September 26, 2007

Lizzy Dishes on San Francisco

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I just got back from a weekend trip to San Francisco. I didn't do anything that I planned really, but I had a great time. Here are some highlights:

1) Stayed at the Hilton in San Francisco, which had great customer service, room service and a killer view from the 46th floor. I ate at their restaurant once, late at night and the view was literally breathtaking. It kind of choked me up. I sipped my virgin margarita, ate my truffled grilled cheese sandwich and washed it down with lobster bisque while obsessively staring at the view in front of me.
I ordered room service a couple of times, as I was a little bit sick during my visit - so handy! The food was good and delivered promptly. I felt rich. Even though I really wasn't. There's just something about that plate cover thing that makes me feel happy.

2) We ate at The House of Nanking. The best Chinese food I have ever had. The chef came to our table. No smile, no welcome. I said I wanted something with chicken. Rich had pork. The people next to us ordered seafood. I couldn't wait to see what they would bring us! I had sesame chicken and Rich had something with lots of green onions and vegetables. Both were outstanding. And Rachel Ray has been there. Oh I know. I hate her. Everyone does. But still, going to a restaurant that is loved by a famous tv person is cool. I don't know why. It just is. We chatted with the people next to us who were in San Fran for the weekend. They were nice. It's fun to talk to new people when you are eating some really tasty food - it enhances the experience I think, and give you something to talk about.

3) Went on a dancing cruise around the bay at night. We circled Alcatraz and saw the Golden Gate Bridge. It was beautiful and fun and hot on the dance floor. Loved it!

4) Shopping at Union Square. Before I left on my trip I did some laundry. I unfortunately left my chapstick in my pocket of my favorite pants. I realized this the night before I left. Pants: stained. Multiple shirts: stained. Must go shopping. I spent too much money, but they have the best shopping there, seriously! I actually bought everything at Macy's, which was right around the corner from my hotel. Pajamas, jeans, three shirts and a jacket. A new wardrobe. Fun for me, but a big blow to my pocketbook.

5) I discovered that I love anchovies. At Scala Bistro, they put anchovies on my Caesar salad. I don't know what to say except that they were so pungent, salty, rich and flavorful that I almost cried.

6) I had dinner with a friend from childhood, Rhea. They took me to a glorious tapas place in the Mission. We had black beans, marinated mushrooms, fried plantains, chicken paillard and yucca. It was SO good.

San Francisco is definitely worth another visit, because there is SO much more I want to see and do. I didn't leave my heart there, though. I realized while I was there that my heart will probably ALWAYS be in Portland:)

September 13, 2007

Musicfest NW (All Over Portland)

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This year was my first year attending the Musicfest NW, held at different venues all over Portland. I loved Willamette Week's coverage of the fest. Here is my not nearly so lively three days of music:

Thursday Night, Doug Fir: John Weinland came out singing - an admittedly great sad-song-singer and very enjoyable to watch. The keyboardist looked like Motel the Tailor from Fiddler on the Roof, except he was more hip than the original character. The air conditioning was on full-blast and I started shivering because there was only like 50 people there to absorb the cold air. After John Weinland finished up his set, there was an invasion of Oregon Lottery promo people handing out free scratch-its where everyone wins. I won a t-shirt with a fun-o-meter on it that implied that clown wrestling was the most fun activity ever. Huh. Immaculate Machine was rocking the house. But not enough to warm me up. I kept day dreaming about being wrapped up in a blanket at home. Finally, I decided to make my dream come true and I left. First night at Musicfest. Lasted only from 9 - 10:30. Lame.

Friday Night, Fez Ballroom: I had never been to the Fez before. I liked it. It was comfy. Until the music came on and blew my eardrums (okay, not literally, but almost) and the people on either side of us started smoking heavily. (Heavily means more than one person smoking, and smoking non-stop all night. I mean hooray for freedom and all. I just felt infested after three hours of it.) So anyway, first up was Drakes Hotel. They played to a recorded percussion track. They said nothing. It was dead silent in between their songs. I think they left their personalities at home that night. Or maybe they were just depressed. Next was The Upsidedown. Delightful. They projected film and other light tricks while they were singing. They have an official projectionist. How cool is that. The chick that played the tambourine was my favorite. She should have been in a 60s beach movie with her moves. I wonder if she stole those moves from Annette Funicello. I loved their sound, too. But almost after everything else. I loved their look, their film and then I loved their sound. The High Violets came on next. They rocked. Then I was sort of tired. Luckily, my friend brought extra earplugs. My eardrums are indebted. Because they would have died without the earplugs. Second night of Musicfest: Lasted from 9 - 12am. Good job!

Saturday Night, Jimmy Mak's: Jimmy Mak's is nice and comfortable. No smoking. Waitresses to bring you drinks. It was a relaxing night compared to the night before. First band: Cabinessence. The Musicfest guide described them as psychedelic country. Do I even need to say anything else? Awesome. Second band: Jonah. The Musicfest guide said that if I liked the Killers and Coldplay then I would like Jonah. Well I do. And I did. Cool. Third band: The Retrofits. They were pretty little boys. I wanted to give them milk and cookies they looked so young. They were good. According to the guide the middle age women love them. Is 34 middle age? Third (and my last) night of Musicfest: Lasted until 12 am, second night in a row. Double good job!

