Conference food is a wasteland as far as the eye can see of bagels, muffins, croissants, oatmeal, pasta, soup in a can, a few leaves of lettuce, and no protein to speak of. It’s a sugar and carb crash waiting to happen. I learned the hard way last year when I attended the same 3 day conference for work in Portland, Oregon to not trust the food served during the conference. Thankfully I was smarter this year and planned ahead. I packed Epic bars, jerky, cut veggies, packets of coconut oil, and apples from a co-workers girlfriends parents orchard to eat instead of the food provided. At the end of the day, I was one of the only ones awake and functional because I had protein, veggies, and healthy fats to eat during the day. Although I would never say no to a good nap.
The timing of the conference coincided with the Portland stop of The Paleo View book tour with Stacy Toth from Paleo Parents and Sarah Ballantyne from The Paleo Mom. The Q&A session was the best I’ve ever witnessed. Most of the time, at other book signings, I’ve heard people ask where to buy coconut aminos and then have nothing else to say. Perhaps having Heather Hunter, from Cultured Caveman (which I sadly missed eating at this trip, I’ve been to the food cart but not the restaurant yet, and highly recommend it), toss Exo Bars to those who asked questions helped! But it may also have been the energy and humor Stacy and Sarah brought. I have a tendency to clam up around new people, introvert problems, but I thought about what I would say before I met Stacy and Sarah. I had a nice brief talk with Stacy about lifting and my 10 year old loving Paleo to Go and it getting her interested in food and I told Sarah about how her books have helped my family get off medications.
When I wasn’t at the conference or at the book signing, I bundled up and braved the miserable wind and cold and was either on my own or with co-workers for dinner. This enabled me to hit up some of the amazing places to eat in Portland. While I’m a Seattle girl through and through, I do enjoy eating my way through Portland. My choices were not always Paleo perfect, but I was able to stick to gluten free options.
Here’s where I ate.
Protein patties including beef and a weekly rotation of either elk, venison, wild boar, lamb, bison, and dork (duck and pork) plus veggies, coconut bliss shakes, and kombucha on tap! Yes please! I like Dicks Kitchen so much I ate here two nights in a row and visit every time I’m in Portland. The first time I had the Thai Burger bowl. Essentially it’s a salad with a tasty spicy lime chili dressing with a grass fed beef patty cooked to perfection on top. I ate this with a cup of gluten free smoky tomato soup and a glass of raspberry kombucha. The second night I had The Paleo Plate with a grass fed beef patty, salad, and the rotating greens (that night it was kale and chard if I recall correctly). I’ve never had a bad meal here and the service has always been good, sometimes the servers forget to bring an item ordered but they always correct it quickly.
Thursday evening 2 of the 4 co-workers who attended the conference with me, and I decided to take the max downtown. We did some window shopping and wandered around a bit before deciding we needed to get out of the ice and cold and into a sit down restaurant for dinner. A security guard recommended Buffalo Wild Wings, which we unanimously rejected. We walked a few blocks in the miserable cold and nixed a $36-a-plate tavern before we went into Nordstrom to get out of the cold. The sales woman behind the counter recommended RingSide Fish House, but gave the worst directions ever taking us in the wrong direction. Eventually we ended up at the right place and could warm up and eat. I ordered Salmon with potato gnocchi, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, bacon, brown butter, and pickled red onion. The salmon was cooked nicely and the pickled red onion really brought the whole dish together. My co-workers enjoyed their meals, as well as a Nor’wester and Army Navy cocktail.
The best way to get to experience what Teote has to offer is ordering the La Cena Carne, a family style platter served with black beans, rice, cabbage salad, teote salad, fried plantains, buttered arepas, and any 3 meat choices. While this meal included non Paleo beans, corn, and cheese it was all gluten free. I knew I wanted mole (Painted Hills brisket cooked slow in homemade mole) and smoky pollo (chicken slow cooked in a smoky green chili), but I wasn’t sure which to chose for the 3rd option. At the recommendation of the staff I went with el diablo, pork belly and roasted poblano chileʼs glazed in a red chili maple sauce. I’ve never had an arepa, a flatbread made of ground maize dough, and now I want more. The arepas were delicious buttery goodness. The el diablo ended up being my favorite of all the meat choices, I’m usually a mole girl. El diablo was porky spicy rich meaty heaven.
Oh brunch, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. One: sleep in. Two: eat. The husband rode the Amtrak train south to meet me for some tax free holiday shopping and Saturday brunch. Urban Farmer, located in The Nines Hotel downtown, is where we decided to eat. The hotel and restaurant is in the Meier & Frank building, which holds the distinction of being the location of Clark Gables place of employment before he found fame as an actor and is also the location of Departure Restaurant (which is on the top of my list for the next visit). This building is truly gorgeous and decorated with a modern decor that contrasts beautifully with the traditional architecture of the building. The husband ordered buttermilk pancakes with blackberry compote and Meyer lemon marmalade, and a side of shaved tails and trotters ham. I had the most delicious Oregon Beef Tenderloin Hash with fingerling potato hash, poached egg, chunky tomato jam, and the best gravy like sauce ever to grace my brunch plate. That amazing gravy was even better when I dipped the side of applewood smoked bacon in it. The poached egg was done perfectly and the whole dish was filling but not heavy.
Not to leave Seattle out of the culinary adventure, we stopped at Brave Horse Tavern in South Lake Union on the way home. Nothing better to end a long day of shopping, eating, and driving than with a cider and spicy hot wings. If you do the whole gluten thing, or if you want to or can make an exception to gluten free, Brave Horse Tavern has the most amazing house made brick oven pretzels. It’s worth it if you can indulge and make an exception.
Before leaving Portland, I visited Salt and Straw as well for cinnamon snickerdoodle ice cream. Photos didn’t happen there because I was so excited to have ice cream. The gas, bloating, and stomach ache from the dairy wasn’t pleasant but the ice cream tasted great. I swung by New Seasons Market on the way out of Portland to grab some of my favorite kraut from Farmhouse Culture, I discovered Farmhouse Culture in San Diego but cannot buy it locally in Seattle, and Cappellos gluten free pasta and cookies for treats later. Cappellos is another brand I can only get by mail order in the Seattle area.
All said it was a great trip, but nothing beats being at home with my family.