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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!


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…

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.

Helvetia Half Marathon June 14, 2010

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Photo Danielito

Saturday my friend Paige and I ran the Helvetia Half Marathon. It was a great day for a run with clear skies and sun- almost too much sun. The race started in Hillsboro near the Intel campus and went through rurals roads in Helvetia. It was well organized with roads closed or partially closed for the entire course and regular water stops every mile to mile and a half. The start was a bit of a cluster with no signage for where runners should line up and no pace groups. But after that, the race went smoothly.

There was no shade after mile seven so runners were quite warm and sweaty by the finish. There was a medical team attending to a runner just after mile 12 so I think the heat may have hurt a few people. The course was hilly and had lovely scenery. The biggest crowds of spectators were not surprisingly at the Helvetia Tavern.

There was a beer garden for runners after the race (but no free beer with entry unfortunately). Entry did include a burger or garden burger from the Helvetia Tavern, but the line was so long when we went to get them, we decided to go ahead and pay for food elsewhere. I think I had a personal best time for a half marathon, but my results are not listed in the official race results so I am waiting to hear back and see if they can find my official time. I hope so.

After leaving the race grounds, we went to the Cornelius Pass Road House for beers and burgers. They have a spacious outdoor patio with picnic tables made from large logs where we sat under umbrellas and hung out. As my friend Jason likes to say about McMenamins, their tagline should be “It’s not about service”. It took awhile to get our drinks and food, but the atmosphere was great.

Yesterday was another beautiful day and I was outside to appreciate it. More about that in tomorrow’s post!

Summer Preview Day! June 6, 2010

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Rose Festival

Christina intrigued by Giant Sausage (photo Annie Smith)

Saturday in Portland was a little sneak peek of summer. And man did we all need it! Today is the usual grey with intermittent rain but it looks like more summer type weather is on the horizon (I say hopefully). After this nasty May, Saturday reminded us all why we put up with this crap. Sweet, sweet summer in Portland.

My friend Annie came in from Seattle on Saturday for a quick visit. She arrived at 11 AM and we headed over to Bridgeport Brewery to sit outside and have some lunch and beers. I had heard that Bridgeport has great burgers, but we were planning to go to the BBQ and Brews fest later in the day so I went with the tofu and veggie wrap. It was pretty good, but I did have a little burger envy when Annie went for the burger. Next time for sure!

Annie got the sampler tray so I got to try all of the Bridgeport beers. My faves are still the IPA, Blue Heron and the ESB. She was more a fan of the Porter, the Extra Pale and the seasonal fruity beer (which you can tell how much I liked since I can’t remember the name of it). We both got some color and eventually had to move to a table in the shade because we were too hot.

After Bridgeport we walked down to Powell’s for some book shopping. I am only allowed to spend short periods of time in Powell’s or else I end up buying 20 books so I met another friend for a beer at Ringler’s Annex. My friend had the bourbon flight which was a cool thing I didn’t realize that McMenamins did and the bartender also gave us a taste of McMenamin’s whiskey.

After a quick stop to drop off the books, we headed down to BBQ and Brews and the Rose Festival. To be honest, I was disappointed in the festival. Many of the BBQ places were out of meat (and it was only 5:30 PM). You could not have beer outside of the BBQ and Brews area even though there was another area that was roped off as part of the festival. And the crowd seemed to be very… not Portland, to put it nicely.

We needed some more food as we’d only had a few tastes of BBQ at the festival so we wandered down to Chinatown. I had seen the House of Louie many times and found the name amusing and wanted to try it. I wish I had not. Even with a pretty good buzz, the food was disappointing. I had lo mein and the noodles were overcooked to the point of crispiness. Christina’s chow fun was a bit better and Annie’s beef with broccoli was not bad. I hear that 82nd is now the area to go for authentic Asian cuisine in town. I’m going to have to give that a shot in the future.

We caught a little of the Starlight parade but the streets were fairly packed so we just watched from a distance. Annie was tired so I dropped her off and headed across the river to the Jolly Roger to meet some friends. The Jolly Roger is a cool little dive bar with a pool table and a great name. We drank cheap PBR tall boys and watched a fairly decent Sublime cover band. The chick drummer has a seriously good voice (she deviated from the Sublime theme a bit but that was a nice change).

Going back in time, Friday night I went to Beulahland for drinks before catching a movie at Laurelhurst Theater. Beulahland is a nice dive bar with a decent selection of local beers (rotating). They have a very smoky smoker’s patio in the back. Not a good place to hang if you don’t like smelling of smoke later. We saw the movie The Runaways which I was very surprised to actually kind of like. Yeah they played up the drugs and sex to make it sell but you gotta love Joan Jett and Kristen Stewart did a good job in the role. Outside of the annoying Twilight movies, she actually is a decent actress. Dakota Fanning is annoying, but we all knew that.

