Tag Archives: food

Getting to know Boise

16 Sep

When I’m not out traveling the globe I’m trying to have adventures close to home. There are so many things I have yet to do in my city, my state and the surrounding states. It’s fun to still have these new experiences since my most recent travel plans (Africa!) have all fallen though. It’s always sad when travel plans fall apart but adventure must go on.

Recently I was in Boise, Idaho. This is my second trip to Boise. On the first trip, we quickly drove through on our way home from a 10 state road trip. I’m now halfway to my goal of visiting every state in the U.S. Woohoo! I feel another road trip or three will need to be planned once winter passes. Or maybe a few plane trips?

This trip was not quite as fast as the drive though the last time but just about. I only spent a weekend, but each time I go, I see more and more of this cute city. Boise is nestled in the mountains with access to the great outdoors. If only I had time to explore it! It’s so beautiful and both times I have been the sunsets have been spectacular. I still credit the first one to be the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life. The colors were on fire above the mountainous horizon line. The picture I took doesn’t really do it justice but I think you’ll get the idea of how beautiful it was.

Boise has a really nice downtown. Lots of cute shops and bars. I’m happy that we explored it this time around. The last time we didn’t make it into downtown or at least I didn’t remember it. There’s one bar in particular that I would tell you is a must visit. It’s at the Modern Hotel and it’s just west of the heart of downtown by a couple blocks. They not only have amazing cocktails but their food is great as well. The perfect combo. They try to source local, serving you healthy, delicious treats, which to me is a bonus. They have a cozy outdoor patio space too. Heaters in the morning, fire at night. I think it would be fun to sit around and tell some campfire stories with a group of friends.

I highly recommend checking out Boise’s downtown and the Modern Hotel and Bar for a fun place to camp out.

I’d love to say I’d be back but I have so many other places I have yet to explore in the U.S. and abroad. Off to plan the next adventure…

Boise Sunset

Modern Hotel and Bar Drink on the Patio

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The allure of Bali: 13 reasons you should go

24 Aug

I can’t believe I’ve never written about one of my favorite vacation spots: Bali.  I recommend it to anyone looking for a tropical vacation.

Great things about Bali:

  1. Your money goes a long way because it’s an island in southeast Asia.
  2. The flights are cheap from the mainland (Singapore is a great hub).
  3. The food is inexpensive and amazing, especially for vegetarians.
  4. You can hire a taxi driver to take you on a tour of the island to learn all about life on Bali. The driver we hired spent twelve hours with us, and  took us to the volcano, the lake, an elephant sanctuary, and a tea plantation; we also sampled black rice, toured some smaller artisan villages for silver and paintings, visited two temples, and finally, delivered to the front door of a fire dance show. All for about fifty bucks (American).
  5. Civet coffee. If you have ever wanted to try the most expensive coffee in the world and see a civet, this is the place.
  6. The monkey forest! You can walk around and check out tons of monkeys eating, swinging from the trees, trying to steal food from people who didn’t read rule #1 (don’t bring in any food and beverage including in plastic packaging). You can also buy bananas to feed them, in a more intentional way.
  7. You get to experience the jungle life as well as the beach.
  8. It’s beautiful.
  9. The people are friendly and welcoming.
  10. Fish spas are awesome and cheap. They are the best and most effective way to get that dead skin off your feet — if you can stand the thought of what’s happening and that it tickles like crazy. My feet hadn’t been that soft since I was a baby. I wish it was legal in the states.
  11. It was the first time in my life where I had my own personal pool! For the cost of a hotel, at home, in Portland Oregon, I was able to secure a villa with our own private pool and within walking distance to the beach. Paradise! I would highly recommend Astana Batubelig to anyone.
  12. You can stay in the jungle too if you don’t like the beach. In Ubud our hotel backed up to a ravine and the layout of the hotel made you feel like the only one on the hillside. The balcony was a special place for coffee and breakfast each morning.
  13. The Tanah Lot temple at sunset. Not only is it beautiful but you’ll see thousands of bats escape from the caves. It’s a fun sight to see.

For my husband and myself the trip was the honeymoon we couldn’t afford when we were first married. We didn’t have to wait long for the dream to come true. Most of it was saving up the airline miles to make the trip more affordable. Enjoy the gallery! More roaming moments can be found on Etsy, Flickr and Instagram.

