As Saturday was the last day of my extra-long weekend visit with Romaine before leaving for Los Angeles, she planned something special for that day: a culinary walking tour of downtown Portland.
The tour was with Portland Walking Tours, which offers half-a-dozen themed guided tours of the city. Romaine chose for us the Epicurian Excursion, a 3 1/2 hour walk during which we visited an assortment of vendors and eating and drinking establishments which are considered by local in-the-know foodies to be among the gems of the Portland culinary scene.
Besides Romaine and myself there were two nice young couples in our tour group,
But alas, we passed by that point of Portland interest and headed to our first destination, a tiny upscale chocolate boutique called Cacao,
...where we were each offered a sample of a liquid chocolate called Rivoli to sip,
As I'm not a chocolate aficionado I declined the proffered sample, though the others in the group pronounced the drink wonderful. I did enjoy the lecture, though,
Next we visited Benessere, an olive oil and vinegar shop
Now, to be perfectly honest, I was initially not tremendously excited over the prospect of sampling oils and vinegars.
OMG. I swear, this was a life-changing experience. I swear, if I lived in Portland I'd worship like a dog at the the shrine of these oils and vinegars - all right, perhaps I wax a weence hyperbolic, but words can scarce express the lingual sensation, the sunburst of flavor produced by a few drops of one of these these oils, these vinegars - the far-removed aristocratic relatives of the proletariat stock I've been buying my whole life from Krogers - upon the tongue.
After our initiation to the astounding world of really good oils and vinegars we were invited to wander the store and help ourselves to samples of the dozens of varieties available.
I left the store seriously jonesing for a salad.
Fortunately (and probably not by accident), our next sampling was of something delicious enough to distract our hyper-stimulated taste-buds from the memory of those oils and vinegars.
Adam led us to the food-cart nerve center of downtown,
The pastrami was melt-in-your-mouth tender, seasoned with a savory mustard and I don't know what else but soooo tasty!
I vowed that before the sun set on that day I'd return to this place for a whole sandwich and maybe a mess of the gorgeous-looking curly-fries I saw the customers carrying away.
Our next stop was at a crowded little hole-in-the-wall coffee place called Courier Coffee,
...which I declined, not being a coffee-drinker, either.
Our coffee stop was followed by a visit to a restaurant called Oregon Table specializing in fine wine and food pairings.
We were each given three food samples: olives, a delicious pate and a piece of salmon in sauce; and a sampling of three different wines, one to go with each food.
While the others oohed and ahhed over the wondrous taste experience of the food-wine combos, I, the teetotaler, sipped my room-temperature water and nibbled my samples, longing to know what all the fuss was about.
Romaine offered me a try of her wine. I tried.
"Do you like it?" she asked.
"No," I replied.
It was at that moment I realized that I'll never be an epicurean, gourmet, or culinary foodie of any stripe whatsoever. I have the palate of a 10-year-old.
Still, I regained my stride at our next stop,
...where we went back into the bakery to learn a bit about how the bread and pastries are made,
...and to sample a plate of the baked goodies.
I traded out my portion of brownie for an extra slice of the sugar raisin bread. My palate may have a low IQ, but it knows what it likes.
After The Pearl Bakery we stopped by McMenamin's Ringler's Pub, a microbrewery located in a historic building,
I however, was able to switch out my sample of craft beer for a draft of my favorite libation, a glass of diet coke. As Romaine was rather wined-out from our previous visit, she joined me in teetotaling with a glass of water.
Our final destination was a dessert stop at an ice cream emporium called Ruby Jewel,
...where we tried one of the shop's delicious ice-cream sandwiches,
And then our delightful Epicurean Excursion, with our delightful guide Adam Sawyer, was over.
Did I say over?
Ah no, there was one more stop to make.
It was heaven on earth.
Continued From Yesterday:
On Friday Romaine and I took an excursion out to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.
The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is 40 acres of tulip fields located in Woodburn, Oregon, about 30 miles south of Portland. Each spring when the tulips are in bloom the farm holds its Tulip Fest, during which the public may visit the tulip fields.
