Beer Tour

Michael’s dad came to visit for a long weekend. He’s been in the beer business for decades so of course we wanted to show off some of the Oregon beers! I turned him on to my favorite beer–Boneyard IPA–a few years ago and he agrees it’s one of the best tasting beers he’s had. 😀 One of the local Fred Meyer grocery stores has a growler filling station and they have Boneyard on tap! Of course I had to go and fill our growler for Michael’s dad to enjoy at home during his visit (and for me too LOL).

The first night he was in town we went to Gino’s in Sellwood. It’s a really good Italian restaurant without the hassle of going downtown. It’s an old Portland institution that is always packed, no matter what time of the week you go. Thankfully we got a table pretty quickly. We shared a Caesar salad to start and I got a glass of the Pinot Grigio wine. I got the ravioli special. It was ravioli with goat cheese in it and a butternut squash sauce on the outside of the pasta. It was a really interesting take on butternut squash ravioli! It was topped with some red pepper flakes and toasted hazelnuts. It was very rich but so delicious! Considering we eat pasta like 2x a year it was a real treat.


Monday was a holiday. I slept in a little bit and then went to the gym while Michael and his dad hung out at home and had breakfast. I did my weight routine–lots of kettle bell exercises and some ab work–and then did 2.25 miles on the elliptical. It was a good, sweaty session, that came no where close to burning off the pasta from the night before!!


It was such a nice day out in Portland! 60’s and sunny! The perfect spring/summer tease that comes every mid-February right before the rains starts. The three of us went out to lunch at Hopworks in SE Portland. It’s a cool restaurant/pub with a bike and beer theme. How can you go wrong with that?? I ended up getting the Thai Peanut Wrap with chicken (instead of tempeh) and it was really tasty. It came with red cabbage, quinoa, broccoli and peanut sauce. It didn’t sit too heavy, either, which was good. Michael got a chopped salad and his dad got the chicken tenders. Everything tasted really great! (Sometimes the food can be hit or miss.)


We also shared a tasting tray of 15 beers! I think the favorite for Michael and I was the Abominable Winter Ale, which was rich and smooth and hoppy like an IPA, which was odd for a winter ale. Those are usually darker beers. But it was really good! Of course I also liked the IPA’s and the double IPA’s, those tend to be my favorites. The hoppier the better. There were a lot of beers that I skipped (I’m not a fan of dark beers).



Surprisingly, I also LOVED the Radler–which was a lager (40%) and lemonade (60%)! It was SO good. I could see myself drinking WAY too many of those lovely ladies on a hot summer day. Michael’s dad told the story of how the Radler got started. Apparently in the 1920’s some German town was full of thousands of cyclists one summer day and Radler was running out of beer in his pub so he started mixing the beer with a lemon lime soda that didn’t sell very well on it’s own and everyone loved it! Hence, the beer/lemonade combo was born. I googled it when we got home and found this ad:


Too funny! After lunch and beer tasting we hit one more local brewery, Burnside Brewing. It’s one of my cousin’s favorites and I’m a fan of their Sweet Heat, but haven’t tried any of their other beers. It was a really nice day and they had a covered patio that was partially in the sun so we got to sit outside while we did a sampler tray.



I LOVE their logo. It’s a little artistic devil and it’s so cute. Anyways, we sat in the sun and enjoyed our sampler tray of mostly IPA’s, a lager, a stout and of course the Sweet Heat (which is made with Louisiana Scotch Peppers). The boys weren’t a fan of that one but I like it. 🙂



That yellow one on the forefront is the Sweet Heat. Normally I’d take one look at that beer and be like, “I won’t like it” but I really do…it’s unique! So we enjoyed the sun and beer and wished it were summer then called the beer tour over for the day. I haven’t been drinking alcohol except for my birthday weekend and then the holiday weekend because Michael’s dad was visiting. Just having some samples was a doozy for me!


After that the boys dropped me off at home to hang out with Bella and do some stuff while they went computer shopping and then hit another brewery (Breakside Brewing). I’d had my fill of beer for the day (or weekend, really) and ended up watching some Gilmore Girls, cuddled with Bella and did some yard work in the sunshine.

When Michael’s dad comes to visit from Texas he usually wants seafood so we take him to his favorite spots (Jake’s or Ringside). Monday night we went to Jake’s Grill downtown. It’s a classy, gorgeous restaurant with impeccable service and it’s always a good experience. I always forget just how great dining out at Jake’s is.


We got all gussied up and headed downtown for an early dinner.


I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and dry just like how I like my wine! They brought out the famous sourdough rolls which are just too tasty not to eat…


Michael ordered the calamari appetizer. He thinks it’s the best calamari in town and I tend to agree. It’s never overly chewy or greasy. I only had a few bites though, as I was saving room for my dinner!


For dinner I ordered the cedar plank salmon that came with basmati rice and crispy leeks. At first I was going to get a salad and soup but the salmon sounded so amazing (and I wasn’t wrong) and when you go to Jake’s you really should order the fish.


The salmon was perfectly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. I LOVED the leeks on top. They were kind of like fried onions. The portions were good too–not grotesquely huge, just right. Michael got the salmon with potatoes and kale topped with a lobster sauce. Michael’s dad got the rockfish with green beans, tomatoes and artichokes.


Everything was magnificent. I love that place! We were all stuffed but not uncomfortably so. There was definitely no room for dessert and we called it an early night.

