Full On Oregon — Portland and Aviary

Portland Oregon Lake

Mt Hood, Oregon

I wanted to love Oregon. And Portland too. I came back with more than expected. I now have new friends to visit–always lovely. Hikes to take. Road trips through the countryside to organize. And many more food experiences to have.

Hotel Deluxe Portland Oregon

So I need to tell you how my latest trip to Portland in Oregon happened.

About three weeks ago, Travel Oregon invited me and a group of food and travel writers to come to Portland to experience the Oregonian food scene. They paid for everything. And although I was a guest during the entire trip, writing about Oregon and my trip was really left for me to decide.

It would have been difficult not to. I didn’t tell them with words–but maybe with smiles–but I was oh so pleased that they had thought of including me as I’ve always wanted to visit Portland and Oregon.

It was to a good start. Our group included a bunch of cheery fellows who, like me, flew from all across the country.

Portland Oregon

Over the course of the four days I spent in the city–as I added one extra day in the end to visit Lara, I had a ton of fun. I drank beautiful wines–sorry I am terrible with names–I ate scrumptious local food. I met delicious people and talented artisans. I visited inspiring outdoors havens. So yes! I want to share stories and images with you, because I sense that you’ll enjoy having a sneak peek of what it was like to be in Oregon in early September.

Thursday September 8th.
Or the day I taste Aviary restaurant food for the first time.

After an early morning flight with a small connection in Seattle, I finally arrive in Portland. Tired but happy. A taxi is waiting for me and two other friendly bloggers that I meet for the first time–even if I know them by name. The virtual world is meeting the real one, an aspect of what I do that I love above all. We smile and chat, and the tone of our conversation shows that we clearly feel the same way: we are oh so glad to be there. The weather is gorgeous. Sunny. Blue skies. It’s even unusually warm for Portland, as we are told.

It’s as if the city knows that we are here to observe and take notes.

Hotel deluxe portland oregon

Hotel DeLuxe, Portland Oregon

It’s here,” our taxi driver says as he pulls his cab in front of hotel deLuxe, a modern-looking hotel where a young man dressed in a suit is waiting to help us with our luggage.

I realize that I actually like that feeling of being in a new place and let it happen without having to think or decide.

As I walk up the stairs inside, I catch sight of a large black and white photograph of a Hollywood movie scene displayed on the wall. It sets the tone. Hotel deLuxe is a downtown Portland hotel that combines art déco and art moderne styles with a unique Hollywood vibe.

I manage to share lunch with Cheryl and Susan. Shower and skype with Lulu. Even rest a bit.

And fairly quickly, we all meet. And start eating, drinking, talk about food and wine. For three entire days.

Pine State Biscuits, Portland Oregon

For our first evening, we are divided in small groups, with each group dining in a different restaurant across town. I am lucky to eat at Aviary‘s.

The story behind Aviary is touching. It’s one that inspires.

It’s the story of three chefs, Sarah Pliner, Jasper Shen, and Kat Whitehead, who grow tired of working in various top-notch restaurants in NYC. Together, they decide to move to Portland. Together, they decide to open Aviary.

Secretly, I am glad they did, as our dinner is sumptuous.

Set in the dining-room of Pine State Biscuits, we are served a private five-course menu. I love that the atmosphere is relaxed. That the vibe around our long dining table is friendly. And even if I feel completely jet-lagged, I cannot help but feel grateful for each beautiful dish brought to the table. The food is delicious and eye-catching. The chefs are passionate about what they do.

And it shows.

The chefs at work, Aviary in Portland Oregon

Charlotte Zucchini, Aviary Portland

As the evening progresses, we quickly learn why we are dining at Pine State Biscuits. Jasper tells us about the recent fire that damaged their building, and how, in the spirit of the strong Portland community, other chefs like Kevin and Brian from Pine State biscuits decide to help by opening their kitchen to them. So that they can continue to cook while their space is being renovated. So that they stay connected with the food scene.

