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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 29, 2005 12:07 AM. The previous post in this blog was Give it up for the gubmint. The next post in this blog is My secret. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

The best of Portland

Mainstream media outlets can't resist "best of" lists. These features sell magazines and newspapers galore. How they're compiled differs from outlet to outlet. Some take polls; others appoint panels of in-house staffers; and I suspect some ask their advertising departments what's best.

But the surest way to find out what's the finest of Portland is to live here for a while. Sometimes you encounter the city's best in the course of an ordinary day.

Today was such a day for me. I had a problem with a replacement quartz bulb in a fancy desk lamp, and so off I schlepped to Larry's Lighting Repair at 33rd and Division. You walk in, and there's Larry -- nobody else but, and surrounded by a forest of floor lamps entrusted to his care. He had the problem fixed in about three minutes, for 10 bucks cash. For free, Larry threw in some advice about where to procure hard-to-find replacement bulbs for a somewhat exotic outdoor fixture we installed on the side of our garage earlier this year.

Next on the errand list was to drop off a return of a Christmas present that didn't quite fit. It was all set to go via UPS; my beautiful bride had sweet-talked the vendor into free return shipping. There are a ton of nice, small mailing service offices around town, including the one on the north side of Division in the 4100 block. Friendly counter guy, free Christmas cookie. I missed the cutoff for today's outgoing, but the package will depart from there tomorrow. Fine with us.

Next up: coffee, for which this town has few rivals. The original Stumptown Coffee Grinders at 45th and Division is always a great stop. Picked up a pound of their house decaf -- as the knowledgable counter man explained, a water processed decaf, but not the Swiss water process, which robs the beans of flavor. We also chatted about our favorite coffee ever, the Panama Esmerelda we recently scored at Peet's. Turns out, Stumptown has it, too, along with the 411 that it's been the top coffee in Panama for two years running. Quite the distinction, apparently. For the road, we purchased a beautiful decaf latte, with an exotic pattern etched in the foam. I'm not a latte guy normally, but this was worth it.

Bread for the leftover (from Christmas dinner) turkey noodle soup? No place else to go but Grand Central Bakery on Hawthorne. Just another loaf of como from heaven, but with 15 percent off under a Chinook Book coupon that had only three days left on it. The tightwad inside me squealed with glee.

For an impulse buy, we scored a fine early-winter grapefruit and a lime from Uncle Paul's Produce Market, the year-'round outdoor fruit and veggie station under the tent, just east of Grand Central. Ideal conditions there today -- upper 40s, no wind.

From there (crossing Hawthorne extra carefully -- alas, someone else is going to get killed there one of these days), we headed home, with a rosy glow and a renewed faith in the Rose City. No matter how badly our city, county, state and federal governments screw things up, there are still some great days and nights to be had in the shadow of Mount Hood. Especially if you're not really looking for them.

Comments (19)

Bread for the leftover (from Christmas dinner) turkey noodle soup? No place else to go but Grand Central Bakery on Hawthorne....

Well heck, Jack...that puts you two blocks from my house. And my bus stop there, where I can pick up bread --or some veggies from Uncle Paul's-- on my way home. Yes, life can be sweet.
(And I hope you used your Chinook coupon to buy a half pound, get a half pound free at Stumptown, as I did last week.)

From there (crossing Hawthorne extra carefully -- alas, someone else is going to get killed there one of these days...

Indeed. And if I may interject a rant...I've been trying to get a simple marked crosswalk there for better than ten years. There is a "plan" for pedestrian improvements along Hawthorne...but the City opposes marked crosswalks that they claim provide a "false sense of security." Better we should understand, the logic goes, how unsafe it is to cross there..."logic" that drives me up the wall.

All things considered, though...it is a fine neighborhood.

the City opposes marked crosswalks that they claim provide a "false sense of security."

Just part of the lunacy that permeates the Portland bureaucracy. But hey, Frank, don't get me started -- this isn't about them. Here's to Larry and all the other people who helped me yesterday!

Here's to Larry and all the other people who helped me yesterday!

And let's not forget the helpful folks at Division Hardware at 38th or so, where you can show them the washer you need and they know right where to get it. Or Carpe Vinum, a fine wine store a few blocks east from Stumptown.

What keeps Portland special in so many ways are these small businesses where personal service is so important.

They are the real Portland. Unlike the many pretenders.


