Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brew Pub Crawl

I had an amazing FIRST first brew pub crawl in the microbrew capital of the northwest. Our friend the pretzel guy, Mike, put it together and around 20-30 people from different walks of life showed up. I don't know much about beer or even like it so much but I hear that it's not all budweiser here so I was willing to give it a try. I had met a guy named Chris at Prost! three weeks prior and after giving me a mini lesson on German beers and picking two out for me that I actually liked, we switched emails and planned to go out and try more of Portlands famous brews. Our schedules didn't match up until last night, we planned to meet at McMenamins before the Pub Crawl started and go from there.

I had no idea that there were the "normal" brews that they always have on tap and then the "seasonal" variety and so my lesson began with the fact that McMenamins is not all about Terminator and Ruby Red. I started out on recomendation to try the Sleepy Hollow Nut Brown, a beer that was seasonal but upon overwhelming request to return it to the menu can now be found periodically, I loved it! I also had a sip of his British style Nebraska Bitter, (looks like budwieser but tastes nothing like it!) I also learned very quickly that not all light beers are IPA's and I really don't like IPA's at all. After a very yummy cup of Tomato basil bisque and tater tots, we moved along to meet up with the rest of the group at New Old Lompoc.

On our way down 23rd, an amazing street with tons of quaint little shops, I found a pair of fingerless gloves that I just had to have! Winding our way along, Chris pointed out the local gellato, and kosher sandwichshop, a truely east coast tasting bagel shop and a cash only pizza joint. Finally arriving at the end of the buisness section we found this hole in the wall dingy little building that has an outdoor area covered with heat lamps in back, and is known for their seasonal brews as well as yummy fried food. We met up with Mike and Chris and Mike talked brews till I was so lost, I was very happy to see my friend Yvonne walk through the door. I tried their Winter Warmer, supposedly has spices and stuff in it but it tasted metalic to me, I didn't really care for it. I had a taste of Chris's New wasn't bad, better than the winter ale. Now Chis is starting to get an idea for what I do and don't like as the group heads to the next spot.

Lucky Lab was a huge open room long picknic stly tables, grab a beer, grab a pizza, grab a spot and get to know your neighbor! Here Saamanta, Alex, Amy, Camille, her sister Marcie and Chris with the big glasses and skinny jeans finally met up with us. I did not write a note about the beers we tasted here so all I remember is, yep its beer, don't love it don't hate it...NEXT!!!

The group moved onto Bridgeport Brewery, and now we have moved from hole in the wall to old dusty hall room to uptown industrial renovated place, very cool architecture, mixed old wood beams, red brick and steel buttresses. Here, Jacquie showed up and I had finally bought a pretzel necklace and met a new guy, (name forgotten sorry) who is vegan not only in the food department but as an ethical life style choice. I told him not to look at my boots. He said the only people who wear furs are eskimos and "insert a not so nice word." I laughed and said "Phew! Lucky I'm an Eskimo then!" I ordered a sampler which had 8 different beers on tap, and I only liked three of them. The Blue Heron Pale Ale, The Porter, and the Scotch Ale. Chris drank the rest.

On the way to the next joint Chris, Jacquie and I stopped at a new vino bar and shared an amazing bottle of Sol De Uco Syrah! Now that is more my style! Next we were tempted with a dessert place that had the most amazing creme brulee with pepper and berry flavers so light you could hardly tell, and raspberry truffle and a vegan cheese cake. Chris and I shared a cigar, an experience I have not had for 11 years, and as good as it was will not do again for another 11 years! We didn't miss much as some girl in the group had a tif with the bar tender and they moved onto the next one pretty quickly.

There we met up with the rest of my friends, PV and Huebert had finally joined the party, but too late for me. By this time I was giving out pecks on the cheek and needed some real food and my bed. I was meeting lots of new strangers and the beers were all tasting the same, my pallet was gone and it was time to call it a night. Chris, his friend Brook, Jacquie and I went to Gasthaus for some food and Jacquie took me home. 8am I was up and on my way to work...good times :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mississippi Avenue: One block at a time!

Good morning! I promised you I would describe Mississippi Avenue and so I shall, one block at a time.

