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Top 5 Things to Do in Portland #PDX

Portland is a city of food, craft beer, and wine. It is a place to ride a fixie bike and to ride the public transportation system instead of driving your car, a place where being green is the only color to be, a place where there is craft coffee, fancy donuts, crazy soccer fans, beard-toting men, and amazing cider—all in one city.

 This is my Portland. To get a true sense of what it means to keep Portland weird, here are my top 5 things to do in Portland:

1. Drunken Cycle Tours of Portland with BrewCycle Portland

Taking one of these tours is probably one of the funnest things to do with a group of your friends through Portland!  What would be better than drinking beer, blasting music, and riding bikes through a sunny afternoon in Portland?  We got together a group of six of us and mounted a BrewCycle bike with friends for a tour of three breweries in the area (see photo below). Well worth the $20 per person!  Be prepared to pay for your own happy hour priced drinks, and to have a great time!

Brewcycle Madness: The More the Merrier!

Brewcycle Madness: The More the Merrier!

2. Escape to Wine Country with Grape Escape Winery Tours

If you are coming to the Willamette Valley, you have to go wine tasting. It’s a must to leave Portland for a day and enjoy the beautiful countryside. I highly recommend Grape Escape Winery Tours, which is a marvelous little company that plans a trip for you based on what you like to drink and what you want to see. After a conversation with the owner, he will craft a tour just for you and your group. Groups as small as two are welcome. Also, they provide great little platters of cheese, meat, olives, fruit, and even chocolate so that you can continue to enjoy your wine trip without spitting out the wine! Besides the food with your wine, you also get very knowledgeable guides (your “Escape Artists”), who will tell you all about the history of the wineries you are visiting as well as tell you all you need to know about the Oregon wine industry. Furthermore, this isn’t your stretch-limo kind of tour but a nice van that takes you from place to place. It’s a little less presumptuous and comfortable financially. (Make sure to tip!)

Visiting Wine Country with Friends and a great DD!

Visiting Wine Country with Friends and a great DD!

 

3. Get geeky at OMSI- OMSI after Dark

Science is fun!  Can you imagine being able to shoot off a water rocket, microwave a light bulb, and build a Roman Arch with your friends while enjoying some great beer and wine at night?  This event is held once a month on Wednesdays from 6-10 p.m.  The museum picks a theme and sets up a number of really interesting hands-on science experiments that you are sure to enjoy. Make sure to check their schedule here for the next event.

4. Be a part of the Timbers Army at the Portland Timbers Game

Some claim that this is America’s version of European soccer fanaticism—II couldn’t agree more!  I have sat in numerous seat locations—from ones right on the center midline, so close that I could touch the players as they were doing a throw in; to ones on the side, where you can get the best overall view of the game; to the famed Timber’s Army seats. I have to say, my favorite by far have been the General Admission Timber’s Army seats.  These seats allow you to feel like you are a part of the game with the chanting, jumping, flag-waving community that surrounds this home soccer team. At about $25 a ticket, you really can’t go wrong.  Just be prepared to stand, sing, and yell as others stand, sing, and yell with you: LET’S GO TIMBERS, LET’S GO!

Timbers Army

5. Visit a Food Cart Pod and eat it all up!

You can’t leave Portland without having eaten at a Portland food cart. There are over 500 food carts throughout Portland. Not only are food carts a great place to try native foods from around the world, they are also safe and authentic. This is where top chefs or soon-to-be top chefs experiment with an idea, and if it takes off, they decide to expand it to more food carts or potentially to brick-and-mortar locations.  Food carts are always an experiment in entrepreneurism, low overhead, and passion.  Some stay, some go, some move. Look them up before you hit the streets.

 Some of my favorites:

  •  Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which now has become so popular for its Thai chicken over rice.  This plate comes with a phenomenal ginger, soy, and chili sauce called Khao Man Gi sauce. Nong came to Oregon with $17 and two suitcases; she worked in the restaurant industry until, in 2009, she decided to open her first food cart. A Bangkok native and now Oregonian, Nong now has two food carts and a restaurant. I love her food!  Below you will find a video on how exactly to eat her great food.

  • Gabagool, if you love italian food, you will love this place. I have been so impressed with their Piadina Sandwiches, especially its namesake, Gabagool Piadina. I have yet to try their homemade pasta, but if it’s as tasty as their Gabagool Piadina sandwich, I won’t be disappointed and neither will you.
  • Koi Fusion, the place where you can get Mexican and Korean in one amazing fusion meal. Having initially started with one food truck, the owners now recognize the balance of having not only food carts but multiple stationary (brick-and-mortar) locations. There are now six stationary and six mobile locations throughout Portland, so you are destined to run into one. I personally love their kimchi and would add it to every single item on their menu.

No matter what neighborhood you stay in, there is likely a food cart pod ( a number of food carts all in one area) in your area. Click here to find one near you.

There are so many restaurants, breweries, cider houses, urban wineries. and concerts to enjoy in Portland as well!  However, if I went into all my favorites, you’d quickly shut down this article and move on.  So,… I will hold onto my favorites for another article.  (However, if you can’t wait for that article, look back through my Sacred Drop posts on many such Portland attractions.)

To find out more about all the fun things to do in Portland, check out Travel Portland online.  At that website, you can book your hotel and tickets through their concierge staff and receive discounts to all kinds of great events.
See you soon! Cheers!

