Sunday, July 17, 2011
A brief intermission, as I'm readying my final Northwest journey post, on the fun "dinerant" I visited on my last morning in Portland. I have, of course, been breakfasting in the meantime, and TFO season has started, which means my weekends are full of zaniness and late nights.
For those of you not in the know, TFO is Sacramento's own Trash Film Orgy, a summer Midnight Movie festival that traditionally runs for six weeks, showing awesomely schlocky cult movies at midnight on Saturday, complete with lobby games, stage shows, and prizes. To kick off the season, last Saturday they organized Sacramento's Zombie Walk (an event they are credited with founding!). I appeared on Good Day Sacramento as a zombie, and then worked security during the walk and show. The TFO crew is a group of insanely talented people, full of love for each other and the event, and it's always a pleasure to be a part of it. This weekend supplied Sacramento's Inaugural Mermaid Parade, which I took part in as a tentacled creature with some very good friends. Keeping the nautical theme going, TFO presented Humanoids From The Deep, and the stage show was the musical "The Lusty Rampage Of The Raperfish." I played the titular character, which involved wearing blue tights and an enormous foam fish costume, complete with some fully functioning... equipment. Needless to say, after stalking around splay-legged on stage carrying a man-sized sexually aggressive fish on my back all night, I'm a little sore and tired this morning.
I tumbled down to Tower this morning to slake my hunger. Despite the fact I haven't gone regularly in months (and those times I have, of late, I haven't seen many faces I recognize) the hostess one of the servers recognized me and came up to say hello, a testament to the awesome service! As I was in line to make my reservation, I heard a couple behind me. The girl was advising the guy to never, ever get the Seasonal French Toast. As readers of this blog, and anyone who's ever been the Tower know, this is terrible, bass-ackwards advice. "They put this terrible 'fruit compost' stuff on it," she said, "it's all sticky, and soggy..." Fortunately, the guy could read and therefor could tell the difference between "compost" and "compote," and seemed unswayed by his ladyfriend's misguided advice.
I ordered the Sicilian Scramble, the day's special. It included Italian sausage, and was topped with fresh basil and some excellently crisp shredded parmesan. I was also treated to my neighboring table's amusing story of the woman's attempt to deal with her six-year-old stepdaughter, who has apparently recently discovered the joys of self-pleasure, and is apparently rather enthusiastic in pursuing them.
Unrelated; Tower has also recently expanded their waiting area, and this was my first chance to explore it. They've sacrificed some of their garden to create a pathway with copious seating, included some of their fantastic driftwood benches. There's enough foliage to maintain the "Secret Jungle" allusion, but it helps with the crowds that tend to clog the sidewalk on weekend mornings. All in all, a damn good way to start a day of recouping!
Monday, July 11, 2011
One of the other recommendations I got from my Portland ex-pat friends (can you be an expatriate of a city?) was the Hot Cake House, a twenty four hour pancake extravaganza. This sort of thing, is obviously impossible for me to pass up. I'd also picked up a copy of Breakfast in Bridgetown, a celebration of Portland's breakfast restaurants! A bookstore that hands you a map, and a book about breakfast spots? Portland is definitely my kind of town.
I took a couple of buses down to where the Hot Cake House was located, being forewarned that it would sit heavy in my belly. The sign had a vintage look to it, sun bleached and simple. The whole restaurant sits heavy in the greasy spoon vibe, although a couple of bubbled alcoves keep it a little more interesting. I immediately felt a bit like an outsider, that there was some code I didn't necessarily know that I should follow. The place was surprisingly empty, but sported a big open kitchen, and a juke box. I ended up getting two 'cakes and a side of hash browns, treated with a bit of that "outsider" I felt at the front door. A large group came in shortly after me, with at least a couple other out-of-towners, and later there was an obvious regular shocked at how quiet it was.
My food was delivered pretty quickly, two football-long heavy plates, one filled with the face-sized hot cakes, and the other overflowing with hash browns. The 'cakes were great; big fluffy suns. The hash browns were slick with a layer of delicious, artery-clogging grease. I was able to get about halfway down the plate before admitting defeat. It was definitely the gut-filling breakfast I'd been promised! From there, it was a simple busride into town before I got started on an adventure-filled day!
Food: 7/9 pts
Bathroom: 1/5 pts.
Friday, July 8, 2011
According to popular family mythology, my dad lobbied to name my "Hawthorne" before I was born (as an adult, I'm still not entirely sure this isn't true). That being said, when I had a chance to stay at the eponymous hostel of Portland's Hawthorne district, I felt I had no choice in the matter. Even better, then, that one of my friends' breakfast recommendations, the Hawthorne Cafe, was scant block from my hostel.
I'd arrived in town the day before, and run into my first Google Maps snag; while I'd previously been praising it for helping me get around, this time it directed me to walk across a bridge with no foot traffic. After finally finding a way to stroll across the Willamette River after getting a little lost in the main urban area of Portland for a while, I began the over thirty block trek to my hostel. Still a little train-bleary, this was not necessarily the most auspicious of beginnings to my stay. I did a little exploring, and then promptly passed out.
I slept in a little ("sleeping in" being relative, of course, for a guy who generally wakes up at six in the morning) and then walked the couple blocks down to Hawthorne Cafe. It's in a neat little converted house with a nice yard and outside seating. The service was delivered by the owner, who was incredibly nice. I ordered the mango crepe, which came with half an eggs florentine, and a side of potatoes. The house was very pretty, and allowed for some pretty good eavesdropping (which, let's be honest, is an important part of eating out). The Hawthorne neighborhood is fun, and a little kitschy.
The food was nicely displayed, and very tasty. I almost always expect crepes to be large, meal-size affairs (thanks largely to Sacramento's Crepeville), but I did a good job of anticipating the size. The potatoes were good but not really startlingly different, which sort of summed up the place nicely. Everything was really good, and it was a nice, home-made style breakfast, but there was nothing totally insane on the menu. It was nice and filling, and got me off to a good start!
Food: 6/9 pts
Bathroom: N/A /5 pts.
On my mad scramble through Seattle, I was sure to keep my eyes peeled for an intriguing breakfast spot before I trained it out of town fairly early in the day. I had a couple of patisseries down by the Market I figured I could sample, but then a little something caught my eye in the evening, on my way to a night-time Space Needle ride...
It actually piqued my interest due to a couple of neon-flame chandeliers in the bar area. I'd been snapping a lot of pictures of local neon for a side project on my other blog, and was trying to figure out a good way to get pictures of the bar interior when I saw their breakfast menu. Now, when you hear the title "Tom's Big Breakfast," you might expect some huge, griddle-fried diner fare. Lola, however, offered octopus, walla walla onions, asparagus, poached egg, chives, and yellow squash. I'm not the biggest asparagus fan, on account of the smell undeniably reminds me of sweaty gym socks, and I'm not even the biggest poached egg guy. However, I'm a huge fan of the cephalopod in all its forms, and that combined with local onions, the sheer weirdness of the dish, and a chance to take a picture of those neon chandeliers proved irresistible. I decided this was where I had to have breakfast before I made my way to Portland.
As you can see, it was prepared beautifully, the jam even came in a little sealed jar, a far cry from the typical tray of Smuckers you usually get. The mix of textures was fantastic. The octopus was not too chewy, nor was the asparagus too socky. The marinade was really good, a very savory sauce that tied everything together really well. It was incredibly tasty and a satisfying way to end my stay in the Emerald City!
Food: 7/9 pts
Bathroom: 3/5 pts.