Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 2: Portland

Day 2: Portland

QOTD:  Let me ask, I’m not sure

Pics: More shots from The Louisa (rooftop gardens), another bakery visited, partially eaten simit (sort of a twisted bagel, with sesame seeds on top, normally served with cream cheese), old plant within blocks of downtown, another view of The Louisa, and another view of Powell’s

Weather:  Intermittent clouds, sunny and clear, far less humidity, mid-70s

First: a side note about Powell’s, the best book store in America. THB used to buy pretty much all his books from Powell’s (free shipping if buying in bulk, THB buys books in bulk), mostly used, some very used and obscure, and some new. It is a great place to roam around in and get lost touching the product, six floors of pure pleasure. Then, THB’s eyes turned south and along came the Kindle with adjustable font. At that point, a shrewd investor, realizing THB was shifting his many purchases, might have gone short on Powells and long on Amazon. THB is not a shrewd investor.

Breakfast on the balcony with Peet’s café au laits, $5.20, NYT from Starbucks, $2.50, Pearl Bakery toast (from yesterday’s loaf). A long walk along the Williamette River, second breakfast at the Pearl Bakery: mini-levain, single portion of monkey bread-like pastry, one café au lait, $6.50. Grand total: $14.20 with newspaper.

Head upstairs around 11:30, sit with S&D while they babysit their two Portland male grandchildren while mom visits doc to check on her pregnancy (granddaughter on the way, due in 5 months). Mom returns, we set off for a tour of the boroughs and lunch at Grand Central Café and Bakery. Nice sandwiches, cookies (we end up with extras, inadvertently), jam pocket, and a simit, iced tea, S&D treat.

Gallery touring, where we see a great glass work by Ted Sawyer, local artist grad from Portland State. THB and DB had toured the show independently and both really liked the same piece, that’s a good sign. It needs to be displayed so you can see both sides, we’ll have to think about it for the loft.

Another visit to the Pearl Bakery to pick up a loaf for dinner, anb for the third (or is it fourth?) time in less than 36 hours THB has been waited on by someone who has no clue about the product (not just at PB, THB is putting veggie moussaka guy in this category and it happened at a 3rd spot too). THB thinks we are here at some Portlandia moment when many of the experienced workers leave town for a month (in France, that’s called “August” – or however you say that in French, here it may be called “September”) and substitutes who look just like they live and work in Portland are put in their places for a while.  At least one of them had the courage to tell THB it was her first day. The rest are just trying to fake it and make it?
Dinner at S&D’s apartment on 16th floor, skirt steak, grille veggies (at fluctuating market prices), baked red potatoes, Pearl Bakery bread (fluffy), salad, and Straw and Salt  goat cheese, habanero and berry ice cream in waffle cones, pinot noir and a viognier rhone style blend. All good!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 1: Portland

Day 1: E-ville to Portland

QOTD:   Let me go back and check on the price

Pics:  Bollywood Theater, The Louisa, Powell’s branching out, mural, solar street trash bin, Pearl Bakery, apartment at The Louisa and shots from the 10th floor balcony, Eleni’s Philoxenia (or is it Estiatorio?)

Weather:  Humid, a touch of rain, some sun, 70s (and hot when direct sun comes out)

Propeller jet from Oakland to PDX, THB sleeps a good portion of the time, trying to catch up after two late nights of bridge (cards, not awaiting the close of the Bay Bridge). We are here at invitation of S&D; they have leased an apartment in the Louisa in downtown Portland for a year and the building has a unit or two available for rent by the night. So, for $130 all-in a night, you get a huge one bedroom apartment in the middle of the Pearl District.

Lunch at Bollywood Theater for Indian street food: kati roll, aloo tikki, Goan style shrimp (2), paratha (2), dal, raiti, ginger-lime soda (2), $52 for 4

While D does some work and S rests up, DB and THB walk around the Pearl visiting galleries and the Pearl Bakery (one the top 10, maybe top 5, in the US) and buy one raisin and walnut loaf to nibble on before going out tomorrow, $5, and two petite pan for S&D, $1.50.

Dinner at Eleni’s Estiatorio, serving the food of Crete, near The Louisa. Along with many items that have prices, there are 5 items on the menu with no price, using the “market price” designation. THB asks the waiter: so why is the price of the vegetarian moussaka listed as market price? Why, the waiter replies, because the prices of the ingredients change from day to day. Oh? Really? Hmmmm….a first: vegetarian dish price adjustments done daily, who knew!

Okay, how much is it? Off the waiter goes, and by the time he has returned with a substitute bottle of wine for the one requested (so now THB does not know the price of the sub, which does turn out to be a few dollars more than the original bottle), the waiter and THB have forgot to exchange the info on the price of the veggie moussaka.

Day 1 for the waiter? Jet lag for THB? Market price for veggie dishes? We are in Portlandia now (watch a few episodes, you’ll see how the show is not a parody).

One shared plate of hummus, feta, and yogurt dips, two of the rack-of-lamb specials (market price? But of course, $29 each, no need to go back and check), one small plate of mussels ($11 every day, fixed price on the menu, mussels apparently do not price fluctuate  in Portland near as much as veggie prices in the moussaka fluctuate), one Greek salad, one bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (THB cannot remember which one, the original was from Stoller), one bottle of bubbly water (fixed price), grand total of $172 (no sales tax in Oregon). Food excellent, service bizarre.

Book Review: An Army at Dawn, the War in North Africa, 1942-1943, Rick Atkinson; volume one of the Liberation Trilogy. THB read volume 3 earlier this year, so he is pretty confident he knows how the was in North Africa turns out (spoiler alert: US Army lives to fight on and win). The war in North Africa was a disaster: green untested troops, US commanders who did not understand that this wasn’t WWI or that the Germans where actually pretty savvy and battle-tested, and trying to unite with Brits and French allied forces who had disdain for the new boys on the continent. Eisenhower comes of age. Assuming volume two is as good as one and three, highly recommended.