I love it when family comes to visit and we can show off our lovely city. You can throw a rock and hit a dozen breweries and great restaurants. The weather was perfect for Michael’s dad’s visit, too, which was nice. I will say I will be happy to get back to my normal eating routine and give the alcohol a break again. Back on track!

On a Boat

I left off on my last Seattle post with the decadent breakfast from Portage Bay Cafe. After breakfast we headed towards downtown. Michael had booked us on a Duck Boat tour at 1:00 and we had about an hour and a half to kill before we had to be downtown at the Space Needle.


I suggested we go to the Japanese Gardens. It was something I don’t remember ever going to when I lived in Seattle and it was a nice way to enjoy the sunny morning and walk off breakfast a little bit. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but the Portland Japanese Gardens are so much better. Seattle’s was a little underwhelming. That’s not to say it was bad, I still enjoyed walking around and the koi fish were HUGE!

They also had turtles swimming in the ponds with the koi fish. The fish were my favorite part. The gardens were pretty and peaceful but still, not sure that I’d recommend it. Now, if you want to come down to Portland I definitely recommend ours.

We left the park and had enough time to get downtown, get stuck in construction traffic mess, park a mile away from the Space Needle, and walk. Sheesh! I forgot how much of a pain it can be to park in Seattle. Anyways, the Duck Boat tour.


I KNOW it’s super cheesy–and trust me, it was cheesy to the max–but it was also so much FUN! Michael and I wanted to do some “touristy” things while in Seattle and I remember when Rachel and I went to Chicago one of the first things we did was take a speedboat tour up the river. It was such a cool experience and one of the highlights of the Chicago trip. So I was looking for a similar experience with the Duck tour. It did not disappoint.

The boats were made in World War II to go on land and sea and the history is quite fascinating if you’re a history buff. The boats fit probably 30 or 40 people on it and they are always full! My only complaint? They give the kids on the boat a duck whistle. Now imagine about a dozen 7 year olds with a whistle–what do you get? The constant sound of a duck quacking and that gets old real quick–especially if you don’t have kids. 🙂


Other than that, it was a super fun tour. Like I said, very cheesy. Your tour guide makes a big difference and ours was great. He was enthusiastic, a little over the top, a little naughty with his jokes and funny. They play fun music, he gives an abbreviated history of landmarks around the city, and you get to see the highlights of the city in about 2 hours.

The tour started at the Space Needle and went down to the pier, then Pioneer Square, through Fremont and finally into Lake Union right next to Gas Works Park. I loved hearing the little tidbits about the city on the tour. It was a very hot, sunny day and I’d forgotten to put on sunscreen (bad move) and did not bring a water bottle (another bad choice). Other than that, it was a fun tour and I loved being out on the water!

I have to say, I’ve never had a desire to have a boat but after being on Lake Union on a hot summer day, I am dying for another boat ride! The original plan was to go kayaking but we just got too busy. We’re going to try and do it next weekend in Portland with a guided tour. I totally want to be out on the water!

After the tour we walked around the Pier. There’s a cool sculpture garden right on the water and tons of shops and restaurants. (We might have snuck into the fancy Edgewater Hotel, where the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Anthony Bourdain stayed, to use the bathroom…) It was just a lot of walking.


Ignore how pale I am!

Onto the final day. Breakfast was at Cafe Presse on Capitol Hill. It was French bistro and coffee shop that was deceptively large. The back room is huge and there’s tons of tables. We got a seat right away and I got some of the best coffee I’ve had since Hawaii:

Michael got an omelete and I got two boiled eggs on top of a piece of ham with melted gruyere on it. Sounds decadent but it didn’t feel like it. It felt healthy and delicious.

We went to Pike Place Market and walked around, then to EMP – Experience the Music Project – under the Space Needle. I’ve wanted to go for years and finally went. I think it’s a cool museums and definitely worth a visit but it’s pretty spendy, so be prepared.

The Jimi Hendrix exhibit was pretty cool (especially seeing some of the hand written letters, contracts and his jackets). The Nirvana exhibit was AMAZING–like too amazing for words but they’ve been my favorite band since I was 12 years old so there’s a lot of history there. There was a very cool horror movie exhibit with lots of memorabilia (like the ax from The Shining, the zombie suit from Thriller, etc etc). The Sci-Fi exhibit was just ok (they had Christopher Reeve’s Superman outfit on display), but I’m not a huge sci-fi fan. The fantasy display was cool, there was a history of guitars and finally “women who rock” (and I’m kind of annoyed that the display of women in rock is their outfits–like couldn’t they have more than the clothes the women wore???).

We had a late lunch at Ray’s Boathouse and Cafe in Ballard. It’s a huge restaurant right on a pier next to Anthony’s Homeport with outstanding views of Puget Sound. We got a table by the window and I ordered a half order of the fish n’ chips and Michael got the blackened rockfish with seasonal vegetables.

I’m glad I got the half order. It was plenty of food. I couldn’t leave Seattle without having some seafood and sitting by the water while I eat it. 🙂 Ray’s was a great place for food and views. The service left a little to be desired; our waitress was pretty much invisible the whole time, but the place was completely packed (which was odd for 2 in the afternoon) so I guess that’s why. I loved my cod fish n’ chips and Michael said the rockfish was the best food he’d had that weekend.

We left Seattle with our skin a little pinker from the sun, my heart a little heavy with homesickness, and a happy feeling of doing fun things all weekend long. Hope you enjoyed the recap and hopefully it inspired you to visit Seattle!