Hotel Vintage staycation

Sometimes you need a vacation right where you are, a home away from home, of sorts!

I stayed at Kimpton’s Hotel Vintage in downtown Portland this past week, and let’s just say, I could really get used to living a spoiled life with them!

The vibe of this hotel is cool, modern, chic and sexy. With dark leather quilted couches, mirrored pillows, and a bar that is back-lit by an array of rainbow bottles, I knew this was my kind of place. From the second you walk in the door, Hotel Vintage just oozes style, and I knew I was in for a treat once I got settled into my room.

 

Even the light fixtures are impossibly trendy.

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THOSE. PILLOWS. They make me wanna do glamour shots with them.

 

Once I arrived to the top floor of the hotel, I was stunned by the beautiful light leaking through the window paneled roof. Gorgeous! I also loved discovering that the hotel is, in fact, wine themed. (See elevator doors).

 

Hotel Vintage leaves no detail untouched. My room had a cork wall (clever!), there is a map of Oregon wine country outside the elevator on the way to your room, and the rooms are named after local wineries (mine was Love & Squalor).

The room, as you can see below, is absolutely gorgeous. I stayed in a sky loft, where you can take full advantage of the slanted window roof, enjoy the sights of downtown below, and the light of day, even when it’s cloudy.

 

The bathroom. Wow. Not only are the angles of the room incredible, but the bathroom is luxurious. The products are the most deliciously-smelling soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. You can purchase them downstairs, because you will love them so much. Even though the ring light mirror can show you a little too many flaws, they are my absolute favorite. Imagine spending the night in a spa…well this is what that was like. I even brought my own clay mask, to treat myself, while I laid in bed watching one of the MANY channels on the huge TV in my room.

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Don’t forget to check the views of downtown Portland below.

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The restaurant attached to the hotel is currently undergoing a transformation, so I dined at the Bacchus bar, and it was excellent. I didn’t even look at the menu in advance, and I was pleasantly surprised. I ordered the most amazing seared ahi tuna with barley. Doesn’t sound like much but omg…I need that barley like every night!

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Oh, and the chocolate olive oil cake, say no more.

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I told you the bar was beautifully back-lit by all of the colorful bottles!

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I would love to have a group happy hour here, as those leather chairs are begging to be enjoyed. Also, the chalkboard wall is hilarious, yet educational, declaring “Wine is food!”

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Ask Cody to make you a drink. He is the best!

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I don’t know how Kimpton finds the best, most cozy and comfortable beds, but I need one. Honestly, I have stayed in a lot of hotels, and none are as comfortable as Kimptons’.  It’s one of life’s greatest luxuries to just lay in bed and simply enjoy the feeling of doing nothing. This is a great place to do that. While you’re at it, order room service breakfast in the morning. Not only is it delish, but they serve local products like Stumptown Coffee and Pearl Bakery pastries.

Between the great service, delicious food, and comfortable stay, splurging at Hotel Vintage is so worth it.

Go ahead and treat yo self!!

 

* this post was sponsored by Kimpton & Hotel Vintage

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The easiest ramen recipe EVER

When cooking at home, my motto is: the easier the better. By easier I mean few ingredients and even fewer steps. I have a full time job and I know how tired you can get at the end of the day… and on weekends, you just wanna relax!

Here is a foolproof ramen recipe that is super comforting for winter, and tastes just like ubereats brought you takeout. Let me know how you like it!

 

Ingredients:

1 large carrot (sliced)

1 pkg shiitake mushrooms 4-5oz

2 pkg dried ramen noodles

1 32oz carton veggie or chicken broth

2 tbsp grated ginger

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

 

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Directions:

Heat olive oil in medium sized pot

Add ginger and let sizzle for 1-2 min.

Add broth, soy sauce, mushrooms & carrot

Bring to boil and let simmer 10 min

Add noodles and serve when tender

Top with seaweed or soft boiled egg, as desired

 

*loosely adapted from Damn Delicious

Snow mood

When you wake up and see fresh snow on the ground, suddenly you’re a kid again. It snowed maybe 1/4 inch (if that), so I  had to take full advantage by getting some shots around town, since we don’t (usually) get lots of snow in Portland.

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It might have been cold outside, but I still couldn’t help myself from skipping around in the snow and walking around town, like I was Bridget Jones looking for Colin Firth at the end of the movie!

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The streets just looked so charming and beautiful, but sometimes the view is better from inside… with a nice cup of hot chocolate. Excuse my experimental marshmallow snowmen.  When you shoot pics outside, sometimes Mother Nature has a different plan. The wind blew these guys straight into the cup, rather than leaning on the edges like a chocolate hot tub. Oh well!

