Food Orgy, Part II…with Flowers

I left off with a sensible lunch at Meriwether’s Restaurant on Thursday. After lunch we took them to Washington Park, one of the must-see-spots in Portland. Thankfully the Rose Gardens are all in full bloom so we took a fragrant walk in the scorching sun. The flowers are a hit for all out of town guests and I’m glad they were blooming.

Since we were already in Washington Park I suggested we walk up the hill to the Japanese Gardens. It’s a fairly inexpensive, scenic tour to do when visiting.

We did the guided tour this time and the guide was excellent–very knowledgeable of all history surrounding the Japanese Gardens and she had great stories and tidbits of trivia about Japanese culture.

The gardens were peaceful and serene. I loved the greenery and it was a nice tour around the five gardens.

The koi ponds were my favorite. Water has always been a relaxing thing for me–either the ocean or lake or river, I need to be near water. Maybe that’s why I love swimming so much. It was also a good distraction from the sad news I’d received that morning. I was able to enjoy the calm gardens for a bit. Sometimes denial is okay.

The tour lasted an hour long and we enjoyed the stroll through the gardens.

After the Japanese Gardens we headed across the river to Mount Tabor Park. We had a few hours to kill before dinner time. We made a stop on the way at a total dive bar on SE Division so that Michael’s dad could try a Ninkasi beer. G is in the beer industry and he had never heard of Ninkasi. It’s one of the most popular beers in Portland (I think it’s from Eugene) so he had to try it. He liked it a lot. Mount Tabor is another jewel in the middle of Portland. It’s a huge park with lots of trails for hiking, roads for biking and running on and the views from the top are wonderful.

We hiked up to the top of Mount Tabor and parked our butts on a picnic bench for the next hour. The breeze was cool and felt nice in the 84 degree weather (which is hot for Portland but “perfect” for Texans visiting!).

It was nice just chilling on the bench and enjoying the view of downtown Portland.

After that we trekked back down and made our way to Laurelhurst Market for dinner. It was about 6:15pm by that time and I was worried it would be packed but we got a table right away.

We ordered two plates of the tomato appetizer to share.

Michael ordered the skirt steak with salad. I liked the mild red sauce on the steak but for the life of me I could not decipher what the spices were!

G and G ordered rib eye with onion rings and the Ahi Tuna with clams.

My dish was the TOTAL WINNER of the evening. It was amazing! I got the pork tenderloin. It was wrapped in some sort of fennel sausage and then seared I think. It was decadent and rich but absolutely breathtaking. The crunchy crust of the sausage added so much texture to the dish. It was served on top of corn and beans in a pork jus with a polenta cake on the side.

This dish was amazing. I loved every single bite of it and for the rest of the evening I kept thinking about how GOOD the dish was. (And when I woke up the next day I couldn’t wait to eat the leftovers!) I ate about 3/4 of it and took the rest home. My dinner was stellar. They wanted dessert afterward so we drove over to Sellwood to go to Papa Haydn’s–the best dessert place in town.

We sat outside in the garden patio and enjoyed the cool evening air with our ice water.

We ordered one Bourbon Ball and one slice of German Chocolate Cake to share with everyone.

Absolute decadence. Luckily I was pretty full from my dinner so I didn’t go overboard with the dessert. I had a few bites of each (more of the German Chocolate Cake than the Bourbon Ball) and then called it good. It was a great day full of delicious food.

QUESTION: What is your favorite dessert?




What’s Blooming This Week

The recent (and fleeting, apparently) heat wave in Portland really sparked some growth in my garden. The roses and Lucifer plants are all blooming:

The roses are always different colors each year. I don’t remember there being an orange rose last year. The yellowish-pink ones are the norm. They look so pretty! On the vegetable front, the lettuce is flourishing! I had to take some into work to share with coworkers because there was just too much all at once.

The acorn squash has flowers and a teeny tiny little squash.

And the zucchini plant has an ACTUAL zucchini! I was thrilled to see this:

If the weather holds up, I think that zucchini will be ready to eat next week. The tomato plants are growing tall and I have tiny green tomatoes but nothing near close to being ripe.

The progress on the yard work has been going swimmingly. It really is satisfying to see progress after hard work. The sweat, blood, blisters and sore muscles were worth it.

I wasn’t prepared for how much WORK a garden would be. I have to admit, I was a bit naive. I thought “we’ll just let it all grow and harvest yummy veggies!” But it takes time, dedication and work. There’s weeding, pest-control, watering, but not over-watering. There’s maintenance and upkeep I hadn’t imagined. So far it’s been worth it.

I also learned that I did everything wrong when I planted it. I planted too much in our raised beds. I had been skeptical that anything would survive the soggy spring so I went overboard. The lettuce plants that looked close to death came back with a vengeance and now the raised beds are too cramped for things to really grow properly. The lettuce is all growing INTO each other. Oops! Lesson learned for next year.

On another front, Michael and I have discussed the Portland Century and now that the route and elevation has been published we have decided to make a change. Instead of doing the full 100 we are going to do the 75 route. The full 100 had too much of an elevation climb for either of our abilities at this point. Part of me is disappointed that I’m not doing the full 100 but honestly I had doubts in my abilities to even do 100! So that’s kind of a relief.

The way I see things happening now: we do the 75 miles in the Portland Century in August and maybe in September or October we try to do a different Century Ride.

QUESTION: How do you keep up with your garden if you have one? Any tips for a newbie? And how do I harvest the zucchini??