Texas State Fair

Everyone has told us since moving to Texas that we have to go to the Texas State Fair and see “Big Tex!”  We visited and had a great time!  We are used to the OC Fair that happens in Orange County every summer, so this felt familiar and fun in comparison.  My favorite thing from the OC Fair is the bucket of hot, mini, cinnamon and sugar donuts …….they are HEAVEN!  But I could not find them here at the Texas state fair.  But where they were lacking in donuts, they made up for in cotton candy…they honestly had the best cotton candy I have ever tasted!  The kids loved the fair (I quietly mourned our Disneyland Days), and we made some great memories.  I am excited about this new fall tradition!

 

My Faves of Portland : {Making the most of a short trip}

IMG_6371_2“Keep Portland Weird” is a phrase that was painted on the wall of a local pizza place by our hotel…and it says so much about Portland!  Portland is weird and quirky and artsy and beautiful and they own it!

Because my mom is a cosmetic laser trainer and travels all the time; training clinics and doctor’s office staff on their newly purchased lasers….she gets to travel and earn lots of travel points and rewards!  So we used some of her rewards points and had a mother/daughter trip to Portland two weeks ago!

It was a short trip (Sunday night-Wednesday evening) so we had to make the most of our time to ensure we saw everything we wanted to.

Despite only being there a few days, I FELL IN LOVE WITH PORTLAND!  It had all the best things of a big city: tons of things to do and see, so many great and unique eateries, amazing parks, quirky neighborhoods, etc……but it was so much better than most of the famous big cities I have visited!  Mainly because it was clean, lush and green, the people were so friendly, and it was oh so quiet!  Of course being the socal girl that I am….it helped that it didn’t rain while we were there :).

Here are just a few highlights and recommendations on where to eat and what to see when there….especially if its only for a short time!  Prior to leaving I scoured blogs, Pinterest and yelp to make sure I hit great spots.  Plan a trip there soon friends!!

EAT:

  • VooDoo Doughnuts – Famous for their crazy donuts
  • Salt & Straw – Amazing & unique ice cream flavors (like Olive Oil)…plus this is in a cute neighborhood that I wish I had time to really explore!
  • Tasty & Alder – Great breakfast biscuits! (although I still need to try Pine St. Biscuits)
  • Veritable Quandary – The Bacon Dates app was on point, and everything was so delish here…but make a reservation!
  • Cheryl’s on 12th – Not only did I chat and talk about babies with the actual Cheryl, but my mother and I shared drinks, chatted, and showed off baby pictures with a lovely couple sitting next to us.  Oh yeah and the food was great…I had a fig & goat cheese sandwich!
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters – The best coffee…seriously so smooth and delish!  You will find a number of cafe’s and bakeries around the city that promote that they brew Stumptown.
  • Lovejoy Bakers – Grab a Stumptown coffee and a pastry and you can sit on their adirondack chairs and just relax..taking in the Pearl District!
  • Petunia’s Pies & Pastries – Vegan Bakery…my mom was obsessed with the raspberry bars
  • Ken’s Artisan Bakery – We had an amazing lunch here…the bread is so fresh and I love that goat cheese came on the salad.
  • Andina – Peruvian Food (I recommend the cheese plate & quinoa crusted shrimp)
  • Isabel – Yummy latin breakfast (I had the artichoke scramble)
  • Lonesome’s Pizza – Open late and cheap delicious slices from a tiny speak-easy type window (Cash Only)

SEE:

  • Washington Park – There are endless things to do here.  You can visit the zoo, rose garden, japanese garden, tree arboretum, children’s museum, etc.  And the hiking…oh the amount of trails!
  • Waterfront Park – This runs along the river which divides Portland and it is a great walk where you can take in all the gorgeous bridges!…just watch out for all the bikers!
  • Keller Fountain Park – This is a fountain (although it didn’t have water when we were there) that just looks so cool!

SHOP:

  • Powell’s Bookstore – THE bookstore in Portland
  • The Pearl District – This was my favorite neighborhood to explore.  It has a ton of cute shops, adorable homes and apartments, art installations and sculptures line the streets, and it is just oh so hip feeling haha.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • You can’t catch cabs in the city…just from the airport or if your hotel calls one for you
  • The train/bus system is awesome but you can walk the city fairly easy (when you stick to one side…I.E. the Westside or the Eastside)
  • Best months to travel there are August and September…a friend from there told me Don’t go in the fall!…you can seriously get just drenched by the rain!
  • They offer great tours…like bike tours and brewery tours.
  • If you do rent a car…there are lots of one way streets and you have to pay for parking pretty much wherever you go in the downtown area…but I didn’t find it was too hard to find a spot or too expensive.
  • Traffic going in and out of the city can be rough so plan ahead when trying to catch a flight.

