During Camp Mom, soaking up summer vibes in the Pacific Northwest

12:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 25, 2017 Austin360 Eats
Pine State Biscuit is a breakfast and lunch restaurant with two Portland locations. We stopped by the one on Alberta Street for the last fried chicken biscuit of the day. Addie Broyles/American-Statesman

I’ll be dreaming about that grapefruit radler by a creek in the Mount Hood National Forest for weeks.

There I am, sipping on a shandy in the shade, and my kids are playing in the stream by some waterfalls. They are slathered in sunscreen borrowed from another family hanging out at this enchanted waterway under a bridge. We have just hiked a mile and a half along a fern-lined trail with soaring trees above.

It was worth every step, they said on the way back to the car. For two weeks, we’ve been taking steps in every direction up here in the Pacific Northwest — first in Portland, Ore., then Boise, Idaho, where my sister lives.

Camp Mom, I’m calling it: We pick backyard raspberries and go on adventures and eat pizza next to a snow-covered mountaintop. (Tip: Order a pizza to go from the Blue Ox Bar at the Timberline Lodge on the south side of Mount Hood and then enjoy it on the large patio facing the peak or the smaller one overlooking the vast landscape below.)

We ventured to the coast for fish and chips and clam chowder and sought out the hippest neighborhoods for fried chicken biscuit sandwiches. The kids have already tried more food than they would in a month, declared every city park their favorite and soaked up that Pacific coastal mist.

A highlight has been Pine Street Market, where we enjoyed three meals. Portland’s first indoor food court opened last year in the historic Carriage & Baggage Building, a skylit livery dating to 1886. You’ll find everything from burgers and espresso to ramen and bibimbap, with a little Salt & Straw ice cream and Spanish bodega thrown in. Oh, and a juice bar and a “frankfurter test kitchen” from Olympia Provisions.

It’s a busy space glimmering with culinary delights. My son Julian ordered the ramen from Marukin, a Japanese chain with nine locations abroad and only a couple in the U.S. My youngest got pizza from Trifecta Annex, whose owner Ken Forkish has several bread cookbooks for sale next to the breads behind the counter.

I sipped on a sake and munched on a happy hour chicken karaage from Marukin while we refueled after a long day of walking around downtown. Later, my friend Erin met us for the most amazing rotisserie chicken with aioli and romesco sauce from Pollo Bravo.

Spanish food was a major food theme of this trip: On a night when I had a break from hosting Camp Mom, my friends and I set out on a tapas trail, hopping from restaurant to restaurant in Portland, eating as Spanish as we could in honor of our time as roommates together in Spain.

Taqueria Nueve, St. Jack and Ataula served us well in our efforts to drink lots of red wine and gin and tonics and eat patatas bravas, croquetas, pulpo and chicken mousse.

Two years ago, I went on my own summer camp of sorts, a solo trip back to my college hometown in Spain. I sat next to a creek not unlike the one in the Oregon forest, soaking up that same feeling of amazement that my kids got to experience this time around.

One day, I’ll take my kids all the way to Spain, but for now, visiting my former roommates in a place where we could eat any kind of food we imagined and see natural beauty a screen couldn’t replicate was a rewarding experience — my kind of summer camp.

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