Three Hours in Portland

Three Hours in Portland

George, Trey, Nolan (our wine manager) and I traveled to the Willamette Valley to visit the three AVAs in that area mostly known for their pinot noirs. Nolan posted a blog article about the 13 wineries we visited in 2.5 days, and he does a great job covering all the wines we tasted. (I’m a big pinot noir fan and by the end cabernet franc was pretty tasty).

Since people are always asking me where to dine, I thought I’d briefly share about a few casual but cool places we visited in Portland before we caught our flight back to San Diego.

Clyde Common in the cool-kid rock-n-roll Ace Hotel.

We stopped in for a quick snack and a cocktail at this mixologist-focused bar that specializes in hand-mixed drinks ranging from the 1920s in origin to the newly-refound libations modernized with housemade bitters, new organic mixers, etc. We arrived at the end of lunch, and service was a bit disorganized. After we ordered, the bartender asked if we were “in the business” and then became friendlier. We ordered the following:

  • A Perfect Storm: George Dickel whiskey, sweet vermouth, Drambuie, anise, lemon peel—a modern take on a Dark and Stormy. It was a good, standard cocktail
  • Irish Goodbye: John Powers whiskey, Lillet Blanc, Cynar, lemon peel—this was quite a drink for late afternoon. The flavors were balanced and it definitely packed some punch.
  • Heavy Petting: Monopolowa vodka, grapefruit juice, Aperol, quinine syrup, lemon peel. George ordered this one (in fact, everywhere we went he “accidentally” ordered a pink drink). Yes, we are still giving him a hard time about it. A refreshing beverage nonetheless.
  • Barrel Aged Chrysanthemum: dry vermouth, Benedictine, absinthe. Clyde Common is at the forefront of house-aged cocktails; they age theirs for two months in Tuthilltown whiskey barrels. This drink had a distinctive taste and is a sipping beverage…for sure.
  • We had a few bites as well, but nothing really to report—bar snacks.

Stumptown Coffee (adjacent to Clyde Common).

Trey and I visited Stump Town in New York City two years ago, after lunch at Breslin, April Bloomfield’s place inside the Ace Hotel NYC. We enjoyed some delicious espresso before heading to the extra-large bookstore, Powels.

Pok Pok

I was really looking forward to this meal. Food bloggers, winemakers, restaurateurs, chefs and locals ALL recommended this place. That is a rarity in itself. It did not disappoint. We arrived between lunch and dinner and sat in the “bar” and had some very interesting cocktails. This place is the definition of unassuming and casual, but we knew better than to let the casualness of the décor fool us. Their fans raved too much. And the line to the corner indicated as much. The food is based on North and Northeast Thai food. Anyway…back to the beverages…Pok Pok is at the forefront of the trend of making drinks with distilling vinegars. In 2008, vinegar was named as ’sthe new egg white’s for cocktail ingredients. It adds the acidity needed as the backbone for a lot of drinks, without the citrus flavor that typically accompanies cocktails. They also had some interesting tea cocktails, and one of the most deliciously spicy Bloody Mary’s I’ve ever had in my life (although I exceeded my sodium intake for the week in that one little beverage). We ordered the following:

  • Lord Bergamot: bergamot tea infused vodka, honey drinking vinegar, orange liqueur and soda on the rocks.
  • Salted Plum Vodka Collins: it honestly looked just too weird for me to enjoy.
  • Hunny: Georges pink-drink pick of grapefruit juice, lime, Som honey drinking vinegar and tequila.
  • We also enjoyed the wings, which everyone raved about—they were yummy.

We moved upstairs to our table right when they opened as we had a flight to catch. We let Trey order a bunch of food for us, which he usually doesn’t like to do, but he obliged and the table was overflowing with various dishes. We had Papaya Pok Pok, more Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, a smokey eggplant salad, Kung Op Wun Son (gulf prawns baked in a clay pot over charcoal with pork belly), a dish with boar collar meat, and Kaang Hung Loh (sweet pork belly with pork shoulder curry). I don’t think I could discern each dish well. The overall effect that stayed with me is that this was well prepared Asian comfort food. The guys paired the meal with beers and I had a pear cider. We were super full and ready for our plane ride home. I would definitely recommend Pok Pok and would like to go back when I am not so pressed for time.

So that was our three hours Portland. We raced to the airport to head home after three days, 13 wineries, four restaurants and dozens of pinot noir. Not a bad way to spend a business trip!