But let's start with start with leaving all my friends behind on Thursday. We had a terrific final pre-Christmas Pub Run in the darkness of early evening. To celebrate all together, we stayed at Infiniti and drank and ate to our hearts content. We ordered the fries with chipolte aoli (oh so perfectly fried and absolutely delicious), the roasted pumpkin and hazelnut hummus with grilled Parmesan flatbread (excellent!), and half a goat cheese salad (with mixed greens, roasted golden beets, goat cheese, blood orange-sage vinaigrette and candied hazelnuts). The rest of the table ordered the mussels, more fries and beers galore! I had my favorite Urban Farm Fermentory ginger kombucha.
Friday brought work and making more handmade Raven's Nest pasta with veggies and incredible pre-made sauce from the best Italian restaurant in Portland: Paciarino. If you just need something to-go, they have fresh-made pasta, ravioli and sauces in a freezer. I chose my (and apparently their) favorite sauce of creamy garlic and walnut to bless our pasta dish.
Saturday was work time and Shannon and I found a terrific pile of scat that was full of apples from our orchard and left by a coyote. Don't judge, scat is cool. Our program theme of the day was "why is it dark when I'm eating dinner?" We had three kids. But quality is always better than quantity and it was a good time! Celebrating the winter solstice is great because it means that the days will (eventually) be light in the evening once again! Coming home to a dark apartment at 4pm is not my idea of a good time...
Sunday was jam-packed day. It started with a tree. Though the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree took a little longer than previously thought, it was all worth it. After setting the chosen flora up with the help of some cute dogs, I went to work and sold a lot of pre-Christmas stuff. That evening I dropped off my cat with a work friend so that he wouldn't have to make the long plane trip home with me. I later went home to an empty apartment and ate a damn tasty bowl of sweet potato soup with veggies, turkey and quinoa.
Monday was supposed to be my travel day. I chilled out until my supposed fligh at 3pm. After getting to the airport, getting on a plane and expecting to leave, we were pulled off the plane and needed to change my flight to the next day. To aid my sadness of not seeing my family on the planned day, I took myself to dinner at Empire. This place has been the subject of a post or two before but I tried something new: their spring rolls. I will be getting these time and again now as they are perfectly fried with Brussels sprouts and red cabbage inside and served with incredible dipping sauce, which also just so happens to pair with their steamed buns, pork with rice and more.
The next morning, dark and early, I boarded a flight to Chicago on my way to Texas. This was a wonderful twist of fate because I was able to get my favorite popcorn mix from Garrett Popcorn in the airport (I was originally flying through Newark). My good friend Cate turned me on to this stuff a couple years ago and I have to say, it's like crack!! Think of the most incredible cheddar popcorn and mix it with the best caramel corn you've ever eaten. And that's exactly what Garrett popcorn is. Add a smoothie and oatmeal from Jamba Juice, plus four hours of waiting and that completed my Chicago airport experience.
I finally arrived home and was picked up by my dad!! We went straight to my sister's house to see my handsome nephew and later ate a "welcome home" dinner of stir fried veggies, chicken with rice with the greatest teriyaki sauce, made by my sister. And today, Christmas Eve, I sit here writing next to my nephew, who is babbling sweetly to the cat and playing with my phone as I eat an incredibly freshly-made tortilla, courtesy of my brother-in-law. What could be better on this un-Christmas colored Texas day?