Portland – Part 1

by groove on March 24, 2013

portland_1

Food & Travel Part 1

It all started on Sunday, March 10. The three of us made the trek to the great city of Portland, Oregon. Most people assumed we were driving but we flew. Yes, it’s not a long drive from our home in the Okanagan. Probably about 7 hours but we didn’t want the stress of driving and we had air fare points to use so off we went via Air Canada. We arrived around 8 p.m. Sunday evening to a cloudy sky. I didn’t expect any less. It is Portland in March, it’s still the tail end of the rainy season.

Once we landed and grabbed our luggage we discovered the Max Light Rail system. Seriously, getting around Portland is so cheap and easy. The total cost for the three of us to head to our hotel downtown was a mere $8. Not too bad for a 45 minute drive. I’m guessing a taxi would cost about $50. Once we hopped off the rail we had to find our hotel, in the dark no less. Not an easy thing to do but we did it. And thankfully we were greeted kindly at the Vintage Plaza and found our hotel room to be very comfortable.

After we were settled in we needed to eat. After not eating since early in the day we headed to the quaint Italian restaurant attached to our hotel. The Pazzo Ristorante offered a great menu and to top it off we enjoyed a glass of red wine on the house as part of our hotel stay. Well two of us had wine and one of us had iced tea :).

Pazzo Pizza

Pizza was definitely on my mind so I ordered the tasty pizza pictured above which was cooked in their stone oven. Sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and fresh basil makes for a very delicious pizza.

After enjoying our first delicious meal in Portland we quickly walked over to Whole Foods before they closed for the evening to buy some frozen berries and almond milk. My idea behind this was I knew we would be eating out for lunch and dinners plus indulging in as many food carts as we could, at the very least we should start the day with a good breakfast. I packed many single serving packages of Vega protein powder and my mini blender. This turned out to be a great idea. As we got up in the morning and showered we each got to make our smoothie and lounge a bit before putting on the approximately 4-5 miles we walked each day.

Waking up the first morning I as pumped. I could hardly wait to walk the streets of downtown Portland. When we walked out our hotel lobby and into the street we headed straight into our first food cart pod.

food_cart_pod_1

There are many pods through out the city each having anywhere from 3 to 15 food carts.

Food Cart Pod

It’s really a tough decision on where to try with so many options. I couldn’t believe how many vegan options there were. I’m used to maybe having one or two vegetarian options so you can imagine when I’m suddenly given many food items to choose. It’s really overwhelming but a challenge I was up for :).

My first food cart experience was this Lemon Grass Tofu and it was delicious.

Lemon Grass Tofu

It might be hard to tell from this photo but the meal was huge and only cost $6.50. I realized quickly that food servings were very large. Definitely enough for two to share.

Music & Record Shops Part 1

When we visited Portland, one of our goals was to visit the many record shops housed in the downtown core as well as any other store we could find in the Mississippi district or Hawthorne District. We found several stores downtown that provided a wide selection of both used and new vinyl as well as deep offerings within genres of music. Jackpot Records had the least stock of any of the shops we visited, however their prices were among the most reasonable and their store the most organized and clean. Everyday Music, had by far, the most vast selection of records and we were able to find a few records there to put into our collection. The Black Belles debut has been on the iPod for awhile and we have enjoyed listening to the tunes digitally, but have been wanting to get the real deal – vinyl. Short of ordering directly through Third Man Records, we found it is a tough album to find. Local Okanagan stores carry only White Stripes records from the Third Man label, so when we thumbed through the shelves at Everyday and stumbled upon this record, it was a no-brainer.

Black Belles

The band has a goth-look and a garage sound and the album has several songs that are filled with catchy hooks and straight-ahead lyrics reminiscent of White Stripes, the Hives and the Misfits. It is safe to say that if Jack White likes this band and puts his support behind them, there must be something there to enjoy. We agree. If you get a chance to listen to them, take it. Check our facebook page for a few YouTube videos of studio and live tunes. Let’s hope the band continues to record and tour, although they have been rather inactive since last summer.

An article on www.vogue.com dated Nov 15, 2011 tells some of the band’s story: Formed in Nashville two years ago under a rather apt shroud of mystery and Internet chatter—and mentored by ex–White Stripes front man Jack White through his Third Man Records label—the Black Belles are rather hard to miss: They’re the same four femmes fatales (with matching pale-white complexions and oversize black witch hats) whom you saw backing up Stephen Colbert earlier this year when he premiered his single “Charlene II,” a fuzz-rock follow-up to his song “Charlene: I’m Right Behind You,” on his show.

Jack White produced their album, and unsurprisingly his philosophy (which champions the gruffness of analog and vintage equipment over digitalized slickness) runs deep through every song—particularly on standout tracks “Wishing Well” and “Honky Tonk Horror,” which see Jean paying homage to White’s untamed, White Stripes–era shriek.

Stay tuned for our Portland – Part 2 …

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