Meatastic Restaurant in Portland Oregon: Fogo De Chao

Fun Experience at Fogo De Chao in Portland, OR // A Well Crafted Party

**Lots of pictures of meat coming up. My vegetarian readers may want to jump back in to the mix another day… unless you think photos of delicious, well-prepared meat may sway you to the dark side!**

Recently I had the pleasure of trying out Fogo De Choa. Fogo De Choa is a Brazilian restaurant chain with a gaucho-style steakhouse feel that recently came to Portland, Oregon. My husband and I were invited to try out the restaurant for their recent opening. It was fun getting dressed up and heading out for an evening of fun… it isn’t something we get to do often!

I have always been the person that googles “theme restaurant” or “restaurant with an experience” when I search for special occasion dinners. I like enjoying the whole she-bang of an experience (give me fondue or traditional moroccan cuisine over a fancy schmancy restaurant that I enjoy a dinner in an hour and leave). Fogo De Chao is an experience! It isn’t just sitting down to order a meal and leave. You get to be a part of your meal experience in a dynamic way.

Fun Experience at Fogo De Chao in Portland, OR // A Well Crafted Party

The meal started off with signature caipirinhas and a trip to the salad bar. This is not just any salad bar. There are mounds of vegetables, meats, cheeses, and sides. Guests go and grab their own selection of side items… beware, don’t fill up on all the sides! There will be so much meat that you’ll kick yourself if you’re too full. I was glad that I chose to fill my plate with things that I wanted to eat with my meat and I waited as meats came around so that I could enjoy it all together. We also ordered a shrimp cocktail that was one of the largest shrimp cocktails I’ve seen in my life. Big, beautiful pieces of shrimp!

Traditionally Prepared Meats at Fogo De Chao in Portland, OR // A Well Crafted Party Traditionally Prepared Meats at Fogo De Chao in Portland, OR // A Well Crafted Party

And then came the MEAT. Oh me, oh my. Meat that is seasoned with sea salt and prepared over the fire is brought around to the tables and sliced right onto your plate. You simple flip over a small coaster when you want meat and flip it back over when you don’t. Flip as many times as you like! Nearly all the meat was made to perfection. One of the chicken dishes I tried was a tad dry– however, I tried it again when a different skewer came around and it was great! So much amazing meat though…

And, then… when we didn’t think we could eat ANY more came the dessert menus. My husband’s face in the photo below entirely describes how we were feeling about this whole dessert thing.

Desserts at Fogo De Chao in Portland, OR // A Well Crafted Party Desserts at Fogo De Chao in Portland, OR // A Well Crafted Party

Whatever you do… save room for dessert! I had one of the best key lime pies I’ve ever had.

I obviously enjoyed my experienced at Fogo De Chao. The food was great and it was a lot of fun. Some things you should know if you are going:

  • It isn’t inexpensive. But, I felt like it was totally worth the price. This isn’t some place my husband and I could go on a regular basis, but will certainly be added to our special occasion restaurant list.
  • It isn’t quiet. If you are looking for a quiet meal for two this is not the place to go. There are people up and around the entire time. You’ll have people coming to your table a lot (though, on your cue mainly).
  • This would be a blast with friends! Looking for a special and fun restaurant to bring a couple of friends or visiting family members? Fogo de Chao would be a great place for a dinner with friends. It is lively and there would never be a lack of conversation material.
  • I’m not sure I’d bring my toddler. I did read on the menu that there were pricing for kids. I’m sure they even have high chairs. I just don’t think my son would have done well there and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable bringing him or other young kids. So, dinner out with the gals? Yes. Play date venue… likely not.
  • You don’t have to be in Portland to enjoy Fogo de Chao—they have several locations!

Have you been to Fogo De Chao or another Goucho-Style Restaurant? Tell me about it in the comments!

* Disclaimer: I received a complimentary dinner at Fogo De Chao to experience the restaurant for possible review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday Snapshots: Crafting & Shopping in Portland Orgeon

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This weekend has been wonderful. My wonderful in-laws are in town and we’ve been spending time together while also attending a couple of Portland events.

Saturday was the West Elm Meet & Make “Crafting a Summer Gathering: Making Your 4th of July Party Pop!” I had the opportunity to teach local crafters how to make some party items for their upcoming 4th of July parties. Look forward to Tutorials and free printables this week!

Connect with the West Elm Portland Facebook or Instagram accounts to stay updated about future events. They’ve always got fun and affordable events going on such as my meet and make or paper flower crafting with Lia Griffith and more.

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Today my mom-in-law joined me for a sneak preview of the Portland Flea and Rejuvenation collaboration Sunday Emporium. We shopped some adorable local hand-crafted home decor items as well as vintage decor. I bought an amazing little collection for my kitchen– I will have to share when it’s up on the wall!

Head out to Sunday Emporium the last Sunday of every month from 11 am to 5PM.

How was your weekend?

Amazing Cajun in Portland: Acadia A New Orleans Bistro

Great Cajan Food in Portland Oregon // A Well Crafted Review

Holy heck y’all… Acadia was JUST the thing I’ve been looking for in Portland. I love me some really good cajun food. Soothes the soul and sets fire to the palate. I’ve been to a couple of places in Portland, including the well loved le Bistro Montage, and they’ve been good. Acadia took it up a notch in my humble opinion.

The simple but fun ambiance of the restaurant made it a much easier place to have a conversation than some of the competition. Tasty dishes were presented with thought to how they looked visually…which pleased the Instagrammer in me.The flavors blended well, but always had a surprising pop of flavor.

The Starters

The above pictured Corn-Meal Fried Louisiana Soft Shell Blue Crab with Jalapeno Tarter, English Pea, and Mint Salad is the perfect example. The peas, mint, and perfectly cooked crusty-on-the-outside and tender-on-the-inside crab made for a surprisingly fresh and light tasting appetizer…perfectly rounded out by the surprising bite of jalapeno at the end.

