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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.

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.

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?

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.

What a Weekend Part 2- Food Carts and Pig and Pinot April 27, 2010

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Saturday was Willamette Week’s Eat Mobile, the food cart festival. Portland food carts are awesome and this was an inexpensive ($8) way to sample a whole bunch of them in one place. Unfortunately the tickets sold out a week before the festival so most of my friends ended up missing out on the fun. The festival kicked off at 5:30, but I went for pre-game beers at Silver Dollar and Tugboat Brewing so I did not arrive until about 7 PM. By that time a few of the carts were already out of food and many of them had extremely long lines. The cart I most wanted to test was Koi Fusion, but the line was so long I was not able to. My favorites that I did try were Bombay Chaat House (Indian) and Flavourspot (waffles plus).  PBR and Wine by Joe were on sale and there was live music. Overall the event was a good time, but next year I am going to get there early so I can taste all of the food without waiting on line (I hear it did not get crowded until after 6 PM).

Sunday, Plum Hill Winery hosted a pig roast and flag raising in honor of the troops in Iraq. On the way out we stopped at Sake One for a sake tasting. Sake One is the only sake winery in the area. They do tastings of six sakes for $5. The staff are very knowledgeable about the sake making process and the different types of sakes. We lucked out because this week was Spring on 47 so we ended up getting 9 tastes for $8 a person. We were able to try draft sake which has a very different flavor than the bottles. My favorite is their Organic sake followed by the Silver. All are worth a taste though. And they have so many varieties that you can come back and not taste the same ones.

Plum Hill’s party was in full swing when we arrived. We just missed the honor guard and flag raising, but there were snacks, pig, cake, and plenty of wine to go around. $10 included souvenir glass, wine tasting, and all the food you could eat. We thought they were out of pig, but then we found the cooking area where the BBQ master’s were cutting off large chunks on request. Live music was provided and bottles of wine were on sale.

On the way back from the vineyard, we stopped at the Grand Lodge for a beer and to check out the space for a friend’s wedding. The Grand Lodge hosted a medieval festival over the weekend, but they were tearing down when we arrived. We did still get to see a few people dressed as pirates (are pirates medieval?) and in other olde timey garb.

So there you have it. A full weekend of fun in and near Portland. Now that spring is officially here, I plan to be getting outside more and will be reporting about my excursions.

Blazers playoffs at Claudia’s, Wednesday at the Triple Nickel April 23, 2010

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Since Tuesday was LOST night at the Bagdad, we decided to watch the Blazers game down the street at Claudia’s sports bar on Hawthorne and 30th. I had not been there previously so it was nice to check it out.

Claudia’s was, not surprisingly, packed when I arrived a few minutes after tip off. But my friend had managed to score a table in the main room and there was still some bar space and tables in the smaller room available. Most of the TVs were showing the Blazers but a couple were on hockey and baseball (although I don’t think anyone there was watching those). The majority of people in the bar were wearing Blazer’s gear and there were lots of cheers and boos as the game progressed (mostly boos unfortunately). Service was a bit slow due to the crowd, but we still managed to get drinks and food easily enough. The wings and pizza were good and the pizzas are huge. They have a good selection of beers and a nice array of cheap beer (Hamm’s, High Life) if you are pinching pennies. Definitely a good place for sports viewing.

Wednesday night I went to another new-to-me bar, the Triple Nickel on Belmont. I am now in love with this place. Total dive bar. Bartender dropped a couple of cups and made a comment about coming to work on acid. Most of the crowd seemed to be regulars. Oh and Wednesday night is $3 pint night all night long (and $1.50 PBRs). There were a couple of TVs showing the hockey game and a bunch of pool tables in the middle of the room. The back wall is lined with dart boards.

After the Triple Nickel we went for dinner at Wild Abandon down the street. If you are looking for upscale dining that is not too expensive, this place is a great choice. We had oyster shooters and they brought out bread and hummus. I’m glad I only ordered the small portion of the risotto because I could barely finish it. It was super rich and had lots of seafood. My friend had the ahi over pasta which was also tasty.

To end the evening we headed back to the Moon and Sixpence and saw Trash Can Joe. They literally have instruments that are made out of trash cans. My fave is the trash can lid banjo. They play at the pub every Wednesday. It isn’t too crowded but there are definitely a group of regulars.