I am going to start at Skidmore and Mississippi and work my way down to where the road dives under a mass of freeway interchanges. There are so many dynamics to this little street I now call home. It is the epitome of Portland in so many ways, in all of its many little nooks and crannies. This city is made up of "Mississippi Avenues" all over, each with its own interesting flare. Ask any Portlander to describe their area, be it Hawthorne or Belmont, Alberta or Mississippi, NW 21st or Hollywood, Pearl, and Alphabet districts. They will be quick to tell you of their favorite beer on tap, book store, and Batista with free wi-fi and local market. There are so many great little corners here and I have the privilege of living and exploring one of these many delightful attractions. There are as many great characters here as there are places. I don't remember names well but I will do my best to give you a feel for the service that goes along with place.

First is what I have dubbed "the food carts." They are located in what would be Prost's parking lot, a small German Pub that has the feel of any small tavern in Gerberau...but I am getting ahead of myself. I visit the food carts every Saturday morning for a cup of Organic coffee from DOGFATHER, a cart that is run by a man and woman who by today's standard would be considered the "local hippy's of yesteryear." He loves Buddy because he had a dog like him once and being a very "dog friendly and peace loving" decor cart he always has treats on hand. Today though, since it is Sunday so a break in tradition is always warranted, I decided to go for the fresh squeezed juice instead. Apple carrot pear orange, was my flavor though you could add pineapple, blueberry, cranberry, or ginger for free. Mix and match any combo you like, he says you can't go wrong! Next door is THE BIG EGG which always has a line and smells heavenly. Everything on the menu of course, has an egg in it thus I am unable to taste it's goods without negative side effects but if it's consistent line says anything about it, I'm sure it's a local favorite. Next is the NATIVE BOWL which I ordered their Alberta Bowl today, Grilled tofu, fire breathing dragon sauce, jasmine rice, shredded cabbage, carrots and scallions. Awesome! They have other selections themed appropriate to their name and sloggan "think global, eat local" like Couch Bowl (chinese flare) and Mississippi Bowl (BBQ twist.) Both sounded awesome and I will have to go back to taste the other flares of this husband wife run food cart. I had such a hard time choosing that she let me taste the different sauces which made it even harder then since they were all delicious! She also gave Buddy some "cookies." The SUSHI TREE was closed up so I will have to explore it another time and you know I will! Next door was a interesting twist as it's pouring rain outside and there is just a tent without warmth to it yet they serve you like you are sitting in a warm Chinese restaurant, with tea cups and glass tea pot on a bamboo tray while waiting for your cuisine! There is also the option "to-go" and the RUBY DRAGON sounded delightful. Their board boasted in colorful chalk of Abbot with Yammies and the Grandmaster with Yam, spinach, pepper and Tofu. Yes, this description left me curiously in the dark but still wanting a taste of the obscure. Unfortunately I had already made my order and it was ready "to-go." The last three food carts were also closed up so SUGAR CUBE, SOUTH WESTERN PIZZA COMPANY and NUEVO MEXICO will have to wait to be sleuthed at a different moment in time. I have driven by in the evening when all of the carts were open and wished I could stop. So come out of the parking lot and into the pub where the folks are friendly and the bar tender greets the regulars by name and they come and go. You're welcome to bring food cart purchases in as long as your drinking.

Drink often enough at this place and you get your own bar stool you can kick people off when you visit. I don't remember how many cards it takes (more than 20?) but it's 50 beers per card...quite a feat I must say. The food is AMAZING!!! and the tables long and cozy, very much like Europe, come in find yourself a "SEAT" get to know your neighbors. I love it! I wish I could remember the menu, it was all in German anyway, so I asked my neighbor from Jersey to pick something for me. Both beers were amazing and the food was to die for. He wrote his address on a coaster and said there were plenty of great beer spots around if I cared for a tour...and so I shall take him up on that offer soon as there are spots on his list right here on Mississippi! Moving along across the street is an old place housing Thai Cuisine and a Laundromat! Interesting, didn't go in, looks a little scary not to mention the combination seems gastronomically lethal.

