Back in January we spent a long weekend in Portland, Oregon. Portland is known for its eclectic and bustling food scene, unparalleled brewery collection, and its blend between urbanity and nature. From the moment we landed, we got to experience all that Portland is known for. Portland is an extremely walkable city, but because there is so much nature ~30 minutes outside the city and Cannon Beach (site of the opening of the Goonies movie!!) is only 2 hours away, we rented a car as an excuse to explore the entire area.
Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach
Our first day was probably my favorite. We landed fairly early, before our AirBnb was ready, so we stopped by a cute little breakfast spot called Sweedeedee. Fortunately, a friend of mine lived in Portland for a few months on a rotation and was able to give us plenty of recommendations - we wouldn't have found half the amazing places we did without her help. Once we finished breakfast we drove up a windy road to Pittock Mansion to take in the expansive views of the city. After perusing the grounds for a bit we finally went to drop our stuff off at our our accommodations, which was conveniently located near downtown, and walking distance from a lot we wanted to do and see. After a quick change we set out for the day. We popped into the famed Powell's Bookstore where we spent about 45 minutes walking through the aisles. I love bookstores and knew I wanted to walk away with a token from Powell's. I landed on The Rum Diaries by Hunter S. Thompson before finally leaving and making our way to Cascade Brewery. Cascade Brewery specializes in sour beers and we fell in love with their collection. If you ever get the chance to go - the Cherry and Honey Ginger Lime do not disappoint!
Wandering around Portland
After finishing up at Cascade we slowly made our way back to the apartment so we could relax and get ready before dinner. Ricky made reservations at Kachka, a very popular Russian restaurant. At this point, I hadn't experienced much Russian cuisine, nor am I a fan of sipping on cold Vodka, but I'm always down to try something new. And man, was I not disappointed. Kachka's menu is divided into cold appetizers, hot appetizers, and several entrées, but they encourage you to order their "Ruski Zakuski" menu. Zakuski is essentially an appetizer, and their Ruski Zakuski is collection of cold Russian small plates that allow you to taste a little bit of everything. I cannot recommend this place enough. The food, the atmosphere, the drinks (Moscow Mule's for me, Vodka flights for Ricky) all blended for one awesome Russian experience. Post stuffing ourselves, we made our way to Ground Kontrol, an 80s arcade bar. After waiting in line for a bit (it was Saturday night), we made our way into the dark, neon lit, 2-story arcade frenzy. We ordered a beer, played a few games before I beat Ricky at Mario Kart, and then switched gears and headed to Crystal Ballroom. Crystal Ballroom was recommended to me by several people because every Saturday night is 90s night! 90s style and music, while popular amongst our generation for obvious reasons, is very apparent in Portland. We waited in line for what seemed like over an hour, but it was all worth it (at least to me). We spent the rest of the night people watching and dancing to every 90s classic out there.
Caviar Zakuski at Kachka
The remainder of the weekend was spent eating, hiking, and more eating. We drove out early to Cannon Beach, popped in to Voodoo Donuts, and found ourselves at a few more breweries. Our last day we had some time to kill before our flight so we started the morning off driving through the falls. About 40 minutes outside the city is Multnomah Falls, a beautiful waterfall set back in the hills, over looking the Columbia River Gorge. We hiked through the area for awhile and eventually worked up an enormous appetite.
Over looking the Columbia River
Aside from it's growing food scene, Portland has been known for it's collection of amazing Thai food. I'm a lover of all things Thai, but it wasn't until this trip that I fell in love with Thai curry. Noodles? Please. Papaya Salad? Hell yes. Curry? Eh.
We stopped at a little place on Mississippi St. that we had passed the day prior. Monsoon Thai was quiet inside, which is usually cause for concern, but it happened to be a Monday so we didn't let that deter us. We ordered Papaya Salad, Pad See Ew, and Pumpkin Thai Red Curry. I have no eloquent way to say this other than this was the best Thai curry I have ever had, hands down. It was so fresh, yet deceivingly rich. Light, but with just the right amount of tang and spice. We spent about 20 minutes arguing with ourselves on whether it was okay to order a second round to bring home with us. Disappointingly, we said no. Since then, I've spent months trying to recreate my own version of Thai Red curry.
This recipe has changed a thousand times over since I first made it. I've attempted concoctions on my own, researched and tested different recipes, and finally think I've landed on something worthy of consumption. This dish will never compare to the Pumpkin Curry at Monsoon, but if I can't make it to Portland when my craving hits, then this will suffice. Monsoon did make their version with Thai Pumpkin, which I have yet to find. Other than this dish I'm not the biggest fan of savory pumpkin, so I've substituted with sweet potato. The good news about this dish is you can add any vegetables you like. I've used all kinds of potato, green beans, onion, zucchini, broccoli, and even cherry tomatoes. This curry can also be made vegan by omitting the fish sauce.
Serving Size: 4 bowls
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large bell pepper (yellow or orange), diced
1 cup sugar snap peas
2 large green onions, finely chopped and whites and greens separated
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can low fat coconut milk
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Red Thai Curry Paste
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp thai fish sauce
1 tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper
1. Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a deep non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot add in the white parts of the green onions. Sauté until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Lower the heat and add in the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly to avoid burning.
2. Add in the diced bell pepper, sugar snap peas, and sweet potato, stirring to combine with the aromatics. Sauté for 1 minute.
3. Add in the tomato paste and Red Thai Curry Paste and mix to coat the veggies thoroughly.
4. Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Turn up heat and bring to a boil, then season with salt, pepper, rice vinegar, and fish sauce.
5. Reduce heat to simmer, cover pot, and cook for roughly 10 minutes (until veggies are soft or cooked to your liking).
6. Remove lid and squeeze in half of a lime. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions!