Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#hipstervacay {Portland day 3}

Our third day in Portland was the only activity we booked in advance of our trip: a wine tour in the Willamette Valley. Connor found Backroads Wine Tour through Trip Advisor, as it was the highest rated tour in the area.

We knew we needed to have a hearty breakfast before our long day of wine tasting, so we found a cute old diner around the block from our apartment: Fuller's Coffee Shop. It had 2 u-shaped bars where you sit side-by-side, and the waitress is easily able to manage everyone. We ordered omelettes with a side of hashbrowns and a side of their homemade toast. It was good, stick-to-your-ribs food!

Our next stop was in search of more coffee. We found the other Stumptown cafe near us, which was located in the Ace Hotel. This place was even more hipster than the one we went to the day before. I felt so cool!
Stumptown's coffee bars are so gorgeous. I could hang out all day in one!
We sat and sipped our coffee in the lobby of the Ace, and worked on a crossword. That is our weekend tradition. Yes, we're old.

We headed back to our apartment to grab our things, and then our tour guide picked us up right outside our place. Talk about convenience! We drove into wine country to pick up the other couple that was joining us then made our first stop.

Stop 1: De Ponte Cellar
Luckily for us, the rain started tapering off as soon as we got to the first winery. We enjoyed some of De Ponte's pinot noirs while overlooking the Willamette Valley. It was gorgeous!
They had trimmed back all of the grape vines and were burning the dead branches, making my pictures quite smokey.
The clouds were spectacular, and kept moving and shifting around. It was breathtaking.

Our guide drove us to the next winery, and the sky started finally clearing up. We had to take some pictures right then because we weren't sure if the sun would hold!
We enjoyed our tasting at Bergstrom more than at De Ponte. The woman giving our tasting was really fun and knowledgeable. The Pinot Noirs were killer. So great that we decided to order a case!
We walked through the barrel room and out the back to the sunshine. Any vineyard dog will get lots of attention from us!
It was turning into such a gorgeous day!
We loved meeting this sweet couple, who also happened to be from NC!
I'm pretty sure we had purple teeth by this point...

It was finally time to eat some lunch, so our tour guide set it up while we stood outside

We had a private tasting (accidentally I think!) and were seated in their reserved room for lunch.
I loved the gorgeous table, which reminded us of a table we have that my grandfather made. This was one big tree slice! The legs were also stunning.

Check out our spread! We gorged on delicious charcuterie, cheese, and crackers before we started our tasting.

We had a wonderful tasting, and Carly truly hooked us up. I was able to purchase a bottle of their "sold out" Pinot Gris for Meredith, because she was watching Bowser. She also brought out some half-size bottles of 2008 & 2010 Pinot Noir, and gave us a vertical tasting along with the 2012 (which is THE YEAR for Willamette Pinots). We were sold on those, and brought back the 2008 & 2010 as a gift for Connor's boss and client (and ourselves, of course!). We also ordered a case of the 2012 Pinot, which we are expecting in April.

We admired the bar while the boys settled up. Check out the different layers of dirt! This shows the different areas in which they grow their grapes. That is a lot of variety!
Stop 4:  Soter Vineyards
Soter is by appointment only, as the tasting rooms are actually where people live. On the property, there is the big house, which holds the the living room, fireplace, and kitchen. There are two cabins right down from the big house that have bedrooms and smaller living areas. They had our tasting in one of the smaller cabins. It was so unique! We tried a few whites then moved on to their pinot noirs. The pinots were so good!
I'm pretty sure that after the 4th tasting, things started unraveling. It was hard to hold it together by this point! I definitely was chugging water at this point. It got a little silly...
I somehow managed to snap some good pictures on the Soter grounds. Here is one of the 2 sleeping cabins. Isn't it amazing?

Just the view of the rolling hills. I was in heaven!

Here is the inside of the big house. There was a lot of great little seating areas and a to die for kitchen.
The architecture was incredible in this place!

The end of our day! Purple teeth and all, we made it!
Here we are with our great tour guide, Jeffrey
He dropped us off at our door, and we heated up leftover pizza and called it a night. It was quite a long day!

If you have never been on a wine tour (it was my first!), you HAVE to make it happen. This was such a fun day, one we won't forget!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#hipstervacay {Portland Day 2}

The second day of our trip was our only full day in Portland itself. If I had to do it over again, I would have extended our time in Portland. It is like a big Asheville, and we all know how much I love Asheville. The public transportation system is incredible: they have street cars everywhere, not to mention buses, and people are on bikes, in zip cars, etc. It is all very smart and efficient!

Our first requirement when we woke up was to visit Stumptown Coffee. Being huge coffee snobs, we knew that Stumptown roasts their beans in Portland and they have really gorgeous cafes scattered around the city. Many coffee shops also serve Stumptown beans, so it is hard to miss it.