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Even the greenery looked especially beautiful.

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Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and has a very happy new year!

 

 

Adorable Ashland, OR

The Shakespeare festival might be the most famous thing you’ve heard about Ashland, but what you might not know is that the community spirit and festive nature of this small southern Oregon town is at its height during the holidays.

I was lucky enough to stay at the chic and comfortable Lithia Springs Resort. There was a lot to see and do during the weekend, but the room and bed were so comfortable, I didn’t want to leave! The fireplace was one of the best perks, essential for cold winter nights.

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The entire Lithia Springs Resort property was picturesque…including this adorable gardener’s shed. I especially loved the design and decor of the bungalow. The vibe is very spa-like, decorated in neutrals, giving it a fresh look, instantly making you feel relaxed.

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One of my favorite things about the hotel is the mineral spring water that is pumped directly into each room. Naturally I wanted to take advantage of this, and make myself a first class bath. All you have to do is turn on the water to your desired temperature, hop in, turn on those jacuzzi jets, and relax. (Flower petals not included).

Ashland’s downtown is intertwined with nature, specifically Lithia Park. You can go for a stroll in this picturesque setting, grab a bite to eat, window shop downtown, maybe act out some Shakespeare, if you feel so inspired. Don’t forget to try the bubbling natural spring water from the public fountains. There’s an interesting hint of sulfuric flavor, but it’s worth a try.

Brunch is a weekend must, and I was excited to try Brickroom. I had been here years and years back when it was another restaurant/bar, and I was happy to see another beautiful place with a great menu was located in the same spot.  Views from the window seats look outside onto the main square, great for people watching or admiring the beautiful setting. Oh, the food is also delicious. My fave were the malted waffles with peanut butter whipped cream (!) and black tea syrup. YUM!

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It’s winter, so a visit to Mt. Ashland was in order, because, of course, snow is what you want to see during the holidays. I grew up in the Midwest, so the sight of the first seasonal snow makes me giddy. The views driving up the mountain were insanely beautiful. It was late morning and somehow the sky was still a bit pink, with fog lingering on the mountains in the distance. Gorgeous! There wasn’t enough snow for skiing, so luckily stopping every 5 minutes for photos wasn’t a problem, as there was virtually zero traffic.

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While Ashland might be small, there is a good variety of restaurants. My first love is Mexican food, so I headed to Plancha. The pozole and cheese enchiladas were great for warming up, and the salsa rojo (on the enchiladas) was excellent.

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Another main draw in town are the hot springs, as they are natural to the area. Ashland has a free-spirited vibe and many people say the waters are healing. Who am I to say no to relaxing in hot water… That is my specialty! Clothing is optional at Jackson Wellsprings after 5:30pm, so go early, try the cool down pool and sauna, or go later and let those inhibitions go. Whatever floats your boat!

The list of places to dine in town is endless. I had a hard time choosing a spot for dinner, but I think I made the right choice. There is something for everyone in town whether it is Chicago-style pastrami at Sammich, all natural ingredients at the local food Co-op or fine dining, here, at Peerless. The crab cake appetizer was excellent. No fillers here, all jumbo lump crab and I honestly wanted 10 more. The pumpkin pot de creme was my other favorite of the night, topped with a dollop of chocolate marshmallow.  If you want to treat yourself for the night or celebrate a special occasion, I would highly recommend based on the quality of food, atmosphere and service.

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During the holidays, no matter where you are, it’s always fun to see Christmas lights. I was told that the community comes together after Thanksgiving to light up the town in a magnificent display for the holidays. The short downtown stretch of buildings, shops and restaurants are adorned from top to bottom in a festive light display. Twinkling white lights always give you such a warm feeling, and evoke memories of being a kid enjoying the little things. I grew up in a small town and you can really feel that same warmth of the people here who take the time to say hello as they pass you by on the street.

If you live in Portland or the PNW and haven’t made it to Ashland, I highly suggest putting this trip on your to do list. The quaint feel, delicious food and easy going nature are just a few reasons to visit — and if that’s not enough, there’s an In-N-Out in Medford!

Whether you come for the Shakespeare festival or to experience the winter wonderland, you’ll love the friendly people, variety of activities, and charming vibe on this quick weekend getaway, because it’s Ashland, as you like it.

