Finally, it's summer time up here in The Last Frontier, which means (almost) endless daylight. With 20+ hours a day of sunshine, things get really busy, particularly because we have to pack it all in during our three months of sunshine before the imminent darkness takes over again.
Additionally, this is the easiest time for our family to travel because of my work schedule. Sooooo, this year we took a quick vacation to do a grand brewery tour through Portland, Bend, and Central Oregon. We flew into Portland and stayed in the absolute cutest AirBnB downtown. We spent two and a half days there exploring, visiting breweries, attending the Portland International Beerfest, and playing with friends. We then traveled to Bend where we continued our brewery tour, visited some wine tasting rooms, stand-up paddle boarded on the Deschutes River, walked approximately 30 miles, and overall had a grand old time.
The Portland International Beerfest was absolutely amazing. Up here, beer events are so packed it's like being in the mosh pit, the beers are all local (which are great...but not new), and there isn't much variety. The PIB took place in a gorgeous park, which allowed plenty of space for everyone! There were 230+ individual beers to try, and my oh my was there variety. For a wine girl, I don't like beers that taste like beer. I like sours, lambics, strange things, and pretty much anything that doesn't taste like college or isn't an IPA. The PIB had plenty to choose from!!! Hands down, it was the best tasting event I've ever been too.
Once we were headed to Bend, we were tipped off by a friend of mine to download the "Bend Ale Trail" app. If you check into ten breweries, you get this incredible sili-pint! How fun!
Here are all of the breweries/wineries that we went to during our stay in Oregon. I must say, it's an impressive list for being there for less than a week.
- Burnside Brewing Company
- Cascade Brewing Barrel House: All sours, which are my favorite!!!
- The Commons Brewery
- Hair of the Dog Brewing Company (We ran into Anchorage friends here!)
- Portland International Beerfest!!!
- Wild Ride Brew
- Bend Brewing Company
- Silvermoon Brewing: This place was super dive-y and in a weird part of town. I could have done without, but it was a stop on the Bend Ale Trail. I drank boxed wine.
- The Wine Shop, Bend
- Deschutes Brew Pub--Downtown: We were there for their 27th birthday on the 27th--their Golden Birthday! Super fun street party, great food, and the Mister enjoyed a tasting flight of Black Butte Porters from years 24, 25, 26, 27, and the one they bottle for distribution.
- McMenamins Old St. Francis School House: Super cute spot in an old school with a hotel in an old theater. If you and I are good friends, ask me what I have to say about McMenamins though. :)
- Naked Winery Tasting Room: My favorite stop on our tour! We bought a case of wine plus a few more bottles. Loved their Outdoor Wino bottled in a BPA-free plastic bottle to take on all of our adventures!!!
- Craft Kitchen and Brewery: We went here after stand-up paddle boarding on the Deschutes. I had a "Sweet Tea Sipper" made with sweet tea vodka, lemonade, and soda. I nearly died it was so refreshing. I also had a lime drink that had agave and some other deliciousnesses including a schoop of lime sherbet. Loved this place.
- Goodlife Brewing Company: A football field-sized garden area with lawn games for everyone.
- Worthy Brewing
- 10 Barrel Brewing Company: Great drinks, great food, great atmosphere and patio area, super terrible service.
- Oblivion Brewing Company
- Rat Hole Brewing
- This cute wine import shop in the Old Mill District: We found Uruguayan wine!!
- Riverbend Brewing Company
- Deschutes Brewery Tour
- Crux Fermentation Project: I. Am. In. Love. I could write an entire blog post (or five) devoted to Crux. In fact, I could be their publicist!!!!! They had the best beers I have ever had, which isn't saying much, but they also had the best beers the Mister has ever had too! Now that's a statement. They also had an incredible menu, a huge lawn for yard games, a taco truck that is also blog-worthy, and an ice cream food truck that blew my mind. If I had the opportunity, I would go there every single day. Every. Single. Day. Yes. That good.
- Three Creeks Brewing Company
- Stickmen Brewing Company
- Rogue Ale and Spirits (Although I am not sure this counts since it was in the airport.)
That's how we landed here with this incredibly simple, but equally tasty gnocchi with lemon chicken, ricotta, and fresh herbs. This is absolutely going to be a new go-to favorite for both quick weeknight meals, but also for food to feed friends. It's both hearty and light, tart and creamy. The gnocchi is perfectly paired with the chicken, while the lemon juice/zest and fresh herbs bring the flavor to a new level. The asparagus bring a nice crunchy element, and also a bunch of green. I really loved how light but creamy the ricotta was. It wasn't heavy at all, nor did I feel guilty (or super bloated!) after eating it like I always do after a heavy cream sauce. So good. So easy.
I can't wait to make it again! I certainly won't wait until after another whirlwind jam-packed vacation.
Gnocchi with Lemon Chicken, Ricotta, and Fresh Herbs:
- 2 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic in olive oil (or if you use fresh, 4-5 cloves)
- 1 bunch of asparagus spears, ends trimmed, then chopped into 2 inch long pieces
- olive oil
- 3 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
- the zest of one lemon
- the juice from that lemon
- 15 ounces of ricotta cheese (I used lowfat instead of part skim. In my experience, when cooking with part skim, the sauce tends to get grainy because there isn't any fat to hold it all together. Also, if you want to use less than the full 15 ounces, that is completely up to you; you just won't have as creamy of a sauce.)
- 16 ounces of gnocchi
- 2ish tablespoons each of fresh thyme and fresh rosemary, chopped into smithereens
- salt and pepper to taste
- crushed red pepper to taste
- Over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a skillet. Add the minced garlic and stir consistently for 20 seconds or so. Add the chopped asparagus. Continue stirring, ensuring that neither the garlic nor the asparagus burn. Cook until the asparagus is crisp, but not crunchy all the way through--about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add another tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add the chicken cubes. Cook until done. Strain the juices.
- While the chicken is cooking, heat a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- After draining the juices from the chicken, add the ricotta, lemon juice, lemon zest and heat over a low heat. Stir to combine.
- Add the spices, stir, then taste. Adjust if needed.
- Just as you are ready to add the gnocchi to the water, add the asparagus to the chicken and sauce, then stir to combine. **Be careful! You don't want your asparagus to start cooking again and turn into much. You just want it to get hot again.
- Add the gnocchi to the boiling water. When the gnocchi starts floating, it is done--about 3 minutes. Strain.
- Add the gnocchi to the skillet with everything else. Stir. Taste. Adjust spices if needed and make sure everything is hot.
- Garnish and serve with more fresh spices and/or crushed red pepper.