Another great weekend in Portland. Temperatures soared but there were still lots of ways to stay cool, enjoy loved ones and bask in all of summer’s heat-shimmered glory.
Here are five things I loved about Portland this weekend.
1. PICNIC AT KRUGER FARM.
We headed out to Sauvie Island early on the 4th; we wanted to beat any possible crowds and enjoy one of our favorite farms out there while the heat was still manageable.
We’ve been coming out to Kruger Farms every since we moved here twelve years ago; for so much of the year it makes for a wonderful rural aside.
We pick strawberries late spring and then come summer we watch evening concerts and come home with bushels of marionberries and blackberries. In the fall we let our dog run in the thickets and fields thick with the scent of small critters and we tackle the challenging Corn Maize. We never fail to walk out without fresh Kettle corn and over-sized caramel apples.
Every time of the year Sauvie Island has something to see, do, taste. Right now, it was so interesting to see the promise of such much lushness in the weeks ahead.
Blueberries were at their height, but our little purple friends need just a little more time in the sun to develop their ripe voluptuous natures.
Bailey ran around chasing tiny birds, occasionally stopping his work as a sentry to assess possible new threats on the horizon.
We had packed a late breakfast picnic and my favorite playing cards so we were able to enjoy a nice meal and some games under the shade of a magnificent large tree.
Is it an oak? My tree-identifying skills are so lame you’d think I had never stepped out of a big city.
Gosh it’s gorgeous here.
We are a big card playing family and it was so fun to enjoy our pastime al fresco.
Afterward we ambled through the fields and checked on the rows of berries.
Ladybugs were everywhere, and many were undeterred by the heat.
(What do you think — an act of kindness for an ailing friend or one drink too many in the ladybug lounge?)
Every visitor we’ve taken to Sauvie Island cannot believe this verdant haven is just about fifteen minutes from downtown — and I count my lucky stars every time we traverse that little bridge and catch my first glimpse of all that green.
Thanks, Kruger’s — I will be back soon to stockpile those ripe berries.
2. SIGNS OF COMMUNITY CARING.
We spied this on the window of Plaza Cleaners on NW 21st Avenue — and it actually stopped me in my tracks as I thought about it. Even though there may not be that many people who need partake of this free service in this tony neighborhood, it got me thinking — what are others doing to help out those in need?
More importantly, what am I?
What a wonderful message to send out to the world; if you’re in need a bit of help, we’d like to jump in and give a small assist. Turns out, in 2009 during the height of the economic downturn, the owners of this dry cleaning service wanted to do something to help out their neighbors, and they’ve offered this service ever since.
Way to go, Plaza Cleaners.
I feel Portland is filled with such kind, generous souls who make it a daily practice to be helpful and welcoming — and to be reminded that empathy is similarly reflected in local businesses made me smile.
3. HAPPY HOUR AT SERRATO.
For Charlotte’s last full night without her brother, we wanted to treat her to a proper date. The fact that it was 98 degrees and an evening out meant I didn’t have to cook made it all the sweeter.
We hadn’t been to Serratto in ages, but I recalled that they had a pretty rocking happy hour so we headed over.
It’s a pretty place — long marble bars, wood-fired oven, ornate chandeliers and lots of sunlight streaming through.
And their happy hour is a slamming deal.
A zingy lemon drop for six dollars, an ample pour of California Cabernet for a dollar less.
And then some really solid food — priced to move.
Ken’s Artisan Bread and a mini jug of fruity olive oil for a dollar.
There was a simple green salad with sugared walnuts and a springy red wine vinaigrette for four dollars (really tasty but I would have loved one more ingredient — a modest sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles, perhaps?)
Wonderful pizza from the wood-fired oven — a large individual cheese pie for under ten (with options for sausage or pepperoni for just two dollars more).
Like any ten year old, Charlotte loves her pizza but it was so huge she could only eat half of it. Thanks, Serrato — we love pizza leftovers around here.
And then the dish from the Happy Hour Menu that is probably most revered — the sloppy but deliciously iconoclastic burger.
What don’t they put in this behemoth?
A perfectly cooked medium rare Painted Hills beef burger did its best to support the toppings that followed; gooey sharp cheddar, crisp planks of bacon, and a handful of fried onions strips.
As if this wasn’t already a jam-packed party, BBQ sauce jumped on the burger and the crowd went wild.
I don’t even want to think about how many fat grams were in the burger and garlicky fries served alongside.
Suffice it to say that I won’t be fitting into those cute white shorts of mine for some time now.
And guess what — it was worth it.
Nine dollars for more carbs and delicious fat than one person should eat in a week (and a model has probably eaten in her entire adulthood).
4. DECORATING FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY.
Doesn’t the sight of cheery fans put a bounce in your step? As I lay in my hammock just next to these on my front porch, I loved watching little kids pointing up at the swirled wonders swinging lazily from the rafters as they walked by my house.
And I really enjoyed having the occasion of a block party in the ‘hood to use some of the fun things my sister had sent me.
I think Polly is the most generous girl on the planet, and I always adore everything she sends me.
5. Fresh Blackberry Cocktails.
We had picked up some very ripe blackberries at Kruger’s Farm, and with the thermometer flirting with triple digits (“hey, Mercury, has one ever told you you’re hot?”), I thought it might be the right time to whip some liquid refreshment.
Blood orange liqueur + San Pellegrino Pomegranate Soda + Fresh Blackberries + Lemon + Raspberry Sugar = cocktail heaven.
I had the proper excuse — I wanted to give my new jumbo ice cube tray from Sur La Table a try. Sure, it only freezes six cubes at a time, but they were giant honkers, and just two were all that was needed for a good-sized drink.
I mashed a small handful of the berries and some lemon together to make a nice base for the drink.
I found some freeze dried raspberries my friend Julie had given me and I pureed a dozen of those with some super-fine sugar and pink sprinkles to make a sexy little rim for the drink.
All these ingredients were given a vigorous toss in my cocktail shaker and voila!
Summer in a glass.