oregon wine country? say what?

Michael, Aadi, and I spent a few days in the heart of Oregon Wine Country, in the Willamette Valley. Some folks were surprised to hear that there was good wine tasting near Portland. Many others were surprised to hear we took little Aadi along with us! What can we say. We are optimistic and we really love wine. But it was not easy.

Aadi learned to smell the wine and was happy doing that while we sipped. And we all enjoyed the beautiful landscape from the vantage points to be had from the vineyards. Wineries often have that great blend of rustic and chic, just naturally. After all making wine is an agricultural process, while enjoying it is cultivation of the senses.

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The first vineyard we visited was Domaine Drouhin. It was also the most beautiful of the very few places we made it out to. The gardens were lovely, the interiors had beams and you could look upon the metal barrels, and there was a lovely veranda for sipping and taking in the view.

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The day we were at Drouhin was so clear you could see both Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson. It was magnificent. But my little quick shot cam couldn’t pick up the mountains. Here is a parting shot of their garden.

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On the way down the hill we saw a sign for olive oil tasting, and since many places were about to close we decided to go for it, and came home with a few oils from the Oregon Olive Mill, shown below.

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I have done an oil tasting with friends before, but I am always surprised by how spicy the aftertaste, and amazed at the diversity of flavors you can pick up: varying degrees of softness and sharpness, fruitiness and mintiness…very fun.

The next day took us out to Carlton where we made a detour at the local park for Aadi and met some locals who are in the wine biz. It is so interesting to learn of people who love wine so much that they uproot and move to the somewhat lonely and isolated wine countries to pursue their passions.

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Our main stop here was the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio where we sampled wines from several wineries who have collaborated on this tasting room. Again, I was struck by the urban feel and vibe in contrast to REALLY small town and backroads feel of the area. These experiences are what make wine country so fun.

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Carlton also had a great little lunch place called The Filling Station Deli, with an entire menu of vegetarian sandwiches!

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We also went to Lange Estate (sorry no pics). This was a crazy gravel road ride up steep hills, with twists and turns, but worth it as we enjoyed these wines the best and met the friendliest pouring staff. Michael and I tasted separately as Aadi was napping soundly in the car.

Our last vineyard was a crazy trek all the way down to Salem, Oregon: Cristom Vineyards. Another beautiful place and we really loved the Viognier, but we were done with dragging baby to wine tastings!

Since we were headed so far South we decided to take a major detour to Silver Falls State Park up in the Cascade Mountain Range. On the way we saw a honey bee farm just outside of Silverton, OR. Really lovely and unusual sight. Michael immediately pulled over to snap a pic.

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We ate a nice lunch in Silverton at the Rolling Hills Cafe.

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Again, we found good veggie options as a nice surprise. This seemed like a really cute town that would be worth strolling in but we were in a bit of a hurry to meet up with friends in Portland. So on we headed to Silver Falls State Park.

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Aadi’s first little trail walk! These images are all of North Falls. The first is a vantage point a little way up the road where the fall seems dwarfed by tall pines. Then as you get closer you can see a side view, and walk all the way around, behind the falling water where it is cool with that lovely roar of rushing water.

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Since we were not prepared for a serious hike we got creative with the photography. I was trying to capture the lovely ferns and the towering height of the pine trees.

hangin’ out in portland, or

What a great city. It seems quaint in comparison to NYC, but still very cool. The big moment for me was when I was waiting for a “train” and instead a two-car trolley pulled up. It was so sweet! And caused me to wonder about how many passenger cars are on a typical nyc subway train? (8 to 11 by the way).

Quick note: with baby in tow I had a tough time taking as many photos as usual so I have borrowed from websites, etc, in some cases.

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from fenouil website

Day ONE took us to the Pearl District. We had lunch at the NY Times reviewed restaurant Fenouil, recommended by my friends Clare and Justin. Lovely French food with an accommodating staff . Generally Portland is very vegetarian focused, but this IS a french restaurant after all, so they custom made a vegetable plate for me and a fruit plate for Aadi. The restaurant was bright with rustic elements, and very comfortable seating.

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posted on flickr

Afterwards we went outside and were met with the unexpected surprise of the Jamison Square Fountain where kids were swimming with delight in the water, which ebbs and flows like the tides. Aadi, of course, ran straight into the water without reservation.

We checked out the boutiques and tea shops in Pearl District as we strolled back towards downtown, with a MAJOR stop at Powell’s Books!! We were in heaven. Aadi had fallen asleep after his heaps of fruit and frolicking in the water, so we could peruse freely while he napped in his stroller.

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on powell's website

It definitely feels more like a library with its color-coded numerical index system, multiple rooms and floors, and no frills atmosphere. It is a book heaven with titles you can’t find everywhere, and several locations including one with a sole focus on home and garden that I couldn’t fit into this visit. Another NYC comparison: people in Portland buy more books per capita than in NYC. A good city to host the largest independent bookseller in the world!

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Day TWO took us to our first breakfast meal of the trip. I always LOVE breakfast food, and Bijou Cafe was REALLY good.

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There is a wait to get in on a Sunday morning, but not too long and well worth it! I had a garden vegetable omelet which had sauteed fennel, cauliflower, carrot, and other veggies in it. Very different. They also added goat cheddar which took the whole thing to a new level.  Aadi once again received a gorgeous pile of locally grown fruit, this time atop Nancy’s Yogurt. Lovely, lovely meal.

