For those of you over on Instagram, it’s been indulgently documented that our family brought home a new Brittany spaniel puppy a couple weeks ago. Meet Aengus, featured here with his favorite Orvis antler chew toy! I’m so in love with this little guy! Britts are a hunting breed and are more pointer than spaniel, which means they’re active and need a lot of exercise. They are also spectacular family pets, and very loving and gentle with children. Our boys could not be more smitten.
We found Aengus through a breeder near Portland, Oregon. When the time came to bring him home, I packed a bag and boarded a flight that arrived in PDX in the evening, just in time to dump my bags at the Ace, and head out to dinner at Pok Pok.
When I was wine and spirits editor at Bon Appétit, I found myself in Portland and the Willamette Valley pretty regularly for work. Perhaps what I miss most about Portland are the bartenders. I was reminded of just how much when I cozied up to the bar at Pok Pok and ordered a Tennessee Stud cocktail with bergamot-infused bourbon, fresh lemon and Peychaud’s Bitters.
It was a perfect companion to the plate of Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce fiery wings, one of Pok Pok’s signature dishes. My mom grew up in Buffalo, NY, and so when I see wings on the menu, I feel it’s my filial duty to order them. These were outstanding, tossed in Phu Quoc fish sauce, dipped in a rice flour and tempura flour batter and fried in rice bran oil.
If you thought things couldn’t get better, think again. Enter a plate of Muu Paa Kham Waan, which was wild boar collar meat with garlic, coriander root and black pepper in a spicy chili lime sauce. It comes with a side of sticky rice, and you take a pinch of rice and then pick up the boar meet. There are no words…
Not shockingly, I woke up the next morning in need of coffee. And even though Stumptown is in the lobby of the Ace, I knew that a superior cup could be found a short drive away at the newest location of Ristretto Roasters. I’m in love with Ristretto’s new café on NE Couch Street and loaded up with several pounds of El Paraíso beans from Colombia. For the drive, I also pocketed a fig buckwheat scone baked by former Spago and Campanile pastry chef Kim Boyce. (When I got home, I discovered that the figgy scone recipe is included in Boyce’s awesome cookbook, Good to the Grain. Yeehaw!)
The drive out to Wind Mountain Kennels from Portland, Oregon, to Carson, Washington, was pure beauty. We snaked along the Columbia River, crossing the steel truss cantilevered Bridge of the Gods as we approached state lines.
Looking over at our new sleeping puppy on the drive back to the airport, I thought how lucky we are to live on the West Coast. There is so much beauty in the world, much of it a short road trip away, and I for one need to remember that life is about finding the time to stop and smell the coffee, savor the Northern Thai street food, and cuddle up with a new friend.