And so we spent the afternoon walking through the lovely variegated fields of colorful tulips,
...and, because Portland is just coming off the rainy season that makes it a temperate rain forest and one of the world's premier growing regions,
Still people for the most part came well-shod for the occasion and it appeared that a fine time was being had by all.
Along with walks through the tulip fields the Tulip Fest also offers children's and family activities,
...a food truck court where we snagged some delicious Mexican,
...and a gift shop where one could purchase, among other things, bunches of fresh-cut blooms:
However I have a story that captures the spirit of the city at its best.
This past Thursday I arrived in in Portland for a few days' visit with my sister Romaine.
My sister wasn't at the airport to meet me as planned, but had left me a voice message to the effect that she'd be a little late picking me up because Lucy had run off and she'd had to go looking for her.
...and what a wild child.
In Romaine's neighborhood there is a gourmet grocery store called Zupan's, where one can find, among other goodies, the freshest vegetables and flowers and the yummiest fresh pastries and coffee.
A fan and frequent customer, Romaine had incorporated into Lucy's daily routine a walk to Zupan's.
There's a local gentleman - whom I'll call "J" - who can often be found sitting at one of the cafe tables outside Zupan's where customers have their pastries and coffee.
Lucy and J took an immediate liking to each other, and while Romaine did her shopping Lucy would wait outside with J, who petted and played with her.
Last Thursday morning Romaine let Lucy out into her fenced backyard to play. But a little while later when Romaine looked out back for Lucy the dog wasn't there.
Had she jumped the fence? Somehow crawled under it? Romaine didn't know. But one thought did flash immediately to mind: Zupan's!
As Romaine was hurrying up the block towards Zupan's, a girl in a car pulled up beside her. Inside the car was Lucy.
The girl's name was Abby and she worked at the Zupan's bakery. She told Romaine that a few minutes ago Lucy came trotting into Zupan's, stopped in front of the bakery where the Abby was standing, and rolled over onto her back as if asking for a tummy rub,
"I know this dog! The lady who owns her comes in here all the time!", Abby exclaimed to her co-workers, who also recognized Lucy as the dog who plays outside with J. But J wasn't sitting outside that day, so they figured that Lucy must have entered the store looking for some love.
It was deduced that Lucy's owner must live somewhere close by and was probably out looking for her pet at that moment, and so of course Abby should put Lucy into her car and drive around the area to try and find her owner.
A block from Zupan's Abby saw Romaine hurrying towards the store.
And so thanks to the kind-hearted dog-lovers at Zupan's Lucy and Romaine were reunited.
But not for long.
Later that afternoon, wanting to kill some time before my delayed arrival from Los Angeles to Portland (see post from 3/24/2016), Romaine decided to have a soak the hot tub in her back yard. She let Lucy out with her, figuring that if Lucy tried to bolt again, this time Romaine would see how and where she got out before and could then secure that breach.
But the weather was cool and the water was hot and so relaxing that Romaine dozed off in the tub.
She'd probably dozed for not more than a few minutes, but when she opened her eyes the dog was nowhere to be found. Lucy'd bolted again!
As Romaine jogged towards Zupan's a car once again pulled up beside her. This time it was one of her neighbors who'd been in Zupan's shopping when Lucy made her second appearance. She hauled Lucy into her car and was driving her home when she saw Romaine.
So once again Romaine was reunited with her ramblin' Lucy.
Later that evening after I'd arrived in Portland Romaine and I walked to one of my favorite local eating establishments,
...where we had some delicious healthy chow,
After dinner during our walk home we stopped by Zupan's.
Romaine thanked Abby again and promised that she'd make sure that Lucy's last escape would indeed be her last.
But Abby laughed and told Romaine not to worry, that everybody at Zupan's now knew and loved Lucy and she joked that Lucy could stop by any time. A few of the other Zupan staff members came over and seconded Abby's fondness for Lucy.
Still, Romaine promised the staff that in the future Lucy would get her ration of love outside of Zupan's, fearing that, in truth, a dog regularly hanging out in a grocery store might be a little too Portland even for Portland.