Also highly recommended is the Louisiana Barbecue Shrimp with lemon, black pepper, white wine and butter. Seriously… save all the bread for yourself so that you can just sop up this sauce.

Acadia BBQ Shrimp a Recommended Dish from A Well Crafted Party

The Entrees

The entrees were just as drool worthy as the appetizers. The pork tenderloin with cornbread puree and rhubarb chutney was a favorite. They bake the cornbread and then puree it! Who would have thought?

Cajun Food in Portland Review by A Well Crafted Party

 

The Drinks

Obviously, I enjoyed Acadia. But, it wasn’t just for the food. I was thrilled to be able to try a variety of the cocktails as well. From savory to sweet the cocktails worked as a starter before the meal, accompaniment during the meal, and an end of night topper. My favorite was the Mint Julep topped with a beautiful dusting of powdered sugar.

The Acadia Drink Menu:

Study Retreat– cucumber vodka, blood orange, byrrh, port wine, salt. Any easy sipper whether you’re hitting the sand or hitting the books.

Young Sarandon– union gin, fresh rhubarb, house-made rhubarb sorbet. Frothy and live,just a touch of sweet. Surely an Oscar-caliber performance.

Portland Caprese– white rum, fresh basil, clarified tomato, cane vinegar, honey, lemon, salt & pepper. Somewhere between drinks and dinner, you’ll find this epicurean delight. Savory and smooth, get ready to fool your palate, signora.

Julep– bourbon, min, sugar. Nothing is better than one of these for helping pick your Derby winners. Ours has a secret ingredient that we think sets it apart.

Commander La Croix– Tequila, lemon, honey, apple cider vinegar, ginger beer. For easing out of your Master Cleanse…

Acadia Portland Restaurant and Bar Review // A Well Crafted Party

Mint Julep Acadia

Caprese Cocktail Acadia Portland // A Well Crafted Party ReviewAWCP-Acadia-rhubarb-drink

The Desserts

If you’ve never had the opportunity to watch a group of food blogging women be served three decadent desserts then you are missing out. The entire table moved as we all stood up to see the desserts as they were being prepped with garnishes and passed around for photos. I’m pretty sure everyone in the restaurant was wondering what the heck the crazy gaggle of women were doing taking photos of these desserts instead of just digging in! But, dig in we did. We tried the following amazing sweet treats:

Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding– with white chocolate-brandy ganache, toasted pecans and thickened sweet cream

Tropic thunder: the dessert- banana cake with maraschino drizzle, coconut frosting, passion fruit cheesecake, and golden graham-macadamia crunch

Chocolate esspresso layer cake– with burnt marshmallow, fudge icing and white chocolate crumb

 


 

This dinner was provided by Acadia with purpose of potential review. My thoughts are my own. I will be going back!

You’re Invited: Make & Meet at West Elm on June 28

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I’m excited to invite all my Portland area readers to join me for a little Meet & Make event at West Elm (1201 Northwest Couch, Portland) this upcoming Saturday, June 28 from 1 PM to 3PM! I’ll be sharing a few DIY party crafts including a fun Dye-Painting Cloth Napkin for your upcoming 4th of July bash! (Or, any party really!) Each attendee will receive all the supplies to make and keep 4 dye-painted napkins and a few additional party supplies.

Cost is $15 and covers all supplies and refreshments. Space is limited! Please RSVP through the Facebook event, or by calling 503-224-4480.

I hope to see you there!

Portland Fashion Week: Spring Edition

Portland Fashion Week

You guys… I’m so stinking excited to be attending the Spring Edition of Portland Fashion Week this weekend! As a member of the Spring 2014 Style Collective I have been attending some great pre-fashion week events to get ready for the big weekend and for some fun upcoming posts.

I’ll be sharing my experience through Twitter, Instagram, and my Facebook page. Follow along for sneak peeks at some great designers, awesome hair & make up from the master stylists at Dosha salon, and some Spring style ideas.

See my posts from Fall’s Fashion Week:
Behind the Scenes: Sister Fresh Clothing Designer
Behind the Scenes: Sun Jin Lee Wedding Dress Designer
Snapshots: Portland Fashion Week Day 1

Are you going to Portland Fashion Week 2014 Spring Edition? There are still a few seats left! I hope to see you there!

A Well Crafted Newsletter

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I’ve decided after three years of blogging that it is high time to get my newsletter running! Newsletters are great ways to connect with readers and to offer fresh, new content. I have so many different types of topics on my website that I thought it was also a pretty spiffy way to connect readers to what they want to read.

My newsletter promise:

  • I will not overload your inbox! Look for one or two newsletters a month from me.
  • I will send a brand new free printable with every full newsletter.
  • You won’t just see a bunch of content you’ve read before! I’ll bring you something new that hasn’t launched on the blog yet.

Bonus:

Everyone who signs up for the A Well Crafted Newsletter will receive an email with a link to my FREE blog planner printables!

Sign up for your A Well Crafted Newsletter Below:

*Newsletter readers will receive a link to download the FREE Blogger Planner within the hour of signing up!

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Great Date Night Dinner in Portland: Serratto Restaurant and Bar

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A few years ago, when I was very pregnant with my son, my husband planned an elaborate night out for the two of us. It began with appetizers and drinks at a little art bar in Portland (no longer open) and then went on to dinner at a new-to-me restaurant called Serratto Restaurant and Bar. The date ended with dessert and drinks at a third destination that I can’t even remember now. While the whole date was amazing, and huge deal for the husband that never plans anything, the highlight of the evening was our dinner at Serratto. I had the most amazing Pork Ragu that I have tried to recreate a thousand times to no avail.

This past Fall I was invited to a blogger dinner to try out several of Serratto’s many different dishes. I jumped at the opportunity to try out the restaurant again. My evening did not disappoint! I can’t wait for my next date night at Serratto, but it sure did make for the perfect Girls’ Night venue as well.

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Any meal that begins with a good, dry sparkling wine is my kind of dinner. We started the meal with a delicious prosecco and caught up on everyone’s busy lives. This meal was about two weeks into me starting my new full-time job… the glass of prosecco was just the thing to end a busy work day!

