So here's my thoughts on my Seattle, Vancouver and Portland trip (because I know you were all dying to find out).
1) I am moderately sad to say that my little Nespresso machine will no longer cut it. Or it will, but rather I know it will never be able to measure up to the great espresso shots I had in those cities (I mean, I knew before that it never would. I guess now that I have some espresso preferences and seeing just how good the drinks were really crystallized how far and above a machine-pulled espresso is).
2) That said, I think coffee geeks vastly over-hype coffee and elevate it beyond what it is. Again, I had some shots that were mind-blowingly good. But espresso is an ephemeral drink. Yes it has a ton of flavor and there's a lot going on but there's nothing to it. Two sips later and you're done. Also, as I think gdl203 said, it's laughable for Europeans to think that espresso is some sort of deified beverage. You drink it because it's pleasurable and keeps you alert. If you were just going for the latter you'd drink a Monster but you want some pleasure out of it. I dunno, I side more with the Euro frogs on this one.
3) PDX really did kinda suck. Tons of sprawl, there's too many just shitty people everywhere. Seeing someone prepare a speedball in front of your car at 2:00 PM in downtown, having an 18-year-old vagrant beg at your table while walking his similarly-disheveled girlfriend with a leash. Yeah, they're not pleasant things. Oh, and the smugness. My god.
4) Vancouver was the best food city.
5) Seattle was also depressing at times.
6) I think it's OK to pay high prices for just decent food when you're sitting right on the water.
7) The farmer's market at Portland State was amazing. It's funny I was commenting on how the benefit to that one over Atlanta's markets is that we have something like 35 markets on any given Saturday so we divide up all the providers. We could easily have something of that size but still the overall depth of the market was hard to beat.
8) Montana has better cherries and berries than the PNW. I remember being in MT in late July a few years ago. $2 for a half gallon of huckleberries? $5 for a ton of ranier cherries? Then drive down a mile and get some quality jerky?
9) Voodoo donuts was kind of fucking stupid. Also, all the donut craze is stupid. People flip their lids because the toppings are good but there's so fucking much on all of them that it's ridiculous. I will admit that the donut at VD was actually really excellent. But I couldn't even eat half of it because there was just so much. And I have an iron, gluttonous stomach.
10) Put on about eight pounds in nine days. The good news is I already burned most off (thanks ridiculously fast metabolism!).
On another unrelated note: good god do I hate internet food writing. No one gives a shit about some fucking story that's at best incidental to the dish. (Well, they do, obviously but those people are stupid).
Also, reading some of the vegan blogs... holy fuck you people sound miserable. "You can't do X so do A for something similar" "the market just doesn't want to provide quality, natural products for people who want to eat healthy!" For fuck's sake, I eat pretty healthy but I also don't turn food into some evil or spend hours of my life working around what I can and can't eat. I'd say I hit a pretty perfect sweet spot of deriving pleasure from food while eating well (probably a bit too biased toward the former but whatever).
espresso i feel like is deified on the internet more than it is in real life. people just kind of drink it and go. there's like nerdy subculture among mostly baristas but you would never know that even just talking to them. but there's like shitty starbucks espresso and try hard third wave espresso and pretty damn good espresso
also brah. shoulda asked for portland recs. voodoo is too sweet and chewy in my opinion. there was bigger local hype around blue star. that place sells out of doughnuts daily.