Oregon Travel: Visiting Schreiner’s Iris Gardens

Last week, I shared how an easy partial day trip from Portland just an hour south to visit the Adelman Peony Gardens if you are here during bloom season in May-June. Close by to the Peony Gardens is Schreiner’s Iris Gardens – it’s only 2.5 miles away, a few minutes by car. During bloom season, their gardens are open dawn to dusk, and are free, so I highly recommend throwing in another stop and visiting Shreiner’s Iris Gardens.

When my mom came to visit me a few days before Memorial Day weekend a few weeks ago, after our stop for peonies, which are among her favorite flowers, I sorta forced her to go to the Iris gardens too even though she said she didn’t care much for Irises. We still hung out there for an hour. Here are a few photos that encapsulate visiting Schreiner’s Iris Gardens.
Visiting Schreiner's Iris Gardens is easy, just an hour south of Portland, and is free - a great option if you are in Portland or Salem during their May bloom season Visiting Schreiner's Iris Gardens is easy, just an hour south of Portland, and is free - a great option if you are in Portland or Salem during their May bloom season
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Oregon Travel: Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens

If you love peonies, you should not miss visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens located in Salem, Oregon, just an hour south of Portland. The peonies are in bloom generally from May – June. During this bloom time the Adelman Peony Gardens has an open house daily 9 AM – 6 PM to allow you to visit their display gardens, their peony production fields, and they have an indoor display showroom. Their open house is also free!

Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens just north of Salem, about an hour south of Portland is free and open generally from May-June during bloom season Visiting the Adelman Peony Gardens just north of Salem, about an hour south of Portland is free and open generally from May-June during bloom season
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Portland Dining Month 2015 Aviary

I covered in a previous post what Portland Dining month / March 2015 is and a few highlights from the amazing list of more than 100 restaurants in the Portland area offering the $29 3 course special. Today, I’m going to share my first Portland Dining Month 2015 meal, which was at Aviary. Aviary is located in the Alberta District at 1733 NE Alberta Street and offers eclectic Northwest ingredients combined with Asian flavors fusion food.

This was not my first time at Aviary – but during dinner service (the only meal they serve), the restaurant has really dim romantic lighting which doesn’t do well with my regular camera-phone photos. This time though, I brought my backup camera so was able to absorb a little bit more light through the lens. Although there are no vegetarian options on the Portland Dining menu, the regular Aviary menu has almost half a dozen options to choose from.

You can make reservations online at OpenTable, and this is recommended because I’ve heard of others dropping in and them being full!

Now without further ado, my Portland Dining Month 2015 Aviary menu selections, with my choice being in the bold.

First, the complimentary bread service at Aviary is wonderful as instead of just bread with butter, they offered a bagna cauda (butter, garlic, anchovies) for dipping the bread. Obviously because this has anchovies it’s not vegetarian so if that’s important to you, you’ll have to pass on the dip. One of the two breads on the plate was an olive bread.
complimentary bread service at Aviary is wonderful as instead of just bread with butter, they offered a bagna cauda (butter, garlic, anchovies) for dipping the bread. Obviously because this has anchovies it's not vegetarian so if that's important to you, you'll have to pass on the dip. One of the two breads on the plate was an olive bread.

First course (choose one)

Dungeness crab chawanmushi with bone marrow, sea urchin, Asian pear, snap peas and truffle vinaigrette
-OR-
Warm vegetable salad with romanesco, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, lime-pickle vinaigrette and black garlic
Aviary first course of Dungeness crab chawanmushi with bone marrow, sea urchin, Asian pear, snap peas and truffle vinaigrette for Portland Dining Month 2015 Aviary first course of Dungeness crab chawanmushi with bone marrow, sea urchin, Asian pear, snap peas and truffle vinaigrette for Portland Dining Month 2015
Seriously, this dish alone is worth a visit. I was sitting at the Chef’s Counter facing the open kitchen and man, chef Sarah Pliner was a BOSS whipping these out with somehow being able to pick up bowls of the chawanmushi from the steamy water pan just with tongs, and then flame on with a fiery torch. My favorite course.

Second course (choose one)

Miso braised beef short rib with taro root, yuzukoshō slaw, and shitake mushroom
-OR-
Pan-seared salmon with cauliflower, saffron, green apple, trout roe and American caviar
Aviary first course of Miso braised beef short rib with taro root, yuzukoshō slaw, and shitake mushroom for Portland Dining Month 2015

Third course (choose one)

Brown Butter Cake with whipped ricotta and rhubarb and basil Note this is different than what is listed on the Portland Dining Month website which listed a strudel, but I think the brown butter cake is even better.
-OR-
Chocolate budino with butterscotch ice cream and sour cherry
Aviary third course of Brown Butter Cake with whipped ricotta and rhubarb and basil for Portland Dining Month 2015 Aviary third course of Brown Butter Cake with whipped ricotta and rhubarb and basil for Portland Dining Month 2015