Our Bloggers’ Dinner at Serratto Menu:

WINE FLIGHT:
Mandrarossa “Bonera” Sicilia ’09  NERO D’AVOLA/CAB/CAB FRANC
Els Guiamets “Isis” Montsant ’06  CARIGNAN/GRENACHE/SYRAH
Fidélitas “M100″ Columbia Valley ’11  CABERNET/MERLOT/MALBEC
AHI TUNA TARTARE “NIÇOISE” chopped egg, capers, olives, housemade potato chips, tarragon aioli
KALE SALAD pine nuts, honey crisp apple, sour cherries, Grana Padano, apple cider vinaigrette
SEARED SEA SCALLOP roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apple butter
MARGHERITA PIZZA & PIZZA DEL GIORNO
BRAISED TAILS & TROTTERS PORK SHANK RAVIOLI caramelized onion, baby arugula, stone-ground mustard cream sauce
MUSCOVY DUCK
PAINTED HILLS BURGER brioche, white cheddar, bacon, aioli, bbq sauce, crispy onions, pommes frites
DESSERT & COFFEE

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The meal that followed included a multi-course menu and wine flight. My favorite parts of the meal? Well, it was all pretty great (just how I had remembered it) but, my favorites were:

  • The seared sea scallop with roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, apple butter was an inspired combination. I would have NEVER have thought to put apple butter with a scallop… but, it worked! It was actually my motivation to try making Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Fig Butter.
  • The Painted Hills Burger with brioche bun, white cheddar, bacon, aioli, BBQ sauce, crispy onions, and pommes frites… probably the BEST burger I’ve eaten in a long, long time. The restaurant smartly cut the burger into quarters. Several of the bloggers (including myself) went in for seconds!

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Want to try Serratto? There is no better time than this month, March 2014! It is Portland Dining month and Serratto is participating.

Enjoy three courses for $29.

FIRST COURSE
Beet salad with shaved fennel, orange supremes, Portland Creamery chevre and lemon-tarragon vinaigrette
SECOND COURSE
Braised Carlton Farms beef cheek with porcini-potato gnocchi, smoked cipollini onions, braised leeks and carrots
-OR-
Ravioli with forest mushroom, caramelized onion and goat cheese filling, grilled asparagus and preserved lemon cream
DESSERT
Vanilla Crème brûlée with candied pecans and fresh berries


A Well Crafted Party was invited to a complementary tasting dinner at Serratto with purpose of review.  All thoughts and opinions belong to Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party.

More about Serratto:  Serratto is a lively and elegant neighborhood restaurant serving authentic and innovative dishes from Italy, France and the greater Mediterranean region. The menu, which changes seasonally, is built around a commitment to using hand-made pastas, natural meats, the freshest seafood, and locally grown fruits and vegetables. Serratto is located at 2112 NW Kearny Street (at 21st) in Portland, OR. Visit Serratto on Facebook and Twitter.

Hand Crafted Ice Cream in Portland, Oregon: Fifty Licks

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Fifty Licks owner Chad Draizin sharing about his packaging choices for the ice cream cartons they sell in store. I’m in love with the clean design and square packaging.

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Bee Pollen as an ice cream topping? Yep, I tried it. I even liked it. Other toppings include potato chips and ghost pepper salt (which by the by is amazing if you like spicy and sweet!)

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You read that right….cocktails at an ice cream shop. Fifty Licks has cocktails developed to enhance the flavors of their sorbets. I was completely wowed by the complexity of a couple of the cocktails.

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The cuban coffee is another speciality of Fifty Licks. Coffee cans line one of the walls and a cuban coffee order includes getting to watch the process of making the sweet, sweet coffee.

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Sometimes I struggle with putting way too much in a post. I try to get down EVERY little thought I had about a place that I’ve visited, an experience I’ve had, or item I love. I thought that for Fifty Licks the photos above spoke volumes. I had the fortunate opportunity to join several other bloggers in trying out Fifty Licks, a Portland small-batch ice cream shop, for a tasting last November. Since then I’ve been back to share the adorable little shop with friends and family on several occasions. Both the ambiance and the flavor deliver each time I’ve gone.

If you’re looking for some great combo ideas for ordering at Fifty Licks, please let me recommend:

  • A scoop of Passionfruit with Sichuan Peppercorn sorbet sprinkled with the Ghost Pepper Salt (WOW)
  • An order of cuban coffee with a scoop of Toasted Milk ice cream on the side (heck, I think it would make a pretty amazing affagato as well!)
  • Want your ice cream to remind you of the best part of the holidays? Try one scoop each of  Candied Yam with Toasted Marshmallow Swirl & Butternut Squash with Spiced Apple Swirl. 
  • Need something to make you look forward to Summer? Try the Nordic Palmer cocktail with a Rhode Island style Frozen Lemonade and Sparkling Iced Tea Mead.

Flavors and toppings may change on a seasonal basis. If you’ve tried Fifty Licks I’d love to read (and try) your favorite flavor or order. Comment your suggestions below!


A Well Crafted Party received a complimentary tasting for the purposes of review. All opinions and thoughts are those of Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party.

 

More about Fifty Licks: Fifty Licks began in 2010, as an innovative ice cream company, in a mobile food cart. Today Fifty Licks has a mobile cart available for events and catering, a stationary cart at the Good Food Here Pod at SE Belmont & 43rd, and scoop shop at 2021 SE Clinton in Portland, Oregon. Visit Fifty Licks on social media: Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram.

 

 

Family Friendly Dining in Portland: Pronto Pizza

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I’ve now had the pleasure of trying Pronto Pizza in SE Portland twice. It is one of those places that I was thrilled someone told me about, because I had never heard of it and probably wouldn’t have thought to look for a local-loving, in-house making pizzeria and kitchen in a strip mall on 82nd.

