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Cafe Magnolia in SE September 28, 2010

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I apologize for being a slacker on this blog. Back in the groove now.

Friday night I rode the dinner shift for Portland Pedal Power (note to customers- those bikes are heavy to ride, tips are appreciated!) and then headed out to see the Cow Paddy Stompers play at Cafe Magnolia off Hawthorne at 32nd. It was my first visit to Cafe Magnolia and let me go ahead and spill a secret here- $2 pints all night on Friday. All pints. They have Ninkasi IPA and each and every pint was $2. On a Friday. Yes, I am a little excited about this.

Cafe Magnolia has a nice space. The bar area has some tables and the band played up in the front. The weather was great so the doors were open. There is another room next door with a couple of classic video games (Ms. Pac Man and Donkey Kong) and a small outside area. I didn’t try the sandwiches but heard good things about them. Josh, the owner, is super nice and enthusiastic about the place. If you are up in the area, I definitely recommend stopping in for a drink.

I have written about CPS shows before so won’t spend too much time on them, but they rocked on Friday. As usual, they brought a crowd and people danced througout the show.

After the show we headed down to Montage for late night eats. You gotta love a place that you can head into at 1 AM and get an inexpensive creole meal with friends under cool murals. I don’t understand why they don’t sell better beer, but you can go next door to the bar and bring a pint in if Ranier or Session isn’t your thing. They also do half price bottles of wine on Monday and Tuesday nights. All bottles. For real. I had the crawfish etoufee on the recommendation of Patrick, our server, and it was excellent. At less than $10, it is a steal. And the portions are big enough that I was able to bring it home disguised as a tinfoil mouse. Does dinner get better?

Later this week, entries about the Polish Festival, Sunday Parkways and the Bunk Bar.

Forkfly Launch Party at Henry’s Tavern September 5, 2010

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ForkflyThursday night I went to Henry’s Tavern in the Pearl for the Forkfly Launch Party. I got there before things really kicked off so my friend John and I decided to have a beer in the bar at Henry’s. I was excited because they have a great beer selection and have Double Mountain’s IRA (my current favorite Oregon Brew). The little ice strip along the bar is a fun little perk. I knew there was free food at the Forkfly event so we did not eat, but some of the happy hour food looked really nice and was quite inexpensive. What was not inexpensive was the beer. $11.50 for two pints during happy hour. Are you kidding? Um, no, they were not. So I don’t think I will be drinking at Henry’s very frequently.

By the time we got back out to the patio, the party was moving. They had sausages, mac n cheese, and sliders fresh off the grill. They were even nice enough to make me some special sliders with no cheese. Ninkasi IPA was flowing and this was not a “one free beer and then you pay” kind of event. You could come back and fill your plastic cup as often as you like. Dangerous, but excellent!

My business partner Courtney and I had registered for the adventure race. It was more a scavenger hunt requiring a smart phone, but luckily, Court has one of those (I only upgraded to a web enabled phone this week- smartphone coming soon I hope). The race was more a scavenger hunt then an adventure race. The Pearl was divided into four zones and you had to go to 10 Forkfly merchants total, at least two in each zone, take a picture, tweet the picture, and then get back to Henry’s. The first place prize was an iPad and I wanted it!

So we set off sprinting. We hit PF Changs, Whole Foods, and Henry’s in zone 1, a yoga studio, a bakery, and another store in zone 3, and two other merchants in zone 2. We were sprinting and weaving our way through First Thursday crowds. I could feel my face getting redder and redder, but I thought we had a good chance of winning. The problem was we had not mapped out zone 4 before we took off and the only places we had addresses for were down on Lovejoy. So we turned it on and ran all the way up to Lovejoy and 13th for our 10th picture and tore back to Henry’s. I kind of thought I might puke. And when we hit Couch Street just a few yards from the entrance, we heard them announce that another team had made it back before us. By two minutes, we finished second.

So we won a room at the Mark Spencer and some concert tickets (I let Courtney have them for her upcoming anniversary- the iPad, we would have used for the business). After that I felt I had earned some more free beer and food so I recovered in style. There was more music and lots of raffle drawings to keep me occupied. I hope Forkfly throws another party soon!

