10 Things I learned about Portland

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The IACP Conference has come to an end. It’s been a wild and crazy and wonderful time. Old friends, new friends, a fine time has been had by me.

So, here in absolutely no order of importance, Ten Things I’ve Learned about Portland.

Portland in the spring (1)

The IACP Conference has come to an end. It’s been a wild and
crazy and wonderful time. Old friends, new friends, a fine time has been had by
me.

So, here in absolutely no order of importance, Ten Things I’ve
Learned about Portland:

  1)  The blocks
are really short. It’s an extremely navigable city and the natives are
amazingly helpful and very colorful. 
A guy with a fully erect Mohawk, enormous disc in his earlobe, tattoo on
his neck, holding the hands of his 2-year-old shaved head twins gallantly insists
on giving me a seat on the train.  The flip side of life is an overheard conversation: “OK, go
cash in your cans and get your morning fix. Love you Andy.”

  2) You better like Pinot Noir.  I drank some absolutely amazing Pinots, which is a good
thing because the locals worship at the altar of the Pinot God, and I can understand
why.

  3) When entire armies of badge wearing foodies invade a
city, does Portland curl its lip in snobbish disdain? Oh no…this city welcomed
us with open arms and laden table. There are amazing local cheeses, chewy
sourdough breads, smoked fish, pickles, damn good charcuterie, and the smell of
fine coffee is everywhere. What’s not to love?

  4) Portlanders like a good cocktail. The Wednesday night
reception at the Nines Hotel hosted a line up of some of the top mixologists in
the city and they were pouring fine libations. There was a chamomile
grappa-vodka sour that was exceptional, and if you swap out the vodka for gin,
this would be in my top 5 of great cocktails.  I know, you are gagging at the thought of chamomile grappa,
but you have to trust me on this one. 
Aspargus

  5) Going to the Farmers Market is a religious experience.  Morels, fish, cheese, lettuces, ramps,
yak, buffalo, breads, cookies, music, children, strollers, foraged foods,
asparagus, onions, hazelnut fed pork, bacon, vegan things.  It was impressive to have such an
abundance of goodness this early in the season.

  6) New York knows nothing about food carts. Portland’s food
carts have gotten a lot of press lately and I sort of shrugged it off, but when
you see the array of cuisines, or better yet, smell the food at the different
carts, it’s mind blowing.

  7) James Beard is a Portland boy.

  8) IACP threw one helluva good conference. If you are anyone
in the food world, this was the place to be. Simply by happenstance, I spent a
half hour chatting with the marvelous Madhur Jaffrey, the next morning we
happened to be on a James Beard walking tour together, along with the legendary
Judith Jones (editor to Julia Childs). 
Casual, easy and amazing to be walking with these gentle giants of the
food world.

 
James Beard walking tour

  9) Springtime in Portland is gorgeous. There are flowers
bursting out everywhere and you can practically hear the leaves growing all
around you.

  10) Having Ruth Reichl and Kim Severson host the gala award
event and getting an award is pretty awesome. Is it normal to shake more after you get the award and give a speech
in front of 900 people?? (In case you are wondering, I was given a Special
Recognition Award as Volunteer of the Year, and it is an absolutely incredible
honor. I’m still in shock.)

 

One of the absolute highlights of this week was the dinner a
friend threw at his apartment last night. As wonderful as it is to taste the
morsels offered by the top restaurant cities, when it comes down to it, dinner
with friends and family trumps every time. Thank you Steve, it meant a lot to
me!
Modern Oregon

 

  
Need a laugh? Shake of the head? Take a look at the signage photos at the
end. There is some extremely strange signage in this town.

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