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Friday, August 16, 2013

Portland II


Portland II

Have you ever experienced nature in a way that it sucked all the air out of your lungs as if you were dipped in ice cold water and teeth clattering with involuntary fervor?  You may experience some of this when you first see the Columbia River Gorge just northeast of Portland, Oregon.  If you don’t then you’re probably a little dead inside.

Columbia River Gorge
I’m often amazed at how folks can race through their lives without nary a glance at how nature affects us, supports us, nurtures and nourishes us.  I’m a “stop and smell the roses” kinda guy and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I’m abhorrent to the notion that a 9 to 5 job is all that matters because places like the Gorge will make you think twice about pleasing your boss with your latest financial projections or monthly report.  I’m not saying don’t provide for yourself and your family but what I AM saying is appreciate the world around you and by all means travel to see it ….. you’ll slowly change to understand there is a greater need and greater good if you will - and it’s called our eco-systems.  I see people all the time become absorbed with really unimportant things and gloss over matters of true importance which saddens me entirely.  Don’t trudge through life and just manufacture carbon dioxide like every other dolt drenched in apathy; get out there and discover where your interests lie and live, truly live!

Multnomah Falls

Picnicking on the bluffs above Portland

Okay- enough with the tree-hugging mumbo-jumbo, I’m obviously enthralled with the area and it shows (guilty as charged!)  Me?  I’m all about the sights, sounds, smells and more importantly the flavor of life.  It may be food or traditions or culture; I want to experience it, embrace it and celebrate it.  I see a ton of indifference when people are slapped in the face with change or even worse ….. “Out of the box” ideologies. 

Cappuccino and croissants at St. Honore'

A city of bridges indeed

Portland wraps its arms around change and gives it a gigantic hug.  This “running with scissors” attitude spawned things like the foodie movement, micro-brewery scene, MusicFest NW, Time-Based Art Festival and a responsible stewardship of the natural environment.  This city doesn't limit itself or suffer a paradoxically challenging (say – don’t do attitude); no, Portland is definitely a trailblazer (get the pun?) and knocks down boundaries for continuous improvement that leads to some of the best living on earth!

This living I speak of is bustling neighborhoods and culinary treasures like “Blue Hour” and “Le Pigeon” two of the great places I dined at while in this mystical and charmed city.  Whether eating the best lamb I’ve ever had at “Blue Hour” or the best appetizer in the world at “Le Pigeon”; I can attest that the chefs preparing these meals are wardens of a craft that embodies more than just eating.  In Portland, food seems more about where it came from and a “feeling” it gives when consumed.

Tree-hugged streets
"Said" appetizer

The food in Portland is ridiculous!

Cooking in the Pacific Northwest thrives on the local scene with the advent of farmer’s markets.  Pride isn't just considered when a restaurant boasts they are sourced locally; it’s kind of a mandate that they do business in this manner.  Why not?  This in the one area that pretty much has it all when shopping for offerings in any eating establishment but more importantly, it’s in their blood and culture to do so.  I dig this!

And a river runs through it (Willamette)
Icon of the city
Whether you’re feeling the spray of Multnomah Falls on your face or smelling the roses high atop the city; you’re never left wanting for a lack of visual beauty here.  If its food you’re looking for then go no further because Portland is a world-class destination that will only get better as the creativity of the local chefs is unbridled and their lust for culinary accountability makes this destination a must see and must do.  I dream to live out my final days here and hone my craft as a cook and serious chef one day.  Hopefully, sooner than later.

The sun sets on my perfect visit
Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)

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