I MUST go back…and maybe I will bring the hubby along next time :).

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My favorite cheat sheet/map that I found! IMG_6379_2We loved our stay at the Embassy Suites Downtown…the decor was so 1920’s art deco…and the accommodations were great!
IMG_6510No joke the cheese plate at Andina’s…the corn nuts!…so good 
IMG_6514 IMG_6473Our appetizer at Veritable QuandaryIMG_6469_2These cinnamon/sugar puffs (like a beignet) come free as you wait for your meal at Cheryl’s on 12th!IMG_6458This is at Washington Park and there were just so many trails!….I was almost expecting Edward Cullen to walk out from behind a tree.
IMG_6461Lush lush lushIMG_6446These are the drinking fountains that are spread around the SouthWest side of Portland…they are all around and the water constantly flows!  Plus the water there tastes AMAZING!IMG_6443_2Keller Fountain Park…would have been so cool if it was flowing…but still so beautiful.IMG_6441_2Walking along Waterfront ParkIMG_6426_2VooDoo Doughnuts…the line can get cray so go when its slow!IMG_6419_2This place is so adorable and the vegan treats were delish!
IMG_6409Our lunch at Ken’s Artisan BakeryIMG_6398_2At Lovejoy BakersIMG_6400_2Oh you know…just a baby on a bench :).  IMG_6392_2Such cute homes in The Pearl!IMG_6391_2Oh I love all the greenery!

There were a ton more places to see and eat at but there just wasn’t time (feel free to comment if you want more recommendations).  So….looks like I will just need to go again.  Until next time PDX!

Best Meal EVER!!!!!

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Being the self-dubbed “Foodie” that I am, any celebration for me has to include good food….and more than that….good steak. For my 30th birthday my husband and I took a day trip in order for me to have dinner at my favorite steak restaurant, Carnevino. I had been there once, but the food was so incredible that I have been dreaming about going back for over a year.

What makes Carnevino so different is the length of time that they dry age their steaks. When a restaurant says they serve dry aged steaks they usually don’t specify for how long…and if they do, the average is a few weeks only. Carnevino on the other hand dry ages their steaks for about 3 months! Dry aging makes the beef more flavorful because it removes un-needed moisture and simultaneously makes the steak more tender. So this steak LITERALLY tastes like none you have ever had before. The longer it is dry aged the more the flavor changes…I would compare it to a wine or cheese in how the flavors can change so much. They even have a riserva steak that is dry aged 8 months and it has a blue-cheesy flavor. Their beef quality is also beyond compare. This is from their website:

“(Our Beef) is often beyond regular USDA prime standards for marbling and flavor and is hormone and antibiotic free. We rub all of our beef with sea salt, black pepper and fresh rosemary to get a delicious and slightly charred crust.”

Carnevino was ranked 4th in a list of best steak houses in the U.S. so of course it is a bit pricey, but is worth every penny! The service is remarkable and you def feel fancy eating there, haha. When we were waiting for our table they gave us a free glass of champagne at the bar and when we were being seated they wouldn’t even let me hold my glass…they carried it for me! Please enjoy the pictures below of our most recent meal there and put eating here on your bucket list!

photo 1 (1)Rosemary bread, in-house made unsalted butter and a butter made from pork back fat, thyme, rosemary, and garlic (SO GOOD)

photo 1 (2)

photo (2)Pasta with black truffles and butter sauce (Off menu item)…THIS ROCKED MY WORLD!

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A glass of Pinot Noir paired perfectly with the mealphoto (3)This is a seasonal cream corn dish that has no cream. They use the natural juices from the strained corn as a broth. It was so delicious with roasted corn and had a kick of peppers.

IMG_0687For dinner we had a dry aged bone in rib-eye for two. At Carnevino, they cook their steaks on the rare side so this is a medium-well. It is hand-carved table-side, sea salt is sprinkled over it, and then olive oil is drizzled on top.

IMG_0711The great thing about this steak is the variety of flavors depending on what part you are eating. For example, the bone has such a savory taste that is so different than the rest of the steak.

IMG_0714As a birthday surprise they served shortbread cookies with chocolate sauce that said “Happy Birthday”….at least it did before someone got too excited and dragged their finger across it and put that finger in their mouth…..it was me haha.

IMG_0679We had to grab a salted caramel chocolate at Godiva before leaving the hotel.

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I am always wanting to hear about places to have a great meal. Please feel free to share where places you have had a perfect meal.