Tonight, off to free Friday at the Portland Art Musuem. We’ll see where I end up after that.

MS Fundraiser at Fire on the Mountain April 16, 2010

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Good times and a big turnout in support of MS last night at Fire on the Mountain. It was so packed when we arrived at 6:30 that we decided to have abeer at East Burn and then head back. Wel left around 9 and there were still plenty of people. Great music was provided by some of the Cow Paddy Stompers. Everyone had a blast and it seemed like lots of money was raised for MS.

Quick shout out to those doing the MS Walk this Saturday in Portland. I’ll be with you guys in spirit.

I’m off to Couer d’Alene, Idaho for the weekend. Will write about the little excursion when I return next week.

Faith and the Muse at Berbati’s Pan April 11, 2010

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I had never heard of the band Faith and the Muse until my friend Julia started drumming for them. But they came through Portland on their whirlwind tour this week so, of course, I had to go check it out. It was my first show at Berbati’s so it was a two birds type of thing.

Before the show we hung out in the bar at Berbati’s. I like the bar. It has a very industrial vibe to it with copper floors and lots of metal all around. PBR tall boys are $2.50 (I’m on a cheap beer kick at the moment- sometimes) and the mixed drinks are well made. Bartenders are friendly and talkative, but not annoying. I’ll certainly be back.

The concert venue of Berbati’s was tres dark. Seating was kinda scarce, but hey, its a show. We went back early for the opening act which was a really strange dude dressed like a white tree doing crazy vocal things that sounded a lot like a didgeridoo. There was a definite punk vibe going on which made me glad I wore a black t-shirt with my jeans. It had been awhile since I had been to a goth type of club and I had flashbacks to San Francisco in the early 2000’s. It was fun. The show was pretty crowded and many of the people there seemed to know a lot of the words. I know I am biased, but I thought the drumming was the best part (they have two drummers). The band also featured some belly dancers dressed in wacky white outfits which contrasted nicely with the black clad, mowhawk bearing other band members. All in all a good time. And I was impressed that even though the show was crowded, there was never a wait at the bar. It is a little annoying that you can’t bring a drink into the area where the bathrooms are, but not the end of the world.

The Moon and Sixpence and live string music April 6, 2010

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Sunday evening a friend took me out to the Moon and Sixpence in NE. I hadn’t been there before, but I will definitely be going again. I spent a year living in Ireland and Scotland and the Moon and Sixpence totally made me homesick for the typical pub down the road. They have really captured the authentic British pub feel- from the monocolor exterior to the interior decorations. I love that the menu is five pages long and four of the pages are dedicated to booze (mostly beer). There are 20 different beers on tap to choose from as well as a variety of bottles. We ate dinner at the bar and the food selection was also completely reminiscient of the UK. I had the cottage pie which has meat, potatoes, and carrots baked into a crispy shell. The side salad was a nice touch. The food was sort of bland, but hey, that is also typical UK.

I’m not sure if this occurs every Sunday or just the first one of the month, but there was a string band that started jamming in a corner of the bar around 8:30. I knew we were going to see a string band and was a little confused when there was no stage anywhere in the bar. But the band just set up next to the bar and started playing. I’m new to the Portland string scene, but there was a whole little community of friendly string enthusiasts that hung out near the band. I met a bunch of new people and found out about local string classes and other popular gigs. I don’t think I’ll become a hard core string follower, but the music is great to chill to and it is always nice to go to a bar with one person and end up sitting in a group of fifteen or so.

The name of the band eludes me and I cannot seem to find it online (Moon and Sixpence does not have a website which I totally do not understand, but I will save that rant for another day). If I find it out and think of it, I’ll update the post with it. Next time I hit the Moon and Sixpence, I want to throw some darts. They have a couple of inviting looking dart boards in the back of the bar.

I wrote a review of this bar for Examiner.com as well. Here is a link: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-35159-Portland-Beer-Bars-Examiner~y2010m4d6-Portland-Beer-Bar-Review-of-the-Moon-and-Sixpence

All for today. Tomorrow I’ll babble about a social entrpreneurship talk and LOST.