Pigging out in Portland

I love experiences and memories more than things, and my husband and I were recently looking for a getaway to celebrate our anniversary. It had to be somewhere we could get to by car, because we wanted to make the most of the long weekend. We decided to go to Portland because it’s only a 6 hour drive from home and has so much to do.

It wasn’t the first time we had been to Portland, but our last trip a few years ago was so much fun that we couldn’t wait to go back. We learned a lot from our trip and for that reason I was excited to share my recommendations for a weekend in Portland; what to do, where to stay and most importantly how best to enjoy the great food and beer Portland has to offer.

The Kimpton Monaco in Downtown Portland, 506 SW Washington St, Portland, OR

In the heart of downtown, the Kimpton Monaco was the perfect central location that gave us the luxury of parking the car and spending the weekend on foot. Although I haven’t always been loyal to a hotel chain, after a previous stay at a Kimpton Monaco hotel my loyalty was forever forged. Boutique hotels with a whimsical charm, each room is artistically decorated with in a style homage to the city in which it resides. A stay at a Kimpton Monaco feels less like you’re staying in a hotel room, and more like your staying in an interior designers meticulously decorated apartment. In Portland the eco-chic styling of the Kimpton Monaco rooms pay tribute to the beauty of nature in the pacific northwest, with bird wallpaper, tree inspired lamps, an earthy color pallet and a smattering of plaid fabrics.

The building was once the distinguished Lipman Wolfe Department Store, that opened in 1912 now converted to the Kimpton Monaco Portland, it has lost none of the architectural glory. The centerpiece of the hotel being the large lobby with soaring ceilings, decorated to look like a vintage library and designed to be the heart of the social space that Kimpton Hotel’s are famous for.

Every night the lobby lounge plays host to social hour, featuring live musical and local wine and beer. If you’re lucky enough, like we were, to time our trip on the last Thursday of the month, you have the pleasure of skipping the long lines at the Portland staple VooDoo donuts and indulging in colourful and flavourful baked goodies during social hour. Beyond the beauty and comfort the Kimpton Monaco hotels I have stayed at offer, it is genuine the hospitality that brings me back each time, like the complementary nightcap before you turn in for the night and the hot cup of coffee or tea waiting for you when you wake up.

Portland is the place to go if you want to leave your diet at the door! It is a city of carb indulgence.

These are my recommendations for where to eat in Portland;

Brunch at Mothers, 212 SW Harvey Milk St, Portland, OR

A relaxing weekend away for me is not complete without a leisurely brunch and brunch at Mothers is a must when you stay in Portland, the wait can be long, but  it’s well worth it. The aroma of fresh baked pastries and strong brewed coffee permeates the air. Even with plenty of time to choose it was still challenging to narrow down what I wanted to eat. When I travel I like to indulge in what a restaurant is famous for and the crowds of locals return each weekend for Mothers famous Biscuits & Gravy. I have admittedly never had biscuits and gravy and clearly I was missing out. The flaky fall apart biscuits came smothered with thick, seasoned gravy. It was rich without being heavy and paired perfectly with a Mother’s signature spicy bloody mary.

Lunch at Lardo, 1205 SW Washington St, Portland, OR

Lardo is more than a deli, it’s a mecca for those seeking flavorful, meaty sandwiches inspired by worldly flavors. Birthed from a food cart Lardo is now a restaurant favored by locals with two locations, one downtown and one on the other side of the river. The first thing I had to order was one of the house made dill pickles from the big jar on the counter. Then after much deliberation over the mouthwatering menu, we ordered the Nashville hot fried sandwich with honey, bacon, pickles, and Dukes mayo and the Korean pork shoulder sandwich with house made kimchi, chili mayo, cilantro and lime. Lardo has a beer menu that can rival any pub, with rotating tops of seasonal local beer that are just $3.00 during happy hour!

But what forever seared Lardo in my mind and the reason I will never visit Portland without carving time to visit, was their Salt & Vinegar Chicharrones. Fresh from the fryer and still cracking, these light as air pork puffs are the best I have ever had, so much so we returned more than once on our trip to have them again.

Dinner at Grassa, 2360 SW 12th Ave, Portland, OR

The casual counter service at Grassa might seem contradictory to the artisanal, hand crafted pasta that dominated the menu. I am so glad we didn’t let the industrial ambiance and long shared tables dissuade us from choosing Grassa as an intimate dinner location. The pork belly mac and cheese came highly recommended and the spaghetti “Aglio Olio” rivaled any made by my Italian grandfather. Delicious handcrafted pasta with fresh flavors and ingredients, without the high price I expected. Clearly Grassa knows they have a star product because you can now buy their fresh pasta to cook at home, perfect for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have Grassa close to home.

