Sunday, April 02, 2006

You know those great New York Sundays, when the sun is out, and you walk around the city enjoying its urban wonderments (while working off a leisurely brunch), finally sinking down to an early dinner somewhere, like 5 hours later, realizing that you’d been on your feet ALL DAY? I had one of those days yesterday, in Portland. A friend took me on the esplanade that runs along both sides of the Willamette river, past runners and bikers, under the blooming cherry trees and over the bridges. It's America’s very own little Paris y’all. Afterward we roamed around my neighborhood, “East Side Industrial,” in search of thirst quenchers and sustenance. He took me to Lauro Kitchen, a mediterranean restaurant way up on my street. I’d walked by it before, wondering about it’s modern, airy, stainless-steel-and-glass-out-of-placeness. At 5:00, the place was actually packed, the servers were really friendly (and thoroughly descriptive), and the food and wine were fantastic. The tapas plate had all kinds of goodies on it, including oiled and herbed cubes of manchego (?), tuna (or bacalao?) stuffed roasted red peppers, but the favorite was definitely the roasted dates wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with a single marcona almond. Between us we had butternut squash ravioli with sage browned butter and crushed hazelnuts, and beet (red and golden) salad with fresh feta and sprouts (radicchio? watercress?). Yum! I had a glass of La Caleche (crisp & delicious, a combo of chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc grapes (?), not fruity at all), then martinis at the Rose and Raindrop, after attempting to go to this bar called Acme, a little concrete-mod-60s-era-retro-revival-spot. we got there too early to get in, so all i can say about it is you’re lookin’ good Acme, lookin good. I'll be back.

I was spoiled yesterday, because before all that, I met a couple of friends at Genies, a well-known eastside breakfast joint, a block away from my apartment. Fairly consistently, when I give people my new address, the usual response is “right by Genies!” Which, I suppose is lucky, because the wait is always at least a half-hour there on weekends. When you walk in, there’s a sign pointing to a corner with a sign-in sheet and a “help yourself” coffee station (good coffee actually). The food was everything a great breakfast should be—a little sweet (huckleberry pancakes), a lot savory (5 kinds of eggs benedict, and killer potatoes with onions & peppers), and comfortable (nice, attentive servers, and vinyl booths). One distinct thing that we noted was that the air was fresh in there—not greasy or smoky like most diners and breakfast places, so you could leave and start the day without changing your jacket, because, isn't that just the worst?

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