The first time I visited I brought my family out for a meal. My second visit was as blogger visit to sample and learn about the kid’s menu. I brought my husband and fairly picky 2-year-old to taste test the new menu items. It was difficult pulling him away from the kid’s area filled with toys and a train table. (Whoever that first person was that thought restaurants should have train tables and kid areas was a brilliant, brilliant person.)

In both visits I found that Pronto Pizza does a great job at being the type of family restaurant that I would frequent. So, I thought I’d share WHY I think Pronto Pizza is a great Portland-area restaurant for families.

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Five Things that Make a Great Family Dining Experience:

1. Affordability

I cannot go out to a family meal and enjoy myself if I am spending a full day of pay! On my family outing to Pronto Pizaa my husband and I were treating visiting relatives to a meal out. Four adults and one toddler enjoyed an appetizer, large Brussels sprout salad, two pizzas, wine, beer, and beverages, and a dessert all for under $100– just over with a tip. The meal served all four adults and the kiddo with leftovers. The prices were entirely reasonable and the value was high from our experience.

2. Choice

I like to have a variety of quality items to choose from (without so many choices that I am stuck reading a menu for an hour) when I go out with my family for a meal. On date nights I am much more likely to order a “chefs choice” or “prix fixe” menu that has very little choice involved. I’m all for trying new things… but, when I am going out with my toddler, it is nice to have a good variety of menu options. I will inevitably choose a restaurant with choices of both healthy items and gooey-cheesy goodness when we want a nice, easy family meal. I was very happy with Pronto Pizza’s menu selections. They had interesting and tasty salads (could be ordered in large or small sizes), pastas, pizzas, and more. The menu changes up based on availability and season (LOVE THIS) but, if you go and they have the Brussels Sprouts Salad on the menu you must try it! The salad had perfectly cooked (in my book) Brussels sprouts, thick pieces of bacon, and a house-made vinaigrette.

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3. Convenience

Nowadays, when we are thinking about restaurants, convenience of location and ability to reserve a table or get seated quickly are very high on our list of needs. Pronto Pizza has a large seating area and we never had to wait long either time we’ve been. Now, we would have to have visited several more times to be totally sure, but our experience so far was great. The SE location may not be super convenient to all our Beaverton friends, but it is GREAT for us! Plus, it is right off a highway, so that works for those who are making a trip out.

4. Kid-Friendly Atmosphere

Portland is pretty great about kids in most restaurants. I never really thought of it much before kids, but I really appreciate it now that I do have a child. Enjoying a nice meal out every now and again is important to me. It would be terrible if I couldn’t bring my toddler out to a meal! Pronto Pizza is one of the Portland-area restaurants that really bring that kid-friendliness up a notch with their play area for younger kids, video games for older kids, and Monday night screenings of cartoons. Hey, and the fact that kid’s eat free on Monday evenings* is pretty sweet too.

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5. Healthful Options (Especially on the Kid’s Menu)

Have you seen kid’s menus at most establishments? Mac & Cheese, chicken nuggets, pasta/butter/cheese… oh, and don’t forget the sides of french fries and bread! Typically the healthy option is  a side of apple slices or grapes. My son definitely eats pasta and pizza on more occasions than I’d like to admit. But, I really do try to get him some nutritious food items in EVERY meal. Limited kid menus make me want to pack a lunch for him from home. We will often just have to get food items for ourselves that are healthful and more kid-friendly. But, I really appreciate it when a restaurant puts thought into the nutrition, taste, and kid-friendliness of their kid’s menus so that I can have the meal I like and order my son a meal that he wants and that will be good for him!

So, this is the part about Pronto Pizza that I am MOST excited to share with readers…Pronto Pizza partnered with Jacki Abbott, medical educator and nutritionist with Northwest Primary Care, to help create their new kid’s menu. Pronto Pizza also invited 12 youngsters in to do a taste test of possible kid menu items when developing their new menu to ensure the food offerings weren’t just highly nutritious, but also palatable for kids. My kiddo totally loved the baked cauliflower sticks and marinara sauce. (Check out the new kid’s menu below)

The entire menus is something that I did as well. Besides the food being good. It is filled with ingredients purchased from local farms and farmer’s markets; seasonal pizza toppings with imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes, double zero flour and olive oil; and daily handmade pastas.

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* Kid’s EAT FREE at Movie Night on Mondays starting Monday, February 10th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Kids under age 12 are invited to enjoy a complimentary pizza with one topping with the purchase of an adult meal.
Classic Cartoons playing on the big screen!

What do you look for in a great family dining experience?


A Well Crafted Party was provided a free meal with purpose of review of the kid’s menu. All opinions and thoughts expressed are those of Jenni Bost of A Well Crafted Party. 

More information about Pronto Pizza: Pronto Pizza, formerly Sunshine Pizza Exchange, located off highway 224 and 82nd Drive, offers deliciously simple Neapolitan-style pizzas, fresh house made pastas and farmer’s market salads. There is a private banquet room, ample space for large parties, a kid’s playroom and various retro arcade games to keep the younguns’ entertained. The overall philosophy of Pronto Pizza is to serve fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable food to families at an affordable price.

Dinner Out on Valentine’s Day Weekend in Portland, Oregon

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Well all know how much I LOVE Portland restaurants. I’ve been fortunate enough to sample dishes at many of the local eateries. I love that I get to post reviews of restaurants– discuss what restaurants do well and such things. Daily I get emails from my favorite restaurants sharing their specials and promoting new menu items. My inbox has been especially full with the upcoming holiday of love, decadence, and dining out– Valentine’s Day. I’ve gathered a list of some of the specials that I thought would interest local readers. Check them out this weekend if you don’t have plans yet! These specials are for Valentine’s Day 2014… the restaurants are good all year long!

Acadia

Sidestep the downtown crowds and sneak away to your favorite neighborhood New Orleans Bistro for a candle-lit, soul-satisfying Valentine’s meal prepared by chef/owner Adam Higgs. He will prepare a wonderful five-course feast with plenty of options from which to choose.  Select the prix fixe option for $75 per person, or order a la carte off the same menu.  Reserve now – this menu will be available on Valentine’s Day only!