Things To Do In Portland

I have always loved nail art and I have been following Finger Bang (@FingerBang) on Instagram for years. Getting my nails done at Finger Bang has always been on my bucket list, as soon as I booked our hotel my next call was to make an appointment. I wanted the most authentic Finger Bang experience, so I opted for a for a “Mystery Box Manicure” giving my nail technician free range to let her creativity shine. My only request was that she add an eyeball in the mix. The eclectic shop is clearly a reflection of the owners passion for all things Star Wars and the easy on the eyes life size cutout of Idris Elba shows the playful spirit of Finger Bang. I enjoyed great chat with Tianna, while I sipped rose and watched in awe of her steady hand and artistic skills while she created a whimsical one of a kind manicure just for me. Complete with eyes!

A trip to Portland is not complete without a brewery tour. Portland is a mecca for craft beer lovers, with over 70 breweries, a boozy weekend in Portland is somewhat inevitable. You can sign up for guided tours, but we opted to do it on our own time and did our own self guided tour. We picked a brewery to start and from there just walked around the block to find the next. We set out in the Pearl District and our self guided brewery tour took us to:

Backwoods Brewery, 231 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR

This was the first stop and a perfect way to kick things off. They have such as large selection of craft brewed beer that a flight was the best way to taste them. Even when I could choose 6 it was still a tough choice (which you can see with my messy selection card). Backwoods brewery has someone pretty cleaver naming their beers as most tie into the overall woodsy theme of the brewery. I (finally) with much deliberation picked;

1.Dreamsicle; Tastes just like a creamsicle, sweet and equally refreshing

2.Logyard IPA; Light with a hoppy kick at the end

3.River Pig; An amber lager that is clear, light and smooth

4.Into the backwoods we go; Had a mild pine flavour as is someone sprinkled in a few needles when they brewed it

5.Grifford Pincot Pilsner; Crisp, refreshing, right up my alley

6.BlueBerry Wheat; If a blueberry muffin and a beer had a baby

BackPedal Brewery, 1425 NW Flanders St, Portland, OR

Our next stop was BackPedal brewery. This smaller brewery is all about the beer, they don’t serve food, but they serve up a great selection of house crafted beers, including a selection of fruit infused beers that was right up my alley. Backpedal brewery is a great place to spend a couple hours drinking beer and playing games. They have all the classic board games on hand and large communal tables, so if your a few players short don’t fret, you can easily find new friends to play with. Backpedal brewery has the vibe of a converted garage and on a sunny day you’ll find the large bay open giving way to plenty of space to play corn-hole.

Von Ebert Brewery, 131 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR

After a few brewery stops it was delightful to find a great food menu at this brewery. Von Ebert focuses on a house made brew, American made, mostly poured directly from brite tanks, which helps keep aroma in the beer. They proudly do not have a filter, but still make very bright beers. With so many on tap to choose from another flight was they best way to experience what they had to offer. With our flight of beer we ordered the deep fried pickles, I never skip ordering them when I have the chance, and these were very good!

A weekend in Portland is not complete without some shopping, without sales tax, the price you see is the price you pay. I love visiting Portland at the very end of summer or into fall, not only for the ideal weather, but the shopping season is perfect, because you are on the cusp of a new season and wardrobe!

IMG_5817I cannot ignore the essential EyeStyles for my weekend travels. We were very lucky to have sunny skies overall in Portland, but not without a few showers on our first day. Lucky for me I was wearing Transitions Lenses all weekend, so I didn’t miss a beat in having to change glasses or get caught without sunglasses when the sun eventually came out. I took inspiration from the laid back hipster vibes of Portland and opted for two pairs of simple gold wire-rimmed frames by Andy Wolf. They proved the perfect eyecessory for a casual weekend getaway in Portland.

Do you have a favorite Portland spot I missed?

Sipping away summer Sundays

Summer’s not over yet! and Summer Sundays are meant for adventure and exploring new places.

Sundays are my favorite day, the one day a week I am guaranteed a day off work.

A day to spend any way I please!

On this hot August Sunday easy and breezy was on the outfit agenda, so I chose a sundress with a strappy back who’s bold pattern caught my eye. The orange and pink pattern on a black backdrop, pair perfectly with my Jean Michel Basquiat “In This Case” sunglasses by Etnia Barcelona.

The flash mirror coating in sunset colors match perfectly with the dress. It’s Sunday, and I’m leaving the hairdryer out of the equation, opting instead for a hat to complete the total sun protection required for a summer day outside.

We set off on a mini road trip out to Abbotsford to check out a local craft brewery, The Field House. This little brewery is receiving high praise not only for their selection of beer, but for their great food and outdoor area, perfectly equipped for lounging away a summer afternoon.

The Field House Brewery is charming and inviting with a nostalgic feel that reminded me of summer days spent in my grandparents backyard (think lush green grass and bright coloured folding chairs). I always like to start with a taster, before I commit to one thing. So I decided that this warm summer day called for light, refreshing beers.

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I was delighted by the details, from the rustic wood flight tray, to the photographic description cards that come with each beer, The Field House Brewery have thought of so many ways to infuse their brand into each component.

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For my taster I choose a:

Light Saison; Fresh like early morning air, this sour herbaceous farmhouse holds the energizing qualities of lemongrass and the tartness of lactobacillus.

Light Brett; A sunny beer with flavors of juicy white wine and luscious stone fruits.