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Prosser, the Birthplace of Washington Wine

The New Network:  Prosser Wine Network

From time to time there is a wine region that, while part of the larger Regional AVA (Columbia Valley) and mere miles from a famous AVA (Horse Heaven Hills), seems to get overlooked.

Special thanks to Wine Folly for sharing this map.

Special thanks to Wine Folly for sharing this map

Launched in Spring of 2014, there are 18 wineries and 10 non-wine entities that grouped together to form what is known as the Prosser Wine Network.  This network developed independently in the region to promote and support the wine being made in the town of Prosser. It is all under the tag line “Prosser, the birthplace of Washington Wine. “

According to the Prosser Wine Network,“The Prosser Wine Network is an organization focused on the promotion of Prosser wine within community and beyond. Its formation represented a concerted effort by everyone involved in the area of Prosser and environs, the lower Yakima Valley AVA.”  This network offers a voice that functions as an extension of the tourism office and other location specific marketing destination entities surrounding Prosser—but with a wine industry focus.  The purpose is to network and connect people within the wine industry in Prosser, not to create an alliance or an AVA.

Kay and Clay Simon of Chinook Wines, Jenna Hannan of Mercer Estates Winery , Monica Martinez of Martinez & Martinez Winery, and Gordon Taylor of Davenlore Winery were the main people supporting and leading this effort in building the Prosser brand. In tangent, the Walter Clore Center opened in June of this year through the support of a number of private donors in efforts to promote the Washington wine industry in this area.

For more information on the Prosser Wine Network, please visit http://www.prosserwinenetwork.com/ and be sure that your first stop in the Prosser area is at the Walter Clore Center.  There you can learn more about the AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) of the region and taste some of its amazing rotating wines.  The Walter Clore Center is located at 2140 Wine Country Road, in Prosser, Washington 99350.  Do visit them at http://www.theclorecenter.org/.


 The Prosser Wine Network:

White wines of the Prosser Wine Network:
Albarino, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Marsanne, Muscat Canelli, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling (Dry), Riesling (Sweet), Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Sparkling, Viognier, White Blend, Rhone Blend, Rousanne

Red wines of the Prosser Wine Network:
Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Counouse, Dolcetto, Durif, Grenache, Lemberger, Malbec, Meritage, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Red Blend, Rhone Blend, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Zinfandel

Dessert wines of the Prosser Wine Network:
Ice Wine, Late Harvest, Port

Wineries in the Prosser Wine Network:
14 Hands Winery
Airfield Estates Winery
Alexandria Nicole Cellars
Apex Cellars
Bunnell Family Cellar
Chateau Ste Michelle Tasting Gallery
Chinook Wines
Columbia Crest Winery
Coyote Canyon Winery
Daven Lore Winery
Desert Wind Winery
Domanico Cellars
Gamache Vintners
Hogue Cellars
Martinez & Martinez Winery
Mercer Estates Winery
Milbrandt Vineyards
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Prosser Vineyard & Winery
VineHeart Winery
Willow Crest Wine Estates

 

 

Sabering the Moment…

Labor Day is not just a day off but a day that is dedicated to social and economic achievements of American workers. This Labor Day should be celebrated with a proper bottle of sparkling wine and friends. Let’s “Saber” the Moment!

I got back from the Wine Bloggers Conference with a newfound appreciation for the art of Sabering…yes, it is written correctly…Sabering is the act of removing the top of a champagne, or sparkling wine, bottle off with just about anything. Generally, a knife, like a Arabian style of knife, is used to remove the top of a bottle off by what looks like slicing it off. The saber is slid along the seam of the wine bottle to break the entire neck away from the bottle, leaving only the base of the bottle open and ready to pour. The force of the blunt side of the blade hitting the lip breaks the glass to separate the collar from the neck of the bottle.

In order to do this, you must 1) have a bottle of sparkling wine, 2) make sure the bottle of wine is very, very cold, 3) a blunt object, not necessarily a knife, it could be a wine glass, a bike wheel, a Ganesh figurine, or even a golf club…

Next, you need to find the seam of the sparkling wine bottle and pointing away from you, and those you love. Then use the blunt object to slide along the seam in a rhythmic manner to pop off or rather, saber, the top off the bottle of wine.

My dear friend and fellow wine writer, Jeff, aka the Drunken Cyclist, who I spent lots of time with during the Wine Bloggers Conference in Paso Robles and then in Buellton, California, shows us exactly how it is done in a series of ways with all of the above mentioned tools. However, I wanted to show you first how Leeanne Froese, a proper Canadian wine writer and PR agency owner of Town Hall Brands does it with a sword.

Enjoy this series of sabering attempts!

And now…the wine glass, the golf club, the tire wheel, and finally the Ganesh figurine … Perhaps I should check with Jeff to see if he has a slight obsession with sabering the moment…all the time! Cheers!

With a Wine Glass:

Just a warning, the new few take a while so be prepared to wait a while. Also, I don’t recommend trying to do this with the following items unless you are willing to keep trying, over and over and over again, like Jeff did!  More than anything, I love the commentary. I hope you get a laugh or two out of these, because I did!

The Golf Club:

The Bike Wheel:

And finally…the Ganesh figurine:

Have a great week and don’t forget to “Saber” to moment!