It should come as no surprise that Portland, a nationally renowned foodie destination populated with an inordinate number of writers, is a kettle bubbling with “food & lifestyle” bloggers. Last month, I had the chance to brunch with one of our best – Marlynn Schotland of Urban Bliss Life.
Marylnn (pronounced Mar-Lynn) was one of the first bloggers I met when I started writing The Good Hearted Woman just over two years ago. She is friendly and personable beyond measure, and we hit it off right away. Even now, whenever I attend a media event in Portland, one of the first things I do is skim the crowd for her bright, friendly smile. Her easy conversational style always everyone makes around her feel comfortable and welcome in her circle.
Self-described as a “an energetic powerhouse of creativity and innovation,” Marlynn keeps up with local food, drink, travel and culture on Urban Bliss Life, a division of her
personal empire boutique creative communications studio, Urban Bliss Media. Her blog, as she puts it, is her “celebration of all of the blissful things in life,” where she shares (among other things), fresh, family-friendly recipes, fun DIY projects, informative local wine, beer and spirit reviews, and (bowing to her self-admitted case of wanderlust) insightful family travel adventures and tips.
Originally from Guam, Marlynn lists as her favorite comfort foods as “Spam, eggs, and rice” (nearly compulsory for a Pacific Islander) and Filipino lumpia, taken from her strong Filipino heritage, as some of her top picks. (Last year, Marlynn held a lumpia-making class in her home for a few friends. She is considering having another at some future date, to which I am unabashedly campaigning for an invitation.) I learned that she and I also share an unusually intense adoration for white bread with butter and sugar.
For our brunch date, we met at, a bistro-bakery at Progress Ridge [Beaverton, Oregon] that might be best described as Panera Bread’s older, more fashionable sister. And while La Provence is, like Panera, by definition a chain restaurant, the menu offerings are far and away more upscale and indulgent than one might expect.
My choice for the day was Eggs Provençal (look for my copycat recipe later this week) with roasted potatoes and butternut squash, a deliciously savory selection that allowed me to at least pretend I hadn’t completely given in to temptation. Marlynn, who at the time was on a very restricted diet for health reasons, had a simple meal of (a lot of) bacon and eggs. (You can read about her health journey here in this beautifully written post.)
While we ate, we chatted about blogging and being a writer in the (pre-Internet) olden days. When Marlynn’s island heritage popped up in the conversation, I took the opportunity to ask her, at the risk of being embarrassingly cliché, the stock “Desert Island” question. Her answer gave me some surprising insight into who she is and how she sees the world:
What three foods would you take with you to a desert island?
OK, so I’m going to pick things that are not native to the island. I’m not going to do meat, because I can find some animals.
But could you kill them and butcher them?
Yea, I could do that. I took the best butchering class from Camas Davis [Portland Meat Collective]. She is amazing! We learned how to butcher a whole hog. I need a little more muscle before I can do that out in the wild. [Smiles.] That’s why I’m working out.
Chocolate. Although there’s probably chocolate growing somewhere.
Does wine count? OK, wine and chocolate.
I can probably can get fish. I mean, it’s an island – I assume there’s seafood. So yea – just chocolate and wine.
Do you need olive oil or anything like that?
No. There are olives growing on my island. It’s hot – they can grow there.
Look at [the movie] Madagascar, and how well those animals did… [More smiles.]
Oh! Blueberries. They probably don’t grow on my island – it’s too hot for them.
So that’s it. Chocolate, wine and blueberries. That’s all I need.
What three foods would you take to your island?