In 2012, I anticipate eating better for me food, cutting down on portion sizes, and focusing on nutritional value a little more. So it was natural that in the last week of 2011 I eat myself into a food coma that would result in 4 extra pounds of weight on my short-waisted frame. It just seemed like a good idea. This isn’t really anything that I regret, either. I ate some of the best food the world has to offer and spent quality time with family and friends. Also, I met Lisa Schroeder of Mother’s Bistro (post to come).

Husband is beginning to understand that my family is mostly into going out to eat. Dad hikes, Mom reads, but we all have the commonality that we need to eat or else we will die and we really nurture that as much as possible. In fact, we had very few plans that were set in stone aside from going out to eat. And why not, really.

When we arrived in Portland, we all had one cuisine in mind: Thai. This is kind of a funny thing, when you think about it, because neither my parents nor Husband care for spicy food. But we have managed to find one really delicious Thai restaurant that serves up fairly mild options and those are the options we eat. So with visions of fried rice and Pad Thai dancing over our heads, we got in the car to drive just a few minutes away to our most favorite Thai restaurant. You can imagine how sad we all were when we served up our food and realized, after just a bite or two, that it was all sprinkled rather liberally with red pepper flakes. It’s something I probably could have handled, but the food was utterly ruined for the rest of the family. We got lucky; the server and owner felt horrible about the situation and replaced it with non-spicy food (as per usual) and I think I probably gained most of my weight that night alone. I can put away lemongrass chicken Pad Thai like you wouldn’t believe and — here’s the best part — they smother it all with peanut sauce. Peanut sauce.

 

The following morning we headed into McMinnville for a lovely Christmas Eve brunch. I chalk this one up to my parents; they brilliantly found what I think is probably now my #1 favorite Oregon restaurant called the Crescent Cafe. It’s small and warm and cozy and always bustling and it smells a lot like I imagine heaven will smell like. They have no website, no Facebook page — in fact, when I asked the owner if I could link my blog post up to his site, he said they’ve never paid a nickel for any ads — it opened five years ago and they’ve never had a slow day. Food that speaks for itself — that’s food you want to fill your belly with every day. I realize I could spend probably five posts to wax poetic about this one meal alone, so I will provide for you the highlights: honey oat bread with golden raisins that makes the most idyllic toast in the world (by the way, Mom, I totally forgot the remainder of the loaf in your freezer – mail it to me?), caramelized banana pancakes that put all other banana pancakes to shame, and a chicken hash that is less like home fries and more like a crispy patty of chicken and mashed potatoes. It might sound weird now, but once you eat it you’ll never knock it again.

Christmas dinner was traditional: ham with pineapple sauce, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and a jell-o salad that we won’t be speaking of, ever again. It wasn’t flashy or extremely gourmet, but it was delicious and hot and filled us all up, which you know, is the main point of food. Our mashed potatoes were creamy and fluffy and didn’t have a weird sheen to them, and I made them extra buttery because I’m a good person with good intentions. We followed it up with pie. It should probably be mentioned here that neither my mother nor I make pie, and you better believe Christmas night’s was purchased at a local restaurant.

Mother’s Bistro & Bar followed on Wednesday evening, but I’ll leave the details till my next post. Pear sorbet, though. I’ll give you that one to mull over.

Our food journey came to a close when Husband and I headed into the Pearl District, not for Hot Lips Pizza (though we passed by it and I briefly considered having some as an hor d’oeuvre) but rather train sushi with three of my closest girlfriends who are also Korean adoptees. I’ll admit, I probably love train sushi primarily for the novelty of delicious food going by me on a conveyor belt, that I can snatch up at any given moment. I mean, it’s sushi. On a conveyor belt. There’s just nothing wrong with that. And I really cleaned up, eating shrimp sushi, breaded shrimp sushi, tempura shrimp sushi, some coconut shrimp (look we don’t eat a lot of shrimp at home, okay), spring rolls, potstickers, veggie sushi, and salmon sushi to round everything out. I rolled out to the car, unable to breathe. That’s the best feeling in the world.

Aside from spending a nice holiday with my truly excellent parents, the week was a gentle reminder of how much better Oregon is than Utah. I mean, I suppose that goes without saying. But even looking at it with strictly a foodie eye, you will see local, sustainable restaurants serving up fare that is both creative and comforting versus chain restaurant after chain restaurant after chain restaurant serving up boring food. I don’t think I’ve found a single restaurant that excels at comfort food here, nor a good Thai restaurant (though we’ve found a couple really mediocre ones), and for the life of me I haven’t found a way to get home without taking a plane. The search continues, though.

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