Arbor Lodge and Radio Room

Today, we feasted.

Under the rolling thunder of Portland’s torrential downpour, I sat with my books and friends spread around me, happy for shelter from the storm. We found ourselves at Arbor Lodge in North East Portland on this fine day doing what an average summer school captive might do: study, and consume ungodly amounts of caffeine. I am quite particular about my coffee: nothing too acidic, black to the point of chew-ability, and aromatic enough to make me believe that I’m buried deep within the Earth somewhere beneath Colombia or Nicaragua. With the weather being as extreme as it would be, my coffee choice took on a more “demure” nature, that of the soy latte. I was impressed with the quality. Local coffee roasters, a staff that looks like it fell out of a Jack London novel, and tables big enough to encompass all of the nursing books on the planet, and my dinosaur laptop? I think I could settle here for awhile. Well done North East, well done.

It even has the classic design. Lovely.

It even has the classic design. Lovely.

This place was seriously quaint.

This place was seriously quaint.

Mountain high with a dash of Portland oddity

Mountain high with a dash of Portland oddity

And of course...sustainable.

And of course…sustainable.

We then ventured off to dinner to catch up with some graduated friends. Let me tell you….5 women, all with fairly developed palates, can often run into trouble when choosing a suitable restaurant. We, however, did reach a conclusion.

Radio Room. American Food. The title given to restaurants when everything and its mother is on the menu.

Don’t get me wrong, the food was delicious. But perhaps we shouldn’t give me too much credit, I was ravenously hungry. So hungry, in fact, that I was eating relish on a celery stalk as a snack. But let us not delve too deep into the realm of college cooking on a budget. Back to Radio Room.

The decor was very compelling. A collection of works from local artists. The place itself was dark, but the walls were alive with color and with shapes! I ordered polenta cakes with mahi mahi tacos (it was happy hour, A.K.A. cheap food! How could I resist ordering two separate meals?). Well, keeping this short and to the point, the place was pretty darn good. The atmosphere was inviting, I imagine if we had arrived two hours later, the place would have been packed, even for a Thursday. If you’re in Portland, give it a go (or any place on Alberta St. for that matter, I’ve never been let down. Pine State Biscuit, Grilled Cheese Grill, Salt & Straw, Petite Provence, all wonderful).

To hope and madness, Lauren.

Paris Day 3: Lost in Louvre

Notes from 10 May 13:

Waking up on the morning of the 10th of May, my body felt like it had been hit by a bus. I was exhausted from all of the walking we had done collectively over the past 2