Monday, December 26, 2011

Natural Celebratory Dinner

Natural Selection Sandwich Board

One dark December night we walked up to a neighborhood restaurant to celebrate belated and soon-to-be birthdays. With the overindulgent holidays upon us we were looking forward to an all vegetarian dinner at vegetarian/vegan restaurant Natural Selection. We were not disappointed, in fact we were so impressed that we plan to visit the restaurant each season to get our fill of expertly and innovatively prepared seasonal vegetables.

Natural Selection Chef Aaron Woo built his restaurant around "vegetables, fruit and grains served in a warm European-style setting, the menu combines both rustic and modern cooking techniques while highlighting the favors of France, Italy and Spain."

Natural Selection Restaurant

Natural Selection Window

The restaurant was festive, cozy and did have the warm European feel expressed on the website.

Natural Selection Decor

Natural Selection Cozy Dining Room

Natural Selection Cozy Atmosphere

We easily settled into Natural Selection's cozy dining room, ready to dig into the prix fix seasonal menu.

Natural Selection Dinner Menu

Natural Selection makes it easy with only 2 prix fix menus to choose from. Items can be ordered a la carte as well. We ordered a couple great cocktails and the 2 prix fix dinners in order to sample everything. Shortly after placing an order an amuse bouche of red pepper draped polenta bite arrived.

Natural Selection Amuse Bouche

Soon our first course arrived. A delicious sweet hubbard squash soup and roasted maitake mushrooms. The soup was your basic creamy squash soup, but punched up a notch with the addition of cubed chunky squash to add some texture to the soup. The maitake mushrooms were smokey, silky smooth and crunchy all at the same time; paired with creamy potatoes, the dish was the ultimate in earthy flavors.

Natural Selection Course 1

The next course was the salad course with a golden beet & endive salad and a brussel sprout & sunchoke salad. The beet salad was sweet from the beets and sliced figs, tart and bitter from the apples and endive greens. Crisp and bright. The brussel sprouts were shredded thin and matched the earthy flavors of the sunchokes. The grapefruit added a tart cold flavor to liven up the dish.

Natural Selection Course 2

The main entrees were a ceppo pasta with arugula (with pumpkin, apple, and brussel sprouts) and a lentil & potato stew (with delicata squash, romanesca, peppers and almonds. The pumpkin blended beautifully with the ceppo pasta, apple and brussel sprouts, a total standout. The beautifully presented lentil stew was very unstew like and completely delicious. The stew was served in and around a small cored delicata squash that was cooked perfectly and easy to cut into.

Natural Selection Course 3

The final and fourth course was the dessert course consisting of a fruit crumble and spiced pumpkin cake. Like the other 3 courses, the desserts were fantastic. Perfectly portioned and not too sweet, a great way to end our delicious vegetarian/vegan celebratory dinner.

Natural Selection Course 4

Natural Selection is definitely worthy of a celebratory dinner. Slow paced and laid-back our dinner service matched the deliberate nature of Natural Selection's food. We thoroughly enjoyed the timed meal perfect for a cozy celebration with friends. We entertained ourselved inbetween each meal with palate cleaners and watching the small open kitchen casually pump out each plate.

Natural Selection Open Kitchen

Even the bar area was tiny and efficient, doubling as the wait and credit card station.

Rolling Cart Wait Station and Bar

We really enjoyed everything about Natural Selection and can't wait to head back in the early spring to find out what they do with young asparagus and spring greens.

Best Seat in the House

Friday, December 23, 2011

Spending Holiday Time Together

Walking Up the Broadway Bridge

We finished all our holiday shopping and to dos early this year. We even decorated the house more than usual and found ourselves with plenty of time to just sit and enjoy the holidays with our friends before the big heavy family Christmas weekend.

