Grain & Gristle: my favorite restaurant

I feel a little wild, saying that I have a favorite restaurant. There are so many wonderful ones in Portland and I love so many of them.

But apparently, I do not love them all equally.

I love Grain & Gristle the most. The space is small and cozy. The staff is friendly without being smarmy or condescending. There are no televisions. The drinks are great: house wine never disappoints, cocktails are scrumptious, and they serve my favorite local brewery (Upright Brewing — deserving of their own post).

The food is delicious. The burger is fabulous. The mussels slay me. The “two-fer” is a great and amazing deal. I love pickles.

I believe dessert is also great, but I’m usually too full to order any.

They are on my bus line: #8.

Grain & Gristle is in NE Portland at 15th & NE Prescott. You can make reservations on Open Table.

Woodblock Chocolate: oh, when will you open!?!

The chocolate manufactory I just discovered I needed.

Look what I just discovered in my neighborhood: our very own chocolate manufactory (best word ever): Woodblock Chocolate. Now, admittedly, there are other chocolate shops very, very close by (Creo Chocolate, Alma Chocolate, Missionary Chocolates), so it is not that I am deprived of chocolate (and we shall not speak of 180 Xurros — the most dangerous siren call of all).

But I stumbled across this beauty all on my own, without any warning. I cannot wait for them to open… But when will they open?!?

New Years Resolutions 2016

Well, 2015 received NO love from me on this website. Portland has been so over-hyped recently, I didn’t really have much motivation to fan the flames. But now we’re into 2016, when I guess we can have a clean start? I dunno.

In any case, 2016 shall receive at least as many posts as 2015.


  1. I’m more than a third of the way through my Hale Pele rum tasting, so hopefully by next year, I’ll be down to the last third.
  2. I’m going to stop eating dessert when I go out to dinner unless I didn’t actually eat much dinner. I’ve been getting uncomfortably full. If I want dessert, I will go out specifically to have dessert.

A resolution for the new year

Update: still working on it in 2018. But surely I’ll get there by 2020?!?

To join the Loyal Order of Fire Drinkers at Hale Pele by the end of the year. This involves tasting 50 pre-selected rums by the end of the year. I’m very excited!

Why, you might ask? Well, I know very little about rum and have had a tendency to dismiss it as a sweet, cloying drink best served with coke in the backyard. But as I have discovered more about bourbon, rye, aquavit, and others, I’ve grown curious about rum. Hale Pele seems like the perfect place to learn more, and is conveniently located (for me).

Lessons from New Year’s Eve: when tasting the rums, consider trying only one or maybe two. After two drinks, everything tastes great (and oddly similar).

To 2015!

Activities for the weekend of August 1, 2014

This is a momentous weekend for my family, as we are gathering in Portland to celebrate the life of my grandfather.

There are many delightful things to do in Portland, and here are a few to consider. Sections below include Parks, Walking and Biking, Eating and Drinking, Art and Culture, and Shopping, and also feel free to explore this site as well.


  • Hang out in a park: as a somewhat lazy person, this is one of my favorite activities. There are a couple of lovely downtown and West-side parks for people watching, including:
  • Go to Forest Park: this park runs along the west side of town, and has lots of great hikes and places to hang out. You can walk there from Jan and Bill’s house and there are easy mass transit connections as well.
  • Visit Chinese Garden in NW Portland close to the river: This is a lovely little park with a tea garden where you can get lovely tea and tasty Asian snacks. We might have discounted tickets (or your hotel might) if you’re interested. There is also a lovely Japanese Garden up into Forest Park.

Walking and biking

Eating and drinking

  • Eat and drink your way across town — if you’re interested in this option, let me know and I can give you some recommendations to meet your location/price point/cuisine preferences (and some info on this site as well). If you want to poke around online, I usually start at the Portland Eater site if I’m curious about local food happenings, and then move onto other food blogs.
  • Distillery Tour: these are lots of fun, but are also in a part of town with less shade, so pace yourself. We have some free Eastside Distillery tour tickets, although our favorite distilleries are House Spirits and New Deal Distillery. We haven’t been to the other three, so let us know if you make it there!
  • Farmers markets are going on all week long if you want to go nibble on some berries and treats. They often have prepared foods available.

Art and culture


  • Shopping: Portland has some delightful clothing stores that are clustered together in a couple of neighborhoods. My favorite areas are:
    • the West End (which also has some fabulous food options)
    • close-in East Burnside (also has fabulous food and drink options) and is near Distillery Row
    • SE Hawthorne, particularly beyond SE 28th. Lots of other great stores scattered about as well.
    • Fremont Fest is a neighborhood festival on Saturday is on NE Fremont with a cute parade and shops
  • There is an Urban Air Market happening on Saturday at Zidell Yards, south of downtown (can take streetcar or walk from downtown).
  • Books: well, I can never say too much about Powells. They are renovating on the West Burnside entrance, but you can go in on NW Couch and 11th and they are delightful! If you are interested in graphic novels and comics, I can give you some additional recommendations.
  • Visit Saturday Market: crafts and great people watching towards the North end of Waterfront Park right at the Burnside bridge. I haven’t bought much here recently, but I do enjoy hanging out and watching the crowds while sitting at the fountain to the south of the market.

