Saturday, August 11, 2007


Today was all about food. Ha, ha, ha, ha... he, he, he, he. Yes, yes, I know... EVERY day is about food with us - but today was EVEN MORE SO.

When we went tearing through the Portland area last summer, I happened to read an article in the local paper about an "Epicurian Excursion", a food-centered walking tour through the Pearl District of Portland. Oh, I wanted to go! But we were enroute to the crab festival over on the coast... no time, no time, must keep moving.

I filed it away in the "not-to-be-forgotten" lobe (very, very small) of my brain and - what do you know - I got tickets a couple of weeks ago. Today was the day.

The company is called Portland Walking Tours. They offer several different tours, but we stuck with our specialty: food. Our group of 14 set out at 10 am; we walked about 2 miles in 3 1/2 food and fun-filled hours.

Our first stop was a nearby deli, where we paused while our guide, Damon, set the tone for the tour with a brief discussion of the Slow Food movement - slow down, involve all your senses, taste completely- and our motto for the day, FLOSS: Fresh, Local, Organic, Sustainable, Seasonal.

Thus enlightened, we went in search of our first taste experience, a bit of delectable Tomato Orange soup. We were off to the races.

These first three photos show one of the "behind the scenes" experiences we enjoyed on the tour. Out on the sidewalk, before we trooped into the kitchen of a small, artisan bakery, we all donned hairnets. Good look for Odel, no?

The baker in the second photo is "laminating" dough for croissants. After removing a layer of waxed paper from a 1/2 inch slab of butter laid on a thick sheet of dough, he ran the combination through the laminating machine (basically, an automated rolling pin), folded it, ran it back through the machine, folded it... and on and on and on until it was thin layer upon thin layer of dough and butter.

A few steps past the laminating machine brought us to our next tasting: four different breads and a delicious, fruity, local olive oil. Yummm... and it lead to our first purchase, a rather sweet, anise flavored bread (for later).

Then we were off again, to where?? Was it the tea house, where we sampled three teas with two different cookies? Or did that come after the cooking school/gourmet food shop where we sat around the big kitchen counter to taste an Oregon Pinot Noir and three kinds of mustards (two of which we bought to take home)??

Well, it was that kind of a day... sensory overload. The weather was perfect - blue sky, sunshine, seventy-something degrees. Damon, our guide, clearly LOVES Portland and stopped frequently to point out a garden, an interesting building, to tell us a little history or to describe why downtown Portland is so vital and invigorating.

I clearly remember our last two stops. At the first, we had a slice of a "seasonal vegetarian pizza": thin, chewy-n-crispy crust with cilantro pesto, fresh tomatoes, crunchy fresh corn kernels and local cheese, washed down with home-made blackberry juice sodas. After that, two different microbrews - and an apple tasting.

Last stop: the gelato shop. Two gelatos - bananas and cream, and cookies and cream - and a pina colada sorbetto. Italian coffee for anyone who had a tiny bit of space left to be filled.

It was a GREAT way to learn about the little slice of Portland known as the Pearl district, and we recommend it to ANYONE who visits Portland (purchase your tickets on the internet in advance to reserve a spot on this always sold out tour).


  1. How fun! Summer is a great time to enjoy the harvest of the local areas, but living in Wisconsin, I am extremely thankful that we do have the opportunity to get nonlocal, unseasonal foods. How on earth do you drink a margarita without a fresh lime? :)

  2. Wow that sounds interesting to me. I will file it in my memory bank for the next time we are in OR. We love those kinds of tours my recommendations when you get on the East Coast you must do the Chocolate experience in Hershey you taste chocolate for 90 min and there is walking tavern tour in Philly you get the history of the oldest taverns and sample a libation at each tavern as well as a snack food. Thats a happy tour by the end!!!

  3. WHAT FUN!!!!!!!!!! We LOVE your enthusiasm for food, since we feel EXACTLY the same way!!!!!!
    R & A.C.
    P.S. I wonder if there will be Gelato's in Italy?????