GreenAroundTheGlobe - Part 9

Pedestrians Eating

by Keith on October 4, 2010 · 0 comments

Food and walking. If I was going to sum up our year traveling with the two activities we did the most of, these would be at the top of the list.  A good chunk of the walking was undertaken as a way to find the food.  So when we arrived in Portland and saw on TripAdvisor that the #1 attraction, of the 316 listed, was an epicurean walking food tour, I was in with both feet, and of course my stomach.

Getting Started
The tour, which is run by Portland Walking Tours, started at 2pm in the mezzanine lobby of the Heathman Hotel.  After Herb, our guide, gathered up the group, we headed downstairs to the first floor retail chocolate shop, Cacao, where we were each provided a sample of European-style drinking chocolate.  The drink was vaguely reminiscent of the discontinued Starbucks Chantico.  Along with the drink we were provided information by the store manager about the origins of chocolate and the different growing regions for chocolate around the world.

Oil and Vinegar Mixed Together
The second stop, while not quite as sweet, was equally tasty.  And since I have more of a savory than a sweet palate, Benessere Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars offered a great chance to sample fruity and aromatic olive oils from all regions and balsamic vinegars made from a wide variety of fruit combinations.

The silver canisters allowed for easy tasting and if you like what you sampled all you had to do was fill an empty glass bottle, cork it and bring it the register.

Pretentious Coffee
After a quick stop at the Flying Elephant Deli to sample their tremendous tomato-orange bisque, we headed over to Public Domain to have a cup ‘o joe.  This was not any old coffee though, this was a cup ‘o Esmeralda Special Mario Carnaval, the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for over $120/lb. The beans come from a coffee plant known as “Geisha” that originated in Ethiopia in the 1930’s, with some of the seeds making their way over to Panama in the 1960’s. But it wasn’t until Daniel Peterson took over La Hacienda in 1996 that the beans were segregated from the rest of the plants on the farm.  My final verdict on the coffee was that it was okay, nowhere near worth the price tag, and while I appreciate people that take their food seriously, the pretension at Public Domain was way over the top for me.  Check out how serious the barista is.

Good Beer World HQ
The tour then wound its way from a spice shop to a Greek food truck, and then to my most anticipated stop: the Tap Room.  There we had 4oz samples of 3 delicious local beers.  I was very much looking forward to the micro-brews in Portland, because in 2008, Portland had 30 microbreweries located within the city limits, more than any city in the world.  That’s right, I was in the good beer capital of the WORLD!   Doesn’t get much better than that.

Culinary Communism
Despite being rather full and having just enjoyed a couple of very tasty beers, we still had three more stops.  The first was a sandwich shop in Chinatown for a traditional cubano of sliced pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.  Perhaps communism is the cultural connection?  No time to solve that riddle – we were off to the next stop at the Oyster Bar for a small but sweet Tillamook oyster on the half shell.

Sweet Ending
And finally the tour drew to a close with a sweet ending at VooDoo Donuts, home of the Bacon Maple Bar, which is a raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and 2 slices of bacon on top!  While we sadly did not get to try one, our dozen sampler did offer a good variety of the unique combinations that has made VooDoo famous.

In Summary
I highly recommend this tour if you are in Portland and have any interest in food.  There is a reason they are #1 on TripAdvisor.  The tour was jammed packed with 10 stops in all.  Each one offered a great taste of the cuisine that makes Portland so special.  And our guide was humorous, had a genuine passion for his hometown and regularly went out of his way to make sure all of the guests had a great experience.


Butchart Gardens

by Amy on September 30, 2010 · 0 comments

The sky might have been cloudy and gray, but the explosion of riotous color that surrounded us more than made up for the weather.  What was once a limestone quarry is now a bounty of beauty as flowers of every color bloom on 55 acres just outside of Victoria, British Columbia.  We timed our visit pretty close to perfectly during the first week of August, as almost every type of plant bloomed in shades of pink, violet, orange and yellow.  After a rainy morning that chased away the crowds, the sky brightened just enough for us to spend a few hours in this incredible garden. Beautiful landscapes, meandering pathways and charming waterfalls fill the gardens. But really, that’s all I can say.  The rest you’ll have to see for yourself.


Fun-filled Victoria, B.C.

by Keith on September 27, 2010 · 8 comments

Victoria, British Columbia was a 4-day stop filled with great friends, delicious sustainable food, mountain biking and beers.

The City of Victoria
Our friends, Gillian and Jason from One-Giant-Step, were gracious enough to put Amy and I up for our visit to their city.   After taking a very luxurious ferry that included free wifi over from the mainland, we arrived on Vancouver Island and made our way south to the beautiful city of Victoria.

The Parliament building made for a picturesque back-drop as we enjoyed our delicious lunch of fish tacones from Red Fish Blue Fish, a 100% sustainable, Ocean Wise* seafood restaurant.

Mountain Biking
When Gillian told me that we were going to go cross-country mountain biking at an active landfill I was intrigued.  The Mount Work – Hartland Park, aka “The Dump” is a reclaimed landfill that has been turned into an extensive mountain bike park.  The trails are mix of difficulty and heading uphill as we started gave me a great refresher on the basics, like keeping my weight forward, my pedal RPMs up and trusting the bike’s suspension for minor bumps.

After Jason coached me back to a moderate level of self-confidence on the bike, I was ready to tackle the downhill at some speed.  Gillian was even able to catch a picture of me with a big smile on my face.

Our time in Victoria was amazing and that was due in large part to the wonderful hospitality that Gillian and Jason showed to us.   Connecting with other bloggers as we traveled continues to be one of the best aspects of the trip.

*Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program, created to help restaurants and their customers make environmentally friendly seafood choices. The Ocean Wise label on a menu item assures you that item is a good choice for our oceans.  British Columbia is known for its fresh, high quality seafood and Red Fish Blue Fish is proud to serve exclusively Ocean Wise seafood.  For more information on Ocean Wise, visit the site at