 

 

San Francisco – the perfect weekend getaway

When I was a little girl, I visited San Francisco for the first time. I remember being enchanted by the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, the densely packed crowds on the city streets, and the rumbling below my feet signaling the proximity of the classic cable cars racing down the iconic San Francisco hills.

I’ve ventured back handfuls of times throughout the years, and every time, I’m delighted to find that I can still experience something new, try a brand new restaurant, finding tiny nooks and crannies within the city.

During this visit, I was so excited to be staying in the heart of it all, Union Square, with the Sir Francis Drake Kimpton hotel. Many of the city’s hotels are relics of the past, with their antique elevators, old-fashioned (but still functioning) mail chutes. Yet these buildings have been modernized, giving you a one of a kind feel somewhere between quirky and classic. The hotel, especially those insanely comfortable beds are perfect for when you’ve come back to rest after a full day on the move.

I love the details of the Sir Francis Drake. Particularly the artistic details that personally appeal to me like the tile mosaics in the entryway, Art Deco style arches and ceiling design, the retro furniture featuring classic starburst mirrors and wallpaper reminiscent of the roaring 20s.

How fabulous is this hotel?

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Even the top-floor Starlight Lounge has epic 180 degree views from 21 floors above, and lush, decadent design with red velvet furniture, teardrop chandelier lighting and dark lighting, creating the perfect atmosphere.

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If you visit during the holidays, you’ll get to experience it California style. Palm trees light the square, and Christmas wreaths and lights out you in a festive mood the moment you set foot inside the hotel. It was quite gorgeous and definitely put me in the holiday spirit!

Don’t forget breakfast at the adjoining Scala’s Bistro. The eggs Benedict were delicious. The hollandaise was perfectly creamy and rich, and the latte was just what I needed to fuel me as I walked throughout the city exploring for the day.

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Nearby Union Square comes alive at night, especially around this time of year. Congregate with throngs of tourists at the giant Christmas tree, marvel at the numerous wreaths adorning the Macy’s facade, or feel like a kid again, and ice skate to your heart’s content.

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On Powell St., next to Union Square, one of the major cable car routes runs up the steep inclines of the city. If you’ve never experienced a cable car ride before, you must hop on and experience the exhilarating ride down one of the city’s iconic hills. How awesome would it be if that was your daily commute? I wouldn’t complain!

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When you visit the Bay Area, don’t forget all the major hotspots in downtown San Francisco. The Ferry building, in addition to being extremely photogenic, has every type of vendor imaginable from cheese to produce, coffee, ice cream, Mexican food, empanadas, you name it. Especially in the summer this is an enjoyable walk, about 1-2 mi to/from the center/Union Square.

Mission Dolores Park is another must-see location. This is more of a locals spot, so you’ll get a relaxed vibe from residents taking it easy on the lawn, playing catch with their dog, picnicking with friends, or if you get lucky,  you’ll be entertained by a group acro-yoga class practicing their balancing skills.

The Golden Gate is an obvious choice and clearly the number one spot for newbies and repeat visitors alike. I can never get enough of this view, and there are many places to see it. Whether you’re in the Marina neighborhood, up high on the streets of  Nob Hill, a boat to Alcatraz, or one of the lookout points on both sides of the bridge, each view is unique. It is truly something to marvel at, with its vivid red-orange color and iconic design.

Chinatown is another classic spot to wander around and get lost. Did you know that San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest in the country? Whenever I’m walking through the streets, I really feel as though I’ve transported to a small town in China. Signs are written in Chinese and it is spoken primarily throughout the streets, blending in with the occasional tour group. This area is fairly large with lots to discover. I’d suggest visiting the Fortune cookie Factory, treat yourself to a tea tasting at one of the local stores, buy souvenirs, get a cheap foot massage or try one of the many dim sum restaurants or bubble tea shops. You’re certain to have a unique experience.

Don’t forget to wander the streets and just enjoy the views. This is a very compact, dense city, and there is something new to be discovered around every corner and inside every small alleyway.

One of the main reasons I made the trip to San Francisco was for the newly opened Museum of Ice Cream. I’m all about sparkles and pink, so this was a must visit on my list. I had already visited the Color Factory, but this was sure to be another fun experience including, you guessed it, lots of ICE CREAM!

The sensory overload of scratch and sniff wallpaper, sprinkle pools, selfie stations and ice cream treats did not disappoint. This was insanely fun, and something I’d highly recommend to bring out that inner 13 year old.

 

Another artistic experience is seeing all of the colorful Victorian houses, which are a San Francisco trademark. They come in all shapes and sizes, and I’m constantly on the hunt for the coolest houses on the block.

