Northwest Portland Hostel Blog
Friday, June 29, 2012
It’s hard to beat summertime in Portland. Beautiful weather to explore the city and surrounding natural beauty, and plenty of free events around town. We are excited to be a part of what makes Portland so enjoyable during the summer months by hosting an impressive lineup of singer/songwriters every Tuesday in the Secret Garden.
With a the completion of a new stage, a full list of talented peformers, and plenty of volunteer hands to help, we are ready for the season. In addition to headlining acts, there are open mic slots available, so if
you’re in Portland on a Tuesday and want to show off your musical talents, stop by the hostel from 6-9pm!
German BBQ, veggie burgers, pasta salad, fresh artisan bread and home-brewed beer is available for a small fee. This event is for community members and hostellers alike so bring your friends and family!
See our website for the music schedule and artist bios.
Monday, June 11, 2012
One thing is certain. There is no beverage shortage in Portland.
Nestled between the multitude of microbreweries and coffee shops lies a sprinkling of specialty tea shops, ranging from traditional Chinese tea houses to trendy tea room-bar blends.
In Northwest Portland alone, the tea enthusiast can find at least four specialty tea shops, plus a variety of cafes with an generous selection of tea in addition to coffee.
Located on NW 23rd Avenue in the upstairs of a charming old house is Tea Chai Té. This locally owned tea room offers over 120 handcrafted tea blends, including (but definitely not limited to) chais, matés, medicinal teas, and housemade kombucha, plus bakery items and small lunch items, free wifi, games, cozy couches and chairs, and a small balcony overlooking the bustling street.
Further north is Smith Teamakers, a small tea shop with handpicked, high quality teas from around the world. The prices are reasonable, the shop is elegant, and the tea is some of the finest around. Smith Teamakers is not to be missed by tea lovers visiting Portland.
In the heart of the Pearl District lives Tea Zone and Camellia Lounge, a tea room, brunch/lunch bistro, and live music hotspot all rolled into one. This place caters to all tastes, ages and interests. From the bubble tea and vegan fare to the great happy hour menu and live music almost nightly, there’s bound to be something for everyone in the group.
Walk east toward the river and you’ll find Red Robe Tea House, a welcoming shop with a great selection of traditional Chinese teas, reasonably priced food, and a little taste of authentic Chinese tea culture in Portland’s Old Town.
Check out Yelp for more unique tea rooms in other Portland neighborhoods.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
We’re excited to announce a new program that we like to called EAT: English at the Table. In partnership with the Intensive English Language Program at Portland State University, the mission of EAT is to bring together the community of travelers passing through Portland with the community of international students studying here.
One track of IELP at Portland State University focuses on community engagement and volunteerism. The students seek out opportunities to give back to the community while being able to practice conversational English. At the hostel, the students volunteer by cooking dinner for our guests, choosing a recipe from their home country. They are then able to practice speaking while everyone eats together.
The small class of six broke into two groups of three students each. The first group, (Jung, Reina and Sylvia) made Japanese curry and rice. Before arriving at the hostel, they planned the recipe and grocery shopped for necessary ingredients. The plan was to cook for about 20 people, and it’s a good thing they did because over 15 guests joined, plus staff and the chefs!
The second group (Anderson, Yuki and Carla) made Japanese curry and rice as well. Fortunately for them, they were able to get advice from the first group, like to cook the rice first and to make sure and leave plenty of time to peel all the potatoes! It was another great turnout of 12 hungry guests for their meal, all very appreciative of the hard work that went into preparing the traditional homemade dish.
Both evenings went super well, and we’re so excited to work with them more in the near future!
Thursday, May 24, 2012
We are fortunate to have an awesome, hardworking team of interns and volunteers leading our many activities. From free hikes, walking tours, museum tours, brew pub crawls and art walks, plus inexpensive homemade dinners and BBQs, our volunteers help show guests a local, unique side of Portland.
Because of their invaluable contribution to the hostel, we want to show our appreciation and gratitude! What better way to say thanks than with quality microbrews at one of Portland’s legendary microbreweries?
On Tuesday, May 22nd, we met for a informal volunteer social as a way to say thanks for their hard work, and to allow the volunteers to get to know each other better.
We couldn’t provide free activities without them, and for that we are exceptionally grateful! Thank you interns and volunteers!
