I had intended this post to publish last week with the idea that I could write it on our Spring Break road trip. We were planning a trip to Portland and Seattle and I figured I’d have about 18 hours of time, a little less maybe because I would be driving some of the time, but still enough to get down a post.
The days leading up to our departure were busy for me. I had an event 2 days before we were headed out and a busy week before that. I had no time to pen a post. Trying not to skip a week, I decided to hurriedly edit my photos and upload them to WordPress, at least they would be accessible to me once I got a chance to start writing.
So, yes, you can see all that went really smoothly. The only thing I managed to do on our long drive was to write up the recipe. As for the rest of the writing, I was way too distracted by all the beautiful and changing scenery on our trip to get very far.
This was my first time driving to the other side of The Rockies, and to Portland and Seattle. The change in terrain, the mountains, the geology, all of it was just incredible. Oregon and Washington are absolutely breathtaking States. The changing landscapes, their lushness, the greenery there is beautiful, and of course, the Pacific Ocean. Colorado is still pretty grey and wintery, so it was nice to life and colour! In fact we had a huge snow storm the day we were leaving and it was a complete white out as we headed out. The weather put us back a few hours as the conditions were quite horrible trying to get out of Colorado.
I couldn’t believe all the green and lushness once we entered Oregon, it felt downright tropical! The spring flowers were blooming full force; the daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, tulips and all the cherry blossoms. The weather was rainy but not cold, so it was really pleasant.
This was really a quick whirlwind tour. I didn’t want to spend all my vacation time out of the house, so we did 2 days in Portland and 2 days in Seattle. It was just the right amount of time. We got a chance to spend a few hours in Salt Lake City and visit the Great Salt Lake. All I can say is that Salt Lake City is an incredibly, beautiful city. It is nestled in the mountains and the views are just amazing. The city itself is spotless. I have never seen a more well kept, clean, organised downtown than Salt Lake City. I was also really impressed at all the churches and temples there, such absolutely, beautiful architecture. The Mormon Temple and the Temple Square left me quite speechless and there is a Catholic cathedral that is a sight in its own right.
One of my ulterior motives to wanting to visit Portland and Seattle (besides Grey’s Anatomy) is coffee, of course. I wanted to try the coffee scene that started it all. I would’ve hit up so many more places if I didn’t have the kids along! I managed 3 in Portland, 4 in Seattle (none which were Starbucks…yuck) and one in Salt Lake City.
I’ll talk about the coffee and the places I visited in my next post, but let me say this, there’s no need for me to leave Denver for coffee. From what I tried, we are doing a great job right here in Colorado with our local coffee scene and we have some amazing coffee roasters right here in our back yard. I won’t be rushing off on a coffee tour again anytime soon.
In Portland we spend time in their downtown area which is by far the liveliest one I’ve seen! Restaurants galore, China Town, shopping, theatres and the water front; a lot goes on there. We shopped a little (they have a Doc Marten store, Denver doesn’t), tried a couple of restaurants and walked the water front. The next day we headed to the coast and stopped by Tillamook Cheese factory on the way. Of course, we couldn’t go to a cheese factory and not eat, so after sampling cheese, we had lunch at their cafe. Grilled cheese, tomato soup and mac and cheese all around. Lunch was fantastic!
After lunch we headed to the Pacific Coast. We had promised the kids we would stop by a beach. The weather was cold, wet and incredibly windy but we went anyway. It was exhilarating; the wind, the rain and the cold, cold ocean! I did not intend to get wet but as I was busy taking photos with my daughters, a wave came up behind me and washed over my ankles and shoes. Oh was it cold! I was already wet from the rain but now my jeans were wet, as were my shoes and socks inside! After about 30 minutes we decided it was enough since the waves were getting stronger and stronger and the wind was picking up. We washed off the sand as best we could and headed back to Portland and our hotel. There is sand still everywhere in my car, memories of a fun trip I guess 🙂
In Seattle, of course, we had the obligatory stop at Pike Place Market. Wow, that place has EVERYTHING. It is a foodie, blogger, cook, chef and generally anybody who likes to eat, paradise. We ate our obligatory fish and chips, and hit up the Le Panier patisserie for some delicious French tarts. A stop at the coffee place for some cappuccino (not Starbucks) and we were set.
The next day we went to the Market again, but also did a little trip to Puget Sound, and a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. I think we walked over 10 miles in Seattle. I can’t talk about Seattle without mentioning MT Rainier. We only saw it while we were driving into Oregon because the rest of our time there, it was raining and foggy and we couldn’t see it at all. What little I saw of it on our drive, I don’t know how people in Washington and Oregon get anything done, it is mesmerising. I could not keep my eyes off of it. It looms in the distance with such grandeur and presence. I’m sad I was not able to get any better photos of it than what I got while driving but I’m glad I got those.
Anyway, so that was our trip, short and sweet with plenty of time to rest at home after. Now, it’s back to work. I still have a week or two before I have any major events so I’m throughly enjoying my time off. Poor hubby went back yesterday and he was just not in the mood. We’ll get back into our rhythm soon enough.
On to the recipe, this is another one that I promised clients I would post. It’s quite the favourite and delicious too if I do say so myself. It is Moroccan flavoured and is a take on the lemon and olive tagine. To make my life easier when feeding a crowd and also trying to demo ovens, this oven method makes it so much easier. It tastes delicious, the chicken is moist and flavourful. You can increase the broth a little to make it more stew like and to top off couscous, but I like to keep the chicken crisp on top and not submerged. It can be served with or without couscous but I usually tend to serve it with cumin roasted carrot salad and steamed parsley potatoes.
Serves: 6 servings
- 4 pounds / 2KG chicken pieces (with or without skin) or chicken thighs or boneless chicken thighs
- ½ cup mild harissa paste plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- A cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small preserved lemons, sliced
- 2 cups chicken broth or water
- ¾ cup Castelvetrano olives
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Marinate chicken with the harissa paste.
- I used a ½ cup of mild harissa. If your's is a spicy one, cut back to a few tablespoons or to your taste.
- Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, slice the onions and the preserved lemons.
- Preheat oven:
- Conventional oven: 400F/200C
- Convection oven: Convection Roast or Pure/True Convection 375F/180C
- In a large sheet pan, (18" x 15") scatter the onions evenly.
- Lay the marinated chicken over the onions.
- Scatter the chopped garlic in between the chicken pieces.
- Add the 2 cups of broth or water.
- Add 2 tablespoons of harissa, stirring into the chicken broth in between the chicken pieces.
- Drizzle the olive oil all over.
- Place in the oven and roast for 40 minutes/conventional oven or 30 minutes/convection (fan) oven.
- Take out the tray of chicken, it should be browning now, add the preserved lemons and the olives to the tray; distributing them evenly through the tray.
- Add more liquid (water or broth) if needed, there should be a a generous amount of liquid but not so much that the chicken is swimming.
- I like the chicken to brown on top with broth underneath to pour over the couscous.
- Place back in the oven and allow to brown further, another 15 minutes or till the chicken is cooked through and doesn't run pink juices when cut.
- Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
- Serve with couscous or rice on the side.
I do hope everyone who celebrates Easter had a lovely one. Our day off was quiet with a trip to see the new Batman and Superman movie followed by a thorough cleaning of my car, sand is still everywhere. We fried up some chips and had fish tacos for dinner, and lamented the end of our vacation time. Oh well.
Hope you had a lovely weekend and Spring Break if your had yours last week like we did.