The day before yesterday during the Los Angeles lay-over of my flight from Columbus, Ohio to Portland, Oregon (see yesterday's post),
...which is where we V.I.P.'s wait for our flights in comfort and style, far (but not too far, actually) from the madding crowds in the public area of the terminal,
But the American Airlines Board Room is quite nice,
...... a quiet work area, some healthy food and drink options, gratis,
...unaware that I was on the cusp of becoming a V.I.P. For A Day.
...which, being a teetotaler, I forewent, though I thought it was a classy touch.
My journey from Economy passenger to V.I.P began after my lay-over in Los Angeles had officially ended and I'd boarded my flight to Portland and settled into my window seat.
While I and my fellow passengers were waiting for the plane to take off an announcement came over the intercom asking if there were any passengers who would be willing to give up their seat so that a family with young children could make this flight.
I sprung up from my seat and was halfway down the aisle towards the front of the plane before the announcement was even finished.
"I'll do it!" I cried to the flight attendant at the front of the plane.
"She'll do it!" cried the flight attendant to the airline agent standing outside the plane door.
"Come with me, quickly," said the agent to me, and we scurried back through the jetway tunnel to the boarding gate.
At the gate an exhausted-looking young mother and her three small children were sitting on the floor leaning against the wall.
"Okay, c'mon, we've got you a seat," said the airline agent to the mother, who quickly gathered her children and their belongings then disappeared with the agent into the jetway tunnel.
"Oh, thank you," sighed one of the busy gate agents.
"Oh, no problem," I replied. I was happy to help a family in need, nor was I discouraged by the $300 flight credit offered in compensation.
I was asked to wait at the end of the counter until someone was free to take care of me.
Again, no problem. I was glad to stand leaning against the counter, basking in the glow of having done a good deed and my $300 reward.
...I had to wait for good long time perched at the end of the counter; in fact after a while I began to wonder if perhaps the gate agents, in their preoccupation with their other customers, had forgotten about me.
But no, one of the agents finally called me over.
"Phew," she huffed, "sorry for the wait."
"Oh, you're fine," said I, smiling at the thought of that $300 about to roll my way.
The agent smile back at me then called over to a colleague, "Could we give Ms. Liszkay a $400 credit?
It was decided by general consensus that under the circumstances they could indeed give me an extra hundred dollars, as well as a $24 food voucher to be used that day at any of the airport restaurants, as well as a day pass to the American Airlines Board Room. I smiled and smiled.
Sadly, haven already consumed my fish taco as well as having access to the free food in the Board Room, I simply had not the hunger to use my food voucher within the 2 1/2 hours left before my assigned flight to Portland.
...and at the end of that week I'll be in the LA airport once more with some time to spare while waiting for my return flight to Columbus.
I'm wondering if at that time American Airlines might be willing to change the date on my food voucher so that I can trade it for some refreshment while waiting for my flight home.
They probably won't.
But a girl can dream, right?
“Do you find this long journey wearing?” asked my seat-mate on my flight yesterday morning from Columbus to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles was the lay-over stop on the way to my destination of Portland, Oregon, where I’m spending a few days visiting my sister before catching another flight back to Los Angeles for a week's visit with my daughter, son-in-law, and two grand babies.
My seat-mate on the Columbus- Los Angeles leg of the trip was a friendly young computer engineer from India who had just finished his master’s degree at Ohio State and was now heading to Los Angeles to start a job. The youngster was nervous and excited about his new job and his new life in Los Angeles – he’d never been there before – and he and I bonded over Combos which I shared from my stash.
It was when I told him that I visited Los Angeles often, usually several times a year, that he asked if I found the trip wearing. I assured him that I didn’t at all, that I love flying, I find it peaceful and relaxing, and I like airports, too.
At that point I almost asked him if he felt any fear of being in two international airports today after the terrorist attack in the Brussels airport two days earlier. But then I decided not to bring it up, not to in any way diminish for him the savor of this moment, even though chances were thoughts of Brussels loomed somewhere above or below or off to the side of his mood of happy excitement. Chances were everyone of us on that packed flight, and on every flight around the world yesterday, had that unspeakably horrible event stowed somewhere in mind.
