Tag Archives: whiskey

Ireland: castles, accents and whiskey

17 Mar

Ireland is always on my mind, not just on St Patrick’s Day. I love Ireland. I’m Irish…but that’s not why I love it. I love the countryside, the castles, the accents and of course the whiskey.

When anyone asks me where my favorite place is in the world. I always find it hard to answer. I can’t pick just one. I have favorites for different reasons. However, Ireland is easily in my top 5. It reminds me so much of home but it’s so much older. The castles sprinkled in the countryside are not something you see in Oregon. We also have lots of rolling green hills and cliffs but not quite the Cliffs of Moher.

MelissaOnCliffs

I don’t know what it is about the West Coast but not only do I love it in the states but it was my favorite in Ireland too (and a few other countries). In the SW area I loved Cork and the area surrounding it. We enjoyed the Ring of Kerry and driving through towns like Doolin and Dingle. We may have giggled a little at the names but it was all in good fun. It made it easier to smile and laugh when our GPS would send us the wrong way or have us going in circles. At least we had good scenery on our road trip no matter how roundabout the route.

I can’t miss mentioning that we also spent St Patricks Day in Dublin. We had our Irish coffee at Temple Bar. We visited the Guiness Brewery for the tour, the beer and the view. We became certified whiskey tasters at one of the best places on earth, Jameson Distillery. And, in the end, I learned of my favorite winter drink from a local in a random bar: Hot Whiskey (hot water, Jameson, lemon wedge and whole cloves).

If you ever get to the Jameson Distillery, pick me up a bottle of their finest, aged in sherry casks. Yummmm…my favorite.

When in country do like the locals do. Or at least try to experience the country like one. That’s what I always try to do. I may look Irish but I had a lot to learn about my heritage.

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What’s on my list

13 Oct

Bucket lists, life lists and quests.

What’s the difference with it all? Most life lists and/or bucket lists don’t have dates assigned to them. They are just lists of things that you’d like to do…someday. If you want to assign a date and work toward achieving that item, it moves into the quest category.

Some of the items I’ve checked off my lists:

Run a 5k — Thinking that I would never want to run a half marathon being a short distance runner in high school. I thought I would get back into running and set my sites on a more achievable goal, a 5k. Accomplished it twice! Then, I needed a bigger goal, a 10k! When that was accomplished I moved on to a half marathon.

Skydiving — Went to Vegas for my 27th birthday so I could have a longer free fall than some places near my home. What a thrill! Truly one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. I highly recommend it.

Danger

Take a three week vacation — I did this when I quit my job. I took the first three week vacation of my adult life and I loved it. I also fell in love with Spain and Belgium.

Take a sailing class — I wanted to ride in a sailboat but what better way to prepare for the next sailing adventure than to take a lesson.

Walk on the Great Wall — One of the wonders of the world! I’ve been on it twice, in two different places.

Attend an NFL game — I love football! I have a few favorite teams so I thought why not go visit a friend in Atlanta and also see one of my teams play while I’m there.

Ride a mechanical bull — I kept trying to do this close to home but I kept missing it, so I found one in Vegas, then again at WDS.

Take a helicopter ride — I gave this as a gift to my husband for our one year anniversary. A paper ticket for both of us to check it off our bucket lists.

Check out both sides of my ancestry — I went to Germany a couple times, once for Octoberfest. I also went to Ireland for Saint Patricks day and a road trip. Both amazing adventures. Beautiful countries!

Become a whiskey club member — Twice! It does take me a while to try 50 whiskies or bourbons but I get there, eventually. And now I have my name on a plaque for Elysian Whiskey Club and a horseshoe with my name on it for completing the bourbon derby. Fun times!

Quit my job and start my own business — Check!

Some items I haven’t checked off my list yet:

Surf lesson — Maybe body boarding was all I needed to do but I still have surfing on my bucket list.

Snowboarding — I’ve been skiing but never on a snowboard. Thought I should try it at least once but I really hate being cold. Brrr…

Hang Gliding lesson — I love flying, what else can I say!

Zorbing — Ever since I heard about this I thought it would be fun to do, just not in a mall, somewhere cool like New Zealand.

African safari — This almost happened in the summer but I had to postpone. Hopefully it’s happening in the near future.

Zip lining — For some reason I want this to be in the jungle.

Grow my business — Continual growth and improvement…always!

