Conclusion so far: Portland is only somewhat like Richmond.
Zillions of restaurants, so come meal time we have our pick. Last night we ate at Ned Ludd, a "craft kitchen" where everything, and I mean everything, is cooked in a wood-burning fireplace that dominates the dining room.
Axes and cut wood greeted us at the door. No kidding. Beer was poured into Mason jars, if you can believe that.
The low-tech cooking method was only part of the reason I chose it. The other is because it's named after the guy who resisted technology during the industrial revolution, causing those who turn their back on it to be called Luddites.
For the record, I am a proud Luddite, amazing Portlandia types by telling them I have (gasp!) no cell phone.
We couldn't resist drinking local with Love and Squalor Rose (of Gewurztraminer, no less), a barely salmon pink Rose made all the more desirable for the mere 60 cases produced, the kind of thing that would never make it to the east coast.
After charcuterie, whole trout, cabbage and a chocolate chip cookie cooked in that brick oven (delivered with a glass of milk for dunking), we headed to Mississippi Studios to see a show.
The venue was cool with Oriental rugs over concrete floors and a seated balcony which we bypassed for the floor. On the bill was The Family Crest, a San Francisco band I'd seen on NPR's Tiny Desk concerts series last year.
The septet was so full of youthful enthusiasm and classical talent - violin, trombone, drums, bass, guitar, cello, piano/flute - and their orchestral pop infected the crowd like pot brownies, causing them to dance and sway with the music. We heard new material, Tiny Desk repeats and a cover of a Yeah, Yeah, Yeah song, "Maps." Standout evening and it was a frickin' Sunday
At breakfast this morning, it was bagel sandwiches and the Archies singing, "Sugar, Sugar," a song so notable the woman next to us felt compelled to comment about it.
Bumpersticker seen today:
Try not to be a dick.
This is what Portlandia aspires to, not that I'm judging.
We made two trips, one successful, one not, to Clear Creek Distillery for a tasting of liqueurs, grappas, brandy and even a whiskey. When I chose to taste the pale green Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir, our taster commented, "You'll definitely be tasting Christmas tree for the next hour.
If it's possible to drink a Christmas tree, this was it. I have to admit, I kind of liked it.
The being a tourist part has been oh-so nature-centered today, with visits to the Japanese garden and Rose Test Garden, the former a breathtaking study in contemplation, water and repose and the latter a riot of colors and fragrances.
I can't agree with the People's Choice, though, because a licorice-scented rose just doesn't do it for me.
After lunch at Broder - because why come to Portland if you're not going to eat Swedish food? - a transplanted Portlandia-ite suggested the Space Room, easily the darkest dive bar I've ever been to, followed by the Sapphire Hotel Bar, a swankier stop with club chairs and no Fleetwood Mac videos playing.
Since there's nothing like spending an afternoon on a Sunnyside (the name of the neighborhood) porch, we spent hours doing just that, talking about the recent nude bike ride and why not living together is the best thing a devoted couple can do.
Over dinner at Irving Street Kitchen, we saw a server spill a purple drink on a guest's white dress, a woman refuse to eat her fried chicken because it was too spicy and a couple discussing the oceanography classes they'd both taken (what are the chances?), all the while enjoying a an exquisite chilled sweet corn soup, the most perfectly cooked halibut a mouth could hope for and meatballs with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and gravy.
Best of all, daylight here lasts until almost 10:00, making for evenings that stretch out much longer than at home. Tonight, eating outside on the patio, a practically full moon kept us company as we absorbed more Portlandia goings-on.
Yet to dance, growing things are everywhere and, for the most part, people have been anything but dick-like. Portland and its pines have been fun.
Also, note to Richmonders: drinking Christmas trees is under-rated.