oregon family visit, part 5 (portland)

Our full day in Portland was almost entirely about books and food, with a little shopping-I-can't-do-at-home thrown in. I thought I was going to do a bit of tourism -- the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden was calling -- but I ran out of time and energy. As my mother used to say, spending money is exhausting!

We had an excellent breakfast at The Daily Feast (half of mine is waiting for me in the room fridge), then briefly split up. Allan met an acquaintance -- a well-known baseball writer who he has emailed with off and on over the years -- at the Powell's cafe, and I went off to buy shoes. 

Shoe-shopping is an issue for me. The last time I bought shoes for work or for going out was also the last time we were in New York, for Springstreen on Broadway in 2017. I order sneakers (exercise footwear) online, but I haven't been able to find my go-to shoe brand in Canada, and none of the big online shoe retailers ship to Canada. (If readers know otherwise, I'll be very happy to be wrong!)

I had the idea to look for shoes in Portland, and found that the big department store Nordstrom -- which recently made headlines in Canada for closing its Canadian locations -- carry Munro shoes. I reluctantly decided I needed to spend some time in Portland shopping. 

Nordstrom turned out to be very near our hotel, so after breakfast, Allan went off to Powell's and I went to Nordstrom. I got the full-on, personal-attention shoe salesman treatment, which was lovely, and came away with three pairs of shoes. With the exchange rate, the shoes cost as much as our hotel -- but they'll last a lot longer.

I popped back to the room to drop off my loot, and then: to Powell's with my list! Last time we were here (which was our first time in Portland), I somehow ended up without The List. I reconstructed some of it and bought several books, but this time I was prepared. 

I hunted down many titles, all nonfiction. With the exception of a few favourite authors, I get whatever fiction I read from the library, and older fiction I can get through interlibrary loans. I do read some e-books, but again, mostly fiction. My List is chock-full of nonfiction, and finding some of them used is perfect. 

Finding used nonfiction is also a way of winnowing down The List, as I find titles and decide I'm not going to read them. Usually that means the book is too specific -- the topic interests me in a general sense, but the book is on a level of detail beyond my interest. In my personal book-listing universe, this title then gets a strikethrough.

I had fun in Powell's, occasionally running into Allan, and also stopping for a coffee break. Allan and I cashed out together, and took books back to the car -- then Allan, predictably, went back for another round. I can spend a few hours there, but Allan can spend the whole day, and then some. 

I was about to walk back to the hotel when the name of a store intrigued me: Made Here. The store looks like a crafts fair -- tables showcasing the work of all different vendors -- but without the vendors themselves. Everything in the store is made either in Portland, Oregon, or the Pacific Northwest. The space is free to the creators, all items sold on consignment. That is very rare. And I learned that the store is the project of Michael Powell -- the husband of Emily Powell, who own's Powell's City of Books! What an amazing legacy they have created for this city! 

I bought a pair of earrings and had a nice walk back to the hotel. "I bought a pair of earrings" -- another sentence I can paste in to all travel stories, along with "there was a bookstore Allan wanted to check out" and "...while Allan was off buying books".

Eventually Allan managed to leave Powell's in time for our dinner reservations at St. Jack. On a tip from a food writer online, I had booked two seats at the chef's counter, supposedly to watch the goings-on in the open kitchen. French food in a relaxed atmosphere at a counter: that is our kind of place. As it turned out, the counter was not a big deal. The small kitchen was bustling with precision choreography, but we couldn't really see anything. However, it was nice to be away from the main dining room, which seemed very noisy, almost raucous. 

St. Jack was probably the first serious French food we've had since New York, and possibly one dinner in Toronto soon after we moved to Canada. We ordered a variety of small plates. Most were very good; two were a bit strange or perhaps just unexpected. It was certainly the most expensive meal we've had in a long time, but living where we spend so little on food and entertainment, the occasional splurge is no big deal.

1 comment:

allan said...

Allan met an acquaintance -- a well-known baseball writer who he has emailed with off and on over the years -- at the Powell's cafe

A Mystery!