 

Let’s talk food.  The city is well known as one of the best dim sum scenes in the country, as well as Asian foods in general. In other words, it is foodie heaven.

Dumpling Time has affordable yet beautiful dishes, and it’s almost impossible to not order the entire menu. I also loved that they offer a wide selection of teas on the menu, my favorite being Jasmine. It did not disappoint!

One of my other faves was Garden Creamery. They specialize in unique flavors such as black sesame, Japanese coffee & tea, Ube (purple sweet yam), Guava li hing mui & Thai tea, and many many more. Hands down one of the best ice cream shops I’ve ever visited and some of the nicest employees I’ve seen.

Farmhouse Thai was a sleeper that I didn’t expect to love so much. We walked in, were greeted by a man in festive Thai garb, saw large groups having a great time, while loud music blared and videos about Thailand were projected on the walls. The atmosphere was fun and inviting, even seated at the bar. I ordered the Tom Kha coconut soup with tofu, and added on noodles. It was one of the best Thai meals I’ve ever had. The depth of flavor, tropical yet comforting, blew my mind. I can’t wait to try the Portland location.

Tartine Bakery is a well-known, local staple, and morning buns are a must for a quick snack or pre-brunch treat, because that’s how you gotta roll. The taste of sugar, (I think) lemon zest, and perfectly buttery pastry dough made for one of the better pastries I’ve tried, in my unofficially official pastry tasting career. If only I could have one every single morning for breakfast with my coffee!

Literally the choices in San Francisco are endless. There are so many places to try, and so little time.

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely left my heart in San Francisco, and will leave it over and over and over again. But, I don’t mind going back often to find it and leave it there for rediscovering, as it is one of my favorite places in the world.

Have you visited the city by the Bay? Let me know below if you have, and if you have any suggestions for my next visit!

latte art life

One of my goals in life is to learn how to make latte art. It’s my favorite part about ordering one, when I actually prefer an americano! We all know the disappointment when you get a blob of cream resembling…a heart…A swan…Who knows? But when you do get that perfect swirl, out come the cameras and the oohs and aahs. So, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few perfect cups, and I’m always searching for more. Let me know where your fave spot is, in the comments below!

HOME – San Francisco, CA

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Kainos Coffee – Portland, OR

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Case Study – Portland, OR

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Kit Coffee – Newport Beach, CA

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Pips Original – Portland, OR

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Our Bar – Washougal, WA

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Mazarine – San Francisco, CA

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Heart Roasters – Portland, OR

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Behind the Museum cafe – Portland, OR

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Proud Mary – Portland, OR

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farm:table – San Francisco, CA

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We’re not in Oz anymore…but it sure feels like it!

Maybe you’ve been living under a rock these last few months, or maybe you didn’t notice a new restaurant hiding in plain sight on NE Alberta St; but, based on the lines and crowds at Proud Mary, it’s time you wise up and experience one of the only places in town where the wait is worth it.

This picturesque Melbourne-style cafe brings a fresh, modern take to the heavily-saturated brunch movement in Portland. It is truly a breath of fresh air from the typical fried chicken and greasy spoon joints; instead,  dazzling customers with drop-dead gorgeous, healthy, and extraordinarily delicious plates, warm, friendly service, and outstanding coffee. But more on that later.

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You’ll have a hard time deciding what to order, but I’ll let you in on a few tips. The coconut rice pudding will change your life. I don’t even know how it tastes so light and fluffy, with the perfectly light sweetness, but I hope this is NEVER taken off their regular menu. You’d also be remiss to not order the avocado toast and flat white, as both are inventions by none other than our friends Down Under.

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If you dig a little further into the menu, or if you grab a seat at the bar, fitted with custom espresso machines, you’ll find a story that goes deeper than you might imagine. Owner Nolan Hirte has dedicated himself to educating people about the complexity of coffee (which has more chemical compounds than wine, by the way). If you think coffee cannot be enjoyed black, think again. I never thought I would be willing to gladly spend more than $4-5+ per cup; however, when you think about what goes into the PRICE of the coffee you’re enjoying, it is worth it. Nolan sources all of his coffee from small farmers, in turn supporting them and their families, and I think that’s something we can all get behind…and something that the world could use more of.

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Between the warm hospitality, charming atmosphere, vibrant energy and spectacular menu, it is easy to see why Proud Mary is my favorite brunch spot in town. It is a must-visit for any local or tourist passing through town, in search of a unique experience. Make sure you go with a big group, order one of everything, including the juice/coffee/smoothie menu, relax, and enjoy one of the best experiences you’ll have in Portland.