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Kathrin, our intern from Germany, writes a guest blog post about cooking for hostellers!
During our last Kitchen Connection we cooked a Shepherd’s Pie…..for the first time!
We totaly entered unknown territory as we were from Germany.
We, that means: Laura, Ida and me, Kathrin.
And of course we were more exited, as we heard that nearly all participants were from Great Britain…..the one and only Shepherd’s Pie country
For all who have never tried a Shepherd’s Pie, here is the recipe for approx. 14 persons:
For the potatoes:
4½ pounds russet potatoes (about 3 big ones)
¾ cup milk (or vegetable broth)
6 ounces unsalted butter or margarine
2¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the meat filling:
6 tablespoons canola oil
3 cup onions, diced
6 carrots, peeled and diced small
6 cloves garlic, minced
4½ pounds ground beef
3 teaspoon salt ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 teaspoons tomato paste
3 cup vegetable broth
6 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
3 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
3 cup fresh or frozen English peas
- Peel the potatoes and cut into ½ -inch dice. Place in pasta pot(s) and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with masher, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
- Dice the onions and carrots, and mince the garlic.
- Drain the potatoes (in a colander and then return to the saucepan). Mash the potatoes and then add the milk, butter/margarine, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place 2 tablespoons canola oil into each frying pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add ⅓ of each the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add ⅓ of the garlic to each pan and stir to combine. Add 1½ pounds of minced beef in each pan, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour (2 tablespoons per pan) and stir to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Then add to each pan, 2 tablespoons, tomato paste,1 cup chicken broth 2 teaspoons rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
- Once the sauce is thickened, add the corn and peas to the beef mixture and spread evenly into a 9×13 baking pan. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with a salad.
For all the non meat eaters, we also made a vegetarian version…..just replace the meat with any vegetable you like.
We used zucchinis, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots and peas.
It needs its time, but it pays.
At the end we had one large meat Shepherd´s Pie and two small vegeterian Shepherd´s Pies.
Believe it or not, the pie was eaten up in a jiffy and we got standing ovationas for our cullinary skills.
Thanks to our english group who ate their meal so dutifully.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
One of the most unique and desirable qualities of a hostel is the communal space in which you meet other guests. Kitchens, common areas, gardens, and dorm rooms provide ideal spaces for travelers to meet and get to know each other. Most hotels and motels don’t allow for the same interactions and shared experiences, simply because of their lack of communal atmosphere. Those who love hostels know that making friends on the road is an invaluable benefit to traveling, and hostel common spaces help facilitate these new relationships being formed between people from around the world.
Similar to hostels, cities attract a people from all backgrounds and cultures, bringing them together in a variety of ways and places. From bars and restaurants, to parks and public squares, cities like Portland foster a natural desire for social interaction. It has been said (and blogged about) many times that Portland has great bars and restaurants, but now that spring is in full swing and we no longer have to stay warm with winter ales, let’s take a moment to admire the beautiful public parks and squares this city has to offer.
Forest Park and Washington Park are the largest parks in Portland, but let’s leave those out for this blog post and focus on the smaller parks and gathering spaces around the city. Not your typical green, city park is Director Park, with its modern glass roof to block the rain but not the sunlight, fountain and wading pool, and giant chess games. This square also hosts a variety of events, like poetry readings and Shakespeare plays. Grab lunch from the food carts just three blocks away and enjoy your meal on the steps.
Next we head toward the Portland Art Museum to the South Park Blocks. Home to Portland State University and the Saturday Farmers Market.
From the South Park Blocks, we stroll into the city center–Pioneer Courthouse Square. With its red brick steps, mini-amphitheater, and food trucks, it’s the ideal meeting spot and people-watching haven. Follow the link for their many events, including public speakers, free movies and concerts, beer and food festivals, and more!
From Pioneer Square, we move east to the waterfront. A faint smell of doughnuts wafts through the air and we realize Voodoo Doughnut is just around the corner! What better place to enjoy your coffee and doughnuts that these lovely picnic tables?
One block further east and we’ve reached the Willamette river, lined to the west by Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and ideal location to walk, jog, bike, read, nap, play in the fountain, munch on a picnic lunch from the nearby food carts, or just relax in the shade. On Saturdays and Sundays, be sure to check out Portland’s famous Saturday Market.
