I was in Portland to visit friends, and knew that were a few things that I wanted to do on this visit that I hadn’t been able to do on previous visits, and that was eat good Donuts (or as we spell it in England, Doughnuts) and go to the Japanese Gardens and the International Rose Test Gardens.
Now, when is comes to Donuts in Portland, I think most people immediately think of Voodoo Donuts, and on a previous trip we had tried to visit one of the two Voodoo locations, but the line had been so long that we decided we didn’t want to wait all that time. But since then I had read about another Portland Donut shop, Blue Star, that was comparable and has more locations so makes it easier to actually purchase the donuts! My friend isn’t much of a donut eater, but I talked her into it and off we went to try out the Blue Star Donuts Shop in Hawthorne, a SE neighborhood of Portland.
I loved the feel of the place as soon as we walked in, bright and airy, clean and open and of course some amazing looking donuts right in front of me!
They us all organic ingredients and they use a classic brioche recipe that originates from the south of France. Apparently the dough takes 18 hours to make and is made everyday by hand.
They have some interesting and creative flavours, I was really tempted by a Cointreau Crème Brulee flavour, but ultimately went for Maple Bacon that often wins me over because I just love bacon. My friend Linda tried the Valrhona Chocolate Crunch, which had Vanilla pudding in the middle topped with French chocolate and crunchy chocolate balls. We sat at the window counter and had a cup of tea (coffee was also available, but us Brits tend to drink tea) while we devoured our donuts which we both agreed were excellent. I think I can safely say mine was the best Maple Bacon donut I have ever eaten. I took note that Blue Star has a shop at the Portland Airport, before you go through security, so I mentally made a plan to stop there on my way through!
I had heard that the Portland Japanese Garden is one of the finest Japanese gardens outside of Japan, and having visited I would now heartily agree! I really did feel like I was back in Japan!
The gardens are located in Washington Park which is in the west hills of Portland.
They were designed in 1963 and consist of about 12 acres with different garden styles including an authentic Japanese Tea House.
There are many meandering streams, intimate walkways and carpets of beautiful green moss. We spent nearly 2 hours wandering along all the different pathways, exploring and I loved the contrast of the Japanese red maples against the lush greenery of everything else. The Iris weren’t blooming yet, but we did see some Azalea’s in flower.
From the Japanese Garden, we crossed over the road heading towards the International Rose Test Garden. On the way we passed tennis courts, which attract my attention anyway as a tennis player, but these particular courts were surrounded by roses, almost as a way of introduction to the Rose garden!
After passing the courts, it’s just down a flight of steps and you are enveloped in the Rose Garden, and being there in mid June, it was in full bloom.
The garden was established in 1917 and covers about 4.5 acres. There are over 10,000 rose plantings which covers over 600 varieties. The blooms were prolific and it was so colourful to wander the isles of the garden – too beautiful for words.
It was no surprise to see a number of artists working in the gardens, some sketching, others actually working on paintings.
After all this garden enjoyment, we were getting hungry, so decided to finish our day by having dinner at my friends favourite Indian Restaurant in Portland, East India Co. The restaurant had a really nice ambience and the food was excellent, so it was the perfect end to our day.
Date of visit. 14th June, 2017.