Eastern IPA; This IPA has a punch of aromatic hops offering white grape and stone fruit flavors.

Dutch Pale Ale; mellow in malt and bitters, but finishes with a hit of new world hops.

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I was feeling relaxed, toes in the grass, sun on my shoulders, enjoying some great craft beer. How could this get better?…Good food of course! We picked a charcuterie board that not only looked delicious, it featured all local ingredients, making this farm table feel even more authentic. Fresh sourdough, pickled vegetables, cheese and meats, it was a perfect pairing with the craft beer.

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Leave plenty of time to lounge and indulge at The Field House Brewery, it’s a great way to send a summer afternoon!

 

An Optimal Fall Facial

It could be one of Vancouver’s best kept beauty secrets. You’d never stumble across it, and you may have walked past dozens of times. But if you have been lucky enough to hear about it, usually from someone who has experienced their services, you will return, and likely become a loyal supporter.

Optaderm is a skin care clinic, with a mission to help you put your best face forward. The experience is like a hybrid of trip to the spa and a dermatologist visit. Their focus is helping you achieve your most fabulous skin, and they work with you to achieve this by first combating ones of skins greatest enemies… Stress!

My aesthetician offered a warm introduction and escorted  me to my room, where I left the world outside to fend for itself, while I shed my layers to settle into a soft white robe and nestle under cozy knit blankets. At Optaderm the rooms are without clutter, no scented candles or needless knickknacks. This serene, bare space, with only the essentials for your treatment is a subliminal indication of you are about to experience.

Today I chose to treat myself to a European facial paired with a resurfacing facial, that used a glycolic treatment, to slough off all the summer sun dryness and give me a fresh face for fall.

Once my face was thoroughly cleansed, my aesthetician preformed a skincare analysis to diagnose what level of glycolic treatment my skin would require. The cool glycolic gel was applied liberally over my face and neck, a few minutes of tingling followed. I was giddy with the thought of those dull layers of dry skin being lifted away, excited in anticipation of the results. After the glycolic gel was removed a pH neutralizer was applied to sooth and complete the peel. Next a liberal application of Replenish Facial Oil and I am on cloud 9 in a state of euphoria as my aesthetician, taps, swipes, massages my face and neck.
My face feels pumper, the ever present tension between my eyebrows has disappeared, my shoulders have relaxed and I feel weightless….I am in a state of complete euphoria.
With a soft brush and equally feather like touch my aesthetician applies a charcoal mask, to pull pore blocking impurities. Still in my cathartic state, and without much notice, my aesthetician sneaks away to leave me to relax while the mask does its work.
A soft hand on my shoulder brings me back, as warm towels remove the remaining mask and my skin takes a deep breath of fresh air. Profound Facial Serum is lightly tapped into my skin, my eyes are gently surrounded with Phenomena Eye Cream (which even increases eyelash growth), and lastly my skin is topped with Integrity Facial Cream.

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After this blissful treatment my thoughts are quieter, my movements more limber and the smile on my face is nearly devious.

The cherry on top is the reflection in the mirror that is handed to me upon completion of my facial, the results leave me speechless, my skin is so voluminous, the tone and texture, even and without redness (which is usually a tall order for my sensitive skin).
With my facial treatment completed I am met with a bottle of water in the reception area, my aesthetician reviews the products she used for my treatment and recommends a regime to maintain the results of my treatment.
Usually this is the part I like least, where you’re given a laundry list of lotions and potions, all with hefty price tags. But integrity is not just the name of one of Optaderm’s facial cream. My aesthetician sent me home with samples, enough to try the home care routine for a week to 10 days to truly see how my skin responds before I commit. I am a lover of their products, they are not overly fussy, each product serves an understandable purpose and they will not break the bank.

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Here are the products used in my treatment that are now part of my daily skincare routine:

Pre-Clean Make-Up Cleansing Lotion ($22/120ml) Applied to dry skin this creamy lotion removes face makeup and even waterproof eye makeup in one fell swoop.

Double Action Cleansing Lotion ($24/240ml) Use on wet or damp skin this lightly scented cleansing lotion leaves your skin feeling squeaky clean, without any sensation of tightness or over drying.

Wipe Out Skin Rinse ($38.50/240ml) An exfoliating rise, with a toner like consistency, swipe over skin on a cotton pad to remove any excess dead skin, without the need to scrub.

Integrity Facial Cream ($52.50/60g) A rich consistency than absorbs quickly, perfect for day or night to keep skin hydrated, without any greasy feeling.

I cannot give enough praise to Optaderm, a small business established in Vancouver in 1987. Their mission has never faltered to offer superior products with the support of facial care services, to achieve your finest skin possible.
Once you visit Optaderm you are likely to become a lifelong lover of their services, amazing products and friendly, skilled staff.
You will have people compliment your amazing skin and will no doubt refer friends and family to this small business jewel.

*All above opinions are my own, I have been a client at Optaderm for over 5 years and all products and services are paid. This is simply my sharing a recommendation for a stand out small business.