Andina

Join Andina for Dia de los Enamorados this Valentine’s Day for a Peruvian celebration of food, music, and wine! From 5-10:30 pm on February 14th, indulge in a sumptuous 3-course prix fixe menu that includes a half bottle of premium Champagne, sparkling or red wine. Live musical entertainment will be provided by Portland musicians Danny Romero and the Toshi Onizuka Trio throughout the evening. Reservations for Andina’s prix fixe 3-course dinner start at $90. For reservations please call 503-228-9535.

Aviary

Enjoy a romantic Valentine’s at Aviary this year. Combining classic French technique with exotic Eastern flavors, the special four-course menu designed by Aviary’s trio of chefs will feature delicious specialties such as Tasmanian sea trout with blood orange, roast lamb leg served with zucchini tart and spiced apricots, and more. For dessert, Aviary will offer a rich chocolate torte with quince sorbet alongside crème fraîche cheesecake with blood oranges and matcha shortbread. Reservations for the romantic four-course dinner are $65 per person with optional $25 wine pairings. Call Aviary at 503-287-2400 for reservations. (Check out my review of Aviary)

The Bent Brick

The Northwest restaurant will be serving the full menu as well as a special couple’s four course pre-fixe menu at $80 for two that will run Thursday, February 13th through Sunday, February 16th. The menu features seasonal dishes such as Oregon black truffle, Carolina rice grits, Oregon black cod, and chocolate pudding cake with Salt & Straw malted buttermilk ice cream for dessert. Please visit The Bent Brick online or call 503-688-1655 for reservations and more information. (Check out my review of The Bent Brick)

Besaw’s

Enjoy a cozy, romantic dinner in one of Portland’s classic restaurants this Valentine’s Day. Besaw’s will be serving the daily dinner menu as well as a number of mouth-watering specials, including fresh oysters on the half shell with a blood orange gastrique, and dungeness crab cannelloni. The restaurant has a wonderful selection of Willamette Valley wines, local brews and a couple of signature Valentine’s Day cocktails. For reservations call 503-228-2619. (Check out this great review of Besaw’s from my pal The Spicy Bee)

Block’s

Start off February 14th with a fresh breakfast, brunch or lunch with special Valentine’s Day drinks and treats. Specialty cocktails including strawberry hibiscus mimosas are available all weekend long. On February 13th and 14th stop in to pick up Valentine’s Day sweets in festive packaging for those you cherish at home, school or the office, such as chocolate covered honeycombs, bags of mini-cookies or Block’s signature chocolate pudding for two. For more information call 503-234-5689.

Cocotte

A meal that will pay you back! Cocotte wants to make sure your Valentines Day will be an amorous one.  So chef/owner Kat LeSueur will be creating a sumptuous, 6-course meal around the best aphrodisiacs the culinary world has to offer:  Mussels, oysters, lamb, chocolate, chilies and avocado will all make appearances on the 6-course tasting menu.  Join us: Friday, February 14th or Saturday, February 15th–Six courses $75 Reservations: (503) 227-2669

Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery

Join Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery on Valentine’s Day evening for a For or Against Valentine’s Prix Fixe Menu! The menu is three courses and has choices for each course– great for couples that want to try (and share) different items! Three courses for $30/person (does not include beverages or gratuity). Wine pairings available for an additional $15/person. Reservations Encouraged! 503-206-7862 or info@cyrilspdx.com (Check out my review of Cyril’s Restaurant)

Departure

Take in one of the best views of Portland from sky-high Departure this Valentine’s Day. Chef Gregory Gourdet has prepared a five-course meal with a selection of Departure classics and eight dishes created just for this special night, including a decadent and sweet dessert duo. The Valentine’s Day menu at Departure is $69 a person and will be served alongside the bar menu available all night. For reservations please call 503-802-5370.

Imperial

Celebrate February 14th in style with Imperial’s specially designed Valentine’s Day menu. Specials include grilled foie gras and pineapple in a brown sugar and rum glaze, and lamb tartare dressed in crispy sunchokes and mint. For dessert, indulge in a tasting of chocolate confections including: salty caramel ice cream bon bons, red velvet sweetheart cake, bourbon soaked cherries and more. Treat your date to Imperial’s new cocktail, St. Valentine’s Sbagliato- a honeyed chamomile Plymouth gin concoction designed by bar manager Brandon Wise. For reservations please call 503-228-7222.

Kerns Kitchen

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner this Valentine’s Day, Kerns Kitchen will be serving simple and fresh, full flavored Italian dishes. As a special valentine to their customers, the restaurant has partnered with neighbors Missionary Chocolates and Happy Cup Roasters to treat guests to a gift bag containing specialty truffles and 1/4 lb specialty roast coffee beans. Reservations are suggested for Valentine’s Day at Kerns Kitchen. Please call 503-477-7779.

Levant

Enjoy the rich flavors of French-Arabesque twists on modern Middle Eastern fare this Valentine’s Day at Levant. Open from 5-10pm, Levant will serve the full, à la carte menu in addition to a special four-course prix fixe dinner for $55 a person or with an optional wine pairing for an additional $25 a person. Please call 503-954-2322 for reservations.

Life of Pie

Make your night memorable with a delicious meal at Life of Pie. On Valentine’s Day, Life of Pie pizzeria will serve a special menu for two with personalized arancini and kale salads, two wood-fired Margherita pizzas and your choice of either a bottle of sparkling wine or sparkling cider for $30 a couple. Please call 503-719-7321 for more information.

Little Bird

Treat your date to a special night out with a elegant flair at Little Bird. The French bistro inspired restaurant will be serving the inventive yet comforting dishes Little Bird is known for and will feature a Valentine’s Day Pink Champagne Cocktail ($14), a sparkling rosé with a Peychaud bitters-soaked sugar cube and grapefruit peel garnish. Little Bird is open this Valentine’s Day from 11:30am – 12am. Call 503-688-5952 for more information and reservations.

