Northwest Portland Hostel Blog
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!
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Meet Kathrin and Laura! Kathrin is our new intern from Germany, and Laura is a traveler who is visiting Portland and helping out at the hostel.
I am from the West part of Germany ( Northrhine-Westfalia ) and I live in an area called ” Sauerland “, which is very famous for its winter sports and tourism ( we have a bobsled run and a ski jump nearby ).
My internship provider in Europe gave me the hint of the job at Northwest Portland Hostel. As I was before in Portland (in 2008 and 2009) I was very happy to got this internship. My first impression of Portland was very good, I like the atmosphere and the people. At my first stay here I thought “if I had to choose one town in the U.S to live than it would be Portland”.
I love the Saturday Market ( which is even on Sundays ), where they offer a lot of local and homemade stuff like pottery, jewlery, clothes etc. You can sit at the river and watch the people or one of the many artists while eating something from the wide selection of food.
Of course I like to hang around with my friends and go out dancing or just sitting in a nice bar/pub. I love books ( that is why I can recommend “Powell’s Books” in Portland, which is the biggest independent book store in the USA ). If the sun is shining I like to sit outside in the park or on the porch, making barbecue.
I want to visit the zoo and Mount Hood when it gets warmer, a trip to Seattle would be very nice too, I even want to see the ocean and the beach. Because we are in the wild, wild West I would even like to try a horseback riding trip, like the Cowboys did. There are so many things I would like to do, but it would blow the frame to count them all.
As I have already been to some states of the U.S ( for example California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Washington, Idaho, the New England States and New York ) I would like to see the States where I have not been before.
I am very interested to see the South states, like Mississippi or Georgia.
In 2008 I visited the Grand Canyon National Park, which was very impressive, so I hope I can travel there again.
My name is Laura and I am from Germany. I am living in the northern part called Lower Saxony near the city Hannover. I have already been to Portland two times earlier. In 2006 for two weeks as a school trip with my high school and in 2008 to spent my summer vacation in Portland. And now I am here again to do volunteer work, meet new people from different countries and improve my English before starting university in Germany.
I really like Portland for being such a nice and welcoming city. The most impressive thing I recognized was in 2006: Every car stops when you cross the street. That is very uncommon for me, but I really like it! Another great thing for me is Portland’s Free Rail Zone. There is nothing comparable in Germany. And I think I will definitely use it to go to one of my favorite places in Portland. The Saturday Market. I like to go there, hanging around, catch sun and get something to eat of one of these nice Foodcarts. Another place I really like is Powell’s Bookstore at a typical rainy day in Portland. Just going around the different rooms and through the mass of bookshelves. I can do it for hours.
In Germany I really like to play team handball with my friends. I am doing it now for 16 years and I still love it. I like to hang out with my friends and do cooking together, most of the time Mediterranean food. At the evenings I enjoy watching movies or TV series, like the crime series NCIS.
During my time in Portland I would like to see as much of the city as possible, also the hidden places where no normal tourist would go. The most important thing for me to see is the Rose Garden in summer. I haven’t been there during my last visits to Portland and when I went there last week, I had a great view on Portland and Mount Hood, but at this time, no rose is flowering.
While I am here in the US, I would like to go to Seattle and see this city I only know from the movie “Sleepless in Seattle”. I think other places I will visit will come up by the time.
Welcome Kathrin and Laura! We are excited to have you both join our hostel team!
Friday, March 23, 2012
March 20th, 2012 was World Storytelling Day.
We decided to ask some guests to write down anything they considered a travel story. Here are a few entries:
We saw old-school bluegrass and sipped on delicious Terminator Stout.
Lounged at the Mission Theater and explored Powell’s Bookstore
Had coffee at World Cup and enjoyed the artwork on the walls
Also enjoyed the presence of international guests at the hostel, sharing stories with others.
-Alan and Katy. Chico, California.
Recently, I was invited to a hidden town. A town that was built in North America. This place was made up of those who had given up on modern society and government. The town itself was built in areas with no satellite availability and no modern services. The town flourished and had everything one could need. They are opposed to outsiders and I was only allowed in because of an invite from the local barkeep. I stayed for one week and hid from the world. This place I speak of is called The Astral Mountain.
My West Coast Adventure