The Chef has come to town! Who better to take me on a culinary tour of PDX than Mr. FoodLust himself. He was barely recognizable, lurking in the cookbook section at Powell's City of Books looking so urban and urbane, in tweed, plaid, stripes and cuffs. All together. We're used to each other in our Fish Town apparel (me in dog-hair covered fleece, him in a Mr. Rogers sweater vest).
Although The Chef spent the morning shopping for industrial pots and pans (I was at yoga being virtuous), the afternoon was spent sipping, sampling and dishing about the mysteries of work we're passionate about and people who make us wonder about the roots of passion. Of course, cocktails were involved. Mine was muddled, his was pretty. It takes a real man to order a girly drink and really, I have nothing but respect for the guy.
Settled into a street-side booth at Andina with drinks and tapas, it was hard to imagine what it must be like to sit at a desk, in a cubicle, eating a tuna fish sandwich and wishing for a better cable package at home. Or at least a better spouse. It was one of those drizzly afternoon moments when your realize how extraordinarily lucky you are to be You living this life with good food and good company. Nothing more complicated than that.
Thus is the life of red-headed stepchildren. The Chef and I have decided that Oregon and New Mexico share the same time-space continuum, that one begets the other, that both harbor the people we're most drawn to, fugitives and misfits. He and I both have family roots in New Mexico, but can't imagine living anywhere but Fish Town. And when our waitress with the lovely Spanish pronunciation beguiled us with her flashing eyes and menu tips, The Chef made his case by asking her if she'd ever lived in New Mexico. Of course she had. For seven years.
Evidence abounds: Aussie Girl, one of our favorite people, grew up in Albuquerque. The waiter at Pok Pok, a graduate of St. Pius High School. The quirky keynote speaker at the Ranger's Portland conference, a resident of Placitas. Can it be? That the burning light of the high desert eventually finds relief in the cloudy goodness of Oregon? It's a working theory, worthy of a Ph.D thesis, but why think when you can drink. And eat small, luscious plates of paper thin Ahi tuna, and yuca in peanut sauce.
For dessert, we wandered across Burnside to Cacao for shots of dark chocolate mixed with cayenne and paprika where we learned about artisanal techniques and the headstrong ways of chocolatiers when they pursue a rare and fabulous bean. Archaeologists with rarefied taste buds, that's really the only think I can equate it to.
The day ended the way it began, looking up at the ceiling. No, not at the Fleebag Inn at the end of airport runway #27, but at Hopworks Urban Brewery, where the grains are organic and the t-shirts super soft. And everything's a little bit blurry. Cheers to misfits.