Moving to Portland: How I reinvented my life through my WDS tribe

18 Jul

Drawn to Portland

When I lived in Corvallis, I loved visiting Portland on weekends. There was so much to see and do all the time, especially in the summer. How did I end up actually moving to Portland after years of talking about it and lusting after this awesome city? It all began when a mentor of mine drew me to a Portland-based conference of amazing people and when I was told “no” one too many times.

Learning to listen to myself

In 2012, I said “yes” and I went to the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland. It changed my life. I had been in a fog since my mom’s death in 2009 and I was searching for a better life, a different way than I was living at the time. I always considered myself unconventional yet I wasn’t really living that way on a day-to-day basis…anymore. I was living in a town that didn’t fit my adventurous ways and working at a job that caged me in a box.  After two and a half days at WDS, I came home late Sunday night and went into work early Monday morning.  It was like hitting a brick wall. My inner consciousness was screaming: “You don’t belong here”!

I had heard this voice before. I had heard it even before my mom was sick, and the whole time she was fighting cancer. But I ignored what it was saying. I didn’t think that it was a great time to up and quit my job. I had to keep paying my bills. I had a husband. I had friends and family telling me “no, you can’t quit”. The last thing I wanted was to be a burden on anyone else. I put my needs on the back burner. Besides, I had no energy left to fight for anything else but her cancer for four years. When she passed I was exhausted. I felt defeated and wounded beyond belief.

Finding my way by making new goals

WDS was the inspiration I desperately needed to wake up again. After the event in July of 2012, I decided to make some one-year goals for myself, for the next conference. I wanted to drastically change my life. I wanted to quit my job, move, be around more amazing people and travel the world for more than a week or two at a time. I wanted life to be more unconventional, every day. Thankfully, my husband supported me in all of these goals. And the people that didn’t support me?  I wouldn’t let them derail me anymore.

Months later, at the end of 2012, things started lining up. Chris Guillebeau, the founder of WDS and my travel mentor, was having a celebration in Oslo, in April 2013, because he had visited every country in the world. Norway being his last stop. I have followed his journey for some time and really wanted to go. I asked if I could have the time off work and was told “no”. I knew it was time to pick what was most important to me. I had wrestled with this soul-sucking demon long enough. It was time to end it and start over. Time to rip off the band aid and start the new journey into healing myself and my soul. I bought my ticket to the party, and booked a plane ticket to ensure there was no way I could continue at my job. I had backed out of quitting so many times before, but I knew that I would never back out on a plane ticket and trip with friends. Part of the healing process is to know thyself and listen to the voice within!

Shortly before the trip I put in my notice at work. They thought I was crazy to quit my job and not have anything lined up. Not to mention going to Europe for three weeks. “Who does that?” they asked me. Obviously not the people that worked there. I was different; I could see that now.  I could see myself going places. I couldn’t stay a caged cubicle bird any longer. I had to fly, literally and figuratively. I worked hard until 5 o’clock on my last day. I walked out the door and got on a plane for the first three week vacation of my life. I was flying off to celebrate a special achievement for someone with big goals, someone I admired, someone I wanted to be like. I was flying off to start an adventure, to craft my own big goals. Life was great! …Then my husband got laid off work.

Where do I belong?

I had an amazing time in Europe, but was worried about spending money; not knowing what we would do when I came home. More had to change in order to live the lifestyle I wanted. Once I returned home we made the decision to move. I wanted to move to Portland for the city life and the people I had met at WDS. My husband thought we should check out Austin, TX or another state instead of Portland, which he considered a “comfortable” choice. He remembered that I wanted to push my boundaries, and Portland might not be enough of a push. We decided to take a road trip and apply for some jobs along the way.

We toured 10 states! The road trip was great, but the decision was clear: we wanted to be in Portland. We put in our month notice at our apartment and I began packing up the life I had led for the previous ten years. I purged a lot of belongings; I cried; I wanted to change my mind but ultimately, I knew I needed to move on. I needed to be in the city. After all, I wanted to do that years ago. It was my dream. Time to make my dream happen.

What I love about Portland

Portland has an amazing food and arts scene, amazing people and a top rated international airport — all things I was looking for and that were important to me for my home city. I wanted to surround myself with the people I saw as my mentors — my tribe — my WDS community. I wanted to be around people that were going places, achieving their big goals or starting something new. I didn’t want to be stagnant anymore. I wanted to grow. I wanted to be with my tribe year round. And I wanted to travel more often without the road trip just to get to the airport.

