Seattle might have been the first stop on our honeymoon – but Portland was definitely my fave stop off, so that’s where we’re starting.
- The beer! Portland has a reputation as a beer city (72 breweries in the city limits, 250 across Oregon State) and yeah…. it’s bloody good. We did a beer tour with Brewvana which was super fun. It was a easy way to get to explore multiple breweries, and our guide gave us tonnes of other recommendations for other spots to check out afterwards too (we loved Base Camp Brewing, The Commons and Deschutes in particular).
- Blue Star Donuts: Voodoo Donuts is all over instagram when you’re in Portland but Blue Star is apparently the local favourite, and worth seeking out if you’re in the city. I’m still dreaming about a blueberry basil one I had.
- Horsetail Falls: about 40 minutes drive out of Portland is a great little hike around Horsetails Falls – you get to walk right behind one of them and it’s way less crowded than Multnomah Falls. Not that it’s not worth stopping off there too – but it’s BUSY.
- The Kimpton Hotel Vintage: we stayed here in one of their Skyloft rooms and it was such a perfect honeymoon treat. Incredible view out of the huge windows, the staff were great, and they had a free wine happy hour every evening.
- Stumptown Coffee Roasters: I think we ended up going here almost every single day we were in Portland. Great coffee, great iced coffees, great people watching. Loved it.
On the surface of it, choosing to go to one of the rainiest corners of North America doesn’t seem like the most logical choice of honeymoon destinations. In reality, we had two of the best possible weeks of eating, drinking, hiking and biking in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver for our honeymoon.
Seattle is dominated by tech giants (I think there are 7 Amazon offices across the city), but 25 minutes across Elliott Bay, you can be on a beautiful wooded island that feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Starbucks is totally dominant though: downtown there really is one on every corner, although we also loved Seattle Coffee Works and Slate Coffee Roasters for our indie coffee fix. Pro tip: get your favourite Starbucks brew from the one around the corner from the ‘original’ and save yourself from standing in the huge queue for a coffee that tastes exactly the same.
Portland lives up to all the hipster stereotypes – food markets on every corner (not a patch on London’s Hawker House or Dinerama though), 72 craft breweries alone in the city limits, and just generally such a chilled atmosphere. Oh – and the doughnuts! Everyone will tell you to go to Voodoo, but I’m still thinking about the blueberry basil doughnut we picked up from Blue Star Donuts. Driving out along the Columbia River was incredible too: trees and rivers and valleys and mountains in every directions. Definitely one of my favourite cities I’ve ever visited.
And then Vancouver turned out to be just as breathtaking as everyone says it is. We were actually enjoying ourselves so much in the city that we ended up bailing on our plan to drive up to Whistler, and instead spent our days biking around the city and soaking up the views all around central Vancouver.
It was just the best two weeks: honestly, each city is well worth much longer visits in their own rights, but even with two weeks I still feel like we packed so much in (more posts on that to follow!)
Well it’s been a long old pause over here, hasn’t it? Somehow over winter I went into full-on hibernation mode and lost my way a bit with cooking and writing. Then daylight savings time ended and suddenly all I wanted to do was get back into the kitchen, flip through my recipe books and eat, eat, eat.
I’ve loved Gizzi Erskine’s A Healthy Appetite since I bought it, but well over a year later I am still cooking new things from it, and am still yet to have a bad recipe from it’s pages. This Korean chicken and potato stew is the latest success, and even though I swapped a few things around based on the original recipe, it worked perfectly. It’s an ideal spring supper: packed full of flavour but warming from all the chilli and spice on evenings that aren’t quite balmy just yet.
The only thing you really do need to make it authentic is gochujang – a little big sweet, definitely spicy, slightly funky Korean chilli sauce. I located some in our local Morrisons so I don’t think it’s that hard to track down (Waitrose also have a version in their Cooks’ Ingredients range). Apart from that, it’s just a straightforward chicken stew: but a whole lot better than the name might suggest.
Korean Chicken and Potato Stew, adapted from Gizzi Erkine's A Healthy Appetite
6-8 chicken thighs, skin on
1 onion, halved
3 cloves of garlic
300g baby potatoes, halved
2 tbsp gochujang
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp hot chilli flakes
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp tomato puree
300ml chicken stock
200g green beans, halved
4 spring onions, each chopped into three
Start by taking one half of the onion, and blitzing together in a mini blender with the ginger, garlic and a splash of water to create a smooth puree. Season the chicken thighs and then brown over a high heat until the skin is golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Take the other onion half, roughly quarter, and add to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to blacken and remove from the heat. Pour in the puree, turn down to medium and let it cook until golden brown and fragrant. Use the liquid in the puree to scrap up all the chicken fond that sticks to the bottom. Once it's turned golden, return the chicken thighs to the pan, and nestle the potatoes all around.
Pour over the gochujang, soy, chilli, vinegar, puree and stock, and let it simmer over a medium-low heat for 35 minutes with a lid on. Once that time is up, add the green beans and spring onions, and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid off. The chicken should be falling off the bone and the potatoes tender.
Serve with fresh spring onion, sesame seeds and plenty of rice.