It’s 8:00 AM and I’m hanging out in the lobby of The Ace Hotel trying to look cool like all the other kids. Of course, when I finally find the time on my trip to look hip and disaffected, there are no kids in the lobby. The comfy couches surrounding the lobby’s massive metal and wood table are populated by middle-aged people sipping Stumptown coffee, checking email, and flipping through the pages of The Oregonian. I guess the hotel’s younger clientele are still snug in their beds, letting their livers metabolize the Portland microbrews they noisily imbibed below my bedroom window last night.
The morning sky outside the plate glass windows looks grey and heavy. Portland hasn’t disappointed in the precipitation department. During my first day here I thought I was trapped in an early Gus Van Sant movie. They even filmed parts of Drugstore Cowboy in my hotel. (I’m convinced I’ve got Matt Dillon’s old room.) But last night was dry and cold and I wandered the streets of Portland until I found Voodoo Donuts over on SW 3rd Street. Let me tell you, they bake some tasty doughnuts over there. I bought two Portland Cremes for myself and a “Voodoo Dozen” as a tip for the Ace staff. (I’ll bet they’ve never been tipped in empty carbohydrates and glucose before.) I was thinking about ordering a “Dirty Snowball” doughnut for myself but my brain free associated to something disgusting I once saw on Urban Dictionary so I took a pass.
I sip some Cafe Americano to wash down the second Portland Creme I saved as an early morning sugar bomb. The morning jolt of caffeine I purchased at Stumptown’s very good. Then again, coffee’s a religion in this town. Even the bad coffee’s good. I even tried an $8 cup of vacuum brewed coffee over at Barista on NW 13th. Two parts Japanese tea ceremony and one part freebasing ritual, the very knowledgeable barista took me through the entire vacuum brew experience and gave me one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. But I’ll admit to being a tad intimidated by the ferocity of the barista’s caffeinated passion. I had the sneaking suspicion that if I put sugar or cream in my brew she’d leap across the counter and decapitate me with a samurai sword. Don’t get me wrong, all the workers were nice, friendly people – but SERIOUS about their coffee.
I rub my temples. I was out drinking Irish whisky with a very cool tattoo artist yesterday afternoon. I don’t have a hangover but I’m feeling a bit sluggish. I’ll get a second cup of java to facilitate my morning resurrection at my next destination – a coffee shop across the Willamette. I’m continuing my training in the Jedi coffee arts by learning the barista ropes at an excellent independent shop. I just hope I don’t piss off the fast moving veterans with my ineptitude. I’ve learned to pull shots but my frothing milk skills are weak. For the first time in a long time I’ve felt that “new guy in the weeds” feeling I had as a baby waiter. That’s good. I need a kick in the ass!
Okay. I’ve got to run. The kids are waking up and I’m running out of space on the couch. I leave for Jersey tommorow so I want to soak up as much of Portland as I can. Later.
I’ve heard of a “snowball” so now I’m trying to imagine possible meanings for a “dirty snowball”. This is not something I want to be doing.
My high school’s winter formal was known as the Snowball Dance. I didn’t think anything was wrong with that.
You can always look at the Urban Dictionary entry he referenced: Dirty Snowball. Though before you do that you should probably think carefully about whether you really want to know.
I just saw Voodoo Donuts on the Travel Channel. They can also marry people there. The donuts looked great.
You make me want a cup of coffee. I never drink it past noon and it’s way past noon. A donut sounds good too.
Enjoy your time in Oregon, you’ll be wanting to come back real soon. You have only scratched the surface!
Yeah, I tried the barista thing a long, long time ago and my milk frothing skills were weak too.
Meh, I almost never drink coffee because I always need it super sweetened. I just eat my meals with multivitamins and b-complex for my energy. Being pre-diabetic never helps, but most people rely on coffee instead of healthier ways to facilitate energy production. I do miss the warming sensation and big boost of energy feeling that coffee gives you, but I manage with herbal teas and a little honey…weak, ya I know, but it’s all I got!
what you need is an Irish Coffee. 🙂
Thanks for updating. Enjoy your weekend as a barista!