I thought about Brussels at 6:45 am yesterday morning when I arrived at Port Columbus,
But when I mentally pulled up the terrible news images of wounded and terrified people, people in shock amidst of the destruction of the airport and subway station, innocent people, families and children, travelers and commuters going about their businesses and lives, unaware until the shattering moment, some never aware, I couldn't transfer those terrible heart-wrenching images to this place. Of course what happened in Brussels could well happen in any airport. Except not here, not in Port Columbus, not in this place that feels friendly and familiar as home to me, not at this moment, when I'm feeling the same joyful anticipation I always feel when on my way to a reunion with my loved ones.
While I stood in line at the baggage-check line I people-watched and wondered,
...could possibly be here to do harm to innocent people who've done no harm to them?"
No one, I felt sure. We were all just fellow travelers, each of us with someplace we wanted or needed to get to.
The TSA agents were friendly and nice, even the one whose job it was to give me quick shoulder and outer-arm pat-down after I stepped out of the x-ray machine.
At the end of the security conveyor belt stood a small, thin, nervous-looking young woman in jeans and a long-sleeved tee-shirt with dark hair and eyes. As I passed by two security agents were pulling everything out of her duffle bag while two men in suits and ties stood on either side of her. She spoke quickly and in a foreign accent. "No, I, I was there but now I came back."
"No, what I'm asking you," one of the men said gently, "is, what is your reason for coming here?"
I continued on to find my gate then I walked back towards the security area. Now the girl was sitting hunched in a chair next to the conveyor belt, the two men in suits standing over her.
I left to find some breakfast and a few minutes before my flight I returned to the vicinity of security. The girl and the the agents were gone.
If the TSA officers found no reason to detain her, I thought, then she's been permitted to go on her way, having suffered no worse than the aggravation of heightened security. If she's still under suspicion then she's in the hands of the authorities.
Nothing bad was going to happen here, I reminded myself as I stood in line to board my plane. At least not today.
...Continued from yesterday:
…while we youngsters rested up from our rigorous morning of sitting around, she mentioned that she and one of her two household-helpers (neither of whom were there because Tom and I were supposedly taking their place during our visit even though we’d scarcely lifted a finger thus far) enjoyed playing a couple of rounds of Scrabble every day after lunch.
I therefore proposed that a couple of rounds of Scrabble would be the very thing, even though I don’t think I’d ever actually played before. I’ve never been much of a game- or card-player except out of necessity, such as back when I was in high school during the era when it was okay to go out to the movies with your girl friends on Friday night but not Saturday night, as, according to the strict social mores of the day, Saturday night was reserved for couples. Thus we dateless girls were constrained to spending our Saturday nights at each others’ houses listening to records, watching “Saturday Night At The Movies” on TV or playing cards or board games.
And so, though I spent manys the Saturday night ensconced in games of 500 Rummy, Monopoly, Clue and Parchesi, Scrabble for some reason was never among our games of choice.
But, as my mom enjoyed playing Scrabble, I was willing to give it a try, and Tom said he’d join us, too.
My mom explained the gist of the game to Tom and me and we spent the afternoon cogitating over word combinations.
I later learned from my son Tommy, himself a Scrabble aficionado, that, probably for Tom's and my sake, beginners that we were, my mom had allowed us a pretty soft version of the rules: apparently according to the real rules of Scrabble the dictionary may be used only to settle a disputed spelling and not to look for words, players aren't supposed to help each other out, score is kept and at the end someone wins.
But never mind, after several rounds of laissez-faire Scrabble I felt so relaxed and stress-free that I had to take a nap, during which I fell into a deep, restful, refreshing sleep.
I think I might have just discovered a cure for my insomnia.
Friday morning mom was up for a shopping trip and so was I, so she and I headed out to Walmart to the store’s fabrics department where my mom, with her flair for interior décor, helped me pick out some material to re-cover some old – but still perfectly functional - chairs that go with an old - but still perfectly functional - table I'd snagged from Tom’s parents’ basement for Tommy to use in his new apartment.