Now I Belong

Things were scary and different at first, but I wouldn’t have changed it. After being in Portland for just over a year I have grown so much. I have met so many great people through my WDS community and beyond. I have pursued my own business and partnered with others (still working on making it sustainable but at least I started). I have eaten at many great restaurants, photographed my adventures (I sell prints!), had gallery shows and I have gone to several movies, concerts and events. There are so many things to do on any given day. I have sounding boards for my business ideas and more fast friends than I’ve ever had before. I didn’t lose anything by moving to Portland; I’ve only gained. For the first time in years — or maybe ever — I feel like I belong, and that’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. Other than skydiving or my mother’s unconditional love and friendship.

Living in Portland is like living WDS year round. It’s a way of life. It’s my community. I’m not a native, but I feel like this is my home. When I travel, I know I have a great place to come back to. I know I that I have a home that I’m connected with no matter where I fly off to.

Portland. It’s not just different; it’s better.

 

P.S. If you think this would help someone, please share. If you want to talk more with me about my story and what I do, contact me. I’m just a girl, making her way in the world.

P.P.S. WDS 2012 post, WDS 2013 post and the other awesome Chris G event Pioneer Nation.

Mom and I

One of the last photos I have with my mom, my best friend and the person that inspired me to travel and live my dreams.

 

Top 30 Portland restaurants

6 Jul

In Portland for the weekend or a week, you are going to need to do some serious eating or tapas hopping as I usually do. Portland is a big foodie city and everyone has their recommendations. We love to eat and we don’t mind waiting in line for it, because it’s just that good. You don’t always have to wait but brunch is kind of a big deal and that’s where the majority of the lines will be. As they say, “young people come here to retire.” They like to sleep in and eat brunch. Brunch is not just breakfast but also lunch. Then the next meal turns into happy hour. Sounds pretty great unless you are like me and love to eat more than two meals a day. Portland also offers a lot of options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten intolerant folks. Everyone can find something to eat in Portland. Plus if you are trying to get points for a dining miles program we have several options to choose from. Some areas, you can do two without going more than 20 feet.

Here’s a guide of my top 30 + (since I’m always adding to the list, I can’t stop…eating!)

Brunch:

Screen Door — excellent southern style cuisine but you will be waiting in line for awhile. Bring your coffee cup! It’s my favorite breakfast spot but they are only open for it on the weekends.

Son of a biscuit — For brunch or dinner, this place has the best fried chicken in town (or at least of places I’ve tried). The perfect juicy meat with crisp outside. Plus, they make it spicy and you get a biscuit to cool the fire burring in your mouth. Or you can just get the biscuit pudding. Melt in your mouth delicious. Pretty cool name too.

Jam on Hawthorne — great people watching on this street at any time they are open. Another spot that you will wait in line if you go on the weekends. But you can have coffee while you wait. The food is great and they have some good drink specials.

Gravy — it’s not just for dinner. Gravy offers gravy for the meat and vegetarian eaters. They also offer non-gravy food options.

Miss Delta — there has never been a wait here for breakfast and I’d say it’s almost as good as the places where you have to wait for an hour or more.

Genie’s Cafe — they have some of the best Eggs Benedict around. It’s not just one way, but several. They also have a bar as do most other brunch places but worth the mention as it’s separate from the breakfast area so you can wait in there and have a drink.

Tasty n Alder or Tasty n Sons — they have some great eats. Try the cumin, maple glazed yams. To die for!

Harlow — my favorite for gluten free and vegetarian options. Nice for people watching as well. They have great community tables if you want to get to know some folks in the neighborhood as well.

Vegan brunch at Harlow @rouxroamer

Happy hour bites and drinks:

Swift Lounge — this place is Portlandia at its best. A great local hang out. At any given time, you can usually see beards, mustaches, flannel, tattoos, skinny jeans and heels. They also serve their drinks in mason jars. Happy hour isn’t just an hour either!

Toro Bravo — great higher end spot for drinks and tapas for happy hour or dinner. Bacon wrapped dates are a highlight.

Cruz Room — this place has great tacos and infused liquors. They also host a fun trivia night.

Circa 33 — when the light is on this place is even better! What does the light mean? Blue means no and red means the Speakeasy is open for business…if you can find out how to get in. Great food and drinks. They even have a covered patio.

The Station — this place is literally an old power station. You can still see the history of the building on the walls. Good food and drink specials too.

East Burn — they have happy hour, crayons, swings and skee ball. Need I say more.

Departure — amazing views of Portland from the 15th floor in downtown. Great happy hour specials on food and drinks. You can also ask for the vegan and gluten free menus. Very accommodating.