Hearing Jasper’s story is inspiring and refreshing.

Wine director Leah Moorhead pours us local wines, describing details of the body and color of each. Our menu focuses on creative foods made with the best local products the region has to offer. I find the combo ideal.

I am particularly smitten by the dish of slow poached egg with daikon and dates, and then the zucchini charlotte with bean ragout and smoked tomato consommé served with cucumber and dill that is almost too pretty to eat. The glazed black cod and milk braised veal that follow are equally spectacular. And the peach and moscato sorbet with cherries and almond emulsion sealing our meal is simply irresistible.

So much delectable food!” I tell Tami and Gaby who are both sitting across the table from me.

The expression I read on their faces and in their eyes tells me that they agree. It also tells me what I also think deep inside: “Clearly, Sarah, Kat and Jaspen know what they are doing“.

And as we leave the restaurant and are driven back to our hotel in taxis, I cannot help but envision already the next time. But then, I’d experience Jaspen, Kat and Sarah’s foods in their own restaurant space, with Lulu and P.

You will love it!” I eventually write to P. later in my email to him that narrates my first dinner in Portland.

Friday September 9th is full of food and wine activities. It will come next.

53 comments

  1. Is it crazy that for years I have wanted desperately to move to Oregon, and I’ve never even been there? I just love everything I see, hear, and read about it. Looks like an amazing trip! Great photos, too!

  2. I can tell it was truly wonderful because your words paired with the beautiful photos tell it all. What an incredible experience to be offered. Can’t wait for the next day…

  3. Bea, I am so glad (but not surprised) that you fell in love with Portland and Oregon….So did I a few years back, and none of my friends visiting me wants to return home even after a couple of days here…Oregon is AMAZING… when you come back here I would be happy to show you some incredible places :)

  4. Oh, that’s Mount Hood, so beautiful. Oregon is a great region, Portland is a lovely city.

  5. This post is heavier on forested landscape photos than I usually see here, and I am loving it:)

    I enjoyed a brief stay in Portland nearly four years ago. I was dressed in the most ridiculous soft-soled moccasins, but hiked with some friends through the city and all the way up in and around Forest Park, wending our way past the rose garden and arboretum. By the time we finished walking, my silly shoes had holes in the soles. It was worth it!

    Beautiful. Majestic. A really lovely post.

  6. I moved from Portland to Seattle last year and miss all the wonderful food that is there. So far on most of my travels there isn’t a city that compares with such a variety of tasty food. Looking forward to your next post!

  7. I LOVE Portland!! It is the only place I know well in the US. Ah… the pacific northwest. A friend of mine from Portland is at my place in france right now! So it was fun to see her read your post about her city! How fun… Your photos are simply gorgeous and really reflects the beauty of this area. I have always felt that there is a friendly, relaxed atmosphere there…I think it is not only the area, it’s the people that live there who make it that way. I ‘m sure you are feeling it too!!

  8. i gasped out loud when i got to the fourth image! absolutely breathtaking. i’ve always wanted to visit that part of the country – can’t wait to read more about your trip!

  9. Portland is on my list! A good friend of mine goes there every Summer with the family and we’ve been asked to tag along. I think I need to take her up on it! The pictures are beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  10. You came to town at the right time. We had fabulously warm weather at the beginning of September. Living in Portland has spoiled me where food, coffee, and beer are concerned. When you come again, I’d suggest checking out Navarre on NE 28th and Burnside. The food is all small plates, (French, Basque, and Spanish I believe,) and is by far some of the best food I’ve had here. I’m not much of a potato person but they have the absolute best potato gratin I’ve ever had in my life. I think I could eat it every day and not get tired of it.

  11. I am seriously blown away by your lovely photographs. They make me want to go to Oregon, and I was just there, with you. But seeing the same things through your eyes, and your lens, really makes those experiences pop.

    Delighted to have had a bit of time with you, and I’ll look forward to some more on a future expedition.

