Brenda and I have not been on any extensive excursions of late, but that does not mean we have not been traveling. We have visited our daughter Charity and family in Portland, our friends in Philly, Doug and Claire, and my nephew in Greensboro, NC. All were really enjoyable trips so I thought I would tell you a little about each to whet your appetite for travel.
Portland with Family
We visited our family in Portland over Christmas for a few days leaving Zeus in the caring hands of our house/Zeus sitter Ren LeVally (in case you need a house sitter, Ren is very good and mindful). What a whirlwind of a trip! We enjoyed the Community Ballet Company’s production of the Nutcracker, Pete treated me to a Portland Trailblazers game vs. San Antonio (alas the Blazers lost) along with dinner at Altbier (pictured above) which has a beautiful view of downtown Portland. Another day I went with my girls to see Sing (the movie) and had homemade Helen Tanner soup courtesy of my daughter. Of course, Christmas morning would not have been complete without oyster stew (a tradition between Brenda’s father Jones and myself). One year I decided to make the stew to share with Jones, then served it to him with one lonely oyster in his bowl while mine was brimming. He was calm, as usual, not acknowledging anything was amiss. We ended with a good laugh once he caught onto the fun. Here are some pics of our time in West Linn. I promise that I will blog this summer about Portland because it is one of the more unique and weird cities in the US. Wonderful restaurants, the BEST Japanese garden in the US, the world Rose test garden (over 400 varieties of roses – now you know why Portland is called the Rose city), wonderful wine in Willamette Valley, great hiking and scenery, etc., etc.
Philly in Winter
A couple of weeks ago, Brenda and I decided to visit our friends Doug and Claire who presently reside in Philly. Claire is from Australia and they are headed there for a little while – and who knows, they may just stay. One never knows. We arrived in time (actually earlier than they expected) for a little wine before heading out to enjoy one of Jose Garces’ restaurants in town. We had previously dined with Doug and Claire at Mercat de la Planxa in Chicago and Amada in Philly. This time we dined at Olde Bar which took over part of the famous Bookbinders location. It was a lovely evening being that it was Restaurant Week. We enjoyed a shrimp cocktail, oysters, crawfish croquettes, mussels in broth, chips (fries), fish, and strawberry shortcake. Highlight of the evening was definitely the oysters from Maryland — Yum! So, if in Philly, check out one of the Graces Group restaurants (garcesgroup.com).
Our second evening we enjoyed dining at Abe Fisher. According to their website, “Abe Fisher is inspired by the journey of the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland to the Diaspora. Making their way across Europe through the Middle Ages, to Germany and Poland, France and Spain and beyond, Jews developed a cuisine that balanced local customs and ingredients with biblical laws and traditions.” This was totally unique and interesting. The food is brought out tapas style but the portions are a little larger than typical tapas. Here is a sampling of the menu we enjoyed: Brussels sprout ceasar, sweet potato (boursin cheese, smoked walnuts), Borscht tartare, Veal schnitzel tacos, Paprika roasted chicken (sausage, swiss chard, schmaltzy potatoes). Delicious meal!
But, I must admit that the highlight of the weekend was coffee at La Colombe. Great coffee, atmosphere, and breakfast treats. If you are in Philly, do NOT go to Starbucks, go to La Colombe for some of the best coffee you will find anywhere.
Traveled to Greensboro this week to visit our nephew Stephen. Stephen is a EMT in Greensboro. Great guy that takes after his Dad and Mom; loves food, lacrosse, Ireland and Grand Marnier – not necessarily in that order. He has two goals, open a pub in Ireland serving southern cuisine and/or playing and coaching lacrosse. Presently pursuing goal number 2. After we put the TV together that I delivered, we headed out to eat. But, dear friends we didn’t go to Ruby Tuesday, Chili’s, or even Carrabbas. Oh, no. We headed to a very nice little Sushi restaurant called Akashi where we dined on sushi prepared by a Japanese chef/owner who immigrated to the US in 1980. It was really, really good. Who would have thunk, sushi in Greensboro. Trust me — it was very good.
Afterwards, Stephen wanted to show me where he would be attending college in the Summer and playing lacrosse — Greensboro College. We headed to downtown Greensboro that has really changed since I was there many years ago. Lots of great places to eat, beer halls, and a cute little coffee shop, wine bar, book shop. We browsed the book store with a glass of Pinot Noir. So, if you find yourself with a little time when visiting Greensboro, check out Scuppernong Books.