porch an extension of my home, but it’s also a place that people know that they can leave me treats and they’ll be safe until I get home.
I have a lot of friends with porches too and we all routinely use it as a landing spot.
It seems like every week I’m snapping a porch pic for my friend, signalling a treat for them that awaits them on my porch
or something I’ve just left them on theirs.
There are hundreds of true front porches in every neighborhood of Portland, and it’s my favorite architectural detail.
This week there was a flurry of activity on my porch as friend after friend flooded my porch with dropped off treats,
cards and presents.
TWO. Tabor Bread.
I’ve told you about this place before; I continue to be obsessed with this place and last week alone I was surprised twice by friends who know of this love and dropped me off treats from here.
I’m always surprised when I bump into another foodie who doesn’t know of Tabor Bread or hasn’t yet been there. How?
This place, with their breads, pastries and soup/sandwiches extraordinaire, is one of my favorite places in town, and thanks to the generosity of friends almost every morning this week there’s been a special snack incorporating a slice from here.
THREE. Cookbook Clubs.
Recently I was invited by my friend Rebecca (of amazing dropclothsamplers.com) to join a book group composed of women who love to cook. (Isn’t her collection, as seen above, organized so prettily?)
I loved the sound of this kind of gathering, and I’ve since been to two of the last three meetings.
This is how our group works. We all agree on a cookbook that we want to explore and then each one of us gets the book (if we don’t already own it, we buy it or borrow it from one another or the library). We set a date, a hostess steps up to host, and then it’s a potluck in which everyone brings a finished dish from a recipe in that book.
This past month we chose Ready or Not: Nom Nom Paleo and I chose the Green Apple Slaw with Thai Dressing.
There was a fair amount of prep work involved
but the end result was delectable.
The slaw was a mix of green apple, carrots, shallots, garlic, green onion, herbs and a Thai dressing, and it was crunchy, tart, tangy, sweet, and a bit spicy — and so refreshing.
I will definitely make this again — and I have to say that the addition of these Spicy Thai Cashews from Trader Joe’s sent it over the top.
What a fun evening it was — talking recipes, food in Portland, and raising kids.
All the women in this group are great cooks and it was so fun to try so many dishes (especially since I only had to make one of them).
Look at adorable Orly showing off her Tangerine Dream Tart (made with ghee and almonds).
I can’t wait to host the ladies next month when we tackle this book.
Have any of you read it/cook from it? (I’d love to borrow a copy or hear suggestions if you have them).
FOUR. Proud Mary.
I’m mad for this place on NE Alberta and I’ve already been a couple times, and almost daily I feel the craving to go back again.
Apparently we have the second outpost of this fantastic cafe (the original being in Australia), and both the coffee and food is over the top delicious.
I know people are nuts for their house-roasted coffee,
but I’m obsessed with their Turmeric Chai Lattes.
To call Proud Mary a coffee shop is woefully inadequate; rather, it’s a beautiful, light-filled cafe that marries exceptional food and drink with casual but superlative service (always informed but never precious or snooty).
And the food is as drop-dead delicious as it is exceptionally presented.
Case in point. Look at the description of the potato hash:
and here’s what it looked like in front of me — before I devoured it.
That bacon! Those potatoes! The tangle of greens atop — and the perfectly poached egg tucked in alongside!
And to call this an avocado toast (or “harissa avocado“as it does on the menu) doesn’t quite do it justice, either.
Crispy, nutty toast piled high with a mountain of avocado plus tabouleh and lentils and a shaved fennel salad and an egg and a harissa sauce… yessssssss.
Go — and if it’s still one the menu, order the Cauli-Town with warm spiced cauliflower with chickpea dal, sumac onion, crispy chickpeas and sesame granola is other-worldly.
FIVE. St. Mary’s Academy.
Charlotte has been wanting to go to this school ever since she heard about it four years ago from the daughters of friends of mine who were applying there, and this week she found out she got in.
For those not familiar, St. Mary’s Academy (SMA) is a private girl’s Catholic high school located downtown. They boast a beautiful campus, a terrific staff, and most importantly, SMA is an exceptional college prep that is devoted to raising well-rounded, informed and empowered young women.
I’m so happy my baby girl is now going to be one of them.
Not just that, there is a strong component of social justice and service at SMA, and they have a curriculum that gets young women to think about their role in the greater community and how they can concretely contribute to making a better world.
The message has long resonated with Charlotte, and we’ve waited with baited breath for months to see if she was accepted.
Look at the apparent nerves as Charlotte opened up the envelope, mailed on my birthday last week and opened up over this past weekend.
Happily, it was good news.
Alerted by text, some current SMA students came over immediately to our house with well wishes and they dropped off hugs, cheers, and all kinds of treats.
Sweets, balloons, and school swag walked in the door almost immediately — thank heavens the news was good!
Now I know Charlotte isn’t going there yet, but I’m already grateful to this school. I’ve watched dozens of girls bloom right before my eyes while attending here, and I’m so grateful for the warmest of welcomes they’ve showed Charlotte during this whole process.
(SMA– you have no idea as to the tsunami of food offerings you will soon have coming your way starting next fall!).
So a giant thank you to all the family and friends who made this entire birthday week such a loving, fun, and fragrant one.
And now that I’ve showered love on my adopted city, I’m on the move.
Next up: Seattle.