Chocolate first, then Tea…

I may not dream in chocolate, but I certainly have my cravings.  I did a little research for you this week to bring the possibilities of a chocolate tour to your mind.  My girlfriend Patty and I do have to warn you though, we did a tour of a lovely chocolate factory (The Candy Basket) and were full by the time we left.  The factory gave us sweet samples the whole way through and we felt like chocolate covered jelly sticks ourselves on the way out.

Chocolate festivals through the year:
January
Portland, Oregon Forestry Center Benefit at the Convention Center; Chocolate Fest  Bloomington, Indiana; Week of Chocolate
February

Morehead City, North Carolina benefit including a chocolate spa day, Friday golf and formal dinner, Saturday afternoon spa and casual, formal art and wine and a dinner Saturday night; Carolina Chocolate Festival
Glendale, Arizona Glendale Chocolate Affaire casual street faire combined with a Romance Writers workshop
March

Ashland, Oregon Ashland Springs Hotel Oregon Chocolate Festival 35 chocolate companies compete in a juried competition
Fairfax, Virginia  Chocolate Lovers Festival casual, with juried amature and professional competition benefits children’s food program
Dallas/Ft.Worth Chocolatefest benefit for Traveler’s Aid Formal on Friday evening (wine and art also a focus of this event) casual on Saturday
April
Washington, Kentucky casual festival Chocolate Festival
May
San Diego, California Botanical Gardens has a Chocolate Festival right before Mother’s Day with crafts for children to make and tastings for mothers.
June
Winter Park Resort in Colorado has an open admission to their Chocolate Festival with tickets for individual tastings.
July

August
Melbourne, Australia Chocolate Rush brings consumers in touch with innovations in the industry.
September
San Francisco, California Ghiradelli Chocolate Festival square benefit for Open Hand Saturday and Sunday casual demonstrations all day with special tea menu
October
Paris Salon du Chocolat an exhibition and show devoted entirely to chocolate art in all forms.
Vancouver, Canada hosts a month long series of events for chocolate lovers with their West Coast Chocolate Festival
November
Orange County, California O.C. Chocolate Festival  wine tasting, holiday shopping, chocolate fashion show, and raffle to benefit a local charity.
December

Chocolate craft studio also has chocolate kits if you can’t leave home.

Eating out

We took a much needed break last weekend. (We have many friends and relations to thank for it too…) While away, we again tested several restaurants for you.

We started at MintIt was Friday night, we were exhausted and the lighting was very low, so I didn’t even attempt pictures. However, I will tell you what was good. Dh had the signature spicy ceasar chicken salad and their soup of the day which was a spicy Thai soup. It was just what the doctor ordered and he came away happy. The chicken was tender, flavorful and as good as the picture on their website.

I had the grilled peach salad, arugula, goat cheese with blackberry vinaigrette. It was amazing. They brought it at the same time as my entree, but I didn’t want to mix the tastes because the salad was so well balanced. The goat cheese was soft, smooth, and mild, a perfect balance to the light bite of the arugula and blackberries. My entree was the roasted duck breast with mushroom wild rice and black cherry sauce. The duck breast managed to rise above a heavy liver flavor that they can sometimes fall prey to.  However, it was tough, and I had to ask for a steak knife.  The mushroom wild rice was perfect, but the cherry sauce had been over cooked and lost it’s brightness.  I kept hoping one of the cherries would be good, but alas, they were all the same.  The salads and the mushroom wild rice achieved greatness.

Pearl Bakery was: busy and as good as always. Dh had a ham and cheese croissant and an almond croissant. I had the irish soda bread and a raisin roll. The irish soda bread was a bit salty and heavy, but lovely with their fresh raspberry jam. We shared an organic Columbia Gorge orange juice that was just as good as fresh squeezed. We gave the oj 4.5 stars.

Escape from New York filled our thin crust, perfect sauce, pizza craving.  On Saturday we had dinner with friends at Lincoln. The company was as lovely as the food, an altogether delightful evening.

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escape

Twice a year we escape to downtown without the munchkins in tow. We eat, read books, shop, see a show, sleep, and hopefully start over.  Here are some highlights from our escapades.

Eat.

Croissant_villaggioPazzo_saladFresh

We brought the blackberries to match with the croissants from Villaggio. Wonderful late night salad at Pazzo’s. Fresh orange juice at Lucy’s Table.

Read.

Book3Book5Book2Book4

and read

Book6Book7Book8Book9

(I do understand that this isn’t the typical vacation reading for most people…)

Shop (window and otherwise).

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Window shopping at Coco and Toulouse as they are never open when I’m there. Beautiful fabrics from a cute new shop near me called Aunt Tam’s. I’ll have more photos from them later for you. Also, the elusive anthropologie.

Show. Julie and Julia. Recommended for adults. Lovely.

 

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Portland Bakeries

I think it’s only right to start a review of Portland bakeries with those close to the heart of downtown Portland.  If you know Portland well, you know that the real heart of Portland pumps coffee and ink.  The Left aorta is Powell’s bookstore.  There is a coffee shop in Powells, but to get the real deal for a bakery, dh says you must bake bread.  The closest bread bakery is right behind Powell’s Technical Bookstore, just up the street in the Pearl district.

Pearl Bakery carries my favorite drink, San Pellegrino lime or Limonata, fresh local organic orange juice, and makes any kind of coffee or espresso drink you like.  They also make a good chai.

Dh ordered the ham sandwich, croissant and o.j. , I ordered the turkey and a few pastries to go.  They were all fresh and scrumptious.  I would like to see a fresh tomato on my sandwich though.  I think it had sundried tomatoes with olive oil, which was good, but I love a homegrown tomato.

The apple cranberry tart was amazing to me, but dh said it had too much bite.  He likes his apples sweet, I like a counterpoint.  We both enjoyed the croissant, but then, who can resist a flakey, fresh baked croissant?!  (He said I would need to get my own next time.)  See the chocolate brownie in the last photo? I didn’t eat it until later.  I actually did a horrible thing and left it in the oven too long at home while rewarming it.  (I was aghast!  Heart broken! Burn chocolate?!!)

Are you hungry yet?

 

 

 

 

 

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