Mostly my bucket list contains the United States (all of them) and all those other cool countries around the globe. I’d like to go everywhere but I don’t have a date for it all so it’s not quite a quest. Just a lust for roaming. (33 countries and counting…)

I'm not a fan of selfles so the feet will have to do! The famous PDX carpet!

I’m not a fan of selfles so the feet will have to do! The famous PDX carpet!

Need more on quests and how to start your own. Make sure to check out Chris Guillebeau’s book: The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life

Since, I didn’t get any entries to win the book, I’m giving it to the first person that asked to have it. I hope they enjoy the book as much as I did. If you still want to comment on your quests, I’d love to hear about them.

Cheers to your next quest!

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.

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

Amsterdam

6 Jun

Amsterdam was the last stop on my European adventure. I was not able to travel here with anyone or have a host. That would be my only regret. I found this city to be a little overwhelming by myself. It seems like it would be best with a small group of people, just like Las Vegas, NV.

I stayed at a hostel downtown so I could easily walk to everywhere I wanted to go. There were so many restaurants and bars close by. There were also several coffee shops and cafes. I learned the difference pretty quickly, just by the smell. A cafe is where you buy coffee. I’m sure the other serves coffee too but the aroma is somewhat different than a cafe…if you know what I mean.

The Rijksmuseum had it’s re-opening when I was there so I joined thousands of other people to see the exhibits. It was a bit crowded to really take in the art but it was nice to see some Rembrant paintings in person. They are quite beautiful. The newly renovated museum was nice too. I’m sure it would be even better on a slow day.

From Amsterdam I took the bus to Zaanse Schans and Volendam. The Zaanze Schans area gives you a close up of the windmills and the cheese making process. It is the “picture” of Holland. I really enjoyed this scenic area. Volendam is a waterfront community where you can stroll along the water and visit the many tourist shops and restaurants. You can also see some of the great “Holland” rooflines in town. For me this was a great way to spend the day. These small towns were a lot less overwhelming than Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is another city in Europe that offers free walking tours. I highly recommend these. It’s a great way to learn the history of the city and get your bearings. It’s also a nice way to meet some other tourists. We learned why the buildings were sometimes crooked, we learned about the church centered in the red light district and a little of Anne Frank’s story. This was a wonderful way to spend a few hours, especially if you love learning like I do.

If I were to go to The Netherlands again I’ve decided I would visit cities other than Amsterdam and do a bike tour up North. I think that would be awesome, especially with a couple other people.

From Amsterdam I took the bus back to London to catch my flight home. I thought I allowed plenty of buffer but a word to the wise: plan even more time when leaving Amsterdam because customs likes to investigate. We missed our ferry and had to catch the next one. That left me wondering if I was going to make my flight home. I hit the ground running in London and was able to make it with time to grab a snack but not time enough to enjoy the “World of Whiskey’s” store in the airport. That was very sad. Next time…

Cheers!

The picture of Holland

The picture of Holland

2012

31 Dec

Highlights from this year (in no particular order):

  1. Running my first 5 mile race on a beautiful Florida key.
  2. Running my first 10k in less time than I expected.
  3. Visiting Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona for the first time.
  4. Visiting the #1 beach in the US with a good friend and some red wine.
  5. Going to many bourbon/whiskey distilleries: 4 spirits, House Spirits, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, Buffalo Trace, Makers Mark, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Heaven Hill, Canadian Club.
  6. Going to my third province in Canada: Ontario.
  7. Attending the World Domination Summit in Portland. And meeting Chris Guillibeau among other greats!
  8. Going to Bali, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Ayutthaya.
  9. Visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time and walking on the sky walk.
  10. Visiting Hawaii in the winter to catch up with a childhood friend.
  11. Putting personal hygiene aside and doing two mud runs: Dirty Dash and the hellish Warrior Dash.
  12. Finally submitting my children’s book idea to Chronicle. Hoping for the best…
  13. Having straight teeth for the first time in my life. Why did I resist for so long?!
  14. Went sailing for the first time.
  15. Saw my first Frank Lloyd Wright house: The Gordon House in Salem, OR.

What a year! I didn’t achieve all my goals but I checked off many bucket list items. Looking forward to doing more things I’m passionate about in 2013 and letting go of some of the things that are holding me back.

I hope to find more great opportunities for adventure and growth. Now, time to get serious and make a plan.

Cheers to a great year and an even better one next year!