Wine Tasting by Bicycle August 31, 2010

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Elk Cove

Elk Cove Vineyard

It was supposed to be just another ride around Hagg Lake from the Grand Lodge on Sunday. But we were all tired and not really feeling it so my friend Mandy suggested we hit a couple of wineries and take it easy. Sounded like a great idea! Except the taking it easy part didn’t exactly work out.

We started 4 miles into the ride at Montinore Winery. They charge $5 for 5 tastes which is pretty standard in the Willamette Valley. At Montinore, however, you get to choose your wines from a list of 10 or so. Their Pinots are decent and their Pinot Noir chocolate sauce is to die for! You can ask for a sample. The staff are super friendly and very knowledgeable (I learned a lot about the difference between Hungarian and French oak).

From Montinore we decided to head up to Elk Cove or Kramer. What we did not realize was that once you leave Hwy 47, the three miles to Elk Cove is one giant, unrelenting hill. I was beat by the time we got there! The winery staff seemed impressed with us for making the climb. We paid our $5 and tasted their wines. They have very nice pinot noirs. The vineyard has amazing views of the vines and the surrounding hills. I tend to take out of town guests here.

The ride down the hill took no time at all. I maxed out at about 31 mph which is about as fast as I am comfortable with especially on winding roads. We then headed back toward Forest Grove through Gaston (which is actually a cute little town and may be worth a visit in the future) and stopped at Patton Valley Vineyard. Getting to Patton Valley was a challenge because from Old 47 the road is about a 3/4 mile climb on gravel and we all had road bikes. We walked and rode at intervals and there seemed to be a lot of muttering and cursing, but we made it.

We were greeted by two adorable black dogs and the owner of the vineyard. My friend Gretchen was pouring the wine. I had never been to Patton Valley before but I will be going there again. The second Pinot Noir they poured is one of my new favorites. Like most pinots, the $35 price tag is more than I will pay on a regular basis, but I will certainly keep it in mind for special occasions. Yum!

After bumping down the hill back to Old 47, we rode another eight miles back to the Grand Lodge to reward ourselves with happy hour food and a beer before heading back to Portland. I think I want to try biking and wine tasting in other areas as well. McMinnville maybe? Or Dundee? Any suggestions?

Tweetup at Hotel Lucia August 30, 2010

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Hotel Lucia logo

Last Wednesday I attended my first Tweetup. It was at the Hotel Lucia and was sponsored by Alaska Airlines. I plan to never miss another one. There was an easy scavenger hunt to qualify to enter a raffle and the prizes were free plane tickets and free hotel stays in high end properties in Portland and Seattle. There were free drinks (one per person, but hey, its free), including Deschutes beer, wine and appletinis. This was coupled with Thai food catered by Typhoon. The fresh spring rolls were my fave. Yes, Typhoon is a chain, but I have to say they have damn fine Thai food. And I have eaten a lot of Thai food in authentic places such as Thailand.

There was a good crowd but it was certainly not packed. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. I know I did. I just want to know when the next one is…

Tomorrow I’ll post about my biking wine tour this weekend. Thursday I’ll be at the Forkfly launch party at Henry’s Tavern (which oddly enough, I have not yet been to). Free food, beer, and an adventure race that I think I am signed up for. I just wish I knew what that meant exactly…

Cow Paddy Stompers at the White Eagle August 27, 2010

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Cow Paddy Stompers

Cow Paddy Stompers photo Eben Waggoner (www.ewagphoto.com)

Tuesday night I went out to see some live bluegrass at the White Eagle Saloon in NoPo. On the way we stopped for a beer at the Widmer Brother’s Brewery down the street. I liked Widmer on a random Tuesday. There were people there but it was not too crowded. And something about walking by rooms of large, shiny brewing tanks on the way into a pub makes me feel relaxed and at home. I ordered a Drifter, the old Widmer standby, but then I tasted the X114 (which is not listed on the website). I wish I had tasted the X114 before ordering. It is a damn fine IPA. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it at other bars.

Thw show at the White Eagle started with another band, The Big Ideas. I was busy catching up with friends so the music was more background for me. About 10 PM the Cow Paddy Stompers took the stage. CPS has a tight knit local following that the Oregon Music News describes as “Grateful Dead-like”. I don’t know that I would go that far, but the crew definitely livens up a pub. There was not as much dancing at the White Eagle as I have seen at other CPS shows, possibly due to lack of space, but as soon as the band started playing, the energy level of the bar lifted and the crowd was engaged.