Possible shows I’m watching at Bridgetown Comedy Festival

Bear with me as I tell you a story of geography and transit. Or go read about my amazing training regimen.

This year, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival has some different venues which is strongly influencing my tentative plan for shows. As a lazy bicyclist (and a city that fails to provide late night mass transit), I have been stuck with waiting for cabs to get from upper Hawthorne to my home at 2am. Apparently we don’t have enough cabs between 1am and 2am. Only really a problem for me once or twice a year, but it has kind of sucked.

This year, the festival venues make an interesting backwards L from the Eagle Lodge (not to be missed) at 49th & Hawthorne down to the Analog Cafe (720 SE Hawthorne) and the White Owl Social Club (1305 SE 8th — pretty much at SE Main) and then back to the Bossanova Ballroom and Doug Fir (both right around 7th/8th on E. Burnside).

As a side note, the Bagdad Theater is out (now showing first run movies), which is a bummer because the seats were more comfortable than other venues but a good thing because the theater just ate up the sound and energy of some shows (which might have been related to my tendency to fall asleep in the more comfortable chairs even though I tried to stay away from the couches in the balcony).

Okay, so we have these new venues — and guess what, I can walk home from E. Burnside and 8th relatively easily. So my schedule is largely based around trying to end my night at the Bossanova or Doug Fir. So there are probably great late shows near 50th and Hawthorne that you might want to explore depending on your eventual destination as well.

Without further ado, my tentative plan (no links but you can see the whole schedule on the Bridgetown website):


  • 8pm: Dead Authors Podcast with Paul F. Tompkins at Bossanova (I love Paul F. Tompkins and will pretty much watch him do anything. Full stop, as HG Wells would say).
  • 10pm: Late Night @ Doug Fir (Yay, Late Night!) OR Stand up with Anthony Lopez @ Bossanova (Yay, stand up and Anthony Lopez).


  • 7pm: Early show @ Eagles Lodge (I like going to the Eagles Lounge and as stated above, gotta go first thing to the far end of the backwards L. I don’t know any of these comedians yet, but I bet they will be delightful.)
  • Go have dinner?
  • 10pm: Stand up with Reggie Watts @ Bossanova (I think all of Portland loves Reggie Watts, but note that this is a show of lots of comedians along w/ Reggie Watts) OR Baron Vaughn Presents: The New Negroes @ White Owl (I love Baron Vaughn and the uncomfortable show name of the New Negroes)
  • 11:30pm: Bossanova late show (better hope I like this venue!)


Okay, by now, I may have either seen or heard about performers that cause me to change my plans or I’ve come to hate or love certain venues. So, things are starting to get quite tentative. But, I like having a plan!

  • 2pm: Probably Science @ Alhambra (I like imaginary science and I can get to 48th & Hawthorne in the middle of the day. Maybe start with lunch somewhere beforehand?)
  • 4pm: Hang out with me @ Alhambra (Why not? Sounds like fun!)
  • 7pm: Portland Masters @ Analog (leaning towards this, but there are a bunch of other great shows at 6pm or 7pm.)
  • 10pm: Brew HaHa @ White Owl OR W. Kamau Bell @ Doug Fir.
  • 11:30pm: White Owl or Doug Fir shows (Probably depends where we have ended up.)


Hope I have paced myself, because some years I don’t make to any Sunday shows.

  • 4pm: This Feels Terrible @ Doug Fir (I will probably be feeling a bit terrible by now)
  • Dinner and maybe another show along the bottom of the backwards L of venue.
  • 10pm: Prompter @ Bossanova (I have very mixed feelings about Ted talks, so I think this show will do me good and would be a nice way to end the festival)


Make sure I am taking the morning off.

Did you note that my punctuation was inconsistent regarding parenthesis? Guess what, it doesn’t matter! This note is mostly to myself.

Do you have questions about the grammar regarding my use of “regarding” above? Me too! But it still doesn’t matter!

Thoughts on Day One of Bridgetown 2014

First night of Bridgetown was fun (as expected), a bit of an organizational mess (partly my own fault), and taking off Friday from work was a great idea.


Dead Authors Podcast with Paul F. Tompkins as HG Wells and Jon Daly as Oscar Wilde (who is not, despite having the same initials, Orson Welles) was all that I hoped it would be. Fun fun fun. Yay!

