Cheese Tour of Portland
*See local Portland eateries and food culture through my Instagram lens*
You follow me on Instagram, right? Cause if you do you probably noticed Ben and I were eating ALOT last weekend. Like, a gargantuan amount of food. And simply said – it was spectacular. We adventured down south to Portland to take in and savor all of the cheese and food culture that this self proclaimed “weird” city has to offer. Portland, the land of the Hipster. Or as I like to think of it, the land of everything local, tasty, quirky and hand made. The Portland food scene takes immense pride in sourcing local ingredients and hand crafting quality food in all forms. If you have a craving for anything under the sun, you can find it in Portland just around the block.
Ben and I stayed downtown Portland, right along the Willamette River at Hotel Fifty. After a plane ride that morning we wanted to soak in the sun and took a stroll along the river before venturing to our first stop Foster and Dobbs for wine tasting and of course cheese! Johan Wines was the featured tasting of the night and so we sat at the shop for a good two hours tasting and eating delicious hand crafted local cheeses. Since we were in PDX we figured local was the way to go. We started with the most mild cheeses and wines and worked out way up to the dark red wines and robust blue cheese of the night.
The next morning Ben and I nabbed some coffee and walked over to Portland Saturday Market to explore what local craftsman and women had to share. I picked up a few things for friends and tried to resist the powers and smells of the fry bread stand as I walked by…I’m a carb-oholic, there is no denying it.
For lunch we decided on Urban Farmer, a steakhouse downtown, where I had the Shrimp and Pulled Pork Cheese Grits and Ben had a cheeseburger between a crispy english muffin. It tasted like a high-end locally raised Big Mac. But better. My shrimp and grits made me swoon a thousand times over. The poached egg on top was the clincher. On the menus, and on the chalkboards around the restaurant proudly displayed the names and farms where they sourced their ingredients. Portland is proud to proclaim the high quality and craftsman ship of their producers, farmers and foragers.
After that we needed a walk – and dessert. Of course, that means ice cream. And the one place you need to stop at for ice cream in Portland is Salt and Straw. Salt and Straw incorporates seasonal ingredients into many of their ice creams, and with all the berries out and ready to be picked, they had a whole new array of berry flavored treats – one that I wanted to try, was sold out right before I got to place my order! It’s popular stuff. So I went ahead and tried their Stumptown Coffee and Burnside Bourbon ice cream. Not a bad trade in my eyes! Ben went with his good ol’ stand by double vanilla bean vanilla. He’s a creature of habit.
Last but not least for dinner, we joined one of my dearest friends and Portland food connoisseur, Josh, at his favorite restaurant in town The Woodsman Tavern. Josh recommended the Country Ham tasting plate for a starter and it was a winner. Much like a cheese plate, you start with the lightest and work your way up to the saltier and more complex. I ended up with the salted and butter braised trout with sun dried tomatoes. Josh went with the meat loaf you see below, loaded with crispy onions and gravy laden mashers, while Ben dug his fork into the basil and garlic sausage and mussels. It was a tummy full of winning.
Our last stop on Sunday was to Homestead Farm Supply where I positively fell to pieces at all of the homegood for all forms of urban and country homesteader. There were kits for making laundry soap, hand soap, canning, raising your own chickens and of course – cheese making!! With classes for locals who want to make more of their own stuff, Homestead Supply is the go to place for people to take in all they can and try something new. The list of cultures and my new list of possible DIY cheeses at home just spilled over the brim – Thankfully they will be coming out with a catalog this fall, so I will be ordering my own cultures to give more cheese making a try. I mean sure, I’ve made my own ricotta before, but I want to dive right in and get my curd on!
Portland was a treat and a half. I’ve had the chance to dive deep into the food scene and take in all of the passion, art and craftsmanship that goes into every dish that gets created in this town. I have a whole new outlook on it all and value every bite I take even more.
If you’re in Portland, be sure to visit any of these fine establishments and find some more to add to your must-see list.
Oh and there were donuts. Blue Star, naturally.
*fine print* I have been working in partnership with Cracker Barrel Cheese and this immersion into the Portland food scene to experience the craftsmanship, heritage and culture of food was sponsored by Cracker Barrel. All opinions are my own.