Ned Ludd

Ned Ludd provides a one-of-a-kind rustic dining experience for you and your loved one this Valentine’s day. With care and a culinary focus on the bounty of Oregon and the greater Northwest region, Ned Ludd will fire the wood fired oven for an aphrodisiac inspired à la carte menu or a prix fixe Valentine’s menu with an optional wine pairing. Reservations for two are $110 for dinner only and $160 for dinner and wine. Please call the restaurant at 503-288-6900 for reservations.

Oso Market + Bar

For an intimate night out, Oso Market + Bar is teaming up with Chef Abby Fammartino of Abby’s Table to serve a romantic dinner with menu items including Kumamoto oysters on the half shell with remolde, peppercorn crusted Painted Hill beef tenderloin with wild mushroom reduction, and coconut crème bruleé. The dinner menu is also available 100% gluten, soy, and dairy free. Reservations for the dinner will be pre-sold only for $48 plus gratuity and with a wine pairing for $65 plus gratuity. To purchase and RSVP please visit the Oso Market Shop.

Project Grace

New Italian pop-up, Project Grace, will be serving a five-course menu at Trinket both Thursday, February 13th and Friday, February 14th. Italian dishes will be featured such as Pesce Crudo with local albacore, citrus, fennel and Capezzana olive oil, grilled lettuce hearts, black pepper cavatelli with Manila clams, pork belly and pangattato, “Terra e Mare” with pan seared strip steak, dungeness crab zabaglione, and spinach crushed fingerlings, and Woodblock chocolate polenta cake with blood orange, and caramelized white chocolate. Seatings for Project Grace’s five-course dinner are from 6-10pm and are $45 a person. Please call 503-805-1345 or email projectgracepdx@gmail.com to reserve.

Remedy Wine Bar

Stop by Remedy Wine Bar for a comfortable and intimate night out on February 14th. Remedy will be serving the full menu in addition to Coq au Vin for Valentine’s Plat du Jour. Special dishes include oysters on the half shell with Champagne mignonette and chocolate pain perdue with banana mousse and caramel with recommended wine pairings. Call 503-222-1449 for more information. (Check out this great review of Remedy Wine Bar from my pal at Urban Bliss Life)

Salt & Straw

Taste the decadent, chocolate themed flavors of Valentine’s Day with a Salt & Straw twist this February. Salt & Straw has collaborated with many of Portland’s small-batch chocolatiers including Sahagun Chocolates, Xocolatl de David, Missionary Chocolates, Alma Chocolate and Woodblock Chocolate, to showcase each artisan’s unique style and flavor. On Valentine’s Day, stop by any location for a scoop of ice cream or flight of all five flavors and visit the Salt & Straw photo booth to take pictures and support Oregon United for Marriage. Throughout the entire month of February, Salt & Straw will donate a portion of sales from the Valentine’s Day flavors to Oregon United for Marriage to support same-sex marriage rights in Oregon. For more information please call 503-208-3867.

SE Wine Collective

SE Wine Collective offers multiple opportunities to celebrate the holiday of love. Those in an amorous frame of mind can cozy up in the Collective’s Tasting Bar for a classic Valentine’s special of wine and food for two whenever the mood strikes them Wednesday, February 12th through Sunday, February 16th. Wine options include Champ Divin Crémant de Jura – Sparkling Brut Rosé NV and 2011 Chateau Peybonhomme-Les Tour – Côtes de Blays, Cru Bourgeois. Special food items are a Baked Camembert with a spiced hazelnut crust and Pinot poached Oregon cranberries, served with Little T baguette and fresh apple slices along with a flourless chocolate fudge cake a la mode with Salt & Straw’s Black Walnuts and Bow and Arrow (SEWC Alumni) Gamay Jam ice cream. Celebrate Valentine’s an evening early during SE Wine Collective’s new collaborative Supper Social featuring The Cheese Bar with Steve Jones on February 13th at 6:30pm. The event will showcase an Old World, New World Menu where guests can choose between a French Classic Raclette and pairings of French wines and beer, or Swiss “Nachos,” paired with local Portland wines and beer. Reservations for Supper Social with the Cheese Bar are required and tickets are available online for $30 a person. In addition, on February 14th SE Wine Collective will host Whiskers, Wags and Wine – a fundraiser for Animal Rescue and Care Fund. Starting at 5 pm, the fundraiser will be a fun evening of raffles, local wines, small bites and chocolates all in support of Animal Rescue and Care Fund (ARCF). Admission is free and proceeds from the evening will go to ARCF. Please call 503-402-8692 for more information.

Smallwares

The stylish, “inauthentic Asian” eatery will serve eclectic, yet refined dishes for a prix fixe four-course at $50 per person with an optional beverage pairing for an additional $30 per person. In addition to the prix fixe menu, an abbreviated menu of Smallwares favorites will be offered. For reservations please call 971-229-0995.

St Honoré

Head to St. Honore’s SE Division location this Valentine’s Day for dinner, romantic dessert offerings, and two glasses of Jean Louis Denois Cremant de Loire for $19.95 in addition to live music on February 13th and February 14th. The dessert special is available February 12-16th from 4 to 10 pm. Musicians from Hot Club of Hawthorne will play French-style gypsy jazz from 6 to 9 pm on February 13th and Nancy Curtin’s duo will play Brazilian jazz and bossa nova, accompanied by Emmy-award winning composer Vince Frates on piano on February 14th from 6-9pm. Those looking to pick up sweets and treats will find a wide selection of popular love themed pastries, each available in festive wrapping. For ordering information and store locations visit please visit www.sainthonorebakery.com.