Closed indefinitely… Produce Row — they are really well known for their bourbon. In fact they were selected for one of the top 55 places in the U.S.. Try a bourbon and beer pairing. I also highly recommend the fried cauliflower and sriracha sauce. Great, large patio space in the back that’s covered for year round enjoyment.

Swift Lounge @rouxroamer

Drinks:

Sapphire Hotel — this place used to be a brothel. Rich in history and drink names. Great for a romantic evening or a get together with friends.

Secret Society — if you ask for a chalice, they’ll give you one…well sort of. Another great, unique, candlelight space with an excellent bar if you can find where they are. After all, it is a secret, right?

Pope House — they have one of the biggest bourbon collection I know of. Plus, if you try 50, you get a horseshoe on the wall. Not my favorite food menu but it’s pretty decent if you like carbs. Best Bourbon lounge on the west coast!

Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library — if you can get in or have VIP status this is the place to go for whiskey, whisky, rye and bourbon. I think they have everything you can think of. The menu is a book, literally. Also, you can write it off as studying, right? I mean they have the old fashioned green table lamps and desks. Plus, if you order a cocktail they come out and mix it right in front of you on a cart.

Sapphire Hotel @rouxroamer

Ethnic:

Samurai Blue — they have a sushi roll with mango and coconut. I’ve never seen this anywhere else and it’s amazing. Plus they have happy hour and outdoor seating.

Sushi Mazi — they have grasshopper sushi. Apparently it’s one of those foods you have to try before you die. It’s actually pretty good. The rest of the sushi rolls are good too.

Chiang Mai — I’ve been seeking the best Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles) and so far they are on the top of my list.

Nicholas — the naan is almost the size of the table. The sauces and the food are amazing as well.

Mi Mero Mole — great Mexican food without the line at Por Que No. Great happy hour too. Vegan and vegetarian friendly as well as satisfying the meat lovers.

Las Primas — great for lunch or dinner. They have little bites or full plates of delicious food from Peru.

Xico — they have a corn grinder in back so they make all their corn products from scratch. Amazing Mexican food and drinks!

Pok-Pok — world famous for excellent Thai street food and drinking vinegars. Yum! When you are waiting in line you can head over to their sister bar Whiskey Soda Lounge. Great drinks and bites there too.

Las Primas Veggie Plate @rouxroamer

Food carts:

PB&J’s Grilled — I’m not a huge bread fan but I make an exception for this place. It’s the PB&J for grown ups. Not the stuff you had as a kid. It’s better!

Cultured Caveman — if you are Paleo this is the cart for you. Great meat and side options without meat. Plus, they now have a brick and mortar location.

Pizza Box — great wood fired pizza from a cart. It might even be my favorite pizza within city limits!

Dessert:

Ruby Jewel — if you want to skip the line at Salt and Straw try this place. It’s just as good, if not better. Interesting and fun flavors to satisfy your tastebuds.

Lauretta Jeans — fruit pie with booze in it. What more could you ask for? Ok, they have cream pies too, coffee and a bar.

Cupcake Jones — best german chocolate cupcake. That’s my favorite anyway. They offer many other flavors and I’m sure they are all wonderful!

Cupcake Jones delicious cakes @rouxroamer

My favorite restaurant of all time is home. I love my husbands cooking more than anything else but I do enjoy all my Portland food adventures out and about. I’m salivating just thinking of all the places on this list.

Cooking in Cambodia

25 May

On vacation you have these amazing cultural experiences and some include food. You wonder, how can I get this back home? Are there any restaurants that serve this? Instead of wondering who can make this food for you, why not learn to make it yourself? But how do I know what’s in it?

When I was in Cambodia I had an amazing local dish called, amok. It’s a lot like curry but a little milder in spice but still full of flavor. It’s amazing and I’d never had it before. For the high dollar amount of $6 I was able to get it at the nicest restaurant in town, served in a coconut shell! I was so enamored, I needed to bring this back home with me. I bought some dry spice mixes but I wasn’t sure that was enough. My fellow travel companions and I searched around and found a cooking class. What a great way to bring this new dish home with and have a great experience learning something new. Plus, I could teach friends and family back home the delicious ways of Cambodia cooking.

The cooking class was great. For the cheap price of $12 a person you learned how to make two dishes and ate what you made. We chopped vegetables and fresh spices. Used a gigantic mortar and pestle to make our own ground spices. We took turns on the stove cooking our appetizers, main dishes and dessert. We watched what our classmates were making. We worked on plating our dishes and then stuffed ourselves with the delicious food we made. It was mostly tourists from around the world but taught by locals. It was a really fun time learning and conversing with people.

