Wednesday, November 29, 2017

1856 Bottle Shop & Bar: Portland OR

Now that we’ve officially entered into the Dark Wet Tunnel (i.e. short days and lots of rain), I think back to sunnier days, particularly places where you can sit yourself down and soak up some sun.

The "lizard wall" at 1856

I’ve scoped out a few of these sites around town – usually they face south or west – and are often connected to food and drink. One of my favorites is what I have fondly dubbed the "lizard wall” at 1856 – a comfortable, relaxed and well-stocked neighborhood bottle shop and bar located in northeast Portland.  

OK, so why a lizard wall? Because it’s perfect to rest against and warm yourself – just like a reptile would do. This red (concrete?) wall faces west, and gets quite toasty in the afternoon, which makes it an ideal spot to enjoy a glass of wine or a pint of cider. 

And note the handy window: if you decide to run a tab, the drink tender can slide out the next round without you having to forfeit your spot.

The wall even feels great on a chilly afternoon – as long as the sun has had a chance to warm it up.

When we get our next sun break, you know where to find me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Hobbit Walk in the 'Hood: Portland OR

By now, the vibrant red, yellow and gold leaves of October have pretty much blown off the trees and are bunched up against the curb (or floating around in puddles). The transition into the austere part of the year is in full swing.

However, if you keep your peepers peeled there’s still lots of unexpected beauty – not exactly in plain sight – but just outside the frame as they say. It’s often hidden under piles of wet leaves, broken branches and hearty shrubs.

And the great thing about Portland is, that despite the new construction explosion, you can still tap into the “hobbit vibe” that's pervasive throughout the Pacific Northwest. The unexpected woodsy, mossy, moody moments that surround us…hidden between skinny houses that sprouted overnight, or condo complexes that were once empty lots.

You just have to look a little harder.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

(Almost) Guilt-Free Comfort Food: Chickpeadx, Portland OR

Falafel Salad at ChickPeaDX

When I think of comfort food, it usually conjures up images of gooey mac and cheese topped with toasted breadcrumbs, fettucine alfredo generously sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan, or pretty much any other main course where butter and/or cheese plays a starring role.

However, on the lighter end of the emotionally satisfying food spectrum, I am happy to report there’s a comfort food salad to be found at ChickPeaDX, located at The Zipper, the new-ish hipster food court on NE Sandy at 27th.

ChickPeaDX at The Zipper 

This salad has successfully taken the ubiquitous and-not-always-great falafel to new heights by presenting it in a fresh, crunchy and colorful bowl of vegetables plus fried eggplant, topped with your choice of slightly exotic and tasty sauces.

Let’s talk about the falafel: they are hot and crunchy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside, pleasingly seasoned – and bear no resemblance to the tired, boring and flat-tasting falafel I’ve experienced at lesser establishments.

As for the salad, it is a festival of color and texture that perfectly compliments the falafel balls, and the carrot “ribbons” have made me view my vegetable peeler with new found respect.

So if you are seeking comfort food with less guilt than, say, mashed potatoes, meat lasagna or fried chicken, head on over to ChickPeaDX. They’ll hook you up.