Portland

wine country vacation

by Kristina Sloggett

in BIRTHDAY,Portland,travel

The day after class was completed, I took Jason to Oregon’s wine country for a birthday vacation. We stayed at a lovely B&B on 130 acres of gorgeousness.

We ate at great restaurants and sipped wine at great vineyards.

We came home with a car full of wine and a couple new club memberships.

We enjoy our wine.

We toured one winery I have been wanting to visit for a while, and we both thought it was some of the best wine we tasted on this whole trip.

I also finally met a long time blog friend – I will tell you all about all of it soon!

Jason has been wanting to get away to our wine country for months now, and things kept getting in the way. When planning his birthday, I thought this would be a great vacation away. He has been saying all week that it was exactly what he wanted.

Relaxation, sunshine and wine tasting – exactly what we both needed!

 

{ 28 comments }

This month, I am doing something I have wanted to do for a long time.

My days are long, but also too short! The time in class flies by, and I am having so much fun. Fundamentally, we are learning techniques, recipes and all about how to turn real whole foods into vibrant dishes. On another level, we are having great conversations about benefits, ethics, and the impact of food.

The class is small, and made up of people as excited about food as I am. We begin each day by prepping the ingredients we will be using that day, then we break for a snack. While enjoying our snack we review the day before, and go through the exam.

We are in teams of two, and each team is assigned a recipe. We cook and learn and present our recipes to the rest of the class, and we all sit down to eat again! Then back in the kitchen for more recipes, followed by another meal time. We are well fed here.

We all sit together, chef included, talking and enjoying so much amazing food. We help with the cleanup and break for the day around 8:30 pm, where I stumble out with the biggest goofy grin on my face.

I have been following Mark Reinfeld for years, the founding chef of Blossoming Lotus Restaurant (first location in Hawaii, second location in Portland) and have wanted to take his classes for some time. I am giddy happy to now have this opportunity – incredibly lucky, really, and feeling a whole lot of gratitude.

These (phone) photos are from the last couple days of class – I will share more soon!

 

{ 45 comments }

Right in the middle of my spa career, I took a break to pursue another love – food. I was the store director with a high end European deli here in Portland, one of my favorite jobs to date. I started at one location in the heart of downtown (I love working downtown!), and while running that store I planned the build and opening of a new location in Lake Oswego.

While I thrive on the fun that goes into the execution of a new business and the grand opening events, my favorite aspect of this job was the food. At the new location, we built a bakery where we made fresh pastries, breads and bagels each morning. I took a series of classes in Baking and Pastry in preparation, and while I could not have early morning hours all the time, I loved arriving at 4am to make muffins, bagels, bake off croissants proofing over night… it was bliss.

Having been a customer for many years, I was thrilled to be a part of the executive staff (although looking back now, I would have been just as happy running the bakery). This deli boasts an excellent reputation for having great food. Their menu has both permanent items and seasonal choices on rotation.

Their soups are legendary.

As soon as cold weather chill hits Portland [click to continue…]

{ 48 comments }

I will miss some things about the house we are leaving – the vast outdoor space, the remote quiet, the beautiful gardens.

Basil has already spotted a squirrel in our new yard, so he is quite happy.

The skies are just as blue at the new house, and the natural light more abundant!

We made many great memories here over the years, and we look forward to making new ones in our new home!

Happy Sunday.

 

{ 14 comments }

of

FORTUUUUUNNNNNEEE.

Yeah, it was no big deal, I was standing like, three feet from Pat and Vanna. It’s cool.

Wait, whaaaaaaat?? VIP tickets to see several episodes taping? Yes, please!

I kinda like this show.

We had so much fun – the VIP tickets meant we got to skip all the lines (there were probably 8-10,000 people there?) and get right to the front – we were in the third row! The first row is reserved for family of contestants, and some local celebrities.

It was really cool to watch the behind the scenes of this show – it’s a big event. When they go on location, there are huge sets built with the city’s landmarks. In this case, Wheel In Portland’s set boasted a large replica of our beautiful St Johns Bridge, a downtown theater, the Made in Oregon sign, real trees to accompany the trees, greens and blues in the photo backgrounds. Then of course there is the Wheel itself, and Vanna’s letters, a car parked offstage, and bright lights!

We captured one photo of me on set – we found out about the No Camera Rule a little while later…

There will be at least a couple weeks worth of shows (they were here for several days, and each ticket was to view three shows), and they air in early May. Watch for me in the audience!

Another highlight of our weekend was lunch at one of our favorites - ¿Por Que No? - a tasty taqueria in the Boise-Eliot area on North Mississippi.

Jason ordered a beautiful sangria and I had a house margarita. I chose one of the daily specials, the Spring Veggie Taco, which was fresh and flavorful and included grilled asparagus. I also ordered one of my standards, the veggie tamale:

¿Por Que No? was delicious as always. As we were sitting there, the sun came out – I look forward to spring and summer visits where we can sit outside!

