Jul 24 2011

Open To Experience.

“Have you looked at the menu? There must be 10 ingredients in each dish,” I said.

I was standing in a crowded, noisy dining room that only allowed for “sound bites” of conversation.

He picked a dish on the menu and began to count.  Scientists can be so literal.

Coffee and pimento-rubbed smoked pork shoulder with pomegranate glaze, Korean rice sticks, lop cheon on mustard green kimchee.  Fingerling potatoes in red miso with Roger Konda’s wild and domesticated mushrooms. Firm tofu with fava beans, leeks and sundried tomatoes with Szechuan peppercorn.

What was easily visible on the menu with the naked eye thankfully proved my hypothesis.

I didn’t have a clue what cheon was and hoped when the time came I could pick out the tofu but first I had to come face to face with the eel. I was attending my first open kitchen. I’d read about open kitchens AKA “pop up restaurants” and on the car ride over to Portland’s southeast side a friend had read aloud the press release about this one at Abby’s.  It was our crash course en route to the event.

In the gathered crowd were four couples I knew but I’d bought a single ticket. When guests and seat assignments are paired at food events it generally means seating all the solo explorers together with or without a stray leftover couple once all the other tables have been filled. I had done nothing to thrust the assignment at the community table with what turned out to be the food and hospitality industry types involved with or studying the production.  I decided my role would be iPhone photographer.

Roger (Konka) turned out to be a rather shy farmer dressed in a Tastykake shirt he’d bought at Good Will. We spoke across the table of the “mowing pigs” he was now raising and the gold mine in truffles. Under a mop of thick dark disheveled hair he had dancing blue eyes in a sun-wrinkled face. My mother would have had something to say about the dirt under his nails.  I thought it made him even more authentic and farmerly.  We both smiled broadly each time a farmers’ market regular came over to fuss over him and share their experiences with buying and cooking the mushrooms he sold.  The florist seated to my right was a retired musical theatre dancer who had left New York, heading west in pursuit of his next career, arriving in Portland two months before the crash of October 2008.  Through many twists in the path he seemed to always land on his feet.  The beverage and spirit educator to my right talked of her 10 years living in Japan and explained her unusual name was really quite common in Israel. When we visit next I will ask her about sake.

By the time I rejoined my Wyatt neighbors for the ride to Teardrop for a nightcap I had made three new friends. It was Saturday.  I had wandered out for dinner on my own the two previous nights.  Friday at a neighborhood outdoor Italian café I experienced being kissed each time the owner talked by my table – cannot say I felt sorry for myself being without a date since I was getting more attention than any other woman in the place. Thursday I had a bird’s eye view for people watching at Irving Street Kitchen while I enjoyed making a meal of just a simple but delicious white corn soup and studying the ink on paper artwork depicting farm animals.

I have said it before but it bares repeating: eat out alone occasionally.  Suck up your courage, let loose of some of your pop bottle money and don’t cook at home. Even if you don’t live alone, and especially if you do, leave the kitchen sink. I promise you it will be more entertaining than most any rerun on TV – certainly any I’ve seen in years.  You may not learn to like tofu (I haven’t) but the port-like flavor of cherry wine may pleasantly surprise you.

Be gracious but particular about the table you are ushered to and above all else, take the time to do more than strictly fill your belly.  Feed your soul, recharge your imagination.  You will live through the execution of such a plan and you’ll do it with a style that will impress the most important person in the room to impress – the one attuned to every detail and nuance of your actions– you.

Bon appetite! Trix


Mar 31 2010

Warped humor.

3.31.2010

I’m wondering  about my girlfriends. As I write, playing on iTunes is Perfectly Lonely by John Mayer (a recent gift from a separated woman). Today I got an email photo collage of “divorce cakes” from an engaged friend (who has gone through a divorce and very much deserves the happiness she’s found) and later a joke email about a neglected, sad woman and her husband in therapy.  Like the music and the first email, the joke got me to smile.  Actually all three provided pretty good laughs.  I can count on girlfriends to generously dole out hugs and laughs.

The icing on the cake was in the mail today:  a photo of Joel and me at a Portland fundraiser last month. It was probably the best photo we’ve taken in years. That’s a good development director for you!

I’ve thought about standing at Union Station and screaming “THIS SUCKS” at the top of my lungs when a passing train would drown out my voice.  Figured it might spook the Whippets so I moved on.

I am good. You?


Mar 21 2010

Elegant escort.

