Mar 022015
 

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early (aka 8:30am) and made a breakfast of scrambled eggs with spicy pork sausage and fried polenta with a lot of spicy sauce. It was really good and only around 400 calories. Plus coffee. It was a nice day out and we planned on going for a hike. I’m slightly disturbed by the abnormally nice weather here in Portland. Usually the rain starts in February and goes through June. I really hope this doesn’t mean we won’t get a summer….Anyways, here was breakfast:

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Bella gets SUPER EXCITED when she realizes we are going for a hike. We start getting the gear together and she starts spazzing out, whimpering, jumping, whining, running between the rooms where Michael and I are in. Total spaz. We made a stop at Subway to get lunch to go and then hit the road for a day hike in the Gorge! It was a gorgeous, warm-ish day (55 degrees) but a little on the windy side. We drove about 45 minutes east towards the Bridge of the Gods and decided to hike Dry Creek Falls. We’ve done it a few times but this time was the longest distance we did on this hike.

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I like this trail a lot because it’s rarely ever crowded. It’s a good workout without being too brutally hard you’re miserable and it’s through old growth forest that shields the bitter cold winds of the Gorge. The parking lot right by the Bridge of the Gods is a pay lot, but if you drive one block away and drive through the neighborhood there’s parking under the bridge for free right by the trailhead. FYI.

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We walked on the soft ground padded with pine needles and moss and the trail snaked through the thick trees that made the forest seem dark. There were breaks in the trees where we got to enjoy some of the sunshine. It was warm enough that a jacket wasn’t needed. I had a moisture-wicking t-shirt and a sweater on and that was good.  We came across a few different groups of hikers and everyone was really nice, plus all the people with dogs off leash put them on a leash when they saw us! What a nice change. Also, Bella did SUPER great on the hike. No barking at strangers or dogs, she just seemed a little excited and curious.

We got to a fork in the trail where the falls are and a bridge. This is as far as we’d ever gone on this hike. We skipped the Falls this time because I remember it being kind of small and anticlimactic. Instead, we decided to cross the bridge and go further up the trail.

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Bella tends to be afraid of bridges. She panics and refuses to cross the bridge. I went first and we walked single-line across the short and narrow bridge. She was a little freaked out but made it across ok! It’s so funny what she’s afraid of. Bridges. Vaccuums. The mop…Silly pup.

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We got across the bridge and stopped for lunch. We shared a Subway sandwich and drank some water in the sunshine and hung out next to the creek and bridge. It was a nice view for lunch. We’d hiked about 45 minutes so far at this point.

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After lunch we continued up the trail. It was quiet and dim, no one else on this part of the trail. We hiked through the forest and the trail was pretty level at this point. The first part of the trail is strenuous and gets your heart pounding but this part was pretty easy. Bella stopped to sniff every single fern in the forest and we passed by acres of moss covered trees and mushrooms and furry forest creatures, which thankfully Bella wasn’t too interested in.

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We hiked for awhile and then came to a clearing and a boulder field. The trail was beginning to get a bit rocky here and I stumbled a lot. I think I was starting to get tired and even though we’d eaten lunch mid-hike, I don’t think I fueled properly for the amount of hiking we did. I was starting to feel like I was close to hitting the wall. My body felt okay at this point but I was tired.

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There was a bit of a view of the river, Washington state, trees and sunshine from the top of the boulder field.

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We stopped along the narrow trail to let some other people pass by on the trail before we continued on. Bella was doing ok but I was a little worried about her footing on the boulder field. The trail was ok but the rocks were pretty big. *I* was struggling with it!

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The boulder field was still cool.  We kept hiking up the trail and it was going deeper into the forest. Michael joked that we were almost to Canada. It was part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from Canada to Mexico, so in theory we COULD have kept going…But I was definitely getting tired and was ready to turn around.

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It was such a pretty day and a nice hike but it was definitely time to turn around. In fact, we probably should have turned around about a mile before here. I was feeling lethargic and while my body felt ok (knees, etc), I was stumbling on the rocks on the trail. It was difficult in places to get the right footing and when I start stumbling I know I’m getting tired. I had some water and we continued on.

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While there aren’t that many viewpoints, it really is a pretty hike. We trekked down the trail and then got to the bridge. Bella crossed it like a champ, no fear this time, and we continued down the trail. Thankfully it was mostly downhill.

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We FINALLY got back to the car.  The last 3/4 miles were hard for me. My knees were starting to feel sore and I was really, really tired. Bella was doing okay, though, so that was good.

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We got back to the car and Michael checked our mileage. We did 6.16 miles! That was the longest hike we’ve done in a long time! It was roughly 1 mile longer than I would have wanted, but despite the fatigue, I enjoyed the day. Here are my calories:

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767 Calories burned! Bella fell asleep in the car immediately. I would have fallen asleep had Michael not poked me periodically to keep me awake. :P We got home, I gave Bella a bath, I also took a bath with epsom salts to try and relax my cranky knees and shins, and then Michael got started on dinner. Dinner was BBQ ribs and Brussels Sprouts. YUM! It might have been the best ribs Michael has done to date and I LOVE Brussels sprouts, so it was pretty much the perfect meal after a strenuous hike.