NYC – the city that never sleeps

I don’t know about you, but when I think about New York City, I immediately start singing Frank Sinatra in my head, and there’s something about those words, and that song, that just gives you all the feels.

Alaska Air now goes direct (which is essential for a cross-country flight) from PDX-JFK, so once you land, you can hit the ground running. Chill out in the Alaska lounge, and once you board, let them spoil you in first class on that loooooong flight. However, the flight will go quickly because you’ll be full of anticipation to visit one of the most exciting places in the world!

I always try to have an itinerary ready, along with backup plans once I arrive. There are so many things to do and see, so it’s good to have a game plan. It’s also good to plan by neighborhood, as it’s not practical or feasible to go up and down Manhattan, not to mention cost-prohibitive.

My first stop was the Oculus at World Trade Center. Wow, what an amazing piece of architecture! I also visited the 9/11 memorial, which was quite moving.

Next, you gotta get fuel for a full day of walking. I went to Sadelle’s, a popular bagel and lox restaurant, that did not disappoint.

Next food stop was Dominique Ansel bakery (no further explanation needed).

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Most of the day was spent walking around the city, soaking in the experience, the energy, enjoying the moment observing all that the city has to offer, especially people watching. Greenwich Village is one of my favorite places for brownstone townhouses and quaint, neighborhoody atmosphere.

Don’t forget a stop at the classic neighborhood joint, Joe’s Pizza. It might be basic, but it’s delicious. Tomatoes are fresh, no need to visit a fancy restaurant for this quality. Only $3.50 per slice!

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There’s also every other possible food imaginable in the city, including Yucatán style tacos, bubble tea and Israeli food.

Embrace the rain, and step outside to enjoy the sights at night. This is when the city really comes alive. Take the time to ponder how many people are out there, in their cars, the lit windows in apartments and office buildings and what their lives are like. It is pretty mind boggling stuff!

For even more (one of a kind) epic views , visit Top of the Rock at a Rockefeller Center and Times Square. This is something you’ll never experience or see anywhere else on Earth.

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New York is truly one of a kind. It is a city that really never sleeps, and definitely somewhere that once you visit, you want to be a part of it. Many people refer to NYC as the center of the universe. It’s where money is traded, restaurants find their Michelin stars, everyday folks pound the pavement to “make it,” and dreams feel as if they’re around every corner.

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Ride the subway, and arrive in a new neighborhood, feeling as if you’ve been teleported to a new world. New York is a city so compact full of detail, that variety and new discoveries are literally endless. I think this is what makes the city so magical. It is everything and anything that you want it to be, and can be. So what are you waiting for?!

Phoenix – it’s a dry heat

After visiting Arizona a handful of times, I finally feel comfortable enough giving you some pointers to plan your next visit. I’m showing you all of my favorite things to do, whether it’s spring break, Spring Training or a long weekend. As one of the largest cities in the country, there’s plenty to see and do (including a day trip to Sedona or Tucson). Even when it’s 90-100F, you’ll find something to do. It really is a dry heat!!

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There are plenty of good breakfasts in Phoenix, but don’t fix what isn’t broken, right?! My first stop is almost always Butter’s Pancakes in Scottsdale. I’m a fan of the classic eggs, smashed potatoes & fruit plate, but this time I veered (very wisely on my part) and got the cinnamon roll pancakes. Bye bye fruit, I have a new fave breakfast.

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No need to feel guilty about all those carbs at breakfast. With handfuls of hikes all over the city, I like to try a new one every visit. One of my new faves is Papago Park. Unfortunately it was 100F so I couldn’t get to the “hole in the rock” which is supposed to have a great view of the city, but I did get to enjoy the scenery.

 

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Another favorite is Camelback mountain (very steep, rated difficult), and my top hike is McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which I’ll show later on. Across the street from Papago Park is the Phoenix Zoo, where you can get up close and personal, and feed the giraffes and sting rays. It was actually really fun! The entry fee is a little steep, so if you’re a member of your local zoo, check the Phoenix Zoo website for discounted prices (or if you have AAA).

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No trip to Arizona is complete without a great plate of tacos. Otro Café does it right. The flavor of the fillings with the perfect side salsas is all you can really ask for. I got the camarones (shrimp) and carnitas (shredded pork).

 

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Of course there are abundant breakfast tacos, because, well…Arizona. These are from Snooze AM Cafe.