March 14th, 2010

Last night I had the most wonderful time on the town in Portland with my second husband. We attended Hooray for Bollywood, the annual gala for Portland Center Stage. Lavish silks and twinkling lights draped the Amory, costumed dancers and musicians mingled with exquisitely, colorfully dressed guests. The mood was festive, the giving generous, the performances sprinkled throughout the evening of the caliber I’ve known to expect of the theatre troupe since Steve took me to the season preview evening early last year.

And the food? The little girl who insisted her food groups not touch each other on the plate forty years ago, sampled every offering at the Indian food buffets. The chicken curry with Mahogany rice, cilantro sauce, pistachios and cashews was ambrosia. (I was also recently introduced to mouth-watering cuisine at Portland’s East India Company Bar & Grill http://eastindiacopdx.com/index.html.  The setting alone ensures a lovely experience, only to be surpassed by expertly prepared food that pairs nicely with Chateau Indigo Chardonnay 2008 – the first Indian wine I have tasted.)

But wait! Cut, rewind.  “Second husband?” you say. Yes, a tall, swelt, salt-and-pepper-haired fellow who says I’m the “ideal date.” I know better; I am an easy 25 years older than his dream catch but since I’m still fairly new to town, having me on his arm allows him to glide seamlessly through a sea of faces belonging to forgotten names. When Steve says, “You’ve met Tracey? No…?!” that is my cue to extend a hand, introduce myself and simultaneously solicit the mystery person’s identity.

We’ve been an occasional couple since we met during my first visit to Portland in May 2008. For me it was love at first site of a building he’d designed (he also designed the renovation of the armory for PCS). I was accompanying a friend condo-hunting on a tour of The Casey. Steve’s reputation for green buildings meant even the sparkling stainless trash chute  allowed residents to direct trash into one of three recycle channels.

It was on the 13th floor that I found a two-bedroom I could live with quite nicely in. Subsequently, for MONTHS Joel avoided meeting Steve, sure if we ganged up on him, it would cost him a multi-million dollar mortgage. By early 2009, Steve began to wonder if I truly had a husband but continued to invite or escort me to functions while Joel traveled for business. Our first movie date was to see Slum dog Millionaire at the Living Room Theatre so a Bollywood themed fundraiser was rather fitting.

Every single woman my age should have a fellow to call on, a man who easily makes an even number at a dinner party. A two-by-two parade is something our generation, in particular, is more comfortable with at this stage of life.

“My married friends’ husbands aren’t too keen to include me,” said a Wyatt third-floor neighbor. “I’ve loved being single for over 20 years (following a marriage and two less-than-perfect involvements). “The husbands seem to fear I’ll give their wives ideas,” she said with eyes mischievously twinkling. She’s right; many separated and newly divorced friends tell me, “I’ve been approached by women saying they wish they were brave enough to walk away.” Voluntarily ending an established relationship, especially one tied to a desirable lifestyle, financial security and guaranteed companionship is frightening. Once you’ve done that you then have to muster courage regularly to walk solo into a room with a dozen to several hundred party goers assembled for a social event. It does take chutzpah! I know; I did it myself just a week before Bollywood when I attended the Tulsa C.A.R.E.S. 13th Red Ribbon Gala in Tulsa.

It isn’t easy but it becomes less difficult and you owe it to yourself to show up. Don’t miss out on celebrating and supporting your community or attending the events that benefit your career. Give the evening dresses in your closet an occasional airing out and yourself a night on the town. Don’t let the parade pass you by.

As always, Trix

Worth becoming familiar with:

To date this season Portland Center Stage has produced stellar performances of Ragtime, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Receptionist & Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. See what is still in store this season at www.pcs.org

The Casey is a 16-story, 61 unit luxury condominium tower in the heart of Portland’s Pearl District. Designed by GBD Architects, the Casey was the first residential building in North America awarded a LEED Platinum rating. www.thecasey.com

Tulsa C.A.R.E.S., Tulsa Center for AIDS Resources Education and Support, delivers social services to people affected by HIV and AIDS.
 With the advancement of medicine, many of those infected with HIV/AIDS, are living longer, healthier lives, which in effect creates a greater need for support services in this population. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2006, there were an estimated 56,300 new HIV infections in the United States. There are approximately 2,274 people living with the HIV infection and 2,247 living with AIDS in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Fact Sheet (Dec. 31, 2007). According to the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa, it is estimated that nearly 1,700 people are living with HIV/AIDS in the Tulsa Metropolitan area with a growth of 100 new cases each year.
www.tulsacares.org