Sounds like you’re enjoying Portland. They have great microbrews. Mmmmmm, beer.
I got an autographed copy of Waiter Rant today, I was pretty excited. Glad you checked out VooDoo!
Also Dagoba Chocolate, not sure where else to find it other than the made in Oregon store, as long as you are indulging in our food.
Cafe Sous Vide? Crazy. I’ll keep my java and my vacuums in separate rooms, thank you!
I’m mad jealous of your donuts though.
If you can, get back to Voodoo Doughnuts and try the maple long john with bacon on top. Absolutely fantastic. Voodoo is without a doubt the best doughnut experience of my life!
Yes, but today I had maple bacon ice cream! I also had smoked salmon cream cheese ice cream with red onion relish and capers. Delicious!
The great thing is most portland restaurants don’t use farm salmon in their recipes. It’s usually the columbia river salmon that’s tribal caught and guaranteed wild, not farm. Going to a restaurant for farm salmon is generally like going to mcdonalds for a hamburger. You may get some sustenance from it, but it’s usually just that, a way to get yourself fed with something that tastes somewhat like the real thing.
I don’t really know much about Portland, living in Australia and all, but I know that it’s in Oregon, and the the WWE sometimes hold shows there. But I finally pulled my finger out and got your book. I read it way too quickly, so I’m gonna have to re-read, but I know about tipping now, for if I’m ever in America. Enjoy your royalties!
what you stop waiting and your frothing skills go to pot?
snowball guy-picture dirty snow then make the dirty snowball
Have you checked out Ristretto Roasters? Co-owner is blogger Nancy Rommelmann, and she is one heck of a writer and blogger. You’d probably enjoy meeting.
I just finished your book last night! Great read!!
I love you book! Just finished it yesterday! I’m now addicted to the website. I’m been on here for at least 6 hours today just reading back blogs. You’re an amazing writer.
Here’s to hoping that your milk will soon be chrome.
I hear those are the best donuts EVER!
You should have stayed over the weekend in Portland. Sunday was sunshine and mid 60’s, Monday and Tuesday its looking at 70.
I’ve been a long time out of the blogging loop and I’m glad to be back in it’s semi-cozy arms.
That being said, I’m so glad success has found you and I am excited to once again find several levels of enjoyment in your writings.
…previously of his own restaurant blog.
New Jersey, huh? You poor bastard, I lived there in the 50’s and 60’s. Left while the going was good!
TMI on the dirty snowball. WTF is wrong wit you kids today? First Obama, now this!
The sun finally decides to come out when you leave. Really, we do get sunny days here, they’re just never around when visitors are. Hope you enjoyed your time in our beautiful city, come back anytime!
Well, I sure see part of why this book deal was so attractive. Travel around the country on the publisher’s dime and talk to cool people for research? What’s not to like?
You left too early… Portland has been in the 70s with not a single drop of rain!
Did you see while you were at the Ace?
I know you’re not working tables anymore, but here’s an interesting story on how some of the chain restaurants are cutting back on bus staff. http://businessonmain.msn.com/knowledgeexchange/articles/managingpeople.aspx?cp-documentid=18634458&source=msneditorial>1=25049
I hope you come to Portland again soon. It would be awesome to meet you in real life.
I’m originally from Portland, but living outside Chicago. Are you coming this way at any point for your book research?
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Ohhh Voodoo Donuts.
Enjoy your stay in PDX.
It really is nice here, once you look past the rain.
KALIKRNGUYX is in desperate need of a life. Just stop posting if you can’t comment on the actual POST.
Back to the original comment: I went on my first Voodoo Doughnuts run with my cousins in August. I had a bacon maple bar. Mmmmmmm……….