My friend Joel told me about the Epicurean Walking Tour in the Pearl District of Portland over a year ago. It always looked fun, but usually we only run down there for a day or two and there never seemed like enough time.
Also, I admit I was slightly hesitant in thinking it might be a little touristy or cheesy. After living in Seattle for so many years and always seeing those silly duck tours, who can blame me? Also, the tour is $59, not cheap. But on the bonus side, it focuses on organic and sustainable eating, it takes you all over the Pearl, and you get to eat and drink the whole time. So I paid online and met up with my group on the library mezzanine at the Heathman hotel. (I wish I had thought to take some photos inside the Heathman, because it is gorgeous and I might want to stay there next time. )
We started at Cacao (connected to the Heathman Hotel) and had drinking chocolate (pictured above). 72% cacao--man, that was delicious. By comparison, Hershey's chocolate is only about 8-10% cacao.
Then we went to the Elephant Deli and had a delicious tomato orange soup and I ate it so fast I forgot to take a photo!
Next, the famous Pearl Bakery. We usually stop there to get a loaf of olive bread but this was fun because we went in back and tried all sorts of sweets and breads. I especially liked the Gibassier.
A plate of treats at the Pearl Bakery.
In Good Taste: This is a cooking shop that holds classes as well and we sampled some Pinot Noir and a few spicy condiments. I bought some of the Madras Curry mustard and Black Truffle Sea Salt.
The Tea Zone. I loved this place and brought Trevor back for breakfast the next day. We sampled some nice green and black teas.
But what I was really impressed with was the Darjeeling infused French 75. They have a whole menu of cocktails with tea-infused liquor. Yummy! Another woman on the tour had a "Smokey Robinson" that was basically a Whiskey sour but infused with Lapsong Souchong.
Hot Lips Pizza is a local institution known by college kids for their cheap and delicious pizza. But they focus on obtaining local, fresh ingredients and even make their own sodas. They also recycle and compost everything.
What is a walking food tour in Portland without a stop at a McMenamin's? I have been to a lot of their restaurants, and honestly, I am not the impressed with their beer or their food. They have these amazing old buildings they turn into hotels and brewpubs, but I say skip the beer and order a cocktail instead.
Ended the tour with gelato. Now, I have to admit, and most of you might already know this, but I hate ice cream. Do not like it at all, never have. And gelato is awfully close to ice cream, but I also have to admit I managed to eat the pistachio one without making a face.
Not on the tour is the Rogue Brewery. (at least not on the 10AM tour-they have a 2PM tour as well.) But 5 of the 6 of us on the tour really wanted to sample their gin and whiskey so we headed there on our own. It was a nice way to finish off the tour.
Six hours later, I was back in the hotel room, and I couldn't believe I waited so long to go on this tour! Our tour guide, Nan, was a hoot and the tour itself was 4 1/2 hours. Pretty good value. Plus, I dragged Trevor back to both the tea shop, the Pearl bakery, and Cacao. Next time I want to do the afternoon tour.