Unexpected Warmth in Winter Greys

Dear Liza,

Mood lighting and menu

Yep, it’s still winter here… dark, grey, and drippy. Last night we needed to get out of the house, but it was too nasty to walk very far. Our first choice, the Suzette Creperie, was closed, so we stopped by a tiny place we have walked past a thousand times, called Rendezvous Vous. Since it was early, we were the first customers in.

There was interesting lighting and an appealing informality about the place… tables of different heights and styles, a few velvet sofas and chairs. A tall bookcase made of old doors held books and games, Star Wars Monopoly among them.

We were waved at by Norah, who seemed to be running the place by herself. She got us water, and got us some wine. I had a Bordeaux and Grandpa Nelson got a Chilean Pinot Noir. Both were tasty… really different from each other, but tasty. The Bordeaux had the dark balance of most Bordeaux wines, and the Pinot was sharp, like cider.

Soft and warm, just what was needed…

We enjoyed the music… Frank Sinatra, Pink Martini, and cool jazzy covers of old rock and roll songs. After a while an older fellow came in and sat at the bar, reading his newspaper and chatting with Norah. We got the feeling he was a regular.

We ordered our dinner. Mati, something totally new, for me, and tuna poke for Auntie Bridgett. Turns out, Mati is a dish of small beef dumplings in a garlicky, tomatoey, yogurt sauce, and absolutely delicious!

I ate and enjoyed the combination of wine, spice, music, and soft lighting, and being in a new place.

When we got home, I had to brush my teeth three times before I could get a kiss goodnight! The garlic sauce, tasty as it was, had real staying power. I will remember to tread more lightly next time (burp.)

Love,

Grandma Judy

Finding Common Ground(s)

Dear Liza,

Finding companionship over coffee

It is still chilly here, but we haven’t had rain for a few days. On Tuesday, we took advantage for the dry spell to get out for a walk. Auntie Bridgett wanted to spend some time in a comfy coffee house, Grandpa Nelson wanted a tasty snack, and I just wanted to get out of the house.

Eastside walkway between Taylor and Salmon

We bundled up with scarves and gloves, because it was only about 46 degrees. We wandered through the neighborhood, seeing the winter trees and noticing all the small, promising signs of spring on the way.

Daffodil buds starting to swell

We walked a mile to Common Grounds down on Hawthorne near 43rd Street and found just the comfy coffee house that Auntie Bridgett was looking for. It was busy but not loud, and had an interesting variety of tables, chairs and sofas. People sat alone, reading or working on laptop computers, or in pairs for quiet conversation. The electronic music was at background levels and very pleasant.

Friendly, busy barista

We enjoyed coffee, Fire Tea (a spicy turmeric and cayenne blend), and a delightfully chewy Squirrel Bar. Grandpa Nelson didn’t see what he wanted, so he went half a block down to Zach’s Shack for French fries, and came back and joined us for coffee when he was done.

The remains of the afternoon

It was nice, in the dark chill of winter, to be out among our fellow Portlanders. After a nice long visit, we walked home to make dinner.

Threshold mosaic at Common Grounds

Love,

Grandma Judy

A New Treat

Dear Liza,

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Quirky Decor in Farmhouse Kitchen Thai

Yesterday, Portland broke a record, having more than 30 days above 90 degrees this summer. It has been so hot for so long! And today, the weather changed. Yesterday’s high temperature was 93. Today it is 73. Whew!

So Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk. How nice to be able to walk and not dodge under trees for shade, or worry about if your destination is air conditioned. We wanted to try a new place for lunch, so we walked to Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine, down on Southeast Hawthorne. IMG_9690.jpg

This lovely, welcoming place is one of four branches of the same restaurant, the original being in San Francisco. It is located in an old farmhouse and uses the yard as a patio and the glassed-in porch for extra seating. We were greeted and seated and given a menu. Everything looked good, but nothing looked familiar… so we asked the manager about the food.

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Vegan Fresh Rolls

She explained that this is very traditional Thai food and some was very spicy. She steered us to milder dishes and we ordered Vegan Fresh Rolls for an appetizer.

We got ginger beer and ginger tea to put out any unexpected fire.

The Fresh Rolls arrived, looking like flowers in a pond. The rolls were rice paper, veggies and tofu, tasty, fresh and bright. The pond was a delicious chili/peanut sauce that we couldn’t stop eating. Seriously, we held on to the plate and enjoyed it the rest of the meal.

Our main dish to share was Kai Yang Chicken. The large plate held a half chicken, roasted with a spicy coating, a large bowl of noodles, salad and a quarter of  cabbage, a bag of sticky rice, and two sauces; one sweet, one savory.

We were instructed not to worry about utensils, but to use our fingers to pull the chicken apart, peel a leaf off the cabbage, roll the chicken in it, dip it, and enjoy! Also, to dip the sticky rice in everything, including our sauce from the appetizer. We did use our fingers more than usual, but also the knife and chopsticks. Everything was so good!

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Auntie Bridgett, patiently waiting…

The combination of moist chicken, sweet and spicy sauces and incredibly fresh veggies was so good, we ate long after we were full.

We chatted about the food and what we are working on. I started writing the new mystery version of my story this morning, and she is getting ready for her last day of training at The SideStreet Gallery, since she has become a full member! So exciting!

We finally had to stop eating and ask for a box, and we walked slowly home, feeling like happy pandas.

We walked past a house that has plums,  apples and even sweet chestnuts growing in the front yard! We were marveling at the sheer amount of food growing in this tiny yard when the owner came out and we congratulated him on it. “Come by and get some in the Fall,” he said. “We always have more than we can use.”

Hooray!! We will, thanks so much!

Love,

Grandma Judy