Friday, May 14, 2010

Culinary Tourism

Perhaps I should call this post "Eating around." The problem with that would be I didn't do nearly as much eating as looking. Ergo: culinary tourism.

Portland is a great city for this pursuit. Perhaps even better than New York? Certainly there are fewer crowds, and the food-related work force is less hostile.

 I began my day at Bob's Red Mill. After emptying out the Expandex bulk bin I was hungry (too much exertion combined with jet lag) so, even though it was only 11:30, I had a bowl of chili on the patio. Imagine sprawling maple trees, birdsong, a fountain made out of grist stones and the smell of expresso mixing with soups and breads. Ya, people here know how to live!

My next adventure was the ice rink at Lloyd Center, which turned out to be a shopping mall. Imagine a slab of frozen water on the floor at Rockaway Townsquare or Eastwood and you get the idea. It was the warmest place I've ever skated, and they did manage to Zamboni it at least once a month, but at least it was uncrowded. I got to practice my three-turns, my Mohawks and Swizzles and crossovers, and was just working up some decent spins when an 8-year-old and her brother showed up and began multiple sequences of double-lutzes. Time to go!

By then the farmer's market was open. Wonder of wonders, STRAWBERRIES! My fave farmer, the mushroom man, wasn't in attendance, but I still got to sniff cheeses, oogle pork chops and lettuces and buy 3 pints of delicious, red-in-the-center strawberries.

One of those pints lasted through my afternoon drive: up the Columbia River Gorge. I've done this many times but the gorge is one of those places that never fails to impress. Getting out and going for a walk reminds me why the food is so good here: rain, rain and more rain, combined with volcanic soil and the alluvial debris from the entire interior West.

Time to read up on geology, perhaps? That opportunity will come this afternoon, at Powell's bookstore. Which is directly across the street from a Sur La Table and two blocks from a Whole Foods. And, oh yes, I have to get a sourdough leaven started! 'Cause this culinary tourist is about to become a culinary producer.

Fun things about being a tourist on the West Coast: driving too fast, being slender, not having a stroller the size of a VW, refusing to cover the sidewalk with my buds, scowling at passers-by and never taking a single photo. If you don't "get" this, go to Times Square any Saturday.


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