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Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong’s Khao Man Gai

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My final day-and-a-half in Portland centered on three memorable meals: our Paleo Pop-Up Brunch with my co-host (and Bravolebrity cheftestant with the biggest knife), Chef Gregory Gourdet; a gluten-free Asian-inspired pescatarian dinner at Departure; and a down-home meal of chicken and rice at one of my favorite casual joints in the world, Nong’s Khao Man Gai.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Ready to hop in a time machine and travel back to last Saturday?

The cafeteria-style Paleo Pop-Up Brunch at Departure was the highlight of our trip to Portland. Despite being arranged only a week prior to my arrival (really: GG texted me just a week before our trip, and suggested that we host a brunch together), I knew that GG would deliver the goods. Part of the reason my money is on #TeamGG to win Top Chef Boston is because he can totally throw down when it comes to developing and executing a fantastic Paleo menu for a crowd—from scratch, and in no time at all. And he never seems to stress out; I’ve never seen him without a charmingly shy smile on his face.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Me? I was the total slacker in the equation—all I did was show up with a whole bunch of Mini Michelle action figures and an empty belly.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We arrived a few minutes before the brunch began, just as the spread of food was being loaded onto the tables. 

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The Double-Os were all too happy to be the official taste-testers at the front of the line.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The epic brunch menu included a choice of a Bloody Mary or mimosa from the bar…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and a lip-smacking green smoothie (with cocoa nib and goji berry)…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

… eggs baked in avocados topped with bacon vinaigrette…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…collard greens, caramelized onion, and squash quiches (with almond flour crusts!)…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…grilled hanger steak with radish kimchee…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…Thai chicken sausages seasoned with fish sauce…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…blueberry-banana pancakes with ginger, macadamia maple syrup…

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and carrot, ginger, and zucchini muffins.

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

As if that wasn’t enough, there was also sweet potato and roasted chili hash, smoked salmon, copious amounts of bacon, and pickled shrimp. 

Paleo in Portland: Paleo Pop-Up Brunch, Departure, & Nong's Khao Man Gai by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Bananas, right?

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Paleo in Portland: Teote, Ox, Kyra’s Bake Shop, Cultured Caveman

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It’s true: Portland’s become my favorite city outside of San Francisco. That’s why Henry’s birthday gift to me was a getaway to Stumptown to eat and relax with the family. I’ve been to Portland several times before (and eaten my way through the city), but always for scheduled events and appearances. I never felt like I had enough time to soak in the city’s friendly, funky vibe. This trip would be different. My only agenda—other than co-hosting a Paleo Pop-Up brunch at Departure with our pal Chef Gregory Gourdet—was to chillax in PDX with my favorite people on the planet. 

Portland in Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

In just three and a half days’ time, we packed in a ton of dining, shopping, and exploring—and we caught up with some good friends, too. Want to see why Portland has my heart?

As soon as we landed in Portland on Thursday, we followed Terry Crews’s exuberant navigational instructions to Teote Restaurant for an early lunch. Our friend Kyra Bussanich (the award-winning gluten-free cupcake queen and cookbook author!) had texted me her recommendation of this Latin American street food restaurant, so I knew it’d be a home run.

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Famished, the four of us shared a La Cena Grilled Carne—a family-style platter featuring an assortment of grilled meats, cabbage salad, teote salad, fried plantains, bico, and buttered arepas (corn cakes). (Oh, and queso fresco, black beans, and rice, too. Everything was gluten-free, but not strictly Paleo. Vacation, remember?)

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

After filling our bellies and checking in to our hotel, we strolled over to Powell’s Books, where each of us got lost in our favorite color-coded zones. While I perused the endless aisles of cookbooks, Henry helped Lil-O search for word puzzle books, and Big-O read up on stop-motion animation.

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Of course, I had to run upstairs and check the Paleo cookbook section. Not surprisingly (for Powell’s), it’s insanely comprehensive. Name just about any Paleo book on the market, and you’ll find it here:

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

(By the way, I was armed with a Sharpie, so if you’re looking for a signed copy of our cookbook, there should be a few left at Powell’s!)

At dinnertime, we met up with GG to share an Argentine meal at Ox Restaurant. We started with a small cup of tomato bisque (a gift from Chef Greg Denton)…

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and followed it up with a chilled seafood sampler (Oregon Bay Shrimp Ceviche, Dungeness Crab Cocktail, Octopus Poke, Scallop Salad “Dynamite,” and Salmon Gravlax Tartare)…

Paleo in Portland: Part 1 by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…before diving into platters of local meat, fish, and vegetables that were prepared in their signature wood-fired grill. Henry and I spent all of dinner grilling GG about his experiences on this season’s Top Chef (which premiered tonight!), but all he did was laugh at our questions. I’ll crack him yet.