Next door is a building with lots of space for rent and one very European style grocery store called PASTAWORKS. I am going to be a regular here for fresh baked bread, exotic cheese and wine selection, fresh pasta cut to whatever width you like, local veggies, sauces, meats and sausages, olive oils and other random canned goods. I walked in and asked the woman at the counter to give me "the tour." I'm so glad she did too cause she pointed out all kinds of stuff I would have missed at first glance. She also gave Buddy a doggie biscuit! Other than that there are only two other interesting places on the block other than houses and empty spaces for let. CASA NARANJA is a tapas bar, with weird small plates of food (the steak bites are stellar!) and drinks I didn't try yet AND last but not least, Vintage Real estate which appears to be a billboard more than anything but I haven't explored it too much yet. And now we have arrived at the corner of Mason and Mississippi. Don't mind me as I'm going to escape the pouring rain now by running home to enjoy my juice and Albert Bowl and a pot of hot apple tea.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Catching up...on sleep.

Someone mentioned recently that my blog hadn't been updated in a while. It made me think, either I've not had anything particular to say or what there was to say wasn't particularly interesting. A lot has happened since I got home, so much so that my bags are still sitting here where I left them with all their contents spilling out. I have spent the last 48 hours, mostly, in bed. I arrived home ready to go camping but plans fell through. As disappointed as I was there was plenty more to fill my plate. First was the Professional Interpreter Happy Hour held at the Green Dragon. I saw interpreters I hadn't seen in years! (We are really good at hiding.) It was nice to finally have an avenue to socialize outside of our jobs. After that, a group went out dancing at Holocene and Sara dragged me out of bed 4 hours later to go to an all day workshop on Demand Control Schema..see I told you, not very interesting. I wish I could tell you that I spent the weekend camping with this really great new old friend of mine, but instead, and probably better for it, I prepared for my first week at PSU.

Sunday night, though when I was out at the Blue Moon, I got asked to go on my first real date in...never I said sure. Monday was long but I was ready for it. My teammate was blue so Abby and I went out to Prost near my house where we met yet another gentleman who new much about literature and Latin and loved anything German or really anything beer related. He said he'd show me around Portland's greatest pubs if I was so inclined and wrote his email address on a coaster for me.

Tuesday I went on the date with "Blue Moon" after a very long day at PSU. I didn't really think that 4 very technical classes could wind me like that but I was exhausted. He took me to Ringside Steakhouse where first, there is valet parking only and secondly the waiter was a charming gentleman who knew his stuff. The food was AMAZING and afterward he wanted to know if I'd ever been to Portland City Grill. I said no so we went. It's at the top of the US Bank tower and my what a view! The waitress couldn't wait for us to leave, being a Tuesday evening I'm sure she wasn't happy that we stayed till after last call. He dropped me off and poor guy tried to go in for the kiss! I maneuvered it into a hug, then scrambled out of the car...not interested, sorry folks!

Already short on sleep, Wednesday felt really long (and it's my short day!) I could hardly stay awake, but I met up with Sara at 3 to help her shop for Belize. We had such a great time and ended up going to Kells to celebrate what a stellar shopping job we had done and to meet Bill. Sara he's AWESOME!!! Good luck with that ;) We were catching up and just chillin' over a guiness when this guy asked us if we were interested in joining their party. Sara kindly declined after waiting an uncomfortable eternity for me to practice saying "no." Don't worry I got my chance later because they came back to chat after a few minuets. They were very cute construction workers but I had had my fill of interesting meets this week and just wanted to have a good time with my girlfriend before she went traipsing off to Central America. We closed that place down and so arriving home around 1am AGAIN, I got what little sleep was to be had before a repeat of Tuesday.

Thursday, just about did me in, besides the fact that "Blue Moon" came over afterward for a "leftovers" date. Sealed the deal, I can't be interested in the guy if someone paid me. I kicked him out early and was in bed by 8:30pm. I didn't get out of bed till Saturday at 10:30am. Yep, I skipped Friday and stayed in bed for over 36 hours. And only then did I get up because coffee and waffles was calling my name. Buddy and I took a great walk in the mist to US Bank, then to the coffee shop, then to the waffle shop and home. Then later walked in the pouring rain to this amazing store that is like being back in Europe. Prosciutto, Comte, Puttanesca, vino, brick oven bread, fresh noodles, I was in heaven. I will have to write about all the amazing little shops that are right around the corner from me...when I wake up tomorrow.