Extras

Since I was passing on the salad, I thought I might need a little bit more vegetable. And it’s March = St Patrick’s is this month. So I rationalized the Aviary cocktail of the Canicule with Bombay Sapphire East Gin, Ransom Dry Vermouth, Sauvignon Blanc, Pineapple Shrub, Cilantro, and Jalapeno. Because it’s green. It’s not a spicy drink, despite the presence of jalapeno somewhere – it was much more on the cilantro side. If you like cilantro, this is the drink for you. I didn’t know it at the time I ordered it, but this was the cocktail highlighted by Portland Monthly in their Best Bars 2014 article and most recently in their list of The 10 Most Interesting Cocktails in PDX Right Now in their March 2015 issue!
Aviary cocktail of the Canicule with Bombay Sapphire East Gin, Ransom Dry Vermouth, Sauvignon Blanc, Pineapple Shrub, Cilantro, Jalapeno

Also you must order this Crispy Pig Ear with coconut rice, chinese sausage, and avocado. I was dining alone because veggie F is not too keen on the idea of pig ear (and I knew dining alone pretty much guaranteed a seat at the Chef’s Counter – I and several other ladies dining alone or in twos chatted a bit). So ordering this, I knew this meant I would have leftovers, because the 3 courses are already more than enough for dinner.  But I’ve taken back this dish more than once and I love having it as a leftover the next day, even though the crispyness of the dish of will be gone (I nibble on as much of the crispyness as possible at the restaurant). I always get this dish,  it is one of the Aviary signature dishes and I urge you to get it too.
Aviary dish of Crispy Pig Ear with coconut rice, chinese sausage, avocado

Aviary on Urbanspoon

Next on my Portland Dining Month list is Laurelhurst Market, which I’ll share on Friday!

Where have you dined or are planning to dine this month for Portland Dining Month? 

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A February Seattle Getaway Plan

I’m planning a February Seattle Getaway, and wanted to highlight some of things I’m planning in case you too, want to do a Seattle mini-vacation soon.

Last year, I attended the Chocofest in Seattle at Pike Brewing Company, as I recapped in this previous post. Here are a few sample images from what I experienced last year:

Macrina Bakery's brioche cocoa puff

This year, I’m returning again to attend Chocofest 2014. This will be their sixth event, this year held on February 9 from 6-9pm. All proceeds benefit Puget Soundkeeper, a local non-profit dedicated to keeping Puget Sound clean. As last year, the event includes samplings of wine, spirits, cider, mead, chocolate, and other food samples. Last year, there were 70 vendors- and this year they are targeting 80. The entire Pike Pub- from restaurant to brewery, all 3 floors- will be dedicated for this event. The $45 includes entrance, all the food, and ten scrip tickets which are used for the alcohol, as well as an adorable little baby snifter glass. 10 tickets doesn’t sound like much- but F and I were having a hard time finishing off those tickets and if you’ve read this blog, you are familiar with how experienced we are with beer festivals so that’s saying something.

Getting to Seattle is easy- for instance, consider the Bolt Bus. This bus goes direct from Portland downtown to Seattle’s downtown, and was less than $20 each way. The bus features wireless and a power outlet so I can keep updated on my various RSS feeds after I wake up from my nap. Another option is to of course drive, or ride the Amtrak. You may even see the special Portland Amtrak Cascades “Portland Express” dining car, covered in Portland art outside and inside featuring Portland furniture, food and drinks! If you book 2 weeks in advance- which is still possible to make this Chocofest- you also get 25% off). Check out this Portland Monthly slideshow giving you a peek of the Portland goodness inside the train car.

I’m leaving in the morning, and during the daytime before the Chocofest I am planning to visit the Pacific Science Center.

Until February 17, the Pacific Science Center is hosting an exhibit called the Photography of Modernist Cuisine. This exhibit includes more than 100 images over the past 7 years, some at more than 6 feet long, that explore the world of the science and art of food via photography. It’s a mix of art and technique via the photography, food love, and the story of the science behind food. Images include the fractal structures and color gradations of vitamin C crystal, the physics that propels and explodes a bursting kernel of popcorn, or a cross-section photo of what it looks like when boiling vegetables.

Here’s a peek of what Modernist Cuisine is via video- you can get more information at the website Modernist Cuisine.

If this sounds like a Foodie February Seattle Getaway… you are RIGHT!

How much does planning food factor into your vacation planning?

Note: I’ve already seen the Chihuly Garden and Glass, but if you haven’t, I recommend that you include it as part of a Seattle mini vacation: I had a whole post dedicated to it here. I’ve visited Seattle several times, so feel free to also browse other recaps I’ve done to see other deliciousness and activities I’ve enjoyed!

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