Indulging in Portland
I’m finally recapping my (semi-recent) trip to Portland, Oregon this spring for the second annual Indulge Conference. It’s taken me just that long to get out of my west coast food coma to finally write about it. Last year I went to the Indulge Conference, which was my first food blogger conference and my first trip to Portland. There was too much to see and eat in just a few days that I knew I had to go back this year to both the conference and to continue eating my way through Portlandia. This trip was filled with food from new restaurants, revisiting restaurants from my first trip, connecting with old friends and making some new ones along the way.
I travel all of the time for work – literally every single week I’m on a plane at least twice a week. That’s a lot of travel. But one major perk of all of that work travel is that I accumulate my airline miles and hotel points so that when I get to travel for fun, I have the luxury of staying in great hotels and flying anywhere I want. I do an annual trip with two of my best friends from home every April – usually somewhere tropical to escape the winter weather. But since I had been working in Florida since November, I was craving something a little different for our trip this year. It just so happened that the Indulge Conference was happening in Portland the weekend that we were planning our annual trip. So I decided to attend the conference for the second year and my friends flew out to meet me so that we could eat our way through Portland and continue on through Seattle. This post will recap the Indulge Conference and everything we ate in Portland and I’ll write a separate delicious post just dedicated to Seattle.
The trip started with a long-cross country flight from work in Orlando to Portland, with a quick connection in Phoenix. By the time I reached my hotel the first night, I had been up for 24 hours and was ready to dive head-first into my comfy hotel bed. This year I stayed at The Nines in downtown Portland, which is a SPG property where I have all of my hotel points. This hotel was BEYOND amazing. I could live in that hotel room forever. Their club room for hotel guests had better food and drink than most restaurants you would go to. So every morning we’d swing by for fresh hot coffee and cinnamon buns, and in the afternoon we’d go back for complimentary happy hour and apps. You were almost too full to indulge in any of the delicious restaurants on property. Almost.
I loved the breakfast at one of the restaurants inside the hotel – Urban Farmer. The eggs Benedict was served on homemade english muffins and could easily serve a family of four. The one thing that’s a culture shock to a Yankee in Portland is how nice the people are. The waiter from the Urban Farmer was from Massachusetts and was super nice in making recommendations and telling me his story of how he ended up in PDX.
I took Friday to adjust after the long travel day and explore Portland on my own before the Indulge Conference kicked off with a welcome happy hour. I went back to one of the memorable lunch spots from last year – Lardo – and ordered the same Pork Meatball Bahn Mi sandwich that I had been dreaming about since last year. And it was just as good as I remembered. And promptly required an afternoon nap to sleep off the resulting food coma.
The welcome happy hour for the conference was at The Original, known for their indulgent burgers and shakes. My favorite part of the welcome hour was connecting with some of the bloggers I had met last year, and also making new friends at the same time. I loved meeting Allison from CelebratingSweets and reconnecting with Kristen from DineAndDish who had a memorable speaking session from last year’s conference. I met my instagram foodie friend Maegan of TheBakerMama. I was girl crush starstruck at meeting Andie Mitchell, whose blog I love, cookbook I am obsessed with, and memoir that I couldn’t put down. And she was just as nice in person as you’d expect. And of course I met Kristan from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, who I had followed on snapchat for a long time before and tried to not be super awkward when I met her, but busted out my thickest Boston accent to make a lasting first impression. Wicked.
And then it was conference day! I like that this year the conference was only one full day, so that you had more time to explore on your own. There were great speakers this year and I definitely continued learning a lot about how to improve my blog. The one thing you need to know about attending a food blogger conference: wear stretchy clothing. Because there is food at every turn. They brought in Voodoo Donuts for the breakfast snack. I’m personally more of a fan of BlueStar Donuts when in Portland, but I did enjoy my first Voodoo Donut.
During lunch, I indulged in a visit to the Grilled Cheese truck for a BLTA grilled cheese that I enjoyed in the sunshine and was every bit as good as it looks in the picture.
Saturday night they had arranged sponsored dinners around Portland. My group had a delicious dinner at Paragon in the Pearl District. The restaurant did an amazing job bringing nonstop food for the six of us foodies to share. My favorite was the Baked Carrot Cake for dessert!
My friend Caitlin flew in on Saturday afternoon and we met our friend Katie on Sunday morning at Tasty n’ Alder to kick off our girl’s trip with a delicious brunch. It was a 90 minute wait for brunch but TOTALLY worth the wait. Especially because you can drink mimosas while you wait.
The food at Tasty n Alder is tapas style, which is perfect since we love to try new things and share. We had the chocolate potato donuts, potatoes bravas (also known as patatas bravas), fresh biscuits, French toast, and the breakfast flatbread. Don’t worry, we then spent the afternoon walking all around 23rd Street trying to burn it off (by shopping) and then even hit up the gym back at the Nines to make room for dinner.
But of course, on our way to the gym we just so happened to conveniently walk past Ruby Jewel Scoops, and if there’s one thing you need to know about going on vacation with my friend Caitlin, is she needs to get her ice cream fix, daily. There are a few well known ice cream shops in Portland, but I have to say Ruby Jewel is the best. I had made a stop there my first afternoon walking around and pretty much let a cone drip all over me to get that perfect picture, and then ate it like a crazy person alone on the street. So I was happy to go back again two days later with friends.
And after some time at the gym and afternoon napping, we went to the rooftop Asian Fusion restaurant at The Nines called Departure. The food was amazing – especially these BBQ shortrib buns.
The restaurant has an outdoor patio with amazing views of the city, which was beautiful on the night we were up there. We were happily full by the time we went to bed early for our road trip up to Seattle the next morning.
All in all, my second visit to Portland and the Indulge Conference was a sweet success. The weather was amazing again, the people were wonderful, and the food was delicious! And I think two months later, I might have finally emerged from the Portlandia food coma.