Showing friends around your new home town has to be one of the most intimidating, and potentially exciting, challenges one can face. It can be a total disaster or an eye-opening adventure that lets you see things from a new perspective.
I was fortunate to have the second kind of experience as I took my old friend M and my new friend C around Portland over the last two days.
The visit began somewhat crankily, with what should have been a simple three hour train trip from Tacoma, WA to Portland expanding through a cascade of difficulties into a nine hour journey that resulted in an eleven pm arrival. Too late for a real dinner, we hurried to Clyde Common to take advantage of their late night bar menu. Worn out, we headed home to sleep.
The next morning S sadly headed to work and M, C and I made our way to breakfast at the Bijou Cafe. There we feasted on, among other things, their renowned Oyster Hash, a plate full of cornmeal dusted oysters, potatoes and onions that provided a perfect base for the day.
Our next stop, inevitably, was Powell’s, where I managed to find a substantial stack of books to take home. There is something magical about exploring the rooms and rooms filled with books and seeing all of the people there who want to read them; it casts a spell on me that always results in a big purchase.
After leaving my new books in the car, we walked through the Pearl stopping here and there to window shop or explore local stores. One of my favorites for wandering through is Cargo, always a feast for the eyes and imagination.
As a next stop, we decided to head to the Lewis & Clark College campus where we found S and took a look around.
A scenic drive through the Sellwood neighborhood and an expensive stop in Multnomah Village at Switch Shoes brought us home for a brief rest before our dinner reservation at Andina. There we had a fantastic meal of shared small plates that ranged from a fresh citrus-drenched cebiche to the subtly flavored, delicately salted musciame de atun (cured tuna loin).
The big plan for day two was a trip to taste some wine. Before embarking, though, we headed to N. Mississippi Avenue for an amazing breakfast at Gravy and a quick stop for chocolates and salt at The Meadow.
At about 12:30 we picked S up at work and headed for Willamette Valley wine country.
We then headed a bit further west to Cana’s Feast where they specialize in Italian style wines from grapes grown in southern Washington state.
At last, with a car filled with bottles, and having tasted at least 20 different wines, we headed back to Portland and dinner at Ken’s Artisan Pizza, a perfect end to two days of eye-opening exploration, conversation, and laughs.