Saturday, March 25, 2006

Portland, Oregon

Team Mia took their first out of state trip to the wonderful city of Portland, Oregon.

One cool thing about Seattle is its promixity to other cool cities - Vancouver BC and Portland are both less than 3 hours away driving. Taking the opportunity of a business meeting Team Mia packed our diaper bags and headed down to the City of Roses.

The drive itself was plesant & easy bordering on the boring. Listening to the audiobook for Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince and munching on potato chips & drinking our favorite Korean aloe vera beverage we were in Oregon in no time. After the character-building cross-country trip with two cats driving with Mia is really a breeze - she basically sleeps through the trip and somehow missed every exotic scenery we pointed out to her (look at that nuclear reactor!)

We stayed at a fabulous hotel called The Kennedy School. It is converted from an old school and the place imparts a beautiful yet somewhat subversive feeling. Guest rooms are old class rooms and you can still draw on a chalk board. Bars bear names such as Detention Room and the old girl's locker room is now a brewery. They also host regular music events and has a theater that screens second-run movies while serving pizza & beer. The Kennedy School is a part of a group of hotels, brewery & wineries dotted through out the pacific northwest under silimiar presentation. Highly recommended to the sterile corporate hotels.

The first night we had dinner with our friends Michael Martens & his wife Cindy + Thea & her husband Mike at my favorite Portland restaurant La Calaca Comelona.
The first thing you noticed are the decorations - metal skeletons & sculptures dedicated to Day of the Dead. Everything is hand made by the owner (from Oaxaca). There is also a wall featuring Frido Kahlo as well as hauntingly beautiful b/w photographs of old Mexican carnivals.

The second thing you notice is the menu. It opens with the declaration ''What! No burritos?). They went on to explain how they only serve authentic Mexican fare (with a twist) but no border inventions such as the burrito. BTW - not everything is good here but some dishes are truly inventive - such as chicken with mole and blackberries. They also have a very creative drinks list such as the spicy concoction Vampiro and a cinnamon tea spiked with Tequilla. What really makes the place work is the overall atmosphere - which is jovial, artistic and fun. Highly recommended.

Just a few blocks down is a terrific breakfast joint affectionately, Gravy. You walk into an open-space with cathedral ceiling and wallks lined with, er, gravy bowls. They serve basic & delicious food such as biscuits & gravy and pancakes with nutella & bananas. Too bad their blender was broken so I couldn't try their peanut butter + mango + honey smoothie. The crowd was eclectic a la Seattle's Capital Hills and New York's East Village - tattooed rockers sat next to butch lesbians next to corproate moms - are enjoying a fine cup 'o joe and hearty breakfast.

Wait, did we just eat in Portland? Well, yeah, kind of. I was in meetings most of the time. Big A & Mia did some shopping and walked around Portland's trendy Pearl District. Since I didn't go with them I don't really know what they did, but the food in Portland was really good.


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