Urban Farmer

For Valentine’s Day 2014 Urban Farmer will be offering their full dinner menu in addition to specials for two such as oysters with Champagne mignonette and steamed butterfish for $30. A five-course tasting “Farmerdisiac” menu will also be offered at $70 per person from Friday the 14th through Saturday the 15th. The “Farmerdisiac” offers decadent, seasonal dishes such 21 day dry aged New York steak with foraged mushroom risotto. Please call Urban Farmer at 503-222-4900 for more information and reservations. (Check out my review of Urban Farmer)

Wildwood

Join Wildwood for a romantic and elegant meal featuring dishes such as gnocchi with smoked trout, Meyer lemon and hazelnuts and pomegranate marinated lamb with green curry collard greens and pickled fresno. Open for lunch from 11:30-2pm and dinner 5-10pm, Reservations are required for Valentine’s Day at Wildwood, please contact the restaurant via email at wildwood@wildwoodpdx.com or by calling 503-248-9663.

Family Photos

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Family Photos by Motormouth Studios

When I was a child I loathed taking family photos. Everyone had to get dressed up in nearly identical clothing and head to a stuffy studio where we posed awkwardly and pasted smiles on our faces. Even if we had a great photographer, the experience was never too amazing. I’m glad we have those photos. But, I’m even more glad that today’s “family photos” have an entirely different feel to them.

This year, as a gift to our parents and siblings, we hired Macey from Motormouth Studios for our family photos. It was freezing outside, but we had a clear and beautiful day to work with as we took our family photos in SE Portland. I gave everyone a loose color scheme to work with and asked them to join us for an hour of taking photos. SO much better than family photos when I was a kiddo.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with these photos. Each day when I wake up and drink my coffee before I head off to work I look around at the photos on the walls of my living room and smile big.

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Photo by Motormouth Studios

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Photo by Motormouth Studios

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Photo by Motormouth Studio

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Photo by Motormouth Studios

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Photo by Motormouth Studios

 What were your family photos like growing up? Awesome? Lame? Tell me all about it… and, if you have a photo, share a link!

Portland Restaurants: Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery

Cyrils Portland Restaurant

Have you ever visited a restaurant in your area that you’ve never noticed before, or heard of…and then, BAM, you realize you’ve been missing out for way too long? That is exactly how I feel about Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery. Cyril’s restaurant is located in SE Portland (my turf, yo) and I just now discovered its awesomeness.

The gorgeous, open layout of the restaurant is hidden on the corner of SE Oak and SE 8th Street in Portland, Oregon. The restaurant is connected with the local micro-winery, Clay Pigeon Winery. I loved the open layout of the restaurant, the simple menus, and the excellent attention to detail in menu creation.

Cyril's Food

While the whole restaurant had a neat, clean, almost modern feel to it, the food had more of a down-home appeal with a Portland-twist. The food was comforting and made with many local and sustainably sourced ingredients. We had so many amazing dishes while we were there.

The menu changes seasonally, and features creations such as their Garlicy Greens (pictured above) which are sauteed greens with garlic, grana padano cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice served on toasted bread. The meal off with a cheese board and a meat board, glasses of wine, and the Garliky Greens. These simple items were elevated by the selection of really great ingredients and sources. Two of Cyril’s entrees came next– one a special on the menu and the other the Boeuf Stew off of their Fall Menu. The Boeuf Stew was rich and tender.

Somehow there was still room for dessert.

Cyril's Dessert

Portland Restaurant Cyril's Dessert

I’ve always been a big fan of dessert. The menu reads “Sweet Thing” instead of a list of desserts. At the end of the meal you simply ask the server about the desserts for the day. The desserts were expertly paired with some delicious dessert beverages on request. I could go on and on about the desserts… but, I’ll spare you just in case you go and they don’t have these items.

Instead, let me take a moment to praise the waitstaff. The restaurant front of house was staffed by a small team the evening I visited. Michael and Sasha (the owners) were there as well as the server that waited our table. She was AMAZING. Years in the industry makes me feel like I’m an expert on this–She was stealthy in her clearing skills, quiet when needed, and she knew the menu (and ingredients) backwards and forwards. Which that cannot be a simple task when the menu changes as often as it does! When you visit Cyril’s Restaurant I’d highly recommend asking the staff for their opinion and recommendation. We were not sorry that we did.

Cyril's Dessert Wine

And then there is the wine…

You can’t talk about a restaurant that is connected to a winery without mentioning the wine. Right? I had the opportunity to try the Clay Pigeon Winery Syrah. It was smooth, and rich in flavor. Not too dry and not too sweet. It hit that middle ground of fruity that I enjoy. I typically stay away from Syrah wines to be completely honest… but, I’d buy this one again. I was fortunate enough to be able to tour the winery side of the venue to see and taste future vintages in production.

Reading this blog you might think that I love every restaurant I go to… but, that isn’t true at all. There are plenty places that don’t make it on my blog. There are places that are wonderful, but too expensive for me to frequent often (which I’ll always mention), and there are places that have one or two great aspects that I might share. I’ll always be honest about my opinion… and, I was blown away by Cyril’s. I can’t wait to go back…. next time I am going to go with friends and try the table-side Raclette grill!

Want to learn more about Portland Restaurant Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery? 

PS. All of these photos were taken on my iPhone. I promise to grab better photos when I go back next time!

Giveaway: Macy’s Holiday Parade in Portland

Photo from Macy's Portland Parade

Photo from Macy’s Portland Parade

Did you know Portland had a Macy’s Parade? Well, they do! The day AFTER Thanksgiving… you know the day, Black Friday, Macy’s brings the fun from NYC to the streets of Portland. All the fun of you don’t even have to get out on Thanksgiving Day!

When I was a child I was in pageants. As a tiny beauty queen I was usually in parades rather than getting to watch the parade on the side lines. One of our family stories is something that my grandmother told over and over again.

She used to say that after I spent the morning smiling and waiving from an elaborate parade float, I was upset to hear that the parade was over.

“Did you enjoy the parade?” she asked.

“No,” I’d complain, “I didn’t get to see it!”

Photo from previous Macy's Portland Parade

Years later I learned to appreciate both the opportunity to be in a parade and to watch the parade. But, because of that story, I’m excited to see what my son think’s of his very first parade. Really makes me wish my grandmother were here to see his face too.

