Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Friday Evening in Portland: Dinner at Ned Ludd

I was upstairs listening to the Tele-Tone when the blower sparked. Dolly-girl yelled up the steps, "Who's on the wire?" "McNulty and that red-head he's keeping company with, you know, Rhonda." "No, the blower." "Oh." I answered, "Yeahlow, D'Mestiere's. Whosit?" Slim. He and Tootsie were gonna be at their, whatcha callit, pied à terre in Stumptown and wanted to know if we wanted to get a little something. We did.

Dolly-girl's greenies had been giving the once-over three or four times to a joint over on MLK and Shaver, on our side of the river. It was a piece from where Tootsie and Slim set their brake when they've got their derrieres sur la terre where their pieds ought to be. I told Slim. "You game?" "Shoot me and see." They were. "Ned Ludd. Make it a-quarter-til-seven." "On it." Click.

Ned Ludd is named for, well, Ned Ludd, supposedly the person from whom the Luddites took their name. Me and Dolly-girl are called them by some, although I don't know why since we are right up-to-date and on top of all the newest things, like the internets and the webs, and, afterall, I am writing this on a "blerg" from my fancy computer. At the agreed on time, we walked through the door, Dolly-girl in the lead. She kept it. "Dolly-girl for four, due right now." The head Missy checked her clipboard. Hmmm, maybe there's something to the name; none of that fancy computer check in and vibrator pager if your table's not ready. Not that that vibrator pager can't be fun, follow? "Right, the rest of the party's here. Follow me."

We walked past a bar where it looked like the Volstad-buster knew what she was doing. She was moving fast enough to keep the missys hopping. They were calling out people's dreams and she was making those dreams come true, whether someone wanted to go straight or choose life on the rocks. We said our how-are-yas and settled. Missy showed up quick as a brown fox and looked at four lazy dogs. "Thirsty?" I answered, "My middle name." "His first and last, too," chimed in Dolly-girl and shot me a look through the wave.

Dolly-girl went for her usual, skidrow biancho. Tootsie looked Missy in the eye and asked, "Does that booze slinger know how to make me a Sazerac?" "I don't know about her, but I do. Poof, you're a Sazerac. Seriously honey, what she don't know about Sazeracs ain't worth drinking." "I'll call, Missy," Tootsie said with a rye smile. "Bring me one quick." Me and Slim both decided that there were fruits of Olea europaea that were just dying for a swim. "Drown three for me." "Yours?" Slim looked my way and nodded. "That song needs an encore, sing it again."

Missy knew us like I know Stumptown--she was back before two winks with the watering trough and she brought Bull Run all-around at the same time. She zipped away and was back with an order of flatbread before we could toast the Queen. "Looks like there's room for more victims," she said as she put down a shot of extra olives. We'd had a gander at the whaddaya-want and settled on a couple start-us-ups. She took the order and left us to our devices.

The house pickle plate tickled our fancy. Just about everything Heinz could pickle was on there, although Dolly-girl let me know H. J. had never splashed vinegar on these vegetables. The filet of fin flipper, Tootsie pronounced it a trout, came piled up with what Dolly-girl called a confit of fennel and leeks. I just laughed. I always do about eating a leek. You're supposed to take one, I tell her and it always gets me a shot through the wave and a "Whad-am-eye-gonna-do-wit-you-Jack." That's why I do it. She says it's adolescent. Guess I can't argue that. Can too! Anyway, the start-us-ups did just that and Missy was back to see what we wanted in our feedbags.

Tootsie and Slim both went for the quacker's girls with some what's-up-docs and other roots they pull out of the dirt piled on. I think Slim wanted it for a redux on the boys we drowned as they had some of then in there too. Dolly-girl went for clucker with those leeks again and a dose of German lettuce. I was looking at one of the nicest chops off a porker I've ever seen. It was as moist and tasty as they get and makes you want to head to the pen and thank Mrs. Porky for giving us that little trotter. It came on top of some sauteed cow feed and some of what my old man woulda called butter bullets.

Some roasted Belgians made it around the table. They charred them on the outside but they were sweet and tender inside--done just right. Missy didn't steer us into oncoming traffic about that. In fact, she knew what the hash slinger could sling. You know it'll be good when she tells you it's good.

I gotta tell you, those feedbags set us to spinning. Four jaws were going and nothing was being said. Oh sure, there were more than a few ahhs--like a line-up at the sore throat clinic--and a lot of ooohs. A bottle of rosso skidrow--Cascina Corte "Pirochetta"-- washed it down for three of us while Dolly-girl did a do-it-again on her chardonnay from down The Valley.

Just when you were thinking she'd be there, sure enough, Missy was back around with the finish-it-off card. Slim was thinking milk and cookies while Dolly-girl and Tootsie can never say never to a panna cotta. Me, I can say never all day to that, but you can't wave a cognac past my nose without getting a snap like a trout after a mayfly. Slim was singing My Old Kentucky Home while Tootsie went French with Ferigoule--she had plenty of thyme.