I had so much fun at the Musicfest that I have had a migraine and a cold for three days. I may be 34, but those late nights turn me into 80 years old. That makes me a little sad. Because I love staying up late. Sigh. But anyway. Musicfest rocks. Can't wait until next year.

September 10, 2007

Bernie's Bistro (2904 NE Alberta St.)

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The smell hits you right when you walk through the gate to the patio. Fried chicken, cornbread, and love that never dies. Bernie's serves Southern food - and does a good job of making it authentic. I mean I don't know if you went to a restaurant in the South that you would find beef brisket served with a blueberry sauce, but the point is, you believe it is authentic - every bite is like a hug from your mom - and isn't that the idea behind Southern food? Or at least the idea behind eating it.

I, trying to be healthy (in a Southern restaurant? Stop it.) ordered the black-eyed pea salad with blackened chicken. My sister and friend decided they were going to split the beef brisket and asked for an extra plate. "Oh you know what?" the waitress said with a lilting customer-service-oriented voice, "I'll just go ahead and split it for you. That'll make it easier for you." And no extra charge for splitting it, either. Nice.

We enjoyed the breeziness of the patio for a while, and then, another waitress passing by asked us if we were cold (we might have been shivering just a little). We acknowledged that it was a bit chilly. She sent over another server - a young hipster man with a cool colorful shirt and black framed glasses, slightly more aggressively hip than my own black framed glasses. As he worked to turn the heater on he chatted with us and then complimented me on my glasses, saying that they made me look smart. Ha ha - fooled him! He made me smile, though and I forgot for a minute that we had been waiting over a half hour for our food.

A half hour became 45 minutes. My friend was about to complain to our waitress, but as the waitress approached our table, she said, "So sorry - our kitchen got really backed up. Your order should be up shortly. I'll send you out some dessert, too - your food should not have taken this long. Sorry about that." True to her word, our food was out within a couple of minutes. The entree that was split between my two co-diners was perfectly split on two plates - beef brisket with blueberry sauce, asparagus and gruyere bread pudding, both plates presented beautifully with the smaller portions. I had a bite - heaven. My salad was crunchy and flavorful and melded flawlessly with the warm blackened chicken resting atop.

We ate quickly, due to our extreme hunger while waiting, (okay, we did devour a plate of fried pickles, so maybe we weren't extremely hungry) and also in breathless anticipation of what dessert the waitress would send out. Banana bread pudding with caramel sauce. It was like eating a perfectly cooked cinnamon roll, (you know, when the dough is just barely cooked through and it is chewy and moist) covered in buttery caramel. Despite our full stomachs, we finished off the bread pudding.

You can go to Bernie's assured that they have excellent food, excellent service and if it's not prompt service, they'll take care of you. Just like your mom would.

Bernie's is open Tuesday through Friday, 4pm to 10pm. Reservations recommended. Photos from

Bernie's Southern Bistro on Urbanspoon

September 4, 2007

Once (Fox Tower Cinemas, 846 SW Park Ave.)

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Two reasons you should go see Once: Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova sing and star.

I saw it on Monday and can't get it out of my head. It's still in the theaters, so GO. I want to say more about it, but I still have a lump in my throat from watching it. It's beautiful. That's all. Now GO.

September 3, 2007

Doug Fir Lounge (830 E. Burnside), Gretchen Mitchell, Stephanie Schneiderman and Liv Warfield

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I saw the best show last night. The best one I have seen in a long time. Gretchen Mitchell. Stephanie Schneiderman. Liv Warfield. At the Doug Fir Lounge. One of the best places to hear music in Portland.

We got there 15 minutes before the show started and the floor was nearly empty, but the tables and chairs were all full. We took our seats on the steps by the bar. It was comfortable and we stayed pretty near there the whole night, which was just fine - we could see everything. There are no bad spots at the Doug Fir.

Gretchen Mitchell came on first and blew me away with her smoky disco voice and her rendition of "Let's Stay Together". She sang "I Can't Make You Love Me" and I was mad jealous of the ordinary-looking 40ish couple dancing with such intensity I could feel it.

Stephanie Schneiderman was entertaining - I can almost sing along to her songs, which makes me feel like I know her songs and her. Even though I don't. Know her, I mean. I especially love her song about Professor Sunshine. I am a sucker for murder ballads. I met Todd, the guitar player from Stephanie's band, who is quite nice and a kickin' accordion player. The accordion is so much more than the Lawrence Welk that I grew up with and I loved the sound it added to the set.

When Liv Warfield came out, I got the biggest smile on my face. She was so confident, so beautiful and so happy, that I just couldn't help it. I also started dancing - almost involuntarily - the music was so powerful and the energy of the band was infectious. The banter, both with the crowd and with her band, was funny. One song in particular is still stuck in my head - "Why Do You Lie" - and it was the most fun song, since the audience got to participate quite liberally throughout.

I went home with throbbing feet and a caffeine headache (anyone have a substitute for diet coke? I have GOT to kick that addiction), but with a smile on my face. I had fun. Yaaaaahooooooo.