(Food) Marathon Weekend Part 2: Papa Hayden

Last weekend’s Portland Half Marathon was one of the most fun I’ve had in running races! There was absolutely no pressure for me to perform well (not that there ever is an expectation for a turtle like myself lol) and knowing that I was only doing this race purely for fun helped me relax and actually enjoy the experience. Thinking about all the delicious food I get to eat afterward also helped me stay super excited during the 13.1-mile run.

My time is not considered great at 2 hours and 51 minutes, but I was extremely pleased with the result since all I wanted was to run under three hours. But more so than time, I was delighted with the way I felt during and after the race. My feet felt lighter than usual and I felt like I had some energy left even after I crossed the finish line, which made me believe that I can shave off a few minutes on my next half marathon in two weeks.

I think it really helped that I trained for this race for the last eight weeks (unlike my last Portland Marathon), logging about 15 to 20 miles per week. I didn’t necessarily follow any formal training, but my friends Tiffany, Shannon, and I were good with doing mid-week runs at Rose Bowl. Having great running buddies really does make a difference! I am so thankful for the lovely ladies for pushing me to lace up my running shoes, even when I was feeling incredibly lazy and unmotivated!

My fiancé and Maya were waiting for me at the finish line which made me incredibly happy. After I took pictures with the medal and relaxed a little, we invited Tiffany and Jesse for brunch at Papa Hayden.

I was hungry but my body was a bit too tired to eat a heavy dish like Eggs Benedict (that almost everyone at the table ordered), so I settled for a shrimp salad and French onion soup that my fiancé and I shared. The soup was amazing, with the perfect amount of cheese melted on top, but the salad was just okay. I wish I ordered a waffle or bread pudding that caught my eyes in the beginning.

The desserts were absolutely fantastic, as usual. My favorite was Baked Alaska. The airy and sugary meringue certainly hit the sweet spot for me. Although the desserts were meant to be shared, I think I polished the plates all by myself! But that’s okay because I just run a half marathon!  And I intend to use the excuse for at least the next several weeks … or even months. twisted

Papa Knows Best: Papa Hayden

Six months ago, my best friend Maya and I ventured across the ocean for the Parisian version of the girls on the town. We spent ten blissful days soaking in the beauty of the city, and eating up everything in sight! We often talk about doing it again but returning to France so soon is a little out of our reach at the moment, so we decided to recreate the experience in another amazing city – in Portland, Oregon. Lucky for me, Maya and her family live in this Pacific Northwest city and I didn’t have to cross the ocean to see my BFF.

I love Portland the way I love Paris (evident here). It may not have famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, but Portland is an amazing culinary city with many talented chefs whipping up equally impressive dishes. In some cases, the food in the Pacific Northwest may be better than in France.

Papa Hayden, a restaurant and dessert lover’s heaven, located in Northwest Portland (there are two Papa Hayden in Portland and this one is considered the “Westside” location), is a place that can rival any bistros in Paris. Depending on what you order, the dishes may even be better – like the Steak Frites (lovely medium rare steak with compound butter and a side of French fries) out of the daily special that I ordered for lunch.  It was much better than the steak and fries that I’ve experienced anywhere!

Maya’s Braised Lamb with spring onion, wild cress, carrots, and baby potatoes was as impressive. Serviced on a white lopsided plate bowl, the dish made us feel like we were dining in a lovely corner bistro in the streets of St. Germain again.

And anyone who thinks American dessert chefs play second fiddle to French masters, they’re mistaken. Just take a look at these sweet creations and you’ll be able to taste the creativity, master artistry, and the commitment to beautiful plating.  (Check out more Papa Hayden dessert creations here.)  Everything here is very impressive!

I know that Maya and I will return to Paris someday but for now, Portland will do. And it will do very, very well.