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A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures

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Our family’s spring break started last Saturday with a major screw-up on my part: I stood up my childhood best friend, Evelyn, having completely forgotten that we’d made breakfast plans until she texted me from the café (that I’d picked out!). I’m such an idiot. (Sorry, Ev!)

So instead of gabbing with Evelyn over eggs and coffee, I made another dish of Cantonese Savory Steamed Egg Custard for my morning meal. (It’s a recipe I’m still testing, but you’ll see it on the site soon!) Too bummed to whip out my trusty DSLR, I just snapped a shot with my iPhone and posted a pic on Instagram:

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Breakfast before our Mountain View Costco signing: Cantonese Savory Steamed Egg Custard.”

And then, when Henry and I headed off to Costco for our book signing, I kept Instagramming, and decided I’d keep it going for our entire road trip.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“We’ve sold piles of books and given away all our action figures, but will be here at Costco Mountain View to chat and sign books for another hour! Come on down!”

This was the first stop on our jaunt down the California coast with the kids, and our second stop was the Front Street Kitchen in Santa Cruz for my pal Arsy Vartanian’s release party for her fantastic new book, The Paleo Foodie Cookbook:

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“Celebrating @rubiesandradishes’ fab book release! Great seeing @grassfedgirl and other Paleo pals!”

Next: down to Pacific Grove for dinner at Passionfish, where we enjoyed a beet salad, spicy ceviche, steak, and lobster. Passionfish has a special menu that identifies specific allergens in their menu items, so we were able to steer gluten-free. But as you’ll see from our photos, just because we avoided gluten doesn’t mean we stayed 100 percent Paleo on our vacation. At all.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

“#RoadTripEats: Sustainable & #glutenfree surf ‘n turf at @PassionfishPG

Bright and early the next morning, we headed into scenic Carmel in search of morning grub, and found ourselves at Carmel Belle, where we eagerly tucked into plates of prosciutto and poached eggs with arugula pesto.

A Road Trip Down The Coast In (Instagram) Pictures by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

#RoadTripEats: Breakfast at Carmel Belle #ByTheCoast #HoldTheToast

But our main event for the day was to take in Monterey and its incredible aquarium.

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Chiang Mai’s Friday Morning Market & Khao Soi Islam

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A quick photo-heavy recap of our day before I stumble into bed and pass out:

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We got off to a slow start this morning…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…but after downing some coffee…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…and a hearty breakfast of hot khai jiao (Thai omelets)…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…we were ready to venture out to the Friday morning market.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

We’re incredible fortunate to have Mark Ritchie—founder of Chiang Mai’s International Sustainable Development Studies Institute and CrossFit Chiang Mai (and the guy who persuaded us to come halfway across the globe to northern Thailand!)—as our guide. 

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Henry and I love picking Mark’s brain. With his deep knowledge of Thai culture and language—and decades of experience living here in Chiang Mai—we have a rare opportunity to get a close look at the city around us, starting with the Friday morning market near the Night Bazaar.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Located near a prominent mosque, this open-air market is crammed with farmers and vendors offering everything from fresh produce and exotic fruits…

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

…to whole birds and wild honey.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

(Yes, those are bees still in the honey. It’s that wild.)

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The bustling, vibrant market was a feast for all the senses. Everywhere we turned, we spotted something new, interesting, and delicious.

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Chiang Mai's Friday Morning Market and Khao Soi Islam by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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A Postcard from Hong Kong

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A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

I’m procrastinating.

Instead of packing for our flight to northern Thailand (which takes off in a matter of hours!), I’m sitting here in our hotel room in Hong Kong, tapping away on my laptop, answering emails in preparation for the release of our cookbook. (That’s right: our book hits (American) shelves and mailboxes in just a few days—and in fact, it appears that some copies are already making their way into the hands of folks who pre-ordered!)

I can’t decide whether it was a good or bad idea to plant ourselves half a world away during our book release, but I suppose it’s too late to start second-guessing myself now.

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Besides, I’ve had an incredible time in Hong Kong. We survived the flight from San Francisco without killing each other, though I had stupidly ordered the gluten-free meals on the plane, which turned out to also double as the super-low-fat, high-carb meals ordered by fat-phobic passengers.

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

By the time we arrived, we were starving and passing out—but thankfully, there’s no shortage of great food in this city.

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The boys have been particularly excited about breakfast, and it’s easy to see why: the morning buffets at Kitchen and Café 103 have been marvelous.

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

A Postcard from Hong Kong by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

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