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There are plenty of choices for food that I can go into detail later, but I pretty much try to get my fill of Mexican food since there are so many places, and they’re all SO good!

One of my favorite activities in general, but especially in Arizona, is watching the sunset.  One of the best places to do so is McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale. The park closes at sunset, so you can go a little early, get in a quick hike and then stay and watch the sky light up. One of the best parts of this hike is seeing all of the different cacti. One of my favorites is the teddy bear cactus. It isn’t quite as cuddly as it sounds, but it sure is cute.

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The saguaro (above) are so quirky and have a unique look. If you didn’t know, cacti have wooden spines inside. Even though the outside looks like it might be soft and puffy, only touch at your own risk. OUCH! Another fun fact is that the older the saguaro is, the more arms it has. I like finding the super old ones with a ton of them. Those are about 100+ years old!

 

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You can’t leave without seeing an Arizona sunsets. The expansive & obstructed views from the mountains make for killer views. There’s nothing like it.

Comment below and let me know some of your favorite things to do in Arizona!

5 Must visit brunch spots

Anyone who knows Portland, knows what we do best: Brunch. Kinda like the age-old chicken and the egg question, I’m not sure if I chose the brunch life, or the Portland brunch life chose me. I’ve tried literally dozens of places, and there are way too many good ones to name them all.  However, I’ve whittled down the list to my top 5 in their own category.

 

Chic brunch: La Moule

This small but mighty SE spot is situated next to a never ending brunch line at another local spot, however, I think La Moule is well worth bailing that line and grabbing a table here.  Whether you choose the granola parfait (using Seattle’s famous Ellenos yogurt & Bee Local honey), moule frites (mussels & amazing fries), or crab avocado toast, you are in for a treat. The daily special when I brunched here was a CHURRO Belgian waffle. Need I say more?!

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Boozy brunch: Punch Bowl Social

Most of the time I mention Punch Bowl, I get a confused look as if people have not heard of it, or aren’t sure where it is. The location is a bit off-beat, inside Pioneer Place Mall, but do not let that deter you. The amazing menu of food and drink will be your ultimate reward.

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I was lucky enough to dine with a friend, and we were brought almost the entire menu. We tried everything from quinoa grain bowls to pimento cheese toast, walnut monkey bread French toast, Bloody Marys, chicken & waffles, and of course their specialty, boozy punch.

There are many reasons you shouldn’t wait to eat here. From the spectacular menu created with the help of celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, outstanding service, and 32,000 square feet of game rooms, this should be near the top of your list.

 

Basic (in the best way) brunch: Olympia Provisions

Simplicity is key at this old school Portland fave. Omelets are served with a side of laser potatoes. My theory is that the potatoes are sliced so perfectly thin, that the side dish gets its name from the robot in the kitchen, slicing each piece with precision.

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The beignets are, well, perfect. Slightly doughy with the perfect amount of puff and a good sized mountain of powdered sugar on top, as it should be. I ate way too many of these. And that olive oil poached albacore tuna salad. It’s not currently on the menu, but this ain’t no rinky-dink sad salad that you’ve had in the past. The taste of this tuna makes you feel like you’ve eaten it for the first time. The juicy tenderness of the fish is sublime, and the blood orange vinaigrette is the perfect complement. You cannot miss this institution when visiting Portland.

 

Unique brunch: Tusk

Recently named as a Food & Wine award-winning restaurant, the depth of flavors at this design-forward spot are only exceeded by the pleasantl, fresh atmosphere. It makes you want to stay for hours chatting and immediately find an apartment close by so you can come every weekend for brunch.

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Even the drink menu is irresistible. I’ve ordered the iced matcha mint, chai with sunchoke froyo & coffee all in one sitting. The menus change often, so….yolo?!

My personal faves are the shakshuka, an Israeli classic with baked eggs in spicy tomato sauce, as well as the Young Turk pita sandwich with hummus, fries (& more), and lastly, the Cypriot featuring grilled halloumi slices with fried eggs, olives and salad.

Don’t forget to cap off your meal with the featured pastry from baker-extraordinaire Nora Antene. Whether it’s babka or halva laced carbs, don’t hesitate. Order. Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

 

Vegan brunch: Aviv

If you’ve been to Portland, you know vegan doesn’t mean taste or quality has been sacrificed in the preparation of your meal. In fact, it should be automatically assumed that Portland does vegetarian and vegan very well, and the meal will (obvi) be excellent. Perhaps you’ll wonder if this could be your 24/7 lifestyle.

