Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Moment at Food Front: Portland OR

I hate to admit it, but due to some brutal work deadlines that fall right around Christmas every year, combined with the usual stresses of the season, I head into December with a deep sense of foreboding. Instead of mistletoe hanging over my head – there’s a dark cloud of anxiety and dread.

But every year, it never fails that when I need it most, I have what I fondly refer to as my “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!” moment. That’s when something genuinely non-commercial and authentic slices through my bah-humbuggery, like a sharp knife through a Honey Baked Ham, and I feel the yuletide glow.

This year, a co-worker (who was slaving away on the same deadline as me) suggested I take a break and check out the employee-made gingerbread houses on display at the Food Front grocery store near our office. As a card-carrying member of the Food Front co-op, I felt it was my duty to go see them, and indeed, it was worth the visit. Each department had built their own little house, and each was cute as a button and had it’s own personality.

And seeing them lined up in a neat little row on that dry, sunny, December afternoon brought a much-needed smile to my face. Once again, my “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!” moment had arrived.

Food Front

2375 NW Thurman St. 

Portland, Oregon 97210

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Limo-ing to Wine Country: Newberg OR

God bless my friend Peggy. She’s a planner, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have much of a social life if not for her. Recently she hustled a small group of us to take a limo to wine country. I know what you’re thinking ... limos ... bachelorette parties ... prom night ...

Our limo driver standing by
Yes, you’re right. Limos are cheesy. But they’re kind of fun in a cheesy sort of way, and they sure beat mini vans. In fact, being inside one felt more like being on a plane. You know, you’re not in control of your mode of transportation, and your supposed to be comfortable, but you’re really not. (Which, by the way, is no reflection on our driver). And anyway, we were attempting to be “responsible adults” by not drinking and driving.

So, off we limo-ed. To add to the cheese factor, one of the gang brought along their Hall and Oates Greatest Hits CD to play on the way. Now I really was going to the prom.

Just so you know, I’m not even going to attempt to review the wines. (Would you really trust someone’s taste in wine that was singing along with a Hall and Oates CD?)

Our first stop was Carlton Cellars, which has lovely grounds and some tasty, affordable wines. Lots of Pinot Noir as you would expect. I’m not a huge Pinot fan (I know – I’m living in the wrong state) but it was fun to try them.

Penner-Ash tasting room

Then we hit Penner-Ash, Adelshiem and Bergstrom, in that order. Penner-Ash has a casual-yet-chic contemporary tasting room with lots of light, which made for a pleasing experience.

As for Adelshiem, I found it a tad overpriced, starting with the $15 tasting and the $78 Pinots. But then again, we were the riff-raff in the limo belting out 70s pop tunes, so maybe it just wasn’t a good fit.

Bergstrom - the view
Bergstrom was a group favorite. It was a pretty setting, and the wine seemed within reach. The staff was friendly, too, and even helped us play with a wine aroma chart. We all tried really hard to identify underlying scents like “wet leaves” and “diesel”, with varying degrees of success.

After four wineries, our wino – uh – I mean limo time was running low, so we headed back to Portland. We all agreed that despite the cheese factor, it did feel good to slump down in a limousine like bratty rock stars and leave the driving to someone else.

Carlton Cellars
30 West Monroe Street
Carlton, Oregon 97111

15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Road
Newberg, OR 97132

16800 NE Calkins Ln
Newberg, OR 97132

Bergstrom Wines
18215 NE Calkins Lane
Newberg, OR 97132

Interstate Limo