4 December, 2014
We’ve recently landed in Colorado for the next leg of our journey. Already I miss sweet Portland and her verdant trees, good coffee, and sociable townfolk. Here are a few of the highlights of Portland this autumn:
Running with the Oatmeal – I ran with the Oatmeal! He was in town pimping out his latest book and held a 5k at a local running store. Humble and seemingly uncomfortable with his fame yet knowing his fans allow him to do what he loves, he made it a point to interact with every person who showed interest. It was a great way to kick off our stay in Portland.
Salt and Straw - Ice cream for grown ups. My fave is the Stumptown coffee and bourbon, NomPa couldn’t resist the balsamic strawberry with black pepper. Oprah Magazine swoons over their olive oil ice cream and the pear bleu cheese is worth a sample, at the very least. Seasonal flavors are creative as f*ck and will keep you coming back because you can’t resist the allure of ‘Dracula’s Blood Pudding’ or ‘Essence of Ghost’. Because it is our mission to raise a food snob, Squish experienced his first sugar here when he shared his NomPa’s cone. (No – he did not have my bourbon coffee! I’m not that kind of mother!) For those of you in SoCal, Los Angeles now sports a Salt and Straw of their very own. It is in your own best interest to check it out.
New Cascadia Traditional Bakery – THIS is how gluten free is done. I am tempted to get a job doing whatever I can there so I learn their trade secrets…french baguettes with crispy crusts and chewy innards? Yes. Apple galletes and the blissful crispy bubbly pizza crusts you thought you could never have again? Yes, yes, YES.
Cafe Au Play and Papaccinos - I have come to believe that Portland is quite kid friendly – definitely more so than Seattle and possibly on par with Canada. Portland CARES about people, and it shows. They do not believe women should be holed up in the house with their babies. They believe in the holy medicine of coffee in child care. Cafe au Play and Papaccinos get parents out of the house, entertain the kiddos for free, and keep everyone happy.
Papa Haydn’s - It seems good places start with Papa. Once day, Portland, I will return and explore all places named Papa ___ to see if my hypothesis holds. NomPa and I were gifted a rare date night and headed to Papa Haydn’s for cocktails and dessert after a terrible experience at Clyde Common. The booze plus dessert combo is murder on the waistline but makes for a happy heart. What’s a girl to do? Many gluten free choices and fun cocktails made it hard to say no. I’m all for going balls out once a month – and we did! See below:
Door Openers – Portlanders are known for their friendliness. One way this shows up is simply in manners – Portlanders drive with more courtesy, speak with more courtesy, smile more (even in the rain). They seem especially fond of assisting the burdened; be they homeless vets, mangy pound pups, or Mammas juggling kiddos + baby schwag. After two months of living in Portland, I only had to open my own door (when I was with Squish) maybe a total of three times. People see a woman with a baby and the doors fly open! Old men, young kids with colored hair and skateboards, urbanites in suits, other moms – everyone was offering a hand. Thank you, Portland! You softened my crusty old heart…just a little.
Green Drop Automotive – these guys are life changers. Seriously. I had no idea I could have such a profoundly positive experience at an auto shop. I popped in with a free oil change from Chinook Book and added on some new wipers to prepare for the drive to Denver. I’m feeling good already, as these guys have created a happy, hippie, sustainable automobile shop and it just feels good to contribute to those efforts. Rockstar ethics aside, Green Drop DELIVERS customer service that everyone in the automotive industry needs to take a look at. Firstly, they made it easy for me to book an appt online. As a bonus, they offer a complimentary 30 pt inspection that reminded me of trouble spots in my car I need to look out for. After I checked in my car, the guy behind the counter sent me to the nearby espresso shop for a free drink while I wait. (ANYTHING ON THE MENU FOR ME. FOR FREE.) 30 minutes later I walk the two blocks back to the garage, pay my bill, and just before leaving I’m asked, “Do you want some potatoes and garlic?”
This is not a question I’ve ever been asked by a mechanic on duty. My first thought was that he was going to offer me his leftover breakfast, but that made no sense. As I’m looking at him, troubled, he explains that he has extra potatoes and garlic from the urban farm they partner with – would I like some? And suddenly, in my hand is a brown paper sack with the Green Drop Logo, heavy with uber-local winter produce. If I lived in Portland, I’d be a lifer here. Love those boys at Green Drop (they’re easy on the eyes, too!); I bragged about my experience to everyone for several days afterward.
PedX Shoes – They call themselves a shoe shangrila and they are not kidding around. I wandered into this friendly boutique shoe shop one day in full on cranky mama mode, itching to relieve my stress with a little retail therapy. Fortunately my inner skinflint was heavily cock-blocking my impulses, so I left with a pair of labradorite studded earrings. But oh, let me tell you – the lust! Fine Italian leather shoes, adorable purses, great wall art – this place is on my list of home and closet decor when I get back to the states and have the space to spare. Despite my sullen attitude and minuscule purchase, the ladies at the counter were friendly, charming, and even pointed me in the right direction to find a skirt I was wanting to purchase.