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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.

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!

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.

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?

Early start at Santa Fe Taqueria June 3, 2010

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Big ass margarita

Flaming Margarita (Christina Denkinger)

Today I am helping two friends move. So tomorrow I will likely be sore as hell. The first move was actually quite quick and easy and it happened early in the day so my moving friend decided to take us out for instant gratification at Santa Fe Taqueria in NW.

I almost went here for Cinco de Mayo as I know they have a big bash for it. I am kind of glad that I passed as the place is a little smaller than I anticipated and I am sure that getting a drink on the most famous Americanized Mexican holiday of the year would be quite difficult. But it has a nice, chill vibe and was quite empty at noon on a Thursday.

We sat in the bar because drinks were our priority. We did end up getting some nachos which were quite good. For the first round I got a Pacifico and my friends drank margaritas (rocks). Consensus was that the margaritas were quite nice.

For the second round, one of the guys remembered he’d once had a huge, flaming margarita for his birthday at Santa Fe and wanted to duplicate the experience. The bartender said they were not a regular menu item but agreed to make one for us. She had to find the giant margarita glasses on the top shelf of the bar and made the drink for us in a pitcher. She then doused a lime in 151 and set it on fire to complete the work of art in a glass.

Four of us shared the drink and I think it is safe to say we all felt it. This is not a drink for the light of liver or wallet (it cost over $26!) but for a special occasion or a novelty, the giant flaming margarita is certainly something worth a try.

I think there will be another post party today after move number two so I’ll have to fill you in tomorrow.