Tommy's new/old table and chairs set was in fact Tom's and my first kitchen set, handed down to us when we were newly weds by a relative of Tom’s . As the chair covers were already ripped and worn when Tom and I received them,
Tom and I used that first hand-me-down kitchen set for a few years until Tom’s parents got a new kitchen table and then they handed us down us their old one (which was newer than the old one we were currently using), the one around which they'd raised their children and around which we raised ours,
When Tom’s parents gave us the above kitchen set we gave them in exchange our old kitchen set, which they kept in their basement for the next 35 or so years on the chance that someone else might someday need a kitchen set.
Good thing right?, because Tommy needed a kitchen set and there we were. Slap a new set of slip covers on those chairs and the set right is back in commission.
And That’s how we roll.
Anyway, my mom and I found a few patterns and colors of fabric at Walmart that we thought had some slap to them:
So I bought several yards and now need only take apart the old yellow checked chair covers to use for a pattern for the new tan and burgundy-striped covers, which will make the old kitchen set new again.
...insisting that Tom and I relax as we were on vacation.
After lunch we wiled away the afternoon watching old TV shows, napping,
.....Tom and I taking a walk around my mother’s beautiful neighborhood,
…until it was time to go out for dinner at the Knights of Columbus Friday night fish-fry at my mom’s church hall.
We were back home by 6:30 and the three of us spent the evening sitting around talking, reading the paper, playing with the cats, drinking tea and eating sweets.
“This is kind of like being in Amish Country,” Tom observed. (see post from 2/26/2016)
“Yeah,” I agreed.
It was nice.
Last Thursday Tom and I drove to Seaford, Delaware to visit my Mom, who will be 96 years old in June.
We hadn’t seen her since last July,
And so not having seen my mother in 8 months we were shocked at how much she'd changed:
After spending a couple of months healing in rehab, my mother, defying all odds and the general consensus that at 95 years old it was time for her to move into an assisted living facility, insisted on returning to her home and picking up with her life from where she left off.
And she’s done just that, with the tag-team in-home help
...and another wonderful lady-helper, who not only chauffeur my mom around to her continued daily activities,
…but continue to keep her lovely home spotlessly clean,
My mom’s helpers take her to Mass every morning and afterwards to daily breakfast at McDonalds with her Church Posse. After Mass and breakfast there are shopping trips, doctors’ appointments, an occasional lunch of dinner date, visits from friends and neighbors, who often bring food,
Which begs the question: does my mother’s drinking-water supply line make a funny jog along the way and veer off to some secret local fountain of youth?
…which we only nibbled at, having stopped for dinner at our favorite spot along the way, a Greek restaurant on I-97 just south of Baltimore called Hella’s….
…which I must admit I found decidedly so-so, and not nearly of the same caliber as can be found at my favorite local Greek restaurant, the King Gyros in Whitehall.
Now, that's a gyro!
So anyway, though Tom’ and my interest in the nice healthy snack my mom had prepared did not exceed a nibble’s worth,
...my mother’s famous super-sweet tooth having apparently attained renown of mythical proportions among the local population.
Thus I partook of the holiday sweets as well as my mother’s standard stash,
…hoping that maybe her sweet tooth, which I have sans doute inherited, is the real secret of her seeming eternal youth.
Yesterday afternoon, while the sparks were still flying from Super Tuesday, while listening to Rush Limbaugh I heard the latest addition to the smorgasbord of speculation upon who may ultimately win the Republican nomination and how.
El Rushbo, raging with his usual apoplectic indignation, played a sound bite from that day's “CBS Morning Show" interview with Bob Scheiffer, former host of “Face The Nation”. During the interview Mr. Schieffer made the prediction that if none of the three Republican presidential candidates,
...arrives at their national convention with sufficient delegates to cinch the nomination then the Republican candidate will end up being none of the above,
This eventuality could theoretically come to pass, as the delegates, while obligated to vote in the first round of balloting for the candidate who captured them (so to speak) in the primary, gain their freedom to vote for whomever they wish in subsequent rounds, should any more be necessary, as will be the case if nobody has enough delegates at the outset.
Nor would the delegates be bound to cast their votes only for one of the three candidates still in the presidential race; they could vote for someone who wasn’t even running for president.