These are only a few of Portland’s renowned public spaces. For more ideas on where to hang out, meet the locals, enjoy that new book from Powell’s, or a tasty vegan treat, check out the Portland Parks and Recreation website.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
For the month of May, we have teamed up with SanSai Japanese Grill to give our guests and members another great deal on local fare. SanSai is just around the corner (4 blocks!) from the hostel on NW 21st and Everett—less than a ten minute walk. Here, you can a variety of Japanese classic dishes, but as an added boost of saving, check out their all day happy hour menu, offering sushi rolls and salads at 50% off. Add an 20% off for being a hostel guests and you have yourself quite the deal!
See the map for directions: The hostel is red, SanSai Japanese Grill is blue.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Last week, the Northwest Portland Hostel hosted the April Indie Travel Meetup for Portlanders who love to travel, love to talk about travel, and love to dream about planning their next big trips.
Each month, BootsnAll Travel hosts meetup events for the travel local travel community to gather together and share ideas, tips, and the general love of round the world adventure. The locations vary, and in April, they came to the hostel.
The previous blog post was about our Beer and Food Pairing Event with Tomas, coupling infamous northwest beer flavors with a sampling of foods. For the indie meetup, we once again called upon Tomas and his master craft beer skills, and he brought a delicious array of home brewed beers. Under the lights in the Secret Garden, the locals and hostellers gathered to chat and enjoy Tomas’s presentation.
The pairings went like this:
Kolsch with cheese wontons from Luc Lac
IPA with pizza from Escape from New York
Rauchbier with smoked salmon lox from Kornblatt’s Deli
Stout with chocolate cupcakes from Saint Cupcake
Boysenberry Lambic with brie cheese
The Kolsch and IPA pairings were the most popular (who doesn’t love beer and cheesy finger food?), but each set offered a unique flavor experience.
Check out the photos!
Saturday, April 14, 2012
It’s no secret that Portland is home to great beer, in fact, we have more microbreweries per capita than any other US city. For some Portlanders, brewing beer is their career, but for many, it’s a passion and a hobby. It’s hard to flip through the Willamette Week or Portland Mercury without stumbling upon a new beer-centric meet-up group, tasting event, home brew class, or beer festival (and we’re not complaining!).
Inspired by a sincere desire from our guests to learn about what makes Northwest beers so unique, our volunteer April and her husband Tomas (a craft brewer by trade) decided to host a beer and food pairing event. Their hope was to shine a light on the rich beer culture in Portland, teach a mini-lesson about the different varieties of Northwest beer, share flavor combinations, and of course, hand out samples.
The inaugural event took place March 26th in the hostel’s main kitchen. Tomas brought varieties of the IPA (Inda Pale Ale). This beer is very dark and hoppy, but rich in flavor. In 1984, Bridgeport was the first Portland brewery to start brewing IPAs.
The beer/food pairing went like this:
1. Sierra Nevada Torpedo (IPA) served with local old and young sharp cheddar cheese.
2. Total Domination (IPA) also with cheddar and flank steak, served on a salt stone with ground pepper.
3. Hop Rod Rye (IPA)
4. Widmers Brothers Spiced IPA with dark chocolate.
Check out the photos below! Special thanks to Tomas and April for putting this together, and to Kathrin and Laura documenting the event.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
It has been a busy Spring so far! Jim, Britta and Maja traveled to South Africa and Namibia (photos to come!), new activities at the hostel, and an awesome Volunteer Appreciation Event to honor our hardworking volunteers.
March 31st was Earth Hour 2012, a project that was started by WWF- Austraila in 2007. Once a year, for one hour, people across the globe unite by turning out the lights and showing their commitment to a worldwide sustainable future. Similar to last year, we turned out the lights in the Elliston building and lit candles to light the rooms and hallways.
For more info on Earth Hour, visit their website here.
Our hostel is environmentally friendly all year round, with a variety of green practices and materials, and with Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, we want to spread the word about the importance of sustainability while traveling! There will always be some footprint left when adventuring around the globe, but hostelling is a great way to decrease the size of your personal impact on the planet. Shared spaces mean less energy consumed overall, and with the extra help of low-flow toilets, compact fluorescent lightbulbs, no TVs or mini-fridges running in each room, and many more green features, staying in hostels is a environmentally-friendly way to travel!
Here are some photos of Earth Hour 2012 at our hostel. Thanks to Kathrin the photographer!