I made it to Portland and I am eating my way through it! I'm also walking my way through it, so hopefully the calories balance out in the end.
Waking up at 4:45 isn't something I like doing, but when there's a flight to a food festival on the other end, it's not that bad. Unfortunately, I still arrived too late to make my Alaska Air flight. While the nice gate agent was working her magic to get me on another flight, I realized I the girl at the next window was someone I've been meaning to connect with, so I figured this was the reason I missed the flight.
Within a few minutes, I was rebooked on an Alaska partner, Horizon. They fly Q400's and are boarded by walking out onto the ramp and up the stairs into the plane. Being the wife of a biz jet and former Baja bush pilot, this was totally cool with me.
The fuselage on a Q400 is shorter and narrower, but with only two seats on each side of the aisle, the comfort level is the same as a 737. The other thing to be aware of is that there's only one potty, so you might want to make sure you "go" before you go.
Once I got off the plane and back into the terminal, I realized I hadn't figured out how to get to my hotel from the airport. I went out to the curb and saw an info booth. Naturally, I figured the person in that booth would be able to help me.
Here's a tip, boys and girls: If you're an a-hole, working with the public is probably NOT for you. If you don't like helping people with their questions, then sitting at an info booth is probably not the right career choice.
After a bit of walking around, I found a nice lady at the TriMet booth that gave me a nice welcome to Portland, some personal insights about the city, and directions to my hotel.She is clearly in the right job. Following her instructions, I took the red line to Galleria, and walked up and over a couple of blocks to my hotel.
McMenamin's Crystal Hotel
Turning the corner and seeing the sign to the hotel put a smile on my face. I love to stay in unique hotels and this one was definitely emitting the vibe. It was one of those old boarding houses turned boutique hotels and had at one time been a gay bath house. So there's that.
The lobby is basically a check in desk and a few feet of space in which to stand. Walking down the hall to my room, I saw words to songs hand painted on every door. Mine was "You Keep Knocking..."
Funky. That's the word I would use to best describe my room. Not the nasty kind funky, but the cool, whimsical, fun funky. In the corner was a crate filled with local snacks and drinks that I eagerly tore into, since I skipped lunch.
And then I had to pee.
Oh guess what, Sugar? There's no potty in your room! I remembered the age of the hotel and decided to venture down the hall. That's where I found the bathrooms. Two thoughts came to mind: A) I'm glad I packed my jammies, and B) I better not drink a lot of water before going to bed.
Hawk's View Happy Hour
The first event I attended was a happy hour at Imperial with wines from Hawks View Cellars. We were treated to some delicious apps and tasty regional wines. My favorite bite was a fried pork belly topped with grilled mackerel and a tartar cream. I'm not even kidding, I could eat a whole plate of that! The wine that I fell in love with was a WHITE Pinot Noir. Such a beautiful blend of the light fruitiness of a pinot grigio with the deep warmth of a noir. I wish I could buy a case, but they're all out. Next season...
I was bopping around, chatting up strangers, when all of the sudden, I heard, "Are you Sugar Jones?" Breathing a sigh of relief that I wasn't going to have to be alone at the party anymore, I turned to meet my companion for the evening, Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. Irvin is based in San Francisco, so we chatted about The City. Then he introduced me to Joe Yonan, the food/travel editor of The Washington Post who had some great advice for me about what direction to go in a particular subject.
How lucky can one girl who needs food/travel writing advice get, huh?
Widmer Brothers Brewing Sandwich Invitational
We made our way over to Directors Park to eat some sammies and taste some brews. Widmer's Pear Cider is my favorite non-beer brew, so I was very excited to see that it was one of the three beverages they were pouring. Joe said that he wished there was more for him to eat, which was shocking for me to hear, being in the middle of all that food. But then he explained that he was a vegetarian, so I suggested we walk over to the Tillamook Table. They had three choices, but the one that wowed me was the Dark Chocolate Ginger with Tillamook's Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar.
Stay tuned for the recipe, my loves.
The night ended with a late night Industry Welcome Party. I wish I could show you the pictures of all the wild partying and debauchery, but I couldn't hang. I went back to my super funky former bath house boutique hotel and fell asleep... tummy full... completely content.