You know you like a place a lot when, every time you go out to eat, you immediately put it at the top of your list of options. Or when someone asks for recommendations and it is your first suggestion. Dame has quickly become this for me. There are sensible reasons: it is a pleasant 25-minute walk or 5-minute drive from my house, they cook highly seasonal food, and have a great wine list. But then there are those reasons you can’t really put into words, it’s more of a feeling.
Brunch in Portland is an event. Choosing a place, deciding whether the wait is worth it, picking a dish off the often expansive menus. So I always appreciate finding restaurants that aren’t packed and have smaller menus where every dish looks like a star.
Such was the case when, on a sunny Sunday, Jonah and I decided to walk to Expatriate. Usually a bumping late night cocktail spot with Asian-influenced small plates, the vibe is a bit more laid back during their weekend brunch. For just four hours on Saturdays and Sundays you can start your day with what was, in my opinion, one of the tastiest and most unique brunches I’d had in quite some time. There was no huge laminated menu, just seven dishes whose descriptions all made my mouth water.
The show-stealer for me were the the hash browns, “covered and smothered” in pho sour cream, cheddar, aromatics, thinly sliced eye of round (like every good bowl of pho), and hoisin tamarind sauce. These were crispy, saucy, and packed with flavor, so much so that I had a hard time sharing! But splitting dishes was worth it because the rice waffle and hot fried chicken strips were easily the best variation of the now-ubiquitous dish. The rice waffle was exactly how I like my waffles: airy and crispy and not too sweet, and it went perfectly with the lightly spicy chicken. The honey and chili butter swirled together, melting in the pockets of the waffle and perfectly smothering the chicken.
I may be biased, but between the Asian-inspired dishes, the proximity to my house, and the somehow-secret status of this brunch, I will most certainly be back for Expatriate’s brunch.
- It’s Portland Dining Month and WHOA are there a lot of good options. I hit up Urdaneta last night and it was DELICIOUS. I’ll definitely be returning.
- I have been really loving Michelle’s (of Hummingbird High) writing and honesty lately, especially when it comes to representation and diversity in the culinary world. It can be a weird thing to write about serious issues amidst pictures of brownies, but I really appreciate that she’s doing it.
- Spring is starting to creep up, and it is getting me in the mood for a crunchy, refreshing bowl of vegetables. This is my favorite right now.
- Brooke is back and I couldn’t be happier. I am loving following her adventures as she launches into her boat life, and I can’t wait to read more.
- I just made this baked pasta from Smitten Kitchen to take to a friend with a new baby (because new babies mean no sleep means how do you even have the energy to feed yourself), and now I would like to make it for myself all the time please.
- Now that I’m back, I’m hitting up all my favorite places and all the new places that have opened since we’ve been gone. Wares falls into both of those categories, and we went for brunch this morning. I was not mad about it. (GET THE FRIED KALE.)
If we’re being honest, I am a homebody. I like having a home base, a place I can return to that is comfortable, a little oasis, a space that is mine. I like to know where my belongings are, to sleep in my own bed, to light candles in the evenings, to cook dinner. When I don’t have that I feel… off. I feel like my footing is uncertain and that, even if I know where I’m sleeping that night and even if I have a room that is “mine,” it might not last.
Jonah and I moved out of our house a month ago, and we are now floating around until we leave for Thailand in two weeks. What does floating around mean? It means we are “living” in our dear friends’ guest room, stowing boxes in their crawl space. In the past month we have been to NYC, Chicago, Seattle, and McCall, ID. I have had a total of 9 nights in my own bed, and for someone who is a homebody, that’s a challenge.
I suppose I’m writing this partially to begin the transition of this blog. Over the next seven months or so, I’m not quite sure what this space will become. As I live abroad, I know I’ll want to write. But I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to, or about what. I assume I’ll want to tell you about the food I’m eating, the adventures I’m going on. But it also may become more of a journal than it has been in the past, since I know that this trip is going to challenge me in a lot of ways and I’ll need an outlet for that. I hope that’s ok with you.
So, the itinerary as it currently stands:
On October 4th we fly from Seattle to Bangkok, where we’ll spend three days getting our feet under us again before heading to Ko Lanta, an island off the southwest coast of Thailand. We’ll spend about ten days there before heading north to Chiang Mai where we’ll meet friends, rent an apartment, and live our lives for another two months. In mid-December we fly to Germany, where we’ll spend a few days with friends before heading to Stuttgart to be with Jonah’s extended family for Christmas, and then around New Year’s we’ll head to Portugal. The plan is for Portugal to be our home base for about four months, but we’ll travel from there, hopefully to visit friends in London, the Netherlands, and Morocco. I’m also crossing my fingers for a stop in Iceland on our way back to the U.S.
It sounds like a lot – a lot of places, a lot of time. But truthfully, I know it will fly by. Or at least that’s what everyone is telling me. Let the countdown to departure begin: 2 weeks.