Saturday, May 4, 2013

Honeymoon: Three Doors Down, SE Portland OR and Heading Home

Saturday May 4, SE Portland OR

After munchies with beer at noon on Saturday and so-so cart food later in the afternoon, it was finally around 8:45pm that we got somewhat hungry. For our final meal in Portland, Ann wanted a simple plate of pasta so we searched the web for the closest reasonable sounding Italian joint, which proved to be at Hawthorne and 37th, called Three Doors Down.

As an aside, how nice is it to go out somewhat late and still have lots of restaurants open? Living in small town Winchester VA, we are done with our dinner service by 9pm even at the end of June when the days are the longest of the year.

That said, I judged the crowd to be slow and asked our server about it. In Portland as in Winchester, it seems you cannot compete with Mother Nature. Because it was one of the first beautiful weekends of the year, so many were people out of town at the beach or otherwise enjoying the gorgeous weather and grilling out.

We commandeered a table out on the sidewalk and people-watched for a while with a bottle of Brick House Gamay Noir, which tasted exactly as Gamay should taste. If you told me I was drinking Beaujolais, I wouldn't have argued with you. But really, I don't know enough about New World Gamay to understand how it differs from Beaujolais.

Ribbon Ridge Gamay
Because we weren't super hungry, we ordered a couple appetizers followed by a plate of pasta. Both our starters were good. First up was a large slab of grilled bread spread with goat cheese and topped with arugula and duck confit. Yep, it was every bit as good as you might imagine, though an informed palate might be wishing it had some of our house-cured duck confit on it. There's no hiding the extra flavor that ours develops over the three-month curing process.

Duck Confit, Arugula, and Goat Cheese
Next up was a board of burrata topped with tapenade, some so-called jamón ibérico, and flatbread. We enjoyed this plate, but two things confuse me. First, look at the mash up of ingredients from at least three different cultures. How does this make intellectual sense? Second, look hard at the jamón ibérico. Really, if you're going to spend that kind of money on some of the world's best ham, are you then going to cut it thick and then partially cook it?

"Jamón Ibérico", Burrata, Tapenade, and Flatbread
By the time we finished our appetizers and the server delivered our plates (they split our pasta for us; kind of them, but they needn't have) of house-made ricotta cavatelli bolognese, it was really dark out on the sidewalk. Our server had brought us a candle earlier in the evening, but it was way too gusty to keep it lit, so Ann downloaded a candle app on her iPhone and set it to flickering.

I must say that the cavatelli was deftly made and deftly sauced but was desperate for salt. And doesn't anyone make true bolognese with shredded meat anymore? Really, you're going to the trouble to make cavatelli, but you won't do the same for your meat sauce?

In the end, it was a really nice low key dinner that we shared on our final night in Portland. We were very comfortable and enjoyed sitting and talking and watching the street parade. If I lived in Portland, I think I would like this place a lot.

Sunday May 5

Sunday the 5th is a day I would like to forget. I forced myself up at 0600 local time, trying to wean myself off Pacific time to help with the transition back to work on Monday morning. In retrospect, maybe this was a bad idea. We skipped breakfast at the B&B and hurried to return our rental car and get through security to catch our early morning flight to SFO. I managed to set off the millimeter wave scanner again: I'm simply too tall for the little booth. When I looked at the monitor, it had alerted right on the top of my head, the usual location, so I got my (lack of) hair patted down. All the TSA agents here were very friendly, unlike at Dulles, and the tiny guy doing the pat down started chuckling when I had to bend down so that he could reach the top of my head.

It proved that all that hurrying was for naught. Because of weather and because of weekend runway closures at SFO for federally-mandated safety improvements, our plane was over two hours late arriving at PDX. Our plane arrived at PDX *after* we were supposed to depart SFO for Dulles; how's that for late? The flight crews were bitching too: they have to deal with runway closures all the time and naturally, the brunt of passenger fall-out lands mostly on their shoulders. And their layovers are impacted as well. The whole situation is screwed up.

The weather continued brilliantly nice and we had awesome views of Mount Hood from the tarmac while we sat at PDX and the rest of the major Cascades peaks: Ranier, St. Helens with its flat top, Adams, and the Three Sisters down near Bend once we got airborne. We also saw Shasta and the peaks in California before weather closed in a few minutes out of SFO.

Mt. Hood from the Tarmac at PDX

We managed to get re-booked on a flight out of SFO that departed not 20 minutes after we landed (and need I mention that our inbound flight sat on the ground waiting in SFO waiting for a gate to open?). When we got to the Washington departure gate, mercifully only about four gates from our arrival gate, the monitor above the gate read "Delayed - Awaiting Inbound Aircraft"), which confused me because there was a plane at the gate. The plane had just arrived and so we stood around for about 45 minutes while they turned it around, giving me time to nip over to the concession just behind us and grab some power bars and a couple sandwiches. At this point, we had been going all day without food.

"Delayed:" Just What Every Traveler Wants to See

Once we boarded, we had to sit at the gate for about 20 minutes before ground control would give us permission to join the long line of jets waiting to take off. We were about an hour on the plane on the ground before we finally got underway to DC and with weather ahead of us, we were unable to take the most direct route in. We finally arrived at just after 1am and by the time we got our car, got home, and got the dogs walked, it was 3am. Waking up just three hours later to go to work was a doozy!

This is the final post in the Honeymoon series. We had a wonderful time at the Oregon coast, in the Willamette Valley, and in Portland proper, along with some of the most fantastic weather ever to grace the first week in May in that area. What an amazing trip!

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