Our Wheel Weekend was an awesome one – two tryouts, now actual audience members? I am getting closer to spinning that Wheel myself!

What is your favorite game show? Would you ever want to be a contestant?

¿Por Qué No? on Urbanspoon

 

{ 38 comments }

This always makes me smile.

Even though we are both SO ready to move on and SO ready to find our perfect next home, I’m going to miss this place. We have such an awesome couple acres, great yard and garden, and in the winter when the pool is covered, the ducks come play in it!

This is the duck couple that is always on our property. He is very protective of her – it is so sweet. Notice how he is always facing whatever direction she is going, watching over her?

The mallards are always so brightly colored and pretty.

These two are almost as big as Basil.

Basil flips out when they are in the yard or in the stream just below the yard… he just wants to play too!

I know Basil will miss all the critters and wildlife we have here, especially the squirrels that taunt him from the trees and that he chases through the grass.

I will miss this duck couple – aren’t they cute?

Happy Friday!

 

{ 19 comments }

this Valentines, Jason and I celebrated at one of my favorite places, Blossoming Lotus. they had a special Valentines menu, with two options for each course. as we normally do, we each chose one and shared.

we had a cheers with cocktails. mine:

White October – vanilla infused vodka, Averna, Cafe Lolita, coconut milk, ginger sugar, maple syrup – served up

this was amazing. mildly sweet, strong coffee and maple flavors. deliciously warming.
I had two.

Wintry Mix Manhattan – Bulleit rye, cinnamon-ginger infused Vya vermouth, orange bitters, barrel-aged bitters

Jason loved his Manhattan - enough that he talked about recreating his own version at home. sounds like someone I know…

the amuse:

Seasonal marinated and pickled vegetables

we each had our favorites with this plate – I loved the cauliflower, radish and the chili seasoned carrots! Jason liked the green beans and the beets.

the salad course:

wild arugula salad with preserved Meyer lemon and za’atar vinaigrette, roasted red and gold beets, pear

the arugula was deliciously nutty and spicy, and the pear was an inventive addition. we both loved this.

winter citrus salad with shaved fennel and basil, pomegranate, white balsamic

you know I love my vibrant colors in food – visually, this was my favorite of the evening. the bright flavors and the basil earned a place as my favorites in taste as well.

marinated king trumpet mushroom nigiri with parsnip rice, collard green maki roll with cucumber and avocado, salad of kale and wakame, burdock-carrot kinpira, pickled ginger

almost every visit to Blossoming Lotus includes me enjoying their collard rolls, or taking an order to go. I was very happy to see they made a roll for one of the choices – Jason and I both loved this course. I could eat these every day.

cornmeal and herb encrusted portobello, garlic chive mashed potatoes, braised chard, red wine demi glace

straight up comfort food.

I’m not even hungry right now and thinking of this plate just made my stomach growl and my mouth water… I could so eat this right now (yeah, it’s 4:38 in the morning…)

the portobello was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. a bite of portobello with a pouf of mashed potato blanketed in chard and dunked into the glorious demi glace…
I think that would satisfy any omnivore. completely.

raw chocolate torte with cashew crust and banana sorbet

this was gorgeously smooth and perfect. the banana sorbet (with shreds of mango!) was a wonderful light pairing to the rich chocolate.

deliriously decadent.

Meyer lemon polenta cake, cara cara orange curd, almond lace cookie

as much as I loved the chocolate, I loved this one just as much if not more. I love a polenta cake that is very mildly sweet, and the orange curd was bright and beautiful,
tart and sweet.

I loved sharing both of these desserts with my Valentine.

…and if that was not enough, there were surprise truffles at the end. three flavors, two of each, one eaten with a perfect cup of coffee, two enjoyed on the way home.

we were both happy with our Valentines choice of Blossoming Lotus. After an uncharacteristic and slightly weird start (the door was locked until seating time, when we were asked to enter single file for our seating assignments), my favorite Portland gem quickly recovered and we were delighted by course after delectable course. We had some great conversation with the very talented and informed mixologist, talking cocktails, coffee and bitters (we will return in the spring for the rhubarb bitters!).

 

Blossoming Lotus on Urbanspoon

 

{ 43 comments }

I have had plenty of perspective – giving moments this week.

I don’t want to get into many details, but I want to explain my absence this week and what will most likely follow for a while.

Dad went into the hospital a week ago today.

Before we left for Mexico over the holidays, he was to have his third and final surgery – the most important one. This did not happen, due to complications.

Last Friday we found out those complications are cancer.

He was admitted to prepare for chemo – instead there are more complications – he has spent most of the week in ICU with pneumonia.

Needless to say, everything else in life just stops – my main focus right now is my dad, and getting him better.

I am also watching our yard fill with water.

The rain, and the lessons in perspective, can stop now. We have had enough.

I miss you all – I miss the daily interaction here and out there – I bring my laptop to the hospital and check in when I can.

Go hug your loved ones for me, okay?

 

{ 140 comments }