Thursday, August 16, 2012

Roadtrip Portland: Part 2

 After our Mississippi Street dining and shop, we headed over to the Pearl District to visit the Museum of Contemporary Craft.  I was mostly interested in viewing what was on sale in their gift shop but when we saw the show was a retrospective of Oregon artist Betty Feves, we were intrigued and decided to see the show.
Not very knowledgeable on ceramics in general, I had no idea who Betty Feves was.  Turns out she was pretty interesting.  She created a large body of work, particularly in the 1950'2-1970's, and was important in several ways.

First, she experimented with creating large scale pieces.  And I mean large ceramic sculptures, taller than me.  She worked both figuratively and abstract.  Not many women were working large scale in ceramics at this time.  

Secondly, she worked and thrived in Eastern Oregon, a basic wasteland for art and ceramics, especially mid-century.

Third, she created her own glazes from natural materials.  It is very easy to see where her influences come from if you have ever seen the landscape in Pendleton.  

I appreciate retrospectives where the artist has dabbled and evolved their style through many mediums and designs.  They showed jewelery and paintings along with her ceramic sculptures and vessels.  Unfortunately the show's last day was the day we were there (lucky!) but the shows opening this month at MOCC make me think I need to schedule another trip down to Portland soon! 

Next up after the museum, we headed to Cacao, a chocolate boutique and drinking chocolate cafe.  And, no, I do not mean hot chocolate or Mexican hot chocolate, although it is similar.  I mean drinking chocolate.  Which means whole milk and rich, high cacao content chocolate with just a touch of sugar and spice added if desired.  Here I am drinking a 2 oz cup of the spicy drinking chocolate alongside a caffe macchiato (espresso with foam).  Heaven.

After Cacao and the Museum of Contemporary Craft, we hoofed it over to the Hawthorne District for shopping and drinks.  (Note: When I mention to people I am going or have been to Portland, most people ask if I went on the train.  The train is nice if you are going to stay downtown or have lots of cash to spend on taxis or lots of time to spend on mass transit.  Want to see the interesting parts of Portland in a weekend?  Drive.)

Lots of people love Powell's Books in the Pearl District but they don't realize that there are several different locations specializing in different themes.  On Hawthorne they have a Crafts and Garden and Cooking shop.  Talk about things to see and buy forever!  We spent a lot of time browsing and I ended up buying Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton.  I made my girlfriends each buy a copy of My Life in France by Julia Child.  I'm serious, I picked 2 copies off the shelf and said, "Here, you must buy and read this and if you don't we are no longer friends."  Not quite like that, but close.  It's a good book.

Next, we drove down to the end of Hawthorne to try out the Sapphire Hotel which is really just a bar, not a hotel.  And we could have walked, but it was warm out, and, hey, we had a busy itinerary.  A friend of mine has been recommending this place forever and wow, was it worth it.  They had a make-your-own Manhattan and Martini menu where you could pick out the bourbon or gin, respectively, along with which vermouth.  Classy. 

Then we had to hustle back to check in at our hotel and get ready for dinner.  We ate at Andina Peruvian in the Pearl district which I had gone to before but my friends had not.  Think loud and busy and delicious and it is amazing how sexy a chef can make qunioa or corn look on a plate!  My photos didn't turn out due to poor lighting so you'll just have to check it out for yourself. 

The next morning I needed a nice solid breakfast to tweak away the alcohol residues and fuel me for the drive home.  We headed back out to Mississippi to a breakfast place we had eyeballed the day before: Equinox. The service was lousy but it was worth it.  This is a "breakfast pillow."  Think puff pastry surrounding caramelized veggies topped with poached eggs and a pasilla cheese sauce.  Poached eggs are a popular breakfast menu item in Portland.  I wish Tacoma restaurants would take note. 
It's only been two weeks, but I am already thinking it is almost time to head back down there!  I need to make this at least a quarterly event. 

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