I highly recommend trying this wherever you are. It’s a souvenir that keeps on giving. You have a great experience and it keeps on giving when you return home. All assuming you can get the right ingredients. But that’s ok. Embrace spontaneity and just go for it. Make mistakes or create your own version.

It’s all good. Do the best you can with what you are given.

Amok

$6 Amok at Sugar Palm in Siem Reap

 

Foodie

9 Sep

I love food! I want to share some of my favorites from my last three months in Portland. As any big city, eating and drinking adventures are a must… at least for a foodie like me.

Dishcrawl is a fun, social way to find four new restaurants or revisit some that you may have been to before in one night with 20 or so new friends. Of my two events I loved Cafe Nell. Great service with delicious seafood and sauce pairings. I also enjoyed Peruvian food at Las Primas and Ethiopian just down the way in a non descript building. They offered an excellent veggie beet wrap.

Another fun way to discover new places is join a meet up group or five. They meet all around town at places I may not have discovered on my own. It satisfies my social and food adventure needs. I’ve met some really great people and discovered some hidden restaurant gems. Don’t judge a book by its cover. At least read a page first.

I’ve enjoyed Produce Row and Pope House, the two Bourbon places mentioned in an article of the top 55 places to drink Bourbon in the U.S.. Besides the Bourbon they both have pretty great food. Fried cauliflower with red rooster sauce at Produce Row…I’m drooling. Not on the list but also with an extensive whiskey collection, Circa 33.

I can’t write about Portland food without mentioning the food carts. There are so many pods around the city. PB&J grill gives an excellent twist on those childhood favorites. A little sweet and a little spicy. Cultured Caveman has excellent tasting paleo food and it’s not all meat, they have veggie options too.

I’m still on the hunt for the best Pad See Ew. So far Chiang Mai is winning, but I have many more places to try. Did I mention this is a city for foodies?

Brunch! Such a Portland thing to do on the weekends (or any day, really) and breakfast has always been one of the top three favorite meals of the day. It’s no wonder that I have a long list of favorites: Screen Door, Gravy, Pine State Biscuits, Tasty and Sons and Jam on Hawthorne.

I’ve even tried sushi with a cricket on it. Sushi Mazi says it’s one of the 101 things to eat before you die so of course I had to try it. And why not, have two! It’s just that good. Now to find out what’s on the rest of the list…

I think I could eat somewhere new every night this year and not run out. If only budget would allow. And there’s only so much running I can do in a day to make up for all those calories.

Here’s some instagram pictures to capture the goodness of all this great Portland fare. Cheers to the next great meal. Because they are all great in some way!

Cumin Maple Glazed Yams

Cafe Nell bites

Bourbon!

Scramble at Jam

Follow my picture adventures @rouxroamer

Dishcrawl

28 Jul

I’ve been to two Dishcrawl events in Portland and they are awesome. Think pub crawl with food.

You start the evening at one restaurant where they serve you a small plate of food. The chef or owner then comes out to talk to you about the restaurant and the food they are showcasing. After grazing and visiting with your fellow crawlers you walk to the next restaurant where you dig in to what they are serving. You end up going to a total of four restaurants over a four hour period of time. You get three small dinners and a dessert! What a great way to spend an evening with new friends and foodies.

On my first Dishcrawl we went to Las Primas, Dalo’s Ethiopian Kitchen, Oro di Napoli and What’s the Scoop. Some of my favorite bites from the night were the kale wrapped, beet-based flat bread at Dalo’s and the spicy chocolate tequila ice cream at What’s the Scoop. Delicious! Everything else was good too but didn’t make my top two.

On my next crawl we went to Cafe Nell, The Bent Brick, Quimby’s and Besaw’s. My favorites of the evening were the salmon over creamy carrot puree and arugula sauce at Cafe Nell and the Gin-soaked veggie sandwiches at The Bent Brick. Everything I ate was delicious and fun to try. It’s not everyday you get to go to four different restaurants and sample different things off the menu. If I go out it’s usually only once in a day and I only get to sample what I get or if I’m lucky what my dining companion is having. Not quite the same adventure. I mean, Dishcrawl picks it all for you and it’s a surprise. Now that’s an adventure!

I love my food adventures in Portland so far. I’ve had many but these were some noteworthy outings. Hope you join one in your town!

Cheers!

Ethiopian FoodTwo Cups Ice Cream