Kelsey Malie

Powell Butte

Monday, November 23, 2015

When you've complained to everyone you know about how cold your Powell Butte hike was, there's nothing left to do but to complain to the blogosphere. This hike, as evidenced by the photo above where I am wearing not one but TWO down jackets, was the coldest hike I have possibly ever been on. But more about the positives of this (frigid, windy, Portland hike/walk/trail-run/dog walk/bike location)...

First off, Powell Butte is a butte, obviously, and a nature park that covers 612 acres out on 162nd street. As the name suggests, you follow SE Powell all the way out past the juntion to 205, until you're in a rather unrecognizable area of Portland, unrecognizable because it's actually Gresham. The butte is an extinct cinder cone volcano that offers some wonderful views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams. The top of the butte is all meadowland and was once used as a dairy (up until 1948). It was then slated to house Portland's water reservoirs, though only one was built at the end of the nature area. In 1990, the butte became a hiking, biking, trail running, dog-walking, and family-friendly outdoor recreation area. It was also just renovated this past year and has an expanded parking lot, nice roads, a visitor center, and well maintained trails. It's a great place to watch wildlife, catch stunning mountain views, watch the moon/stars, and do all manner of outdoor activity. Warning though: it's cold up there. A fierce east wind blows in and the unprotected top of the butte is buffeted by chilly wind in the winter.

Ben and I walked the Mountain View trail, the Summit Lane (through pastureland), then down the South Trail down through the Redwood forest, and back up the Hawthorn Trail back to the visitor center. Though cold, the hike was beautiful and pretty well used. We saw a ton of families "enjoying" the frigid weather. I would absolutely recommend checking out the hike for the pretty vistas on any day that isn't 40 degrees with a 20 mph wind.

Fall/Winter Eats: Bollywood Theater

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ben and I have long been Indian food lovers. We went on our first date at an Indian food restaurant, made it a weekend habit to visit the Indian food buffet in our college town, and then branched out to more authentic Indian food restaurants for about 1/4 of all of our date nights. Indian food was always perfect when the weather turned terrible. Crawling out of a Saturday bed for the noon Indian buffet in wind and rain and all bundled up, was our favorite activity. 

When we moved to Portland the search for our perfect Indian food spot was (and continues to be) a challenge. We have found a few places that we trust for easy take-out, though we've never identified a place for a good, rainy-day buffet. We did find a wonderful Portland variation on our favorite food at Bollywood Theater. And it has become our go to for guests and ourselves on a hungry Sunday.

Bollywood is actually a fantastic place to eat in the summer, especially on warm summer nights, as it's on SE Division (the street for good eats in Portland) and has a great outdoor seating area and big roll-up doors for those that choose to sit inside. It has defied my winter Indian food rule and continues to be a favorite all year long.

Things to know about Bollywood:

1. Order the thali meals for a good, well-rounded and diverse platter of food. I'd say about 1/2-3/4 of a thali meal is enough for one person.
2. You have to wait in a line on weekend evenings, order at the counter, and then you bus your own tables (Portland-style). Don't be discouraged - the decor is fantastic enough to observe while you're waiting, and the bus-ing doesn't seem so bad when you're full of Indian food
3. Bollywood serves street food so you won't find your normal Tikka Masala or Palak Paneer. You will find spiced beets, delicious dumplings, the Indian-food version of a burrito, and many other amazing treats
4. Don't skip the cocktails at Bollywood, they're wonderful!

Any favorite Indian food spots in the Rose city? Let me know so I can diversify and find another spot!

Ribbon Ridge AVA

Monday, November 16, 2015

On our insanely wet Halloween (that one that flooded streets, made neighborhoods rivers, and caused some garage flooding in our area), Ben loaded us into the car and took me on a surprise-destination Saturday trip. By the time we took the "to wine country" exit, I was pretty sure I knew he was taking me to my happy place - the vast selection of wineries in Dundee, Carlton, McMinnville, and Newberg - but I wasn't prepared to try out an entirely new AVA. An AVA is an "American Viticultural Area," a term that basically defines the geographic pedigree or background of a winery/wine (and one that you'll find on the back of your wine bottle). There are seven AVAs that make-up the greater Willamette Valley AVA - the Eola-Amity Hills (near Salem), McMinnville, Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountain, and Ribbon Ridge. We've done a lot of tasting within the Dundee hills and Yamhill-Carlton AVAs and usually focus our trip on wineries there. It's close to some stunning wineries with great views, close to shops, carbo-loading locations (like Red Hill Market), and a lot of easy-access tasting rooms. 

The Chehalem Mountain AVA actually entirely contains the same geographic area as the Ribbon Ridge AVA, but Ribbon Ridge is a teensy little section within that was our stop on Halloween. Ribbon Ridge is only a 1,000 (plantable) acre-area and there are currently 20 wineries located within the AVA. It's terroir, or defining feature that affects the wine, is marked by an uplift of ocean sediment in the area. Because it's on a hill, the area also has less degree-day accumulation (the amount of heat required for an organism to develop and grow) than the surrounding AVAs - it warms later, has lower temperature spikes in the afternoons, and therefore has a more well-rounded ripening process (without those oppressive late summer heat spikes).

We stopped at three wineries that we saw along the way - Trisaetum, Adelsheim, and ArborBrook. By the third winery, the rain had started to fall at an alarming rate and the streets were flooded, so we headed home. 

Trisaetum (named after the founder's two children Tristan and Tatum) is a pretty tasting room surrounded by pretty vines, especially during the fall, and offers some great, high-end wines to try. We enjoyed sampling their all-Pinot red flight and strolling through the tasting room, which doubles as an art gallery. We didn't buy a bottle due to the $65+ bottle price, but found the wines to be wonderful. They had a mix of styles - bolder and fruitier reds and then lighter, more minerally Pinots that I enjoyed. 

Adelsheim had a beautiful tasting room and a pretty outdoor area that would have been wonderful for a summertime wine tasting afternoon. I'd been wanting to try Adelsheim ever since I tasted their wine at Feast. I'd heard a lot about their Pinot (~$30) as well but hadn't ever bought a bottle. We tried some fantastic Pinots and a great Chardonnay at their tasting room. They were also a bit cost-prohibitive at $50+ for a bottle in the tasting room, but at Oregon grocery stores you can get their most well-known Pinot for considerably less.

Finally, we stopped at ArborBrook with a free-tasting coupon from Trisaetum. We found their service to be fantastic, their views (the last photo of vines) moody and beautiful, and their offerings of delicious cheese and crackers to go with your wine wonderful! We didn't love their wines as much as the other wineries but they were a bit lower in price. The tasting room was also quite crowded on a rainy day.