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from nytimes.com

Bijou is right near the famed Portland Saturday Market (also open Sundays), an outdoor shopping bazaar with interesting arts, handicrafts, and imports. I always find cute jewelry, beachy dresses, indian print spreads, artwork, fudge, jams, handbags. Bring $100 in cash and it will go a long way to getting you souvenirs for everyone on your list. There is also live music and great food.

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photo by pie

The other neighborhood we kind of checked out was NW Alberta Street. We ended up there on a fluke, though it was recommended, but I would go back in a second to get a better look. This neighborhood is very funky. Every shop we peeked into had devoted at least some wall space to local artisits’ galleries. Michael bought vegan shoes made of hemp and recycled car tires from Pie Footwear.

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photo by tour de crepes

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photo by tour de crepes

We then ate across the street at Tour de Crepes. We didn’t know what to think when we ordered at the window of the kitchen, which was an outdoor trailer behind the restaurant!

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photo by tour de crepes

The crepes were REALLY good! And the place is VERY kid-friendly to boot.

DAY 3 was a day of friends and family. We met Clare and her son Harrison for a quick tour of the Portland Zoo. Aadi and Harrison bonded over their shared love of trains, as we took the ZOO train. This train gives you a good scenic tour of Portland’s vast forested park area.

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Clare suggested lunch at Old Wives Tale Restaurant. This place looks like a basic diner, but it is chock full of vegetarian options and has a playroom for kids. This is my refrain for Portland dining, I know, but hey: “the food was REALLY good.” Here is Harrison and Aadi hangin’ in the playroom.

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For dinner we headed back to “the pearl” and had the most wonderful meal at Andina with my cousin and his family. This Peruvian restaurant is SO good, and very veg-friendly. They provide separate menus for vegetarians so that you know you can eat anything on the list!

We sampled a lot of everything. And the kids did so well here too, though not necessarily a top choice for a family meal. Here are the two sweet peas making friends over dinner, in Andina.

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inspiring hotels in portland, or

Hi Everyone! I’m back from our family trip to Portland, OR. Hopefully you read about how this city and environs inspires me  so in my newletter. If not, please visit www.furbishhome.com/news.html and sign up now. It’s FREE and fun!

Today’s post is about the hotels in Portland. I’m writing about them first for a few reasons:

  1. I’m obsessed with hotels and their decor
  2. Because of this obsession I spent HOURS researching where to stay
  3. Many hotels in Portland are really COOL and well decorated!

So let’s get right into it. Michael, Aadi, and I stayed at the Heathman Hotel. It was not my first choice (I spent so long agonizing over which cool place to stay at that most rooms in town were booked by the time I made reservations). But it was a neat choice because it is kind of legendary. Many famous people have stayed there and the hotel displays original artwork throughout the public spaces and even in the rooms. The Heathman also houses one of the best restaurants in town (though it is NOT very veg-friendly). They also offer the city’s most high end high tea (which we skipped because of the 1 year old we had in tow with us : ).

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Above is the hotel lobby. It is a SMALL lobby, showing signs of wear and tear, but it also has a certain eclectic flair that I like. The tea/sitting room off of the lobby. Grand stairwell. It is a  dark, heavy kind of space. Moody. More like tea at the Ritz Carlton than at the Plaza.picture-19

They upgraded our room to a King Suite, likely because of the crowds in need of a place to sleep. July is high season in Portland and there were several conferences in town too. The suite was small. It felt even more so because of how tightly packed it was with furniture and amenities: tea sets, coffee set ups, mini bar and fridge, multiple television, separate vanity area for the bath, tons of furniture and art. All crammed in. But again, it had a certain flair to it.

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What I LOVED was the service. Very gracious and knowledgeable. I also really like the sunrise motif headboards. They are quirky, daring, and signature.

Hotel Modera is a new, affordable hotel with HIGH HIGH style quotient. The rooms are said to be quite small but the lobby and public spaces are really innovative, interesting, and beautiful. Here are some pics:

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Apparently at night there are fire pits which you can sit around in this outdoor courtyard. Here is are the room interiors shown on their website:

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Next are photos of Hotel Deluxe Portland. Like Modera, it has Hollywood inspired themes but has a lighter, brighter feeling. This is a Lobby shot:

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Below is a photo of their restaurant which is pretty much my favorite image among all the pics in this post. This space looks just dreamy:

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Hotel Deluxe Portland is on the Conde-Nast Traveller’s Gold List this year and has been written up in the New York Times. It is surprisingly affordable. This is where I was planning to stay until the rooms got all booked!

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A good combination of serene and lively happening here.

The next place I considered was The Nines, the new Starwood 5 star boutique-style hotel. Here is the Lobby with a very Modern Art perspective:

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And the rooms are very different from other Portland hotels. So elegant yet modern. There photos below are from the standard rooms! The colors actually feel very FURBISH too : ).

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A photo from a high end suite at the Nines:

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If you want to consider staying at any of these hotels, check out their reviews on tripadvisor.com. That is not a paid plug. I just love that website.

If you want to use one of these images as inspiration to design your own room, call us at FURBISH!