  12. How lovely. I’ve lived in Portland for most of my adult life and we are incredibly SPOILED with so much good food and drink. When I travel to places where there aren’t good local eateries or access to delicious local produce I always wonder how people manage to live there! You came at the perfect time of year. September is always summer in Portland (while June is decidedly not).

  13. Oh my, just so Nicole knows, her comment is right on target because I also dream of packing it up for Portland without ever having seen it. I just know that it is amazing and can’t wait to see the rest to confirm it. Ah press trips, they do indeed rock hard!

  14. Bonjour, moi qui ai toujours voulu aller à Portland, eh bien cela confirme que je dois vraiment y aller. Vos photos sont superbes!

  15. I knew I would like your post(s) about Oregon, but this one was even better than I expected. Just beautiful!

  16. Love seeing such a beautiful reflection on my home state – I am so thankful to live in Portland, and delighted you had such a great time! I have a friend visiting in November and it will be her first trip to Oregon, so this will help me plan for her! Looking forward to the rest of your entries!

  17. I never get tired of looking at your photos. They so inspire and teach me.
    I miss Oregon. Spending Manu Summers there growing up visiting my grandparents, i never forget the beauty of the state. I have always wanted to go back.

    Someday soon I hope to go. Would be nice to drive by the old farm again

  18. Vraiment joli. Je ne connais pas l’oregon mais c,est décidément sur ma todo list apres cet article. Magnifique photos.
    ElisaCanada

  19. I love your post. You make it come alive. Oregon is such a beautiful place, thanks for sharing!

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  21. Everything looks really wonderful, but you don’t have pictures of the Columbia River. The view of mount hood and the Columbia from Interstate 205 is breathtaking on a clear dawn. I live in SW Washington, so I just live across the river from Portland, OR.

  22. Les paysages sont grandioses !
    Et quelle chance de se voir offrir un séjour gastronomique au frais de la princesse !

  23. This past weekend I was at the Food Photo Festival. I would have loved to meet you in person. Much I admire your work. I hope that next year, I can make this dream a reality.
    Mglòria {gourmenderies}

  24. When I saw the photo of Mt. Hood I knew exactly what it was – and I was so excited that you were going to write about my home state! As always, your photography is beautiful. I can’t wait for the next post.

  25. Imagine the surpise at see my city on your blog! We love Portland and are sincerely spoiled by it. The rain is not comparable to Seattle – much more mild here. But sh! Don’t tell anyone!

  26. Seems like you had a nice and inspiring trip to Oregon with tons of delicious food. Can’t wait to hear more… Oh and the last food picture looks too yummy to be true!

  27. Thank you for sharing such beautiful photos of Oregon. Makes me homesick already and I was just there visiting family. What a treat to visit and have such wonderful meals! If you come back again be sure to visit Silverton and it’s beautiful flower fields.

  28. These pictures are beautiful! I have always had a fantasy of living in Portland and now I’m thinking I may have to finagle a way to make it happen. That is once I return from France, of course.

  29. I’m feeling down, not in a very good mood and by just going onto your webpage and the smile is back on my face :-)
    I just want to thank you for your beautiful photos. They bring sunshine whenever I saw then. You’re very talented. Carry on making us dream with the lovely food,recipes and amazing pictures. You’re a star! Merci pour tt

  30. I held off commenting on everyone’s posts from the weekend until after I posted my recap – that way I can relive it again (and again and again…). Aviary is on the ‘must-stop’ list for our next visit to Portland!

  31. Just checked out both of your stunning posts on Oregon, I would love to take in those breath taking views of Mt. Hood. So beautiful with all the wild flowers. This whole trip looks like an amazing taste of a wonderful place :)

  32. Glad you had a good time in our little burg. Geez, I live here and I have been to these places but your photography makes it so much more posh and lovely. Wish I saw threw your camera lens all the time.

  33. I have been reading your blog for so long and read all about your trips to beautiful places, imagine my surprise to see that you visited my city! I’m glad you had a lovely time! :)

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