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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.

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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…

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.

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.

Perfect Sunday- Hiking, Wine, and Beer June 18, 2010

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Sorry, I got delayed on posting this. Last Sunday the weather was perfect! 75 degrees and sunny. It was one of those days that makes all the grey and rain worthwhile. I took full advantage of it.

We headed out of the city about 10 AM and drove out to the Gorge. We did the Eagle Creek to High Bridge hike. I had done this hike in January on a rainy day. It was a little more crowded now that the season has started, but still an amazing hike. You walk up and past three waterfalls along a river with terrific scenery the whole way. It is no wonder the hike is so popular. I want to come out and backpack in this area later in the year. the hike is an out and back with about 400 feet of elevation gain. It is 6.6 miles in total (but you can do longer or shorter routes).

After the hike we headed to Hood River. My friend Ben is a member at Naked Winery and it was the member pick up party. When I have money again, I am definitely going to join the club at Naked. It costs $48, four times a year for two bottles of wine each time. But with the membership, you and your friends get unlimited tastings at the winery and at events where Naked participates. There were five of us in total and we all were able to taste more than 10 wines for free because we were with Ben. Naked really caters to its members. There were snacks provided as well. And if you pick up your shipments at the winery, you can trade bottles you are not interested in for similarly priced ones you like better. Their Cabs are really nice and their Barbera, while pricy, is amazing.

After Naked we headed down the street to Double Mountain Brewery for food and beers. They have good pizza and excellent beer. I am a huge fan of the IRA so I got a growler to take home with me. Since the weather was nice, Double Mountain had the garage doors open on the patio to let in the fresh air and give us views of Hood River while we ate and drank.

Days don’t get much better than that!

Off to San Francisco for the weekend. Will report back soon!

Helvetia Half Marathon June 14, 2010

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Running

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!

Hopworks and Vino Vixens June 11, 2010

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Hopworks Beer

Hopworks Beer

I had some friends in town to show around this week. Wednesday we hit Bridgeport, Bailey’s, and Tugboat. But I’ve already written about those places. Last night we headed over to the SE for some food and drinks.

We started the evening at McMenamin’s Market Street for happy hour drinks ($3 pints and wells). The plan was to go to the free wine tasting at Thirst and check it out, but when we got there at 5:45, we were told there was a 45 minute wait to be seated if you did not have a reservation. I have heard that Thirst is a more pretentious establishment than the Portland norm, and this reinforced that. I’ll give it another chance someday though.

Then it was on to Hopworks for dinner. There was a 20 minute wait for tables so we had a beer in the bar while we waited. As normally happens when I am at Hopworks, a table in the car area opened up before our pager went off. Hopworks is quickly becoming my favorite Portland brewery. I have been fighting this because I feel like it is the “in” brewery in town, but their beer is just really really good. I stuck with the IPA all night. It goes down so smoothly and has just the right amount of hops. I’m thirsty just thinking about it.

For dinner we started with the pretzel sticks. The sticks themselves were a little harder than I would prefer, but the ESB beer mustard was terrific. I split the BBQ chicken pizza with one of my friends and the others had salads. The pizza is good. Nothing spectacular, but certainly a decent pizza.

After dinner we walked across Powell to Vino Vixens. It was my first visit to the wine bar. The guys behind the counter were super friendly and knowledgeable about wine. I liked that if there was something they did not know, they said so. You can do tasting flights at Vino Vixens or buy by the pour or the glass. They let you sample wines for free before you commit to having a glass. I’m a big fan of this policy. I ended up going with a Cabernet/Sangiovese blend from California. It was tasty. My friends went with a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. We stayed at the bar in the front room with the wine store. There is also a back room and last night there was a belly dancing show that was well attended. I expect I’ll be back at this wine bar again in the near future.

The World Cup started today. I’ll definitely be going out and checking out bars to watch the matches at. Today it’ll just be the Cheerful Tortoise, but I’ll branch out more next week. Tomorrow I am running the Helvetia Half Marathon so I’ll report about that as well. I’m excited for sun and warmer weather starting this weekend. Maybe it is finally summer in PDX??

Monday Happy Hour at the New Old Lompoc June 9, 2010

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Lompoc Logo

Lompoc logo

Monday the weather was terrific so we decided to have a little patio outing. Since pints are $2.50 all day Mondays at the New Old Lompoc on NW 23rd (and all Lompoc locations) and they have a terrific patio, it seemed the obvious choice.

We arrived right at 5 PM and there were others on the patio, but we had a good selection of tables to choose from. Christina ordered the happy hour calamari ($5) which was terrific. It is lightly battered and not deep fried and the dipping sauces are unique and tasty (she liked the wasabi mayo, while I was partial to the honey glaze).

I can’t decide whether my favorite Lompoc beer is the Condor Pale or the Centennial IPA so I always end up having both. Between the three of us we tried all of their permanent beers aside from the Cream Stout which is not really a summer beer. By the time we left, around 7:30, the patio was completely packed. So if you are going to hang at the New Old Lompoc on a Monday in the summer, you should probably try to get there early.