Missy checked in on us again and, after giving us the once-over-twice, decided it was time to settle up. Plus the place was packing up and a bunch of people wanted to do a Chris Brown/Michael Jackson mash-up karaoke to our table with "There's never a right time to say goodbye...SO IT MIGHT AS WELL BE NOW! JUST BEAT IT!" We settled up. It wasn't cheap, seeing as how we'd kept the booze slinger fully employed--Slim and I each left Mr. Franklin and General Jackson shaking hands and a smile on Missy's face.

But seeing as how we'd had a great time, great drinks, great food, and great service, who's complaining? Not me. We slipped out into the night, said our Vaya con dios, and agreed that there's absolutely nothing wrong with being a Luddite in Stumptown, especially if it means tying on the feedbag at Ned Ludd!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Looking at Life 2009

January 2010. A new year. June 3, 2007 I started this blog and here's part of what I wrote:

Mostly I started this because I like to take pictures and share them except that I don't make my gallery public since my name is in the address and...oh what the hell, no one will look at this anyway.

So in 2007, 2008, and now 2009, I've reviewed the pictures I've taken. In the old days, I chose when I clicked the shutter release. Now, there's no reason not to push the shutter release. The selectivity comes on the downstream end. Now I've chosen.

Over the past 3 weeks, I've looked at all 5300 and some images I took this year. It was easy to pick the top 10%--530. It was even easy to get to 265, 5%. The top 100--2%. That was hard. The top 50? The top 1 point something percent? It was fun.

I have my reasons for picking them, but click here to see them:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Sunday Morning in Portland: Another Breakfast at Fats

So come a day or two after the ball dropped in Gotham, me and Dolly-girl got a buzz on the blower from Tootsie and Slim. Seems they got a what-you-call pied-à-terre, you know, a place you keep in a town for stepping out on your better half, except in this case, Tootsie and Slim are stepping out with each other. They just want to do their stepping in Stumptown. Can't short 'em on that--The Valley may be something to look at, but you don't need no sleeping salts down there, read me?

Anyway, the long end of the short side of it was they were looking for a place to tie on the feedbag and they wanted it to be new. They dialed the right number--we knew just the place. We headed to Gourmet Gulch on shank's mare and met them at Fats. You never know what you'll see these days in the way of yard art. I'm guessing this machine still had some life in it. Thelma would have been happy to have it down at the office. That manual adding machine is getting hard on her elbows...

Our neck of the woods has sprouted a lot of what Dolly-girl calls "murals" these days. They look like pictures painted on walls to me, but she's studied stuff like that at universities of higher learning that take your money faster than a Rolex salesman at Salmon and Broadway, so I generally believe her when she's got some fancy name for things.

Slim and Tootsie pulled up in their roadster and we said our how-do-yas and walked up to the joint. Me and Dolly-girl had been there before , and we figured it was worth another trip. I held the door open for the day's first customers, a couple of chiquitas that looked like they had breaking a fast on their minds. Dolly-girl, Tootsie, and Slim followed them through the door with the same thing on their minds. I took a look down the street and then went in.

Slim picked us a table in the corner that gave me a good view out the window at a part of Stumptown that used to see the likes of Mister Trouble more nights than not, and days too. But these days, he keeps his hands in his pockets when he walks by. Me? I just keep my eyes open and my heater where Messrs. Smith & Wesson can speak if need be. I could look down the bar and into the kitchen too. The hash slinger was warming up back there and pretty soon he'd be singing an aria for us, follow?

Missy brought Bull Run for everyone and poured me and Dolly-girl a cuppa. Slim and Tootsie were flying thanks to Stumptown Roasters in their part of town, over on the other side of the river. We gave the whadda-ya-wants the once-over and filled Missy in on what was gonna hit our spots. Dolly-girl saluted the Queen and ordered the whole nine yards. Slim wanted them wrecked with murphys and Noah's boy--the very same I'd had the last time I'd waddled through the door. Tootsie had him flop a couple between whiskey with Macon's best. Me, I went Adam & Eve on Alabama ice cream.

Missy sang our song to the hash slinger and then did the what's-gonna-scratch-your-back with a couple new tables that had come through the door. The place was filling up. Good thing about birdseed is that it never takes long before the feedbags are full and ready to tie on. Dolly-girl's full breakfast was stacked high and had everything any Englishman could think of. Tootsie's cackle-in-the-middle was more than billed and filled the order. My Alabama ice cream was just the way I like it--baked like a cake and yellow. They can keep that white soup south of the Mason & Dixon as far as I'm concerned.

Murmurs took the place of chatter as we all dug in. Four smiling faces pushed back from the table when we'd had what we'd come for. A filled-up foursome headed out the door with a nod to Missy. I said it before, I'll say it again--If you've got a hankering for cackleberries done just right, Fats will put you in Fat City. Phat!