The weather has been very cold and damp so we decided to keep our bicycles locked up on the weekends and walk to all our festive gatherings. We knew walking meant we could have extra cookies and holiday drinks, what we didn't realize was how much we would enjoy these long strolls together. It has been the best part of the holidays this year, so we thought we'd share some of what we saw on our walks. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Downtown's Waterfront Condos

Downtown and the north waterfront

New Mark Theater Building

Public Art at the Base of the Steel Bridge

Steel Bridge and the Convention Center

Downtown Portland Sign

Homes off Russell Street

Winter Sidewalk

Lighted Outdoor Tree

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Settling Into The Holidays

Christmas Cafe Decorations

Christmas is this Sunday! Eeeeekkkkk! All our gifts were wrapped and mailed last week! And the last thing we had to do was finish our cards! Since the sun was out we walked down to an espresso shop to knock them out. Something about being forced to send holiday cheer through the mail gives us the worse case of brain freeze!

So 2 macchiatos and a mango chutney panini later we had written out our cheer - signed, stamped and soon to be delivered. After we walked up the street to drop the cards off at the late pick-up post box, we felt almost giddy knowing we had a whole week to enjoy holiday cheer in the form of cookies, holiday cocktails, festive candlelights and spending the dark evenings soaking up the best of the holidays with everything on our "to do list" crossed off! Happy Holidays Everyone!

Holiday Card Writing

Cafe Window

Cafe Doorway

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Solstice Week

Late Fall Full Moon

Happy Solistice Week Everyone! It's been a long hard 6 weeks since day lights savings and we're almost to the end! Hang in there and enjoy the darkness!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Most Powerful Images of 2011


We are very visual people. Which would explaining having a blog. As the year is ending the 2011's list of top this or that are appearing everywhere and we wanted to share with you BuzzFeed's Most Powerful Images of 2011.

The image above is from the Occupy Portland Protest.

Makes us think about what images we'll capture and be captured in 2012.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Astoria, Oregon Wedding Weekend

Big Pink Moon Over the Boats

We headed out of town for a very special wedding in Astoria, Oregon. All these years if we needed a little beach/Pacific Ocean fix we would head south, not north to where the mighty Columbia River dumps into the Pacific Ocean. We were pleasantly surprised at how quaint, hip and interesting Astoria, Oregon is.

We arrived and checked into the centrally located and cute Commodore Hotel before heading down the street to the pier to take in the sunset over the Columbia River bay dotted with large freight ships.

PierBuildings Along the Front Pier AreaView of Commodore SignCommodore Hallway
Commodore Hotel Lobby ElevatorsShared Bathroom HallwayCommodore Hotel Room
Modern Hotel Room FurnitureiPod Docking StationLight FixtureAstoria Bridge and Baked Alaska RestaurantAstoria-Warrenton Bridge at SunsetBaked Alaska Restaurant

After a lovely rehearsal dinner we headed out to lounge at one of the many divey bars in the main town area. We were surprised at how young the residence of Astoria are - what do you all do in this town and in the winter no less. Maybe hang out at the VooDoo Lounge?

VooDoo Lounge

The day of the wedding we started with a fantastic espresso from the 14th Street Coffee Shop conveniently connected to the hotel lobby.

14th Street Coffee Shop

We needed to make sure we had plenty of food in our system so we walked up one Astoria's steep streets to Blue Scorcher Bakery for some breakfast, another great local business tucked conveniently in the main part of town. We got a terrific breakfast burrito and watched them frost the wedding cake.

Blue Scorcher BakeryDining Area of Blue Scorcher BakeryFrosting the Wedding Cake - Blue Scorcher Bakery

They also had one of the best magazine selections we have ever seen in a bakery/cafe.

Cafe Reading Material

As we walked back to the hotel to get ready for the big day, the City of Astoria was up and roaring in celebration of Veteran's Day.

12th Street Band

The wedding was short and sweet; the reception was fun meeting friends and family we had only heard stories of and reconnecting with friends we've known, but not seen in years. Before ending the night at the VooDoo Lounge with a personalized tour of the theater connected to the bar.

Leaving the ChurchChris & The Mike & Kevin
Lounging In the Theater