Two weekends ago, I took a jet plane to Portland - met my mom there for a glorious and jam packed weekend and the main purpose was to attend the 2010 Zine Symposium. Portland is a hub of zinesters and aficionados when it comes to all things, zines, do-it-yourself publications and independent publishing. For more info on what a zine is, click here and for a mini tutorial, click here.
Mom and I had a grand plan from the time she picked me up at PDX until she dropped me off Sunday night. The first plan of attack was heading to Powell's Bookstore, downtown Portland. Powell's is a book lover's paradise, it covers several blocks of downtown Portland and there are color-coded rooms where various sections live. Of course, I was hunkered down in the cooking section, which was so well-stocked, it blew my mind.
My friends, Pete and Sarah, Portland ex pats (only for a temporary time though, they will return one day), recommended several restaurants, including The Farm Cafe where we dined Friday night. Farm Cafe is quaint home converted into a charming, cozy restaurant. Local, sustainable and carefully selected ingredients are worshipped and adored at this highly praised restaurant. It continues to win the hearts of locals and boasts a number of accolades. Mom had the pleasure of dining here last summer with some gal pals (thanks again to Pete and Sarah for the suggestion) and she ordered the pan crusted tofu with caramelized onions, mushrooms and mashed potatoes. As if that isn't enough to make your tummy happy, it's all surrounded by a sweet marsala sauce. We also shared an appetizer of halibut fish cakes that were served with a sundried tomato aioli. We could've eaten these alone for dinner and I would've been satisfied. I was torn between several dishes on the menu, but the call of goat cheese ravioli was too overwhelming to pass up, so I succumbed like an alcoholic. Mom and I shared the blueberry and peach cobbler for dessert, and left the Farm Cafe in quite a deliriously happy state.
Saturday marked the beginning of the Zine Symposium which was located at Portland State University (also located downtown) and lucky for us, the gym was a hop skip and a jump from the Saturday Farmer's Market which is held at the university every Saturday. Your eyes would pop out of your head at all the farmers and various of foodie vendors. Hypothetically, one could do all of their grocery shopping here at the market - flowers, cheese, bread, oils, jams, pickles, veggies, fruit, seafood, poultry...the list goes on and on. In addition, there are some amazing breakfast/lunch options while buying some groceries at the market. I had a homemade artichoke heart and cotija stuffed tamale and my mom had a savory french crepe stuffed with cheese and grilled veggies. When visiting another city, I always try to stroll through their local farmer's market, if they have one, it says so much about the city and gives me an excuse to take tons of great photos!
The Laughing Planet Cafe is a eclectic cafe that serves healthy quesadillas, burritos, tacos, bowls, salads...in other words, the works! Funky and electrically painted and decorated, this cafe automatically puts you in a good mood with their friendly staff and rockin 70s tunes. I had a yummy chicken burrito filled to the max with grilled veggies and my mom ordered a quesadilla stuffed with tons of veggies too. The trio of salsas each brought a unique aspect to each bite and neither of us felt "guilty" about eating our meals. We even sat outside on a picnic bench and enjoyed the cool weather as we dined and caught up on life and all we experienced at the first day of the Zine Symposium.
No trip to Portland would be complete without a pit stop at two of Portland's most famous places - Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Voodoo Doughnuts. Stumptown to Portland is what Intelligentsia and LA Mill is to Los Angeles, a coffee connoisseur's haven. Urban hipsters unite for good coffee, mellow vibes and hanging out at Stumptown, and of course a cup of java that will blow your mind. Now Voodoo Doughnuts is a very special place too, open 24 hours, this sugar fix joint thrives on its delicious donuts but also on its quirky menu, including donuts topped with your favorite childhood cereal and "adult themed" donuts for your wedding or bachelor parties (I kid you not). Voodoo has been featured on Man vs. Food and several other foodie t.v. programs. No wonder we waited 30 minutes for a donut, but the wait was absolutely worth it!
There were so many other wonderful memories, my mom and I shared while in Portland, this city is a very special place on so many levels and I can see why people choose it as a home base. It's beautiful with trees, trees and more trees, the river is close. Portland is a hub of culture, creativity and diversity. Magical place, it really is and I can't wait to go back someday.