Cow Paddy Stompers shows are always a good time. Bluegrass is fun, easy to listen to music in general and the guys in the band are great at engaging the crowd and keeping things lively and light. If you are looking for a good time and some good tunes, a CPS show will certainly fit the bill.

I liked the White Eagle as a venue. It has a homey vibe, the music is easy to hear but not incredibly loud, and there is an outside patio to hang out on between sets or if you want a break or to talk. I’ll be checking out the lineup there in the future.

PDX Mindshare Networking Happy Hour August 20, 2010

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PDX MindshareWe all know that I love happy hours. This week I decided to mix business with pleasure (’cause everything goes with pleasure) and check out the PDX Mindshare monthly networking happy hour at Paddy’s Bar and Grill.

Paddy’s is not my favorite bar in town. They have a very limited happy hour, from a beer drinker’s perspective, and well, I am a dive bar girl (and Paddy’s- definite antithesis of a dive). But I sucked it up and went anyway.

It was a good time. Kent, the host who is an SEO consultant, does a nice job of meeting everyone and making connections when he can. There was a good group of people from different backgrounds. Some were hiring, some were looking for jobs, and some were just coming to meet people, hang out and have a drink. I’ll definitely go back. I had to leave early as I had dinner plans (sushi- yum), but next time I’m interested to see if things pick up later on. I’ll report back.

The Other Voodoo Donuts August 16, 2010

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Bacon Donuts at Voodoo

Bacon Donuts- image AP/Rick Bowmer

Most people who come to visit seem to have heard of Voodoo Donuts and want to try one. And with good reason. The donuts are tasty and they come in the most interesting flavors I have encountered. The only problem is that there is ALWAYS a line at the Voodoo Donuts location downtown. And I am sorry, but I don’t think any donuts are worth a 45 minute wait on line to get one.

Luckily I discovered the other Voodoo Donuts. Yes, they have a second branch. It is in NE on 15th and Davis. And guess what. The lines at this location tend to be short to non-existant! I have heard of instances where there is a line at this location as well, but from personal experience, you have a much better chance of getting your donut quickly if you head to this branch.

So now the secret is out and you can enjoy your Ol’ Dirty Bastard or Cock N Balls donut without the wait. Go get ’em!

Timberline Hike, Wine, and the Bite August 9, 2010

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Bite of OregonAnother weekend, another friend in town. Here’s a little recap of the things we did that I have not written about previously (I don’t think).

Friday we drove out to Hood and did a hike from the Timberline Lodge to Zigzag Valley. It was about 5 miles roundtrip (not including the little off trail climb we did to see some more views). The lifts are still running up at Timberline so it was interesting to see people in ski suits while we wore shorts and tank tops. It was kind of hazy on Friday so we could not see Jefferson or any of the Sisters, but the views of Hood were nice. Next time I want to hang out at the Lodge for a drink, but we had to hurry to make some wineries near Hood River on the way home.

We went to Mount Hood Winery first. The winery has only been open for a year, but the vines are over 20 years old. The wine was not all that impressive in my opinion, but the tasting room has awesome views of Hood and thre are loads of windows to look through. The patio is worth a visit as well.

I’ve written about Naked and Double Mountain before so I’ll skip those.

Saturday we went up to Forest Grove for sake and wine tasting. We hit the sake winery, Plum Hill and then Elk Cove. Elk Cove is actually out past Gaston but it is worth the drive to check out the grounds and taste wine. Five tastes cost $5 and be sure to spend some time sitting outside and looking out over the vineyards. Dinner Saturday night was at Vindalho, an upscale Indian restaurant on Clinton Street. The food was all right, but I’d take Swagat on NW 21st over it any day. And $4 only gets you one naan. The shrimp dish was the highlight.

Sunday we walked down to the Saturday Market. There is a guy there named Eric who does these super slow exposure photos that have words written on them in lights. Check them out if you are down by the market. Really unique! Then we took advantage of the $3 Bite of Oregon entrance before 1 PM. We sat and listened to live music and sampled Portland beers. I know I should have tried something new, but I couldn’t help but get the Koi Fusion taco trio. I have to say that Korean burritos and tacos were a genius idea and that no one does them like Koi Fusion. Yum, yum, yum. Kristin, who lives in Sacramento and is used to great food, was impressed.

