Tag Archives: dinner

The Start of the Summer – Hiking, dining, and sleeping on Mt. Hood

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Friday and Saturday, 19 & 20-June-2020

 

Well.

2020 has been a year, hasn’t it?

 

It started in Scotland, then dove into a global pandemic, then protests across the United States. Now, when COVID cases are starting to rise again, Oregon has decided to re-open itself.

Well, I can’t do anything about that. I can’t really do anything about any of those things… but what I can do is keep distancing myself, keep wearing a mask, and keep active. And maybe take advantage of the re-opening as best I can.

Today, I went hiking on Hood for the first time in recent memory.

From the Timberline Lodge, the Timberline Trail circumnavigates the whole mountain – to the West, there’s ZigZag Canyon and the beautiful paradise park. Perfect day-hike destinations. So I went East instead, where no one else generally goes. I saw not a single person on the trail, but had what seemed like the entire side of the mountain to myself.

It.

Was.

Perfect.

Warm weather, a good breeze, and bright sunlight. The mountain was in full glory, peaking above the treeline at almost every turn of the trail.

I went all the way down to the White River – not far, by any means, but something like a 5mile round trip. I felt good… for a starter hike, trying to regain my legs after nearly three months of COVID-related staying at home, I felt strong. I felt tired, but I’m proud of myself for pushing through and hiking at a fairly strong pace the whole time.

After the trail dropped me back off at my car, I treated myself. I’ve been trying to eat a bit healthier, after the stressful and sedentary recent months, but today I’d hiked at altitude, and had skipped lunch. And, I’d parked at the Timberline Lodge, which was still open for dinner.

I walked in 10 minutes before they closed – I was going to head back to the car to cook up a mountain house, but the waiter insisted that I should sit down anyways. We chatted a bit, I ordered, and that’s how I found myself sitting by the window, watching the sun set on the Southern face of Mt. Hood, with a pastrami sandwich, two cups of hot cocoa, and a full cup of whipped cream topped with chocolate and caramel.

The crazy thing is – I only ordered the sandwich. The cocoa? I saw the waiter walking by with them, and asked what they were. See, I love the cocoa at Timberline, but I hadn’t noticed it on the menu… so when I saw him carrying them, I needed to find out more. It turns out that they were mistakes – and he was carrying them back to the kitchen to be thrown out. Well, he offered, and I couldn’t say no! When he brought over the cup of toppings, I lost it.

I’ve had a bad year. It’s been unpleasant, challenging, and just simply a not good year. I recognize that many people have had it far, far worse than I have, and I’m infinitely thankful for everything I have in life. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard.

The gift of two cups of cocoa, after my first hike, right before camping out on my own, was exactly what I needed.

Now, as I sit in my camp chair typing this up, I feel good. I’m tired, but it’s a good tired. A well-earned tired.

I can’t say I’m doing great. But sitting here, looking at the mountain, I can say that I’m doing well.

Visiting Massachusetts – Hiking the Blue Hills, followed by a North End dinner

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Saturday, 16-Nov-2019

 

As I mentioned, the main goal of this trip was to visit family and spend time together.  But that doesn’t mean we had to stay in one place now, did it?  And I’m pretty confident that if I was able to carve out some time to visit with everyone when we were back for Daniel and Erin’s wedding, we should also be able to visit with friends for a bit this time, right?

Right.

Steve unfortunately had to work on Saturday, but never the less Sarah, my Mom, and I all piled into the car on Saturday morning, and headed into Boston to meet up with Daniel and Erin (and their dog Biscuit too!) for a short hike in the Blue Hills.  We weren’t really planning on any specific hiking… just a chance to visit and walk around, you know?  Get out of the suburbs and into some woods while the weather was nice.

And let me tell you – the weather was NICE that day.  Perfectly blue skies, crisp air, and just a tiny bit of frost on the ground… the ideal New England Autumn day, in other words.  Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely cold.  But we’d planned for that, and had some nice warm clothes packed with us that we pulled out.  But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so everything seemed just that much warmed and brighter, thanks to the shining sun and bright skies.

I honestly couldn’t tell you what trail we walked on… Daniel probably knows thanks to his fancy new tracking GPS watch, or maybe some sort of implanted auto-download data feeds, but the short version was that we did a lovely short walk around the hills, passing a neat little cabin and a beautiful bridge.  A bridge which, obviously, Daniel and I climbed the side of while playing fetch with Biscuit.

 

 

After the hike, my Mom had to head out to a “friendsgiving” dinner with some of their friends in Medway – we were welcome to join, of course, but instead Sarah and I took the chance to catch up with some of our own friends in the city!  Daniel graciously offered to not only drive us into town, but also to give us a ride back to Medway afterward!

With those logistics dealt with, we messaged Dillon and Liz and headed into town to rest before dinner – nothing huge, just hanging out at Daniel and Erin’s place for a bit to drop Biscuit off and see some of the new condo accessories before driving to the North End for Italian.

See, I’m sure that Portland has a good Italian restaurant somewhere.  But truth be told, I haven’t been able to find it.  I haven’t really spent that much time looking though… since we can always just go to the North End when we’re back in Boston visiting everyone!