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The hike was good. It was a really nice day and the weather was near perfect. Would have been even more perfect had it been shorts and t-shirt weather. I iced my grumpy knees Saturday night and relaxed with some episodes of Gilmore Girls. All in all it was a good day!

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Feb 232015
 

I’ve often wondered what my last meal on earth would be. When posed with this question people usually want comfort food: pizza, burgers, lasagna, ice cream and pie. I always thought pizza and ice cream would be my choice. After my meal at Imperial, I vote for Doug’s Fried Chicken!

Doug Adams came up 3rd place in the most recent Top Chef season. He’s from Texas but moved to Portland and has been bouncing around at various impressive Portland restaurants before become Sous Chef at Imperial under Vitaly Paley. This season of Top Chef was pretty good and from the start I was hoping Gregory would win. He’s another Portland chef at Departure (a great place!).

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In the end it came down to Gregory, Mai and Doug. I was bummed when Melissa left. I felt like she was better than Mai, who ended up winning. I thought Melissa’s dishes looked the best and she had a nice personality–Mai not so much. I was SO BUMMER when Gregory didn’t win. Loved him.

Anyways, it was Michael’s dad’s last night in Portland before flying home to Texas and Michael got us reservations at Imperial. It was crazy–a Tuesday night and the place was packed! I guess the popularity of Top Chef has caused a boom in business. :)

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Michael has been raving about Imperial for ages now and this was the first time I’ve been. Now I’m kicking myself for not going before all the Top Chef groupies. :) What a cool place! It’s in the Hotel Lucia and the decor is modern and chic, the whole vibe is really cool.

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I wasn’t sure what to order. Everything sounded so intriguing! Even the Crispy Fried Pigtail….! I had my eye on the sausage du jour until I found out it was Blood Sausage (no thanks). In the end all three of us ordered the Doug’s Fried Chicken. We shared an order of the fries (I ate more than I planned on but not so many that I regretted it).

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Michael’s dad said they were the best fries he’s ever had. I thought they were pretty darn close (nothing compares to duck fat fries). I got a glass of a Pinot Gris that was way too sour for my liking (it was like eating a lemon) and ended up getting a lovely glass of Cab Franc (which I rarely drink but LOVED so will have to look for it elsewhere).

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This was kind of my last meal. After a weekend of indulging when Michael’s dad was visiting, it was the last decadent meal before I was getting back on track!

Michael ordered a salad and I had a few bites. It was the “Winter Citrus Salad”. It was salad greens, pistachios, grilled onions, tomatoes, grapefruit slices and an Oregon black truffle vinaigrette with the black truffle shavings on top. Holy COW. BEST SALAD EVER. I’ve never had a salad this good. I had two bites and wished I’d ordered my own. It was incredible. Absolutely, hands-down, incredible. And it was just a salad!

The waiter brought out the housemade hot sauce that was in an old-fashioned eye-dropper bottle and honey. Apparently they have beehives on the roof and make their own honey! So Portland. It was amazing, though.

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The place was so packed and service was slow, but that was expected. I figured it was the new-found celebrity. The waiter was great though and checked in frequently. The fried chicken came out on cast iron skillets atop tree stump trays. :) Again, totally Portland. But the presentation was incredible.

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Two large pieces of fried chicken with a watermelon salad on the side. Sounds simple but it was so fantastic. The watermelon was perfect, which was weird because it’s off season. The watermelon chunks had pickled onions, fennel and a tart vinaigrette on it. It went perfectly with the chicken.

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The watermelon was so juicy. How was the chicken? It was pretty darn good. Most importantly: Michael’s dad said it was the best meal he’d ever had and wants to come back to Imperial every time he visits. :) I loved the chicken. The hot sauce could have been a little spicier for my tastes, but other than that everything was great. I loved drizzling honey on top of the fried chicken. I’d never thought of that before. So smart!

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Somehow we got talked into dessert. I have no idea how because we were all stuffed and certainly didn’t need anymore food. It was the last dessert and we snagged it. It had been popular that night! We got the “Texas Sheetcake”.

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It was warm, gooey chocolate cake topped with honey ice cream (which I thought was pecan at first) hazelnuts and toasted marshmallow. IT WAS AMAZING. OMG. Thankfully we split it because it was so rich but seriously, I could have eaten that whole thing on my own. Wow. No words. So good.

Sadly, we did not spot Doug in the kitchen. Maybe someday. Everything tasted amazing and the service was fantastic. It was a good night all around. Yes I overdid it. I knew I was as I was partaking. This was most definitely my last meal. :) Now it’s back to eating like normal–but man oh man, what memorable food!

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