Oregon Brewer’s Festival July 27, 2010

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Yes, there is some beer festival or other going on in Portland every weekend from June through September. But the biggest beer festival is still the Oregon Brewer’s Festival- it is the largest outdoor beer festival in the US. Many people I know in Portland actually avoid the OBF as it tends to be hot and crowded. I, however, still love it. So I went not once, but twice over the weekend.

My first OBF stint was Thursday evening. I volunteered as a beer server. The shift was a long one- I was pouring beer from 4:30 PM to the close of the festival at 9 PM. The weather was mild (chilly even after dark) and the festival was not overly crowded. I poured for Rogue, which was one of the more popular beers on the north side of the festival. Many people came back for two and three full mugs.

I have to say, I like volunteering at the beer festivals in Portland. You basically talk to interesting people and make them happy. The people watching is great. And you get to meet your co-volunteers who are typically a fun group. Oh, and you get free beer. For the OBF, volunteers receive a festival mug ($6 value) and eight beer tokens. Plus, since we closed down the festival on Thursday, we were given a free beer or two before leaving.

A word to those who attend the festivals from a volunteer’s perspective. Lines like “this is my last token” and “oh, I thought a full mug was only three tokens” are not unique. Save them.

I went back to the festival as a patron on Saturday afternoon with some friends in town from Austin. The scene was a little different. There were lines at most of the taps and it was HOT! We were, however, able to find a table in the shade without too much difficulty. I’m not a huge fan of lines so I ended up doing something I never do and splurged on a full mug after my first few tastes. We enjoyed trying some new beers (most local breweries release a special beer for the festival) and participating in impromptu cheers with the rest of the crowd. Hopworks Red was my favorite beer I had at the festival.

This weekend I’m checking out the Alberta Rose Theatre and hanging out in NE. I’ll try to get another post in before that however.

Cool hikes on Mount Hood July 19, 2010

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Mount Hood

Image c/o planetware.com

Still being a slacker on this but planning to get my sh*t together and start updating regularly again (thanks Annie for the push).

I’ve been getting out as much as possible since the weather has been so nice and want to write a little about a couple of great hikes I have done recently on Mount Hood.

The first was an overnight backpack I did with a some friends a few weeks ago. We drove out to the Ramona Falls trailhead, but instead of doing the super-popular (but very nice) Ramona Falls loop, we went off on the PCT and then took the Timberline Trail up to Bald Mountain.

The hike up on the PCT is pretty strenuous as you gain about 22oo feet in just over 2 miles. There was a sign at the point where the PCT merged with the Timberline warning of difficult trail conditions and advising against going on the trail, but we did not heed the sign. The trail has indeed been washed out in a couple of places and I was a little freaked climbing around washouts with a 30 pound pack and steep dropoffs, but nothing was really unmanageable. When we got up to Bald Mountain, the view of Hood made it totally worth the work.

Coming down from Bald Mountain, you need to ford the Muddy River at three points. The water is direct from the glaciers so quite cold. My friend Jason was able to do the first crossing without having to change shoes, but I needed to go through the water at all three places (he’s pretty tall). We pumped water and hung out for a few minutes after the third crossing and the scenery was spectacular. There was no one around and we were looking at Hood from the side and seeing glaciers and waterfalls.

It was about 10 miles all told til we hit Ramona falls. We had no problem finding a campsite not far from the falls. We got to Ramona Falls late in the afternoon when the light’s reflection made rainbows across the rocks. Definitely try to get there to see it.

The hike out the next day was an easy three and a half miles to the parking lot. When we got back to Portland we rewarded ourselves with burgers and beer at Rogue in the Pearl. Definitely a great summer weekend near PDX!

The second hike I did yesterday as a day hike (but I would consider backpacking it another time). We drove up to Barlow Pass and hiked up to Twin Lakes and Palmateer Point. Lower Twin Lake would be a great place to camp and is only about four miles from the trailhead (three if you go a different route). Coming back we took the trail to Palmateer for some great views of Hood. It wasn’t warm enough to swim, but Lower Twin Lake looked like it would be great for that on warmer days as well. I was surprised because we only saw about six other people on the trail on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

We hit Edgefield on the way home for food and post hike beers. Another great summer outing!

I’m volunteering at the Oregon Brewer’s Festival this week. Hopefully it won’t be too crowded to be enjoyable. I’ll let you know.