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Afer living in LA and tasting dozens of hummus dishes, I have to say I was at first skeptical of an Israeli restaurant in Portland. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the depth of flavor and care with which the dishes were made and presented. Dining out just isn’t about the food. It’s about the experience and the service (which was exceptional by the way).

The challah French toast was my absolute favorite. The texture of the bread was phenomenal. Dense yet airy and soaked in rose water perfection, I savored every bite. The pickled veggies had the perfect vinegary bite, and the pita was pillowy perfection.

This small, tucked away, corner mall location is worth the awkward parking lot. Come early, and you shouldn’t have to wait. I’m not sure why this place doesn’t have lines, but I’ll take advatange while I can!

 

What are some of your favorite brunch spots in PDX? Let me know below!

Doing it for the gram

If you’ve seen my instagram  you know that I love an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, and if it’s a restaurant, they must also have good food. I try my best to only post things that I truly believe in and would recommend to anyone to visit, so you can quote me on all of these places.

See the first installment of my must-see places in Portland. Whether it’s purely for the gram or for the pure joy of checking out a new place, you won’t want to miss these spots.

So put on your cutest outfit, practice those poses & bring an instabuddy for pics. These are the spots you need to check out.

Ataula

Not only is the food delicious, it’s absolutely stunning, and the plating is unique. Each dish is painstakingly created and presented in the kitchen, and is sure to never disappoint. This is one of my favorite places in all of Portland.

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Tusk

Can’t get enough of millennial pink? This is your spot. With the cleanest aesthetic in town, and super inventive (middle eastern style) menu items, you will literally never want to leave this magazine-worthy wonderland.

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Tea Bar

I’m super into the clean, minimalist look, and even if you aren’t, you cannot deny that less is more once you walk into one of the 3 local boba shops. Oh yeah, don’t forget to try the matcha boba (pops against the white walls) or the smooth & creamy rose/charcoal soft serve, sure to make your Instagram comments lit.

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Proud Mary

When you walk into this beautiful open space with sky high ceilings, and the faint sound of Aussie accents all around you, you’ll wonder if you woke up in Australia that morning. Sit at the coffee bar for a PhD lesson in beans from the owner, Noah, and wait for your picture perfect ricotta pancake topped with a meringue tuile & berry/flower garnish. I mean…come ON!

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Guero

Before visiting Mexico City, I would have called this joint “hipster”, however, after my trip a few months ago, I can see that Mexico has always been way ahead of us in terms of design, impeccable flavor profiles and sleek venues. This is exactly the kind of place you’d find in Condesa or Roma Norte, and I can confirm that if I close my eyes, the tortas taste just as good as in Mexico City…and that’s saying something.

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Around town

I could describe each of these places, but I’ll let the pics do the talking (except for Kainos Coffee. That place is LEGIT). Take yourself on a tour around Portland and snap away. There’s definitely no shortage of picturesque & design forward spots around the city.

 

hi-lo hotel

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Union Way

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Kainos Coffee

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City home & work/shop pdx

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Ace hotel

 

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Have fun on your insta-tour & tag me in your pics. I’d love to see which ones you check out. Stay tuned for the next installment and let me know what places I should feature next!

Feast Portland 2017

Another year, another Feast. If you’re a foodie, this is basically your Christmas (or Hanukkah), because you get to taste amazing flavors and bites from dozens of prominent chefs around the country, nerd out with fellow foodies, and if you’re lucky, attend industry after-parties.

This year’s Bon Appétit presents Feast Portland 2017 featured 134 chefs, 31 wineries, 15 breweries, 11 artisans, and 12 distilleries. There were 17,948 total attendees. The best part is that net proceeds of Feast Portland 2017 will be donated to their charitable partner, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.

Check out the run-down of my favorite moments below.

 

Sandwich Invitational

Where else can you eat 20-25 different sandwiches in one place? That’s right, nowhere but Feast. Using a bracket-style scoring system, 3 winners were chosen.  People’s choice went to Pastrami Zombie’s Melissa McMillan for her “Zombae” thick pastrami sammie. Judges’ vote went to Lardo for their Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich (so good), and most Instagrammable went to Blue Smoke’s donut & bologna creation.  My own honorable mention goes to the rib biscuit sandwich with preserves from Lauretta Jean’s (pictured below).

 

Media events & after parties

The events within the events were some of the most delicious moments of the entire weekend. It’s great to convene with people in the industry, and people you’ve seen throughout the year on Instagram or from previous media events. The main topic of conversation was a recap of each event and fawning over the amazing food selections from events of the day and the after parties.  Two words to sum up the decadence of the weekend found at one of the after parties:   Caviar. Bar.

