Portland Walking Tours Epicurean Excursion Walking Tour
My first visit to Portland, OR was over four years ago. I liked food back then, but I was not quite at the level of foodie adventurer I am today. I went on a food walking tour as a recommendation from my MIL who had just come from a visit herself and I knew I had to go on another one this time around.
Portland Walking Tours offers seven different tours, which includes the Underground Portland Walking Tour and the Chocolate Decadence Walking Tour. You can sign up for any tour they have on their website as well as contact them to set up your own private tour. The Epicurean Excursion takes you around downtown Portland to sample some of the great food found there. It really is a nice way to get to know the city.
I have to give a shout out to our most awesome tour guide, Herb. I heard great reviews about him so I looking forward to whatever insight he had for us. He did not disappoint and had a vast knowledge of Portland and the food scene. He truly made the tour worthwhile.
Our first stop was the Picnic House, which serves casual picnic inspired food. It has a great atmosphere, the centerpiece of which is this huge wooden table in the middle of the room made from a real tree. Story goes that the tree fell in the woods decades ago, but it wasn't until recently that it was accessible. The owners snagged it and made a big picnic table for guests to enjoy. It was a great place to enjoy our salad made with mixed greens, beets, oranges, and goat cheese rolled in candied nuts. It was lightly mixed with an herb dressing and was very refreshing. It was a great first plate to what will be a fabulous food tour.
We made our way over to Bernessere Olive Oils & Vinegar, which I went to during the first tour. I was so glad we got to try the different olive oils and vinegars again just like last time. Herb was knowledgeable when it came to not only the different types of oils and vinegars available, but also to the health benefits of both. My favorite sampling was the maple syrup balsamic vinegar with the butter olive oil. All that was missing were the pancakes!
After oils and vinegars our next stop was The Spice & Tea Exchange of Portland. I already had lots of wonderful spices from the yearly trips my husband takes here so I knew I was in for a treat. We got to sample a couple of different salts. I stocked up on some favorites as well as bought a couple of new ones to try out.
We were supposed to go a nearby restaurant. However, they called Herb to let him know they weren't able to take us. Herb, being the most resourceful tour guide ever, found us a food cart to take us to instead. Portland Walking Tours offers a separate food cart tour so I knew this was a special treat on the Epicurean Excursion. Aybla Grill serves authentic Mediterranean food and has five locations throughout Portland. We enjoyed a sample of the falafel. I learned from Herb the difference between a real falafel and a wanna-be and realized that the best falafels I've had (like from Tommy's) are the real deal. Aybla's falafel was perfectly fried on the outside and had lots of flavor. It's one of the best falafels I've ever had.
Nothing goes better with food samples than beer samples so that's right where we headed next. The Big Legrowlski had several beers available on tap and we enjoyed three samples. You may not know this about me yet, but I'm not a huge beer fan (gasp!). However, that hasn't stopped me from questing to find a beer that's right for me. So far that would be limited to Corona and Blue Moon. Except I did find one more to add to that list, the Delirium Red (on the right). It was fruity beer that tasted the least like a beer, which suits me perfectly.
I was thrilled to go to our next stop at Park Kitchen. I would have to say that Park Kitchen was the highlight of the tour. We got to talk to the chef/owner David Sapp and he shared with us his mind bogglingly delicious fried green beans and bacon with tarragon aioli. He's all about FLOSS - Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable. He goes to the local farmers market to get the best ingredients for his restaurant and takes pride in everything he creates. These beans were lightly coated in a tempura batter along with pieces of bacon. The saltiness and perfect smokiness from the bacon went well with the light and fresh tarragon aioli. I had to ask him why the bacon was so good and he said it's because they make it themselves. I almost wanted to order a second tasting just for myself so I could stop sharing with everyone else. But I found some restraint. Definitely go to Park Kitchen and try this (when in season) as well as anything else on the menu.
The next pitstop is a must visit and one place I went to during my first tour. Hot Lips Pizza is a local favorite and they serve your traditional pizza as well as some seasonal experiments. Today we had a slice of the Waldorf, which had apples, gorgonzola cheese and walnuts. It was topped on olive oil instead of the traditional red sauce. It was light yet filling slice. I would order this again -- and we almost ate there for dinner afterwards because it was that good. They do offer dine-in and weekly specials so you can get a great deal on a great meal.
We ended the tour with dessert at Cool Moon Ice Cream. We sampled the marionberry ice cream and chocolate sorbet (left). I also had to try the thai iced tea ice cream (right). I loved the flavors. It was the first time I had marionberry and it was fruity without being overpowering. The sorbet was chocolatey sweet. I loved the thai iced tea because it tasted exactly as I would expect, sweet and tangy.
I highly recommend booking an Epicurean Excursion Walking Tour if you get around to visiting Portland. It truly is a great way to enjoy the Portland food scene. I plan on coming back next year during Feast Portland. Until then, I'll take you on my Portland food adventures this year with posts over the next few weeks about all the yummy places I visited.