In the Heights

Dear Liza,

Oregon is opening up as our vaccination rates climb, and people who have been masked and alone for months are coming outside and showing their faces. This new level of confidence, along with our recent warm weather, is making for busy streets!

Mosaic on the threshold of Stammtisch

The Laurelhurst Theater’s showing of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s musical, In the Heights, made this very clear. The theater has limited capacity for all these people, and seats were impossible to get on a Friday night. So Grandpa Nelson ordered tickets online for Wednesday and printed them out. Presto!

But before the movie, we would need dinner. We wanted something delicious and close enough to the Laurelhurst movie theater to make a comfortable walk. We chose Stammtisch, a German restaurant about a mile away.

Something for everyone!

We walked though the bright evening sunshine and chose a table under leafy trees. We were cared for by the staff, who brought us drinks, food, and good cheer. My Geshmort Hasen (Braised rabbit with potatoes) was rich and delicious, and just enough to finish without feeling stuffed. Then we headed to the movie!

Sorry, bunny. You were delicious.

There is always something magical about a movie, anytime. But going into a dark place to share an emotional experience with a bunch of strangers after months of relative solitude was a powerful thing. I got shivers.

And the movie delivered a powerful emotional experience, all right. The story of a nurturing Latino community in Washington Heights, told to the rhythms of hip hop and salsa music, was funny, sad, and human. Grandpa Nelson and I cried and laughed for two solid hours. It was marvelous!

When the closing credits were running, a lady across the aisle yelled “Viva Puerto Rico!” and I cheered.

We walked home through the warm night, with the moon stepping in and out between the trees.

It was just about a perfect evening out. Life is good, and getting better.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Visitors for the Eclipse

Dear Liza,

Yesterday, Auntie Bridgett’s Aunt Chris and Uncle Ken came to visit us while they were in Oregon to see the eclipse. We had fun showing them some of our favorite places. They were only here for the evening, so this list had to be short.

First, we walked north on 30th Avenue to Flanders Street, a restaurant called Stammtisch. Their motto is “Sit here, always”. We have been there before, but only for dessert, which was very good. It is all German food, and the menu gives the German name first, then describes what is in the food in English. This can be scary, because you don’t want to sound silly saying the food wrong. But the waiters are very friendly and don’t mind.

The menu has small plates (kleine) medium sized (mitter) and large (grosse). This lets you order just enough and not have tons left over. I like this because regular restaurant portions are always way too much for me!

I ordered the Bier Geschmort Hasen, which is a beer braised rabbit. Auntie Bridgett got a forelle (trout), Uncle Ken got a wienerschnitzel and latkes (fried pork loin and potato pancakes). Aunt Chris got hausgemachte wurst (home made sausage). Grandpa Nelson, of course, ordered frites (french fries). And everything was delicious!

We were there early enough that the place wasn’t crowded, we had a nice long conversation and everyone tried a little of everyone else’s food. Then we needed dessert. We walked just a block,  and there was Fifty Licks, the ice cream place closest to our house. Blood orange creamsicle, blackberry sorbet and carmelized honey cones were ordered and shared. Again, we were ahead of the crowd and saw a line forming as we left.

We couldn’t let them leave without seeing Laurelhurst Park, so we walked over there. The trees, lake, and beauty helped all of us digest our food better. We sat on the bench by the lake and saw the ducks out for their evening swim and a few turtles climbing up on logs to sleep. We walked home and saw dogs chasing balls and being incredibly happy….both the dogs and us!

We had worn ourselves and our company out, but had a lovely time.

Love,

Grandma Judy