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.
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.
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?)
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.
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:
(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!)
…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)…
…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.The next morning, we ate a hearty breakfast at Urban Farmer before driving to Latourell Falls, the closest Columbia Gorge waterfall. (Note: It’s pronounced LATERAL falls. Don’t pronounce it as LA-toor-ELL with a fancy French accent, or you’ll sound like a total tourist like me). We hiked up the trail to scope out the spectacular falls…
…and marvel at the moss-covered EVERYTHING.
Lil-O’s very vocal about his hatred of hiking because it’s “sooooo boring to walk to nowhere, mommy!”—but even he had to admit that this trail was pretty rad. In fact, my six-year-old didn’t complain once during the hour-plus hike. Miracles do happen, people.
On our way back to Portland, we decided to hit up Kyra’s Bake Shop in Lake Oswego for some gluten-free treats. The boys and I had worked up an appetite during the hike, so I ended up buying an armful of goodies. Go to Kyra’s, and you’ll want to buy all the things, too.
Kyra’s a three-time Cupcake Wars champion—and it’s no fluke. Her gluten-free goodies have crushed the gluten-filled competition time and time again. Her famous cinnamon roll is a can’t miss, and she’s even offering a dairy-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free Paleo-friendly chocolate chip cookie on Saturdays. Once her new storefront opens later this year, she plans to feature a baked Paleo treat every day. (The new space is under construction, but Kyra gave us a tour, and it’s incredible, y’all.)
In the afternoon, we hopped on the Portland Aerial Tram to get an inexpensive birds-eye view of downtown. We got on it not knowing its destination, so I asked a stranger on the tram where we were all headed. “Um, the hospital,” she replied. Oh.
Next stop: Jacobsen Salt Co. A girl’s gotta replenish her sea salt supply, right?
I’d recently run out of my Jacobsen pure flake salt at home. Ocean-harvested from the Oregon coast, this is my hands-down favorite finishing salt. I sprinkle it on everything. When Henry told me he was booking us a trip to Portland, one of the first thoughts that popped into my head was: “Perfect! I can stock up on Jacobsen salt!” (Yes, I know I’m a little sick in the head.)
Naturally, once in PDX, I made sure we made a stop at Jacobsen’s new tasting room, where I caught up with Sana (whom I hadn’t seen since our January book party at Departure) and met Ben Jacobsen, the owner of the company. I hadn’t tried their flavored flake salts before, so I ended up filling up a giant bag of assorted salts to bring home. (Don’t tell anyone, but a box of salted caramels may have somehow landed in the bag as well.)
Man, I really wish I lived closer to these guys.
As the sun sank into the horizon, we decided to drop in on our buddies Joe and Heather at their brand-new brick-and-mortar joint, Cultured Caveman. I’ve frequented their three Paleo food carts in the past, but this was my first chance to sit down with my family to a comforting 100% Paleo dinner at the Cultured Caveman RESTAURANT.
After a tiring, fun-filled day, we were famished, and decided to order a feast. The kids happily chomped on fried chicken tenders while the adults shared dishes of Shepherds Pie, Pork Carnitas Tacos, Zoodles, and Bacon Broccoli Slaw.
Everything hit the spot.
Besides being a kick-ass restaurant, the Cultured Caveman sells frozen bone broth and stews, Paleo books, and a well-curated selection of Paleo pantry items. Plus, the Cultured Caveman restaurant is the ONLY physical location on the planet where my Mini-Michelle designer vinyl action figures are currently available for sale!
I told Henry that I wanted to purchase a for-sale house we spotted a block from the restaurant just so I could hang with Joe and Heather EVERY DAY. And I was only half-joking.
I love these guys.
And that was just Thursday and Friday! Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Paleo in Portland post—I’ll give you a glimpse of GG’s amazing food at the Paleo Pop-Up Brunch we hosted at Departure. Toodles—now go watch Top Chef and cheer for #TeamGG!
Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).8