Its kind of like the Capra movie, It's a Wonderful Life, The difference between Bedford Falls and Pottersville, were those small business owners like Martini's restaurant and the corner drug store. I know I've been empathizing with George Bailey lately and looking at how we can reclaim the City or Community neighborhood feel the majority of the commom folk in this city want or whether it is just too overwheming at this point.

Frank:
...but the City opposes marked crosswalks that they claim provide a "false sense of security." Better we should understand, the logic goes, how unsafe it is to cross there..."logic" that drives me up the wall.

JK:
Please read up a little on this stuff. Marked crosswalks, where there are two lanes in the same direction, are well known for the problem of a vehicle, in the curb lane, stopping for a ped while a car in the next lane over cannot see the ped because of the stopped car. Of course this is not a problem if the ped looks before he steps into the next lane. But in the real world some peds do get killed.

It is a worse problem if the stopped vehicle is opaque like a bus.

Thanks
JK

How about a traffic light? We have 'em here, back East. :-)

if i may join the party here, I would give major kudos to All Ways Warm, the woodstove dealership out about 90th & Division. We live north of Vancouver, but purchased our Vermont Castings from them almost 20 years ago. We found they carried all of the major brands, so their sales people could give us an honest appraisal of each of the stoves we were considering, without pushing one brand or another. The stove we bought has been exactly what they said it would be.

The service after the sale is what sets them apart, though. Always able to answer your questions and very patient and helpful with those of us who have....well, let's say "rudimentary" questions about the care and cleaning of our equipment.

We've tried other places nearer our house, but always go back because they know what they're doing and take care of their customers long after the check has cleared.

Jim writes>>>But in the real world some peds do get killed.

Yes they do, Jim. In marked, and in unmarked crosswalks. Leaving it unmarked is no solution to the real hazards of crossing the street.

The same study you quote says the safest place/way to cross any street is to jaywalk in the middle of the block... So if you follow the logic, we should get rid of all crosswalks, signalized or not, and just tell everyone to jaywalk.

I've never ceased to find this a giggle -- the city says, sorry no crosswalk 'cause we read this study, but also, sorry, here's a $$$ ticket for jaywalking, cause we don't...

but, more to the point -- ALL the studies say that if there is a safety issue at an intersection, as there certainly is at this one -- the most unsupportable thing you can do about it is -- nothing.

Hey! Welcome to my neighborhood, Jack.

I live a couple blocks south of Division Hardware.

I'll second every recommendation you and Frank made. Larry is a gem! Stumptown is a gem!

Also, Glen at Division Hardware says that Sit On It upholsterers, across Division from his store is a damned fine business, too.

Next time you're looking for a decent Thai meal, decently priced and with decent volume, try Appethaizing at 32nd and Division. Bellagio's at 36th makes a damned decent sandwich, too.

Of course, if you're looking for sinfully delectable desserts, there's Pix! just east of the light at 34th, too.

It all sure beats the hell out of having a Wal-Mart, even if it does cost a few pennies more.

For dinner, of course: Lauro.

"How about a traffic light? We have 'em here, back East. :-)"

Um... It's my understanding that the next change along Hawthorne will install two new controlled intersections. As a resident in the neighborhood who has watched what happens when traffic lights are installed on major thoroughfares, I'm dubious about additional traffic control lights on Hawthorne.

The reason? It increases the traffic through the neighborhood on those side-streets which have the controlled intersection on Hawthorne. Drivers tend to consider the lights at these intersections as indicators of through streets that allow them to divert around backups on the main thoroughfare.

That's what happened with the controlled intersection at Clinton and 39th. Once controlled, it became a major nuisance to those living within four to eight blocks of either side of 39th, along Clinton. It became a high volume residential street, with average speeds above 35 mph. Only a concerted effort of more than ten years duration culminating in the present "traffic calming" measures (particularly the diverters at 39th) returned a semblance of normality to our neighborhood.

For dinner, of course: Lauro.

Now just wait a second...Lauro's David Machado has now opened a SECOND restaurant: Vindahlo (Clinton & 21st). Sorta Indian, but really, really good...a good competitor for the new Sub-Rosa and Savoy restaurants a few blocks east on Clinton.

We may drive creaky, ancient Audi's when we're not on our bikes in Hosford-Abernethy...but we DO like to eat. And we've got great, great truly wonderful people feeding us!

Whoa-ho!