I typically avoid going out on Black Friday. Sure, the sales are AMAZING. But, crowds and I do NOT get along. However, my son is now 2 1/2 and the idea of him experiencing his very first parade is just too good of an incentive. I can’t wait to see how his eyes light up when local bands march through, floats ride by, and as he see’s Santa.

Photo from previous Macy's Portland Parade

Photo from previous Macy’s Portland Parade

Portland’s Macy’s Holiday Parade

The Portland Macy’s Parade takes begins at 9 AM on Davis Street, makes it’s way down Broadway, turning at Alder, making its way down 4th Avenue, and finishing on Flanders Street one hour later.

The 2013 Portland My Macy’s Holiday Parade will feature 25 inflatable floats, local middle and high school marching bands, nearly 650 costumed characters and much more! A new red “Believe” Santa’s Mailbox float and Yes Virginia costumed characters have been added to the line-up this year. (If you haven’t heard of the red Believe Mailbox, and the Yes, Virginia campaign, then hop on over to Macy’s website to read about their commitment to give to the Make a Wish Foundation.)

The parade will conclude shortly after Santa dashes in his sleigh past Macy’s, heading directly from the North Pole to his Portland holiday post in Macy’s Santa-land, which opens at 11:00 AM. Santa-land is open November 29 through December 24 on Level A of the downtown store.

Win a Chance to Sit VIP at the 2013 Macy’s Holiday Parade in Downtown Portland on November 29!

Winners get the opportunity to sit VIP at the Macy’s Holiday Parade– in the perfect position to see all the action! And, I’ll be there with my family to celebrate alongside you! I have a limited amount of VIP seats to award.

*Winners must be able to attend the parade in Portland on November 29. The prize is only for the VIP tickets and does not include any additional expenses. Please read the guidelines in the Rafflecopter below and enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not in the Portland area? Well, no worries, you can still watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade (or attend if you live in NYC!) on NBC from 9AM to Noon EST. Or, follow along via twitter at #macysparade! And, I’d still love to know…

What is your favorite Holiday Parade memory?

 

Holiday Mingle Pt. 2: Tips for Bloggers from PR Pros

Bloggers working with companies

One of the craziest things about this whole blogging thing is getting to a point that your email inbox is filled to the gills with companies wanting to work with you for one thing or another. Blogs are great formats for sharing products and opinions about products/ businesses– and, boy are companies realizing it!

Each blogger must come to a decision about his or her blog and whether they want to work with PR companies and what guidelines they plan to utilize. It is a wild-wild-west out here. There are really no set-in-stone rules yet. Many people who blog are not people with years of experience working with publications. Though, the content they are churning out is worth something and the time that they spend on creating that content should be worth something too. But, deciding the worth is the hard part.

It is also quite difficult balancing the line of being simply a promotional fountain that spews out whatever a company will pay for to being an open, honest review with absolutely no obligation to a company. We aren’t quite journalists, yet we aren’t a particular company’s marketing team either. Unless companies, advertisers, or readers pay a blogger then a blogger is making NO money for work that takes hours and hours to complete. A blogger MUST find a comfortable position for where they stand on these issues for their blog.

These are not only issues that I’ve come across in my blog, but they are issues that every blogger I know has had to deal with at one point or another. Which is why I was thrilled to get the PR perspective at a recent Portland Bloggers meet-up sponsored by Little Green Pickle, the 2013 Holiday Mingle.

HolidayMingle_CH_1

Tips for Bloggers for Working with Companies and PR Representatives:

These tips come from the awesome Public Relations professionals that donated their time and expertise, and got in a room with their competition, to talk about blogging. If you are a blogger (not just those in Portland) and want to get involved working with some really great PR pros then check out their websites and contact them via email. They love that, by the way! The PR Panel consisted of  Carrie Welch of Little Green Pickle, Meaghan Burns of Broussard Communications , Lisa Hill of Lisa Hill PR, Heather Jones of Heather Jones Consulting, and Vicky Hastings of Maxwell PR . (Click on over to their websites and connect with them via email or Twitter TODAY!)

Tip One: Be Ready to Work with Companies

  • Have your blog up to snuff! Doesn’t everyone have that list of to-do items they want to get done for their blog? I know I do… the PR pros said not to wait any longer. Get your site where you’d like it right away.
  • Have an updated media kit ready to go! A simple one page explanation of your site, your site’s demographics, your numbers, and your guidelines will suffice.

Tip Two: Get Your Numbers Up

Many bloggers hate to talk about this side of the blogging world. Numbers matter. That doesn’t mean that small blogs have no shot. But, it does give incentive to work on getting your numbers up.

  • Most PR pros look for at least 10,000 Page Views Monthly– ideally, Unique Page Views
  • Most PR pros aim for at least 1,000 followers/fans for each social media platform

The panel said that it definitely isn’t ALWAYS about the numbers. Having a dedicated following in a niche field is also a great way to get in with working with good companies.

Tip Three: Act Professional

Think of your blog as your store front. You want to keep it looking nice, have the shelves stocked full (content!), and you want to provide great customer service. Interact with companies in a professional manner by answering those emails, sending updates on posts, and presenting your expectations and guidelines from the beginning.

Now, I’m the first to say that this isn’t easy… bloggers are often working more than on just their blog, life can get busy, and email inboxes can get a little bit insane. The thing to take from this though, is that being upfront, honest, and professional will help you in working with companies.

Want More?

For more tips from the PR Panel at the Holiday Mingle check out the post over on the Portland Bloggers blog. To read more about the Holiday Mingle and the awesome companies that were in attendance click on over to my first Holiday Mingle Re-Cap. To check out the websites of the people that helped make the Holiday Mingle happen…. click one of the logos below!

littlegreenpickle1
doubledragon1maxwellpr olympicprovisions

Screen-shot-2013-10-02-at-7.17.56-PM Screen-shot-2013-10-02-at-7.26.41-PM

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