Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Arrives In Portland--FINALLY!

Saturday marks my first anniversary in Portland, and my 60th birthday. What a year this has been! And it's been a full week! The patio is supposed to be finished tomorrow. The rain has held the whole project up by more than three weeks. But it's so beautiful. More than 2,000 bricks, it should provide me with a lots of entertaining and relaxing time in the Adirondack chairs. The next thing will be to start looking around for large pots to plant along the border of the patio.

On Wednesday night, Kent and I had dinner at one of the food carts Portland is famous for. The Garden State cart is a sleek, silver cart that specializes in sandwiches. In this case, it was an Grilled Alaskan Cod sandwich with slices of orange, red potato and arugula on ciabatta. It was delicious, though it needed some tarter sauce. We ate our sandwiches under a tented area with tables and chairs to keep the sun off of us. At the same location, is The Sugar Cube where Kent indulged in the cart's much admired panna cotta with strawberry salad. The panna cotta was just perfect without too much gelatin to make it tough. It was infused with vanilla bean and topped with the salad of sliced strawberries in a simple syrup with minced basil. I had a bite and was impressed. This was my first experience with the food cart culture here. There are many areas around town that have food carts. Some are very popular for lunch, as the ones near Portland State University. Others, near clubs, are popular after hours when the partying hordes come in search of something to soak up the alcohol they've been consuming.

While Kyle was making noise cutting brick to fit in the border of the patio, Beau took to his upstairs day bed. But whenever it's too warm outside, he doesn't exactly lay inside his bed as he does when its colder. I came into my bedroom this afternoon and found him mostly out of his bed. On hot days he often has his body in his day bed but his head is hanging well outside and trailing on the floor. Today I would describe Beau's position as praying--very Zen-like.

Tomorrow, we celebrate my birthday at Gladstone Coffee and Pizza. The owner John Mitchell has turned the patio over to eighteen of us who will dine on their fabulous pizza, eat Caesar salad, drink wine and beer, while I try to ignore this big milestone. Beau will also be coming.

Tonight Kyle drove Jim, the guy who is helping him finish the patio, home. Jim live in North Portland, and since I needed to buy groceries, I wrote shotgun. Everyone worked hard today with me chained to the office working on booking interviews for a client. My day had begun early with an 8:00 AM one hour interview with a food show I do regularly from Lincoln, Nebraska. I've been doing this show every six weeks, but now the host, Judy Gilliard, wants me to come on the show to talk about the cookbooks I review on my blog. Judy is wildly enthusiastic and we always have much to talk about.

Anyway...after dropping Jim off, I suggested we eat out and Kyle suggested going about a mile further into St. John's a neighborhood I had never been to. Like much of NE and North Portland, St. John's is an old, funky neighborhood. Near the University of Portland you'll find a lot of younger students. There are a lot of old timers here, some of them a bit burned out by drug--filled, misspent youth. Houses are nice with a lot of student housing. Like all parts of the city, the older "bad" neighborhoods of this area, are gentrifying and much had been done to St. John's before the real estate market collapsed. Kyle told me there is a main commercial area full of restaurants, and most of them are pubs that serve food. He took me to a place he had been in several times before. I don't know the name. Most of them are dark gathering places for drinking, playing pool and eating. It wasn't promising, but I've learned that Kyle wouldn't have bothered if the food was bad. I wanted a salad and he a burger. We both got what we wanted. In my case it was a grilled chicken breast in a bowl of very nice salad of mixed greens with blue cheese and hazelnuts with a vinaigrette dressing. Outstanding and amazing at $6.96 for this dinner-sized portion. I could only admire Kyle's huge burger served with a heap of crunchy, salty, perfect French fries--just what the doctor ordered for a hard working day.

Tomorrow my buddy Mike Campbell is driving down from Seattle for my birthday and will stay overnight. Kyle is finishing the patio and he leaves on Saturday night for Washington for a family gathering. It will be the first time Beau and I have had the place to ourselves in four months. Kyle has been an unobtrusive presence, but it will be nice to rattle around her solo for the next three days.

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