From our neighborhood (Pearl District), we walked right by Old Town/Chinatown. Isn't this big arch over the neighborhood awesome?
Quiet morning. I think we woke up around 6AM so we were there really early.
I was so excited at this point. I know that a lot of people roll their eyes at our love for coffee, so it is always nice to geek out with others who get our crazy obsession! We ordered the two single-origin pourovers they had: Guatemala & Indonesian Peaberry. I think we preferred different ones, which was perfect!
Excited pano! Yes, I am such a dork. I loved how mid-century the furnishings were. They even had the baristas run an old record player for tunes.

Connor and I just sat for about an hour planning our day. We spoke with the baristas and got their two cents. We knew that our next stop had to be....
There was a line, of course, but it was well worth the wait (~20 minutes)
It gave us plenty of time to decide. The cashiers were kind of cranky but they needed to get everyone through the line. This place has the craziest flavors!
And the best decor. Isn't that huge doughnut the thing of dreams?
So many options.....
With our pink box! We had to walk around looking for shelter as the store was too small to eat in. We ended up standing in a doorway to a bar that thankfully had an awning. Next to some hobos. Because it's Portland.
We ordered the Ol' Dirty Bastard (chocolate glaze, oreos, & peanut butter drizzle), the maple bacon bar, and the voodoo doll (raspberry jelly-filled with a chocolate glaze). We had about 2 bites of each then shoved the box in my backpack for later.
Right by the doughnut shop was the classic "Keep Portland Weird" sign which I had to stop in front of.
We wandered around the city until we got to Powell's. This bookstore came highly recommended and we are so glad we stopped in. It is about the size of a city block with over a million new & used books. It is the largest in the world! We walked around in awe of the selection. This was just part of the cookbook collection!
We stayed in Powell's for more than an hour. There was a lot to see! We decided to head back to our apartment to drop off some things we bought. We spotted a really cool outdoor patio area with a mirror and a waterfall and figured we might as well take a selfie. I accidentally got us matching rain jackets, so we looked like huge tourists everywhere we went. Whatevs.
The sweetest little sign was placed on the ground outside this furniture store. It was totally random but I loved it.
We dropped our things off then mapped out the rest of our afternoon. It was getting to be lunch time, so we looked up where there was a pod of food carts (yes, a pod. Yes, there are over 500 registered food carts. Yes, I'm moving there tomorrow) and took the street car over to the other side of the river. Those carts also happened to be close to the breweries so it was perfect.
...Unfortunately that particular pod was closed on Sunday so we headed to the next-best place: Olympic Provisions. They are known for their charcuterie, and have a darling little hidden restaurant in this huge warehouse. We definitely had a hard time finding it at first! There are no signs.
Besides the neon MEAT sign, I saw the legs hanging from the ceiling and was immediately smitten. This was the place for me!
We ordered off the brunch menu and split each. We died and went to little piggy heaven! We also took two salami to go to enjoy back in Charlotte.

{white cheddar, egg, aioli, on brioche kaiser bun}
{kielbasa, yukon gold potatoes, lardons, white cheddar, frisée, poached egg}
Our next stop was at Hair of the Dog Brewery. We each got a flight and enjoyed being out of the cold & rain. The beer was just OK, but it was warm so we sat as long as we could.
 We were in this very old warehouse district and every stop we made was about a half mile or more from each other. We were happily walking off all of the pig & booze we consumed that day!

We saw this cool games shop on the way to the next brewery and realized we had forgotten to bring any games with us. We knew that we had a 3 hour train ride to Seattle later, so stopped in to see what they had.
Well, they had over 10,000 games! We were overwhelmed. Luckily the staff was super helpful and found us a perfect 2-player game.
Our next stop was Commons Brewery, which had a tiny tasting bar in their barrel room. We each tried something different, and took a bottle of their Brotherly Love (with local sour cherries & cacao nibs) to bring back to Charlotte.
Our third beer stop was at the Lucky Labrador. It had OK reviews and OK beer, but anywhere warm was what we were really looking for! It was cozy and dry, just what we needed.
They had a ton of old-school board games, and I somehow decided that a board game version of Carmen Sandiego was going to be fun. The game was produced in 1992, so the trivia questions were hard to figure out! Hey, that was a long time ago.
There were a lot of people playing board games around, so we were in good company.
Our next stop after that was at Deschutes Brewpub near our apartment. We sat and chatted with these 2 guys to my left about Seattle and Portland. I wrote down a ton of stuff that they said we couldn't miss. We also watched some of the Oscars. Time got a little blurry then...We also decided to get pizza for dinner at a place right down the street called Hotlips Pizza. It was actually realllly good pizza. We ordered the I Learned it in Brooklyn {Garlic parmesan sauce, Italian sausage, olives, roast pepper + ricotta} and brought it back home. It was INSANE and totally hit the spot. We watched about half of Happy Feet (hey, the Wifi wasn't working and it was either a Happy Feet DVD or a yoga DVD!) and then went to sleep.

More to come! The next recap is about our wine tour in the Willamette Valley...not to be missed!