 

The conveniently located media lounge was another winner. It was like home away from home to chat, eat even more fabulous food catered by Chefstable, charge your phone, drink Healthade kombucha, put your feet up on fancy Pendleton accessorized couches, and people watch, while waiting for the day’s next event.

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Night Market

This Latin-themed event brought all the boys (and girls) to Zidell Yards. The variety of items  were unique, and there was a little bit of everything. Taqueria Nueve brought chorizo taco bites, and we also feasted on Ray Restaurant’s watermelon juice bags, Ox’s roasted pork sandwich, Bunk’s green Chile cheeseburger, 180’s churro cup filled with Tillamook ice cream, and last but not least, Nineteen Twentyseven’s pisco sour marshmallow s’more. The last bite was one I didn’t get to taste, as the line was ridiculously long, but I like to fantasize about how good it would have been!

Grand Tasting

Wine tasting, donuts & Hawaiian shave ice…Oh my! If there is a heaven, I imagine it has endless wine tastings, sweet treats, cheese and chocolate galore, just like this event. The stars of the event were the local kine shave ice from Kauai-based Wailua Shave Ice and the la’ssant (read: cronut) donuts from Lake Oswego’s NOLA donuts. My personal fave was the deliciously decadent chocolate from Honey Mama’s, who uses creamy Peruvian chocolate with add-in items like rose petals, coconut and coffee.

 

Celeb chefs

Let’s just say I was completely star-struck by the following people I had the joy of watching them do their thing. Watching someone cook is just fascinating!

Gregory Gourdet – Top Chef alum of Departure

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Dennis the Prescott – Instagram sensation & cookbook author

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Andy Ricker of PokPok fame & Bon Appetit’s Adam Rappaport

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Christina Tosi – Masterchef judge & Milkbar goddess

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Souvla / Wizbangbar pop up

The locally known Greek restaurant, Souvla, in San Francisco, packed up and set up shop inside Salt and Straw’s Wizbangbar at Pine Street Market for a one day only event. Featured was the tart and classic Greek froyo with their unique toppings of sour cherry syrup, honey, California Olive Ranch olive oil, BAKLAVA (yep that’s right), and Wizbangbar’s signature magic chocolate shell. If you weren’t lucky enough to get on this while they were in town, you can try their desserts in San Francisco. I plan on doing so when I visit later this year.

 

Brunch Village

What is there to say about the most delicious event of the year, featuring everyone’s favorite meal: Brunch, besides “feed me now”?!  From Bloody Mary bars to tables filled with champagne, breakfast sammies, yogurt with a variety of amazing toppings (my fave was the Icelandic yogurt with juniper vinaigrette), there is literally something for everyone. Lots of southern food was offered as well, namely comfort food served by Maya Lovelace’s Mae and Laundrette from Austin, TX.

Because Breakfast

This fun size event brought all the beauty. I felt like I was walking into a quaint party with friends where I could pick up little treats along the way. Stumptown was making their signature drinks, excellently, as usual. Tea Bar was there with vanilla rose boba and matcha lemonade (fave) pictured below. Locally based Petunia’s Pastries featured her amazingly delicious vegan bites, that should not be missed, whether you’re vegan or not.

side note: don’t show up late like I did. I was so busy stuffing my face at brunch that I missed many of the vendors at this event because they ran out of food (read: popular and delicious). Can’t wait to see what other events are in store for next year!

 

Pizza & Burgers

I can’t think of anything more delicious than this classic combo of American foods. Two of my personal faves, Pizza Jerk and Bless Your Heart burgers, were slinging their signature items to this fun-size crowd. BYH has a soft potato bun with a salty burger and perfect amount of toppings. And those cheesy fries. Lawd have mercy!

Portland Sangria quenched our thirst with their 3 flavors of locally made sangria, so we could finish off with pies from picture perfect Lovely’s Fifty Fifty (squash, edible flowers and sweet corn) and Pizza Jerk’s seasonal pies that Tommy created on the spot (Middle photo).

My favorite part about Feast Portland, is that every year we get to try different dishes from different restaurants around the country. That may be continually changing, but one thing remains constant. It’s always delicious. Even though dieting was not on the menu this past weekend, frankly everything I’ll eat till next year will seem mediocre until Feast 2018.  Luckily the countdown has already begun. Mark those calendars for September 13-16, and see you next year!