When most people think of Portland, they think of hearty gastronomy – thick, juicy chicken wings from Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok (which is now also located in New York), decadent donuts from Voodoo Donuts, with over 20 flavors of donuts ranging from Maple Bacon to The Loop, which is a donut encrusted with fruit loops. Or how about the over 600 food carts that take up residence on the streets of Portland, serving up quick and easy food on the go. No, healthy living is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Portland!
Well, if you have been reading my column for a while, you should know I am always on the lookout for all things – food, makeup, exercise- focusing on health and fitness. Recently, my husband and I stayed in Portland during the Christmas holiday. It was my mission to stay healthy and grounded during this first Christmas we are spending outside of good old New Jersey.
While most hotels are centered around Pioneer Square, we took a chance and opted to stay at Hotel deLuxe, which is located further away from the main downtown. Hotel deLuxe celebrates the Golden Age of American cinema with vintage-inspired Art-Deco and Hollywood Modern design. Displayed in the corridors of the hotel’s 130 guestrooms are nearly 400 behind the scenes photographs, film stills and studio shots from Hollywood films from the 1930s to the 1950s. It was certainly an experience to see close up photographs of Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Charles Chaplin and more!
Hotel deLuxe’s restaurant, Gracie’s serves farm to table cuisine in a glamourous dining room reminiscent of being in an old Hollywood movie theatre. The food was amazing that I found it easy to stay on my path of being healthy during the holidays. After running on the treadmill at the 24-hour gym, I would head down for breakfast, ordering a big Crab and Avocado salad. The greatest thing was that Gracie’s served salads all day while most restaurants only do eggs and heavy dishes like French toast and pancakes at breakfast.
While coffee is around every corner in Portland, Hotel deLuxe holds an Afternoon Tea, which adheres to the English tradition of custom-blended teas, hand-crafted delicacies and tea-infused cocktails. This event is typically held Thursday – Sunday. During the holiday season, the custom-blended black and green teas that Portland’s Smith Teamaker created exclusively for the hotel also presented 2 signature 2016 holiday teas to round out the roster of 11 exotic blends. These two seasonal holiday blends include Silent Night, best described as a candy cane in a cup, and Morning Light, a festive black tea with hints of Darjeeling and Northwest Douglas fir needles.
Additionally, during Holiday Afternoon Tea, small, delicate tea sandwiches inspired by traditional recipes were served -Tomato Twiddle – a blend of chopped tomatoes, cheddar and onion – as well as ham and English mustard and cucumber with watercress; warm house-made scones served with clotted cream and house-preserves; warm savory tartlets; and dainty house-made pastries like orange-pistachio meringue and iced gingerbread. These bites were small and filling – keeping in line with the mantra to stay healthy and not overindulge.
Next stop was Löyly Southeast, a Scandinavian-style sauna retreat. According to their website,
Löyly is the Finnish word for the steam that envelopes you when water is thrown on the hot sauna rocks. This steam is essential to the sauna experience, its soft heat warming the body and relaxing the mind. In the Finnish tradition, the sauna is a place where everyone is equal and you “leave your worries with your shoes.”
And relaxing it was! Unlike typical American saunas, the heat inside the steam room and sauna was blazing! This is thought for a better detoxification of the body, though one must be very careful to drink lots of water and keep hydrated. There are additional services such as massage, facials and foot soaks. I have been coming here for years every time I am on this side of the U.S. Such a treat- I left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Dinner in Portland at many restaurants center around meat and farm to table. Farm to table is nice, but it is a bit challenging when a lot of the dishes are very meat-centric. That being said, there are also several popular restaurants serving healthy dishes. One of my absolute favorites is Tusk. Tusk focuses on Middle Eastern cuisine with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. The vegetables in the salads are absolutely vibrant and fresh. Many of the plates are small dishes meant to be shared. Reservations are highly recommended and we had ours booked a month in advance.
This was definitely not your typical holiday, but it goes to show that even while travelling, you can stay healthy and fitness focused.