We hadn’t been to this restaurant before, but it absolutely lived up to our expectations of perfect Chicken Parm and a good atmosphere to catch up with everyone.  Really, that’s all I need in an Italian place – a good simple dish, and a good environment to talk in.  The massive boat of oysters (literally, check out the below photos) was just a bonus on top.

Not much else to say, honestly.  The conversation was fun, and catching up with very appreciated.  It was an amazing chance to fully unwind and relax, spending time with good friends in a comfortable place.  Huge thank-yous to everyone!

Christmas in Italy – Florentine meals

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Christmas in Italy – Florentine meals

In keeping with the tradition of adventure, Sarah and I went on a big trip for Christmas and New Years!

This year, we met up with Sarah’s family in Italy, traveling to Rome and Florence; not quite a perfect midpoint for everyone, but it was close enough. And, also, you know. Rome. Florence. Amazing!

Please forgive me for some of these being a bit out of order… the posts are organized somewhat chronologically… but also organized by theme and location.  Some may not be exactly in chronological order, so for reference please see the initial summary post, which has a complete day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the adventure.

 

Italy is known for food.

Delicious, simple, gloriously amazing food.

Just… so much food.  Way more food than I can list in a single post, though I think I’m going to push the envelope of how much I can write before I have to stop and go make some dinner for myself…

These Locale’s are focused on Florence; we had a ton of amazing food in Rome as well, but most of those meals were already written into the various other posts that I’ve put together.  So sit back, enjoy, and make sure you read this before dinner, so that you’re not tempted to have a second dinner afterward.

 

29-Dec, Dinner

Trattoria Cibreo, a place that Sarah’s aunt recommended. They don’t take reservations, but do open in a bit… so we open a second bottle of wine, and relax a bit more before heading over

    • Legit walk… not too long, but not short either. Actually right near where Sarah and I were earlier in the day
    • We’re the first ones in, but it’s full within 20min of opening
    • Our waiter has the absolutely best Italian accent when speaking English… and looks like he’s from Portland (more on top haircut, long beard, etc…)
    • We get the full experience: wine, first dish, second dish, dessert. It’s glorious and delicious and amazing
    • First Dish = Riboletta, a thick bread-based soup. Tastes better when scooped up onto the bread, ironically
    • Second dish = stuffed rabbit. Ohh man. Rabbit, stuffed with sausage, with cheese and pastry around it. What. So good
    • Dessert = a whole mix, that the whole table shares. Whipped cream dish, cheesecake, chocolate cake, and a few others that were equally amazing. One was chocolate mousse style, and was “a present from the house”

 

 

30-Dec, Lunch.

Outside the Duomo, there’s a sandwich shop with a line stretching around the block. We’d noticed it the first day, and made a point of showing up when they opened in order to dodge the line…

    • This isn’t a sandwich shop – this is an experience to be had
    • The shop owner starts by introducing himself, and then explaining the system for this shop: He’ll do a tasting with us of the various cheeses and meats, then we’ll move through the assembly line and construct the actual Panini. Side note: everything here is from Tuscany
    • Meats are pretty stock; what you’d expect from the area
    • Cheeses though… they’re glorious. Five options, varying from fresh to aged, all of which are amazing. Personally I love aged cheeses, so I went with the 45-day aged cheese from Northern Tuscany
    • Bread – they don’t focus as much on the bread, but there are a lot of options anyways… and all of them look amazing. I stick with the simplest of the options, though almost everyone else goes with the olive bread
    • Sandwich gets toasted, we head outside and eat up!

 

 

30-Dec, Dinner

Tonight was Sarah and my’s turn to cook, so after an adventure throughout two grocery stores (named Eatily and Conads… weird place, Italy), we came home and set to cooking…

    • Salad = Arugula, Spinach, Parmasean and mozzarella balls, with balsamic glaze
    • Starter = Gnocci with spinach inside, with a pesto sauce
    • Main = Turkey, wrapped in proccutto and glazed in maple syrup. Carrots, onions and sweet potatoes on the side
    • Wine = Chianti

 

Tuesday, 02-Jan, Dinner. Florentine Steak

    • The bar is called King Grizzly, and it’s unique. It’s an Irish Pub, in Florence, playing reggae music. I get offered a reggae friendship bracelet, for 5 Euro, but decline. Later in the evening, I find one that he accidentally left on the bar. So… free bracelet!
    • Finish up our drinks, then head across for dinner at I’Toscani 3
      • This place is highly rated for Florentine Steak – a special dish from Florence, both for what it is, and how it’s cooked. Florentine Steak is…
      • Have some cured meats as appetizers
      • The main meal – served on one huge wooden tray, carried by two waiters.
      • The steak is very rare and very amazing – gloriously seasoned!
      • Potatoes are the steak’s equal – supremely seasoned, seared on one side, amazing.
      • Peppers and zucchini were good… but nothing exceptional
      • Eggplant… kind of gross
      • Wine was good too
      • After the meal, once we’re done gnawing on the bones, we relax… until we hear the clinking of glasses
      • A waiter brings over bottles of Grappa – five of them total. We each pick our poison, and he pours them out… and one for himself, stating “car’s don’t run without gas!”
      • We drink, and he leaves the bottles for us to experience
    • Stumble back home, via the grocery store to get some more milk
    • Hang out and play a few rounds of Grappa Gubs before bed