So they could all get together and vote for
I actually have all the qualifications necessary to be President of the United States as stated in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
I’m proud to say I meet all of the legal requirements to be President, unlike Ted Cruz, who, not being a natural born citizen, technically does not meet the that legal requirement but for some reason gets to run for President anyway. Maybe the Constitution is kind of like The Bible: it can mean whatever you want it to mean. So “Thou Shalt Not Kill” need not apply to your enemies, whom you’re also supposed to love except in the cases where it doesn’t apply, and “No Person except a natural born Citizen shall be eligible to the Office of the President" only applies to Barak Obama , even though he is a natural born citizen, but not to Ted Cruz, who isn’t.
Me neither but never mind.
The point is, whoever drafted that weird delegate voting rule must have been clairvoyant, looking into some crystal ball, seeing this in the future,
….and recalling as they pushed their words into law the biblical quote from the book of Esther: “Perhaps this is the moment you were created for.”
Last Saturday Tommy moved out of his old digs into a new place
....and by late afternoon we'd managed to relocate all Tommy's stuff to its new domicile.
We were by then all of us ready for some more serious nourishment than the light nibbles we'd been noshing on, so Tom and I invited those movers who had no previous engagements to join us for an early dinner at a restaurant of their mutual choice.
One of the movers suggested B Spot, a Gahanna restaurant on Hamilton road that I'd often passed in my comings and goings, but that neither Tom nor I had ever been to.
However, the rest of the group was unanimous that B Spot it should be.
So our party proceeded back to Gahanna and we met at B Spot,
...and, as the day was warm, one of the glass walls was opened to the patio.
"There's something about this place," said Tommy, looking around.
I knew what he meant. There was something about this place.
"I know what it is," he deduced a few minutes later, "this place reminds me of California!"
Tommy was right. The B Spot did have a Los Angeles je ne sais quois about it. It was the casual, open look, I think. And the feel of the fresh air from the patio.
Already I liked the place.
And that was before the food.
Though the B Spot specializes in both burgers and brats, we all went for a burger, which one has the option of ordering from the menu:
burger with griddled onions, mayo, dill pickle & cheddar cheese $8.99
burger with sunny side up egg, bacon, pickled red onions & cheddar cheese $10.99
burger with coleslaw, pastrami, stadium mustard & swiss cheese $10.49
burger with fried salami, capicola, hot peppers, shasha sauce & provolone cheese $10.49
New Jack City
burger with chorizo sausage, avocado, salsa verde, roasted red peppers, red onion & pepper jack cheese $10.99
turkey burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, sriracha mayo & swiss cheese $9.99
burger with pulled pork, coleslaw & cleveland bbq sauce $9.49
burger with ghost chili, pickled jalapeños, cilantro, red onion, pepper jack cheese & habanero sauce $9.99
burger with griddled onions, griddled mushrooms & blue cheese $9.99
burger of the month $10.99
burger with lettuce, tomato & onion $7.99
with lettuce, tomato & onion $8.49
with lettuce, tomato & onion $9.99
...Or building oneself:
Build Your Own Burgers
beef burger $7.99
turkey burger $7.99
grilled chicken $7.99
veggie burger $5.99
thick-cut bologna $5.99
cheddar • swiss • white american • pepper jack • cheese whiz • provolone • feta • blue cheese
thin sliced bologna • pastrami • pulled pork • bacon • chorizo • capicolla • salami • griddled mushrooms
griddled onions • sunny side up egg • cilantro • coleslaw • avocado • arugula • roasted peppers
$0.49 each (served on side)
russian dressing • salsa verde • blue cheese dressing • sriracha mayo • red wine vinaigrette
I ordered a rare Funguy (grilled onions, mushrooms & blue cheese) with lettuce,
...and I am prepared to say that my B Spot Funguy burger was among the top burgers I've ever eaten. And I've eaten many.
The others were equally enthusiastic about their burgers:
And speaking of price, well, yes the burgers were a weence pricey, especially considering that the fries were not included but had to be ordered a la carte for $3.99.
So, though the ambiance - and prices of - B Spot may seem right out of L.A., the food is fit for a Midwesterner.
Or better yet, a bunch of us.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.