Sticking with my geography plan, we were looking at a collection of comics at Bossanova hosted by Anthony Lopez or Late Night Action at Doug Fir. Having the opportunity to see Late Night Action regularly (and availing ourselves of said opportunity fairly regularly) we made the perhaps flawed choice to stick at Bossanova. More on that in a moment. However, highlights:

  • Sean Cullen: His rambling exploration of the audience and venue was fun, and makes me want to see other shows by him this weekend to see how they vary. I’m sure the more intense show for the small people on the tiny stage behind the regular stage was pretty amazing after we were all sent home.
  • Emily Maya Mills: I really wanted some cake after this set.
  • Janine Brito: I’m bummed I’m not sure schedules will line up to see her again. But go see her.
  • Wil Anderson: Everything sounds better in an Australian accent. I think.

Organizational mess

Me: left my drivers license in bag from when traveling last weekend. This was discovered about 15 minutes before picking up wristbands at Doug Fir. Grabbed bus home and ran back to Doug Fir. I DO NOT RUN. This was for you, Paul F. Tompkins (and HG Wells). I had earlier had a nightmare about missing this show and having to climb up the outside of the building and then dangle off the balcony to get in. Fortunately I did not have to do this and got in and had a delightful time.

Festival: wristband pickup was muddled. But hey, it was the first night with volunteers. So no big deal.

Late show at Bossanova: I’m not sure if it was a weeknight crowd, the venue not at capacity, or the venue itself, but this show was dragging for sure. There was a lot of yelling at the crowd by the comics, even though we seemed like we were laughing plenty in the audience (and no one got heckly which was pretty nice on our part). Maybe it just felt dead from the stage? Maybe there were just a lot of comics who were planning to yell? Maybe I just don’t like being yelled at? Anyway, with the geography plan for shows, we may have a few more late shows at the Bossanova, so we’ll see how it goes…

Lazy Portland tropes covered: it’s rainy! lots of white people!

Plan for tonight!

  • Eagles Lodge at 7pm
  • Reggie Watts or Baran Vaughn shows at 10pm
  • Bossanova late show at 11:30pm? Completely different set of folks except for hometown favorite of Anthony Lopez, so we shall see…

Training for Bridgetown Comedy Festival 2014

Okay, folks, it’s that time of year again when I post a series of updates about the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. The schedule is posted and it’s time to make a plan. You got your pass, right? This assumes you have a pass.

Training for the festival: notes to self

  • Start working on staying up late. This is important. Shows are going to be running until 1:30am or so in the morning. If you’re falling asleep in a food coma on weekends by 10pm, you’re never going to make (by which I mean, if I keep falling asleep by 10pm in a food coma, I’m never going to make it).
  • Think about how much alcohol you want to drink. If you want a couple of drinks per show, remember you might see 2, 3, 4, or more shows in a day. That’s a lot of gin & tonics (at least for me). It’s worth thinking about where the cheapest (or tastiest) drinks will be available and plan accordingly.
  • Planning for food. Eating can actually end up be a problem if you bounce from show to show. Don’t forget to schedule food or aim for venues that will have decent food available (not only do they have to make it, they have to be able to handle a crowd or you have to arrive early. But not so early that they are not yet serving food).
  • Shoes. Have some comfortable ones because you’re going to walk a lot and might end up standing (!) at some shows.
  • Weather forecast. Hopeful tweets aside, it might be rainy or cold. Check the forecast and plan for things to change.
  • Bus tickets/pass. Since you’re not going to bike or drive, purchase some paper bus tickets from the local credit union or supermarket in case your phone (which you normally use for bus tickets) doesn’t have battery power.
  • Take some time off work? Friday and Monday might be worth taking some time off. It’s oddly exhausting to laugh so much.
  • Purchase your poster.
  • And more importantly, starting planning for which shows you’re going to watch!

Portland Spring Activities

The seven things I try to do every spring in soggy Portland

  1. Go to the Portland Chinese Garden in the rain. The Lan Su Garden’s roof tiles create amazing water patterns in the rain, and the pond looks gorgeous as well. Go.
  2. Buy a pass for the Bridgetown Comedy Festival (March-ish). Update: there may not be a 2018 Festival. Gahhh!
  3. Admire the crocuses.
  4. Go outside without a jacket. Live dangerously. It’s a balmy 55 degrees!
  5. Spring skiing. Pretty fun stuff, and the crowds start dropping significantly in April.
  6. Find a sunny day to sit on your front steps sipping a drink. It will happen. The ground might be too damp for a picnic, but your stoop will do nicely. Say hi to everyone who walks buy.
  7. Plant some stuff. Peas. Grass seed. Whatever you want. Some of it probably will come up!