3 Doors Down at 36th just north of Hawthorne (three doors, west side) has got Lauro's beat.

I also join in your accolades to Grand Central Bakery. Their apple hand pie is _the_best_!


The OPB News hour had a good piece on Developers that rang too true and close what is happenning here and round the US. It reminded me of Georgetown shops, I discovered it on a trip to DC about 25 years ago and everytime I was in DC I used to sneak off for a unique experience shopping all the little shops and chatting with a cadre of interesting owners that collected things from all over the world, it was kind of like that little stretch in Mulnomah Center with Annie Blooms and the store that sells imported middle east clothing. I would reserve an afternoon and spend it poking around those little hole in the wall shops and finding my treasures, I could bring back to the West Coast and be sure that no one else had. When I was back three years ago what a shock, the core was new Mall type stores, The Gap, all the national chains had moved in. I only found two of my old haunts. I wonder how long it will take to duplicate on NW 23rd. I sincerely hope we can keep Portland Weird, and the Developers don't ruin our fair City, but we need to find a way to work together to make sure it is not "Developed" and sold out from under us" Especially with the new supreme court ruling.

How can we talk about Hawthorne restaurants without spending a moment's delicious contemplation on the hamburger and fries at Cafe Castagna? (We have some neighbors who perch themselves at the bar just for the fries, at least once a week...) And, the burger? Oh, my. Nothing like great beef cooked right. I know these are fighting words, but I've yet to have a better burger in any Portland restaurant.

Then there's the Bombay Cricket Club. You can make a full mean off just the aroma in there. "Hot"? They mean fire-red, hottest of hot-pepper, bring you to your knees crying, hot...

A little down the financial scale, and up the street, is Tony Bento -- the hands-down fav of our kids. Perch yourself at Tony's sushi bar, sip sake and watch as Tony makes your sushi. It’s always excellent. Get it to go and you can eat it in bed, watching a movie. Yum.

And, how could we not mention Chopsticks? No mushy sweet-and-sour here -- each dish individual, unusual, delicious, and spiced to fascinate. Never once have we been disappointed, and the prices are reasonable.

and then there's... too many to enumerate. Frank's right, this is a serious foodie neighborhood.

One last not-to-be missed -- the sangria at Nuestra Cuchina... well, and the deserts, and the flank steak, and the...

Oh, boo-friggin'-hoo. City government is bad and should be abolished, but when I decide I want a crosswalk at my intersection, they should run out here with a can of white paint to help me.

I say let's try the pure Libertarian approach on this one and see what happens--pull out all traffic lights, stop signs, and road markings and let everyone fend for themselves. Maybe Hawthorne Street, Inc., will swoop in to maintain and improve the street with the magical efficiency of the private sector, but I suppose they will have to charge a $5 toll to make it worth their while. That's OK with you, right?

Okay, what's the name of that 2nd Hand Store on Division and, I'm guessing, 32nd? South side. It always has a bunch of junky stuff outside, but inside there are some real finds, including some very nice retro furniture.

Lauro is awesome, especially in winter for the oxtail dish and the hanger steak.

Up on Hawthorne, don't forget Fujin--excellent Chinese food at a reasonable price.

My neighborhood is mid-Belmont, where you have a great little computer store (Belmont Computers) where the employees will give you good advice on fixing the computer yourself, or do a great job if you give it to them. Also Cricket Cafe, which has wonderful breakfasts unil 3 p.m. The Stumptown Coffee on Belmont, however, is too busy, and you get much more personable service at Wired Coffee on 39th (great desserts), Portland Coffee Co. on 25th & Belmont and Blend, on 24th and Burnside.

Also on Burnside is Foti's Greek Deli, home of the best gyros in town. The always smiling matron at the counter always remembers my name, though I really only go there about once every other month, and knows what I order.

I own a small business and do think small businesses are the true reflection of our city. And I don't think city government is a hindrance to the survival and prosperity of small businesses.

Panama Esmerelda is (if memory serves) actually grown by an American ex-pat who lives in Panama with his wife. I attended undergraduate with him, and one Christmas we drove together in his (very old) VW bus from La Jolla home to Santa Cruz (thereabouts). He and his wife (and his parents) own a place they've had for years on the McKenzie River. I thought Peets was the only place that PanEs, and for a limited time at that. It's news I like.


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14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
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Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
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Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
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Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
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Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
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1967, Toscana 2009
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Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
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Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
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Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 119
At this date last year: 21
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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