In 2002, I moved to Portland, Oregon to attend culinary school. Durning my time there, The city of Roses captured my heart. The city brought me to life. It has become my adopted home and taught me the real value of life, food, and friends. Portland is known for its culinary lifestyle and as a chef, breathe life into my foodie soul.
Today I have a rare day off, so I am ready to reconnect with the city that I love. I head to the nearest Max station to board the next oncoming train into downtown. It is only a seven-minute wait and just before the Red line arrives, my stomach growls reminding me that I neglected breakfast. Once I board, it is only a fifteen-minute train ride into downtown, and a few blocks walk to my favorite breakfast spot, The Brunch Box on S.W. 9th Avenue.
The place is hard to find and perfect for a great breakfast sandwich. I order, wait a few minutes then bite into a Double Down, a medium fried egg, ham, bacon and gooey melted cheese layered between two golden brown grilled cheese sandwiches. I dive right in and wait for a heart attack to happen. As many time as I have come here, I learned the lushness of the sandwich goes great with cold chocolate milk. So I wolf it down.
Happy and satisfied, I walk a few blocks to Powell’s City of Books on Burnside. It is the largest bookstore in the Northwest, with a selection of both used and new books. It is easy to get lost, so I make sure to grab a courtesy map at the desk. I head to the cookbook section to find a rare book that I have been searching for. I buy it along with a few others that I spied while going up and down the aisles.
It is not quite noon yet, so I walk a couple block south to catch the streetcar for the fifteen-minute ride to Portland State University in the south park blocks where the Saturday Farmers Market is going on. I travel to the market, get off the streetcar, and colorful fruits, vegetables, and meats fill my senses. I am here at mid-day, and the crowds of people and the food carts reminds me of a movie scene of a foreign bazaar. A table of fresh artichokes, Brussel sprouts
, and bright green kale catches my eye. I talk with the man behind the table and find out he owns a farm just outside of Portland. He invites me for a visit. I accept and pay for my purchases.
It is time for a pick me up, so I head to a tea house that is a local favorite, The Tao of Tea on SE Belmont St. I order a Iced Black Chai along with Spinach Rolls, a classic tea snack from Southeast Asia, and chocolate dipped macaroon. After paying for my meal, I head to a near by park to enjoy my lunch and people watch.
I think about what to do with the rest of my day. I can catch a movie at a theater or visit a garden or drink wine at vineyards. I can get back on the Max and head over to the Saturday Market under the Burnside bridge near the Tom Mccall Waterfront Park. Instead, I head over to the Hawthorne District on the north side and go to Pastaworks, a European style market featuring fresh pastas and wine, Italian cheeses, and other specialty groceries. As I walk through the door, I smell the fresh basil pasta. I search the aisles and find the pasta. Along with a bottle of Cantina di Pino and some beautiful looking pancetta, I have the items for tonight’s dinner, and I am ready to head home to cook for my family and friends.