After the movie I decided to go and have “one more drink” at the Sandy Hut. But Sandy Hut is one of my favorite bars in Portland and the conversation and company was good and the next thing I knew, it was many $2 Rainer tall boys later and they were having last call. So much for my chill movie night.

This week I am going to a presentation  about the brewery business put on by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network on Wednesday. I’ll definitely write about that. I think the World Cup is getting ready to start so I need to figure out which bars will be worthy of my patronage for that. Any suggestions?

OMSI After Dark May 27, 2010

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I’ve been talking about going to OMSI After Dark for months now. This month I finally made it. And I will certainly be going another time.

We arrived at just after 7 PM. In the future I will try to get there earlier as there was a pretty substantial line to get tickets. It is $10 to get into the museum and that covers all of the exhibits, some special shows (like the dry ice bubbles- fun!) and free samples from local vendors. Beer and wine (Bridegeport, Coors, and Cooper Mountain) is available for purchase as are laser light shows and OMNIMax films.

My favorite free sample was the chocolate from Cocoa Velvet. They had samples of Hawaiian and Columbian dark chocolate, each with the same percentage of cacao. But the difference in taste was startling. It is due to the soil, we were told. I need to buy me some Columbian chocolate! My next favorite sample was wine from Cooper Mountain Vineyards. I actually liked their Pinot Gris better than the Pinot Noir, which is strange since I tend to prefer red wine. I do want to go and do one of their tours through the vineyard where they put you to work to earn your wine and talk about what it means to be an organic and biodynamic vineyard.

The regular exhibits in OMSI are geared for kids and are hands on and fun. You can make your hair stand up through static electricity, play connect four against a friend using a robot, and launch a rocket made from a soda bottle and filled with air and water. The Space exhibit I found a bit disappointing, but that may be because I am a science dork (yes, I went to sapce camp as a kid). The dinosaur exhibit was impressive with the full size T-Rex skeleton being the centerpiece.

We also went to see the Grand Canyon OMNIMax movie. It was entertaining. Like many of these films, it presented the theme of water conservation, then spent the entire middle of the movie showing a white water rafting trip and focusing on special effects without any mention of conservation, then ended with “Oh by the way, water conservation is totally vital”. I find that a bit annoying, but it was still not a bad way to spend $4.

This weekend I am headed to the coast for a backpacking/car camping combo trip. I’ll report when I return. Maybe I’ll even finally remember to take a picture or two to post.

Vote for Portland beer, down with Asheville! May 20, 2010

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In honor of Craft Beer Week this week, Examiner.com’s Craft Beer Examiner has set up a poll to see what city in the US is “Beer City USA”.  When I look at the current poll results, I feel a bit like I am in an alternate universe. Somehow Asheville, NC is ahead of Portland by a wide margin. Asheville? Don’t get me wrong, it is a great town and they certainly have some nice beer, but better than Portland? In my humble opinion, we have far better brews and we certainly have more breweries.

So this is my plea for all the Portland beer lovers to cast their votes and show Asheville who the real beer mecca is. You can vote here. Once you’ve voted, go have a well earned beer at one of the many fantastic breweries in town to celebrate Craft Beer Week. You’ve earned it!

Write Around Portland Free Workshop May 12, 2010

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Last night before LOST at the Bagdad I participated in the first of Write Around Portland’s free writing workshops. This week, from Tuesday throgh Saturday, Write Around Portland is offering free workshops in different locations around town. RSVPs are necessary and most of the workshops are full, but last minute cancellations do happen. I know, I had to cancel my reservation for the workshop last night due to travel plans and then was able to get back into the session yesterday afternoon when my plans fell through (I hate Continental airlines, but that is a story for another time).

Write Around Portland is a local nonprofit that offers free writing workshops to people who would not normally have access to them. These people include recovering alcoholics and addicts, unemployed, and older residents. The organization publishes the works of the participants and offers them for sale. Its a pretty cool organization in my mind.

The workshop last night was at the LadyBug Cafe in St. Johns. Apparently I am a new St. John’s groupie (and if it hadn’t been for LOST last night, I definitely would have hit Plew’s Brews for a post workshop beer). There were two separate groups that followed the same exercises. A volunteer from Write Around Portland moderated each group. Notebooks, pens, and snacks were provided.

The moderator provided writing prompts and gave the participants time to write. Use of the prompts was optional. The prompts varied from a sentence beginning to natural items such as rocks and pine cones to pieces of paper with words on them pulled out of a bag. We also did a haiku exercise. After we wrote for a few minutes, participants had the option of sharing what they wrote and getting positive feedback from other group members.

The writing workshop was a good time. Everyone was very supportive and there was a lot of smiling and laughing. I’m considering doing one of their monthly workshops at Hot Lips Pizza on Hawthorne.

I’ve already written about LOST at the Bagdad, but it has definitely increased in popularity. So if you are planning to go for one of the two final episodes of the series, I recommend getting there early to get a good seat and have time to wait on line for beer and food. After the show my friends and I went to the Back Stage bar where it is happy hour after 9 PM. I love the super high ceilings and the chill vibe of that bar. They tend to play good music as well (if you are into classic rock).

I may take a few day hiatus from this as I head out to the East Coast tomorrow night for a weekend in Amish country (family function- no, my family is not Amish, but that is a great mental image for me). Next week- my first Beavers game!

Swagat, Forest Park, St. John’s Bizarre and a BBQ in Gresham May 10, 2010

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Another busy weekend in PDX. Friday went for a bke ride on the Springwater Corridor down in Sellwood. I definitely need to check out maps of that route. Nice, flat ride down by the river and it connects to the Esplanade. After the ride we headed to NW to Swagat for some Indian food. The food is really good and the portions are huge. We got a dosa and two thalis for the three of us and had plenty of food left over. I’m now a big fan of Taj Mahal beer. For some reason I don’t remember drinking that in India.

Saturday morning I had a 10 mile training run to do for the upcoming Helvetia Half Marathon in June. We decided to do a trail run in Froest Park. We started at Leif Erickson and then took the Wild Cherry Trail up to Wildwood (holy climb to get there). We took Wildwood down to Fire Road #1 and went back down to Leif Erickson. From there we headed up another 1.5 miles and then turned around and ran back to the parking lot. I need to find a way to measure that because I am convinced it was more than 10 miles. Great day for a run though!

After the run I went to the St. John’s Bizarre. It was my first outing to St. John’s and it is definitely another cool area of town. I started at a friend’s place and then headed to the beer garden to drink Lompoc and Ninkasi beers and watch Explode Into Colors. Before leaving the area, we went to Plew’s Brews for a beer.  Plew’s is a no nonsense beer bar. Nothing fancy at all. Just tables and patio chairs and lots of beer. The bar is basically a big fridge and some taps. I love it!

We needed to get out to Gresham for a BBQ that eve so we took a bus to the Max. We were at the start of the bus route and there was some confusion as to which of the two stalled out buses would run. A completely drunk guy dressed like a pirate got off one of the buses and proceeded to puke his guts out on a park bench. My buddy has a great picture of the puking pirate which he sent to his mom for Mother’s Day. Now that’s love.

It seemed to take forever to get out to Gresham, but we made it and found my friends’ place. I love the Portland tradition of turning the basements of houses into bars. This one had a sail mounted on the ceiling, a dart board with a blowdart gun, and a kegerator. I think I may try and move in. Totally worth the trek out to Gresham.

Sunday was a chill day. Went and saw Crazy Heart at the Laurelhurst. Very depressing. I’d give it a pass.

This week- writing workshop on Tuesday before LOST and hopefully a rooftop happy hour on Wednesday.

Cinco de Mayo on Mississippi May 7, 2010

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After a few different plans came and went, we decided to head to Mississippi for Cinco de Mayo. We started the evening off at happy hour at Por Que No? The placeis much smaller than I expected and rain kept the outside tables from being a viable option. But we managed to score a table after a short wait. The happy hour special is $1.50 off margaritas (and they are tasty- not a lot of sour mix, just lime juice), 50 cents off beers and tacos. Here’s a tip though, if you are doing multiple tacos, it is better to get a Brian’s bowl as it comes with all the taco mixings (plus additions like guac) and three tortillas. There is food to spare even after you make the three tacos.

After Por Que No? we headed a block up the road to Amnesia brewing. It was my first visit to Amnesia and I liked the vibe. The outside had a good amount of canine clientele, always a positive. We had a pitcher of the pale ale which was not the best pale in Portland by any standard, but a nice beer all the same.

The last stop was at Prost. Prost is a German beer bar where all the beers are, wait for it, German. They sell the beer in .3, .5 and 1 liter glasses. No tasting is allowed so you have to just hope for the best when you order something new. But the owner/bartender is really nice and friendly and the vibe is great. The sausages are pretty decent as well.

I was feeling a little sluggish on Thursday so decided I needed a nice recovery food cart luch. After reading all of the positive reviews on Yelp, I decided to go for Dosirak near PSU. Most of the people ordering food were regulars and the woman who runs the cart seemed to know everyone’s favorites. That sort of thing endears me to a cart. I got the teriyaki chicken lunch box for $6. It was easily enough food for two meals- chicken, rice (choice of white or brown), pot stickers, and a salad. Yum!

So another weekend approaches. I’m planning to do a bike ride this afternoon followed by dinner and drinks in NW. Tomorrow a run in Forest Park and then the festival in St. John and a party in Gresham. I’ll let you all know how it all goes down.