So in all of the hubbub about Iceland, which, to be sure, certainly deserves all of the love, I never got a chance to discuss Valentine’s Day and the new progress on my Oregon Bucket List.
Let me start by saying that I’m not necessarily a Valentine’s Day kind of gal. I don’t expect flowers and romance and gifts just because it is a certain day. I do sort of expect those things at other times, but because they come from the heart, not from some sort of weird pressure to win the unspoken competition that occurs on Valentine’s Day to have the “best” boyfriend, husband, partner, etc.
That being said, when your boyfriend has been out of town for three weeks because of work and he just happens to be back the weekend that it just happens to be Valentine’s Day, it is the perfect excuse for a weekend getaway.
In typical Brandon and Cora fashion, the weekend mostly centered around food. Really, really good food.
We kicked off the weekend by trying one of the restaurants on my bucket list: Ned Ludd.
The restaurant managed to exude coziness, quirkiness, and Portland all at the same time.
With a focus on locally sourced ingredients and homestyle craft cooking using the restaurant’s brick wood-fired oven, the experience was overwhelmingly delicious. The menu changes regularly to reflect the season.
Ned Ludd is not my favorite restaurant in Portland (more on that in a bit), but it was an excellent meal in a restaurant committed to every aspect of the food that they serve.
You can’t spend a weekend in Portland without doing brunch. It’s just what you do in Portland. After deciding we didn’t want to wait for two hours to get a table at Tasty n Alder, we found ourselves at Cheryl’s on 12th, which had a much more reasonable wait.
And the delicious food did not stop there. Saturday evening, we ate at our favorite Portland restaurant, where we had first eaten back in October. Lechon is just plain amazing. Serving food inspired by South American cuisine, Lechon simply gets it right.
On this particular evening, we decided to order the special Valentine’s tasting menu. Every single bite was amazing. And by that I mean I want to eat it all again. Right now.
Okay, so we obviously ate a lot of really good food. But we actually did other stuff, too. A walking tour is the perfect after dinner activity to burn off at least some of the calories consumed. I had taken a tour with Portland Walking Tours a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to try one of their other tours. After looking into my options, I settled on the Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour, which offered a combination of history for me and the potential for scariness for Brandon. With a 10 pm start time, there was plenty of time for a late dinner before meeting for the tour at the former Merchant Hotel, which is rumored to be haunted (said in my most mysterious and scary movie voiceover voice).
Haunted or not, it was creepy. Especially the creepy, creepy basement that was part of the infamous Portland tunnels underneath the city.
What I like about this type of tour is that you get a side of history that you don’t normally hear. Even if ghosts aren’t your thing (and it’s not really mine), we got to learn about the darker side of Portland history – essentially legalized forced prostitution and the horrors associated with it, a period of time when anyone could be kidnapped and forced to be a sailor, floods and murder and mayhem.
Toward the end of the tour, our guide surprised us with a stop by Voodoo Doughnut (also on my bucket list, although I had previously been there).
Best of all, we got to surpass the hour-long line.
The other fun thing we did was OMSI After Dark. This adults only event is a (usually) once a month event when the museum stays open late. There are themed events, vendors, and exhibits with a different focus each month.
Appropriately, the theme this night was related to love and relationships. I thought the concept was great – extra museum hours and the opportunity to spend those extra hours perusing exhibits, glass of wine in hand. However, the execution was somewhat lacking. It was just so darn crowded. Every single thing had a line to the point I felt like we spent the whole evening waiting in line. I would have gladly paid more for the tickets (I think they were $20 apiece) if it meant that entry to OMSI After Dark was capped after a certain number of people.
Valentine’s or not, I would eat delicious food and explore scary places (like creepy, creepy basements and crowded museums) with Brandon anytime.