Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CHANGES, CHALLENGES AND PDX...


Portlandia

One of the great things about vagabondage is the freedom to change on a dime when the mood suits.  The other side of this equation is the pain in the ass it can be when change is not of one’s choosing.  Having to deal with the dent in Dimples is one of those times.  We cut our time in Hood River short by two days, cancelled our next two weeks reservations and headed west to the nearest Airstream dealer:   Airstream Adventures Northwest in Portland.   Once there the damages were assessed and we were informed that it would take about a week and a half to to get the replacement panel from Airstream and complete the repairs. We also met the insurance adjuster.  She figured out how the dent occurred.  Seems the dent is the size of a handprint, which was probably caused when one of our “neighbors” leaned onto the back edge of the roof.  At this point we make arrangements to stay for a week in the Portland Fairview RV Park. Dimples will go into the shop the following Monday for 3 days.  During that time we will have to stay in a hotel. Oh well shit happens and we know that we can make the best of things.

Foraging this week is a tad different.  We still have some fruit and produce from the Hood River and since we are in a major metropolitan area known for diversity, we visit the Fubonn Market and Anzen Hiroshi where we stock up on sobo noodles, unagi, and various other Japanese specialties for the pantry.

Our first night in town we are just not in the mood to think about cooking so we dine at Wong’s King Chinese restaurant. We started with the crab puffs and roasted duck and pork appetizer and added Special Chow Mien, Spinach and Mushrooms and Sampan Clams. Each dish has unique seasoning and all of the portions are generous. The only disappointment is the crab puffs.  The won ton wrappers are heavy, tough and ruin what could have been a savory treat. Even without these, we have leftovers for the next few days.  (Another reason for limited foraging.) The dish of note is the Sampan Clams.  These are plump and creamy; the sauce is zesty and filled with peppers, onions and greens.  These are just plain out of this world.  In fact, we used the cold leftovers from this dish to create a simple Asian salad. Just chopped up the clams and served them with the sauce over cold sobo noodles the next day – delish!
Wong's King Seafood on Urbanspoon

Vista House at dawn
We drive the historic Columbia River Highway and Scenic Waterfalls and spend an entire day hiking and photographing these wonders of nature.  While at the Vista House we see a flyer for a photo shoot on Saturday at 5:00 AM with notable Pacific Northwest photographer Gary Randall. This seems like a reason to get up before dawn. It didn’t seem so reasonable once Saturday rolled around, but we did it anyway and had a great time.  After the shoot, we headed back to Dimples and promptly took naps. ;o)

Artisan Spirits
Saturday afternoon, we head to Portland’s Distillery Row.  We pick up a passport for $20 which covers the $5 tasting fee at five distilleries, a cider house and an urban winery it also has maps, information and discounts for restaurants and other businesses in the area.  The House of Spirits is our first stop.  We are impressed with their Aviation Gin but we purchase a bottle of their Stillroom Series Coffee Liqueur. Eastside Distillery tempted our pocketbook with two selections. We originally made a pact to only buy one bottle per location, but we really wanted the Burnside Bourbon, and they had just released the Portland Potato Vodka that day and we couldn’t resist buying the third bottle off their shelves. At New Deal Distillery we are also impressed with their gin selections however, we pick up some Ginger Liqueur.  Our last stop is Vinn Distillery.  There we meet Michelle Ly. Her family has been making rice based spirits for over seven generations. In addition to their two rice wines and rice vodka they make rice based Baijiu. We first had Baijiu when we traveled to western China where one night ended with pole dancing in an Ugyer disco. So we picked up a bottle of Baijiu. Bottom line, we made it to four out of seven tasting rooms and came back with five bottles of artisan spirits.

After sipping all of those spirits, we are feeling a tad hungry so we head over to Cascade Brewing and Barrel House.  There we try some sour ales and a lovely artisan cheese and meat tray. The food is great, the bar comfortable and the bartender is pleasant and informative. We have never heard of sour ale, it is interesting, the best way we can describe it would be a wine-beer hybrid and it’s definitely an acquired taste. Then we order a chicken quesadilla this time accompanied by a Summer Solstice IPA, which is much more to our taste bud’s liking.
Cascade Brewing Barrel House on Urbanspoon

Checking in
Monday morning we drop Dimples off at Airstream Adventures Northwest.  Thanks to Progressive Insurance, and our trip interruption coverage, we check into the Governor Hotel in downtown Portland.  We stay here for two nights. (OK, you can all pull out your tiny violins here.) It is impossible to say anything negative about this hotel.  It is perfectly located for walking or using any of Portland’s public transportation systems to see the sights.  From the moment we pulled up it felt like we were hanging out with old friends and this continued throughout our stay.  The building boasts a quiet elegance and our room is spacious and exceptionally quiet.  They have three floors of meeting/banquet/ballrooms that have all been restored to their early grandeur.  We spend a good part of one afternoon taking photos of the hotel’s common areas. 

Food Carts

Now foraging takes on a new dimension… Fortunately right around the corner is one of the largest food cart pods in the city offering an ethnic smorgasbord with everything from street tacos to foie gras.  Dave and Dimples Portland travel tip:  There is virtually no place to sit down to enjoy these meals. So reserve a suite at the Governor.  You will have a great place to sit and enjoy your meals, and what you save on dining will more than cover the added expense for the rooms.

Hom Yee Dinner
After checking in, we grab a bite around the corner and set off to explore our new surroundings.  We stop and get manicures and Pedicures at The Morrison Nail Studio.  Their massage chairs are divine and we leave there polished and refreshed.  After, we walk to Old China Town in search of hom yu.  Hom yu is a Cantonese dish of steamed ground pork and salt fish. Chris grew up eating it at the Far East Café in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo and introduced it to me shortly after we first met.  Unfortunately, the Far East Café was damaged and closed after the Northridge earthquake. Since then, for us, hom yu has been almost impossible to find. (When we ask in a Cantonese restaurant, they tell us that it smells too bad to serve.) Twenty years ago we found a similar version called hom yee in Portland, but we can’t remember which restaurant.  So this time we visit each Cantonese restaurant until we find it.  It is the Fong Chong restaurant at NW Forth Ave. & NW Everett St.  Hom yee is not on the menu, but we ask and the server says it’s available.  We order one order with steamed rice and he suggests a stir-fry of ong choy garlic and jalapenos.  It is a real feast, and Chris cannot stop smiling throughout the entire meal.
Fong Chong on Urbanspoon

Tuesday we walk to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  It is a delightful walk and a great opportunity to photograph the city architecture along the way.  At the Museum we view and exhibit on natural disasters, watch the planetarium show, Starry Nights Live and tour the WWII Sub.  On our way back we detour around and visit Powells Book store and Stumptown Coffee Roasters where we pick up a couple of pounds of  Peru Cecovasa.

On our final evening downtown it seems appropriate to indulge in a special dinner at Jakes Grill adjacent to the hotel.  We started with cocktails and oysters on the half shell. For entrees we choose the Seafood Papperdelle Pasta and the Carlton Farms Double Cut Pork Chop, these are accompanied by a flight of Pinot Noirs. Both dishes are fabulous. We finish off with the House Made Salted Carmel Ice Cream. A great memorable meal in a classic setting.
Jake's Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday we check out of the Governor and check into The Sunnyside Hotel AKA the  Ho-Jos in Clackamas.  (The Governor is 100% booked and we have no choice, at least we are closer to pick up Dimples on Thursday morning.)  We are in hotel shock.  But they say that every dark cloud has those fancy linings, well they, (whoever they are) are right. Next door to the hotel is Gustav’s an authentic German gastro pub.  We order the Scotch Eggs and the Pork Cordon Bleu.  The food is hearty and reminiscent of the Heidelberg Gasthauses we frequented in the early 1970’s. They also have great bock beer on tap.  The only negative of this meal was the abundance of screaming toddlers and their parents who do nothing to curb the decibels.
Gustav's German Pub & Grill on Urbanspoon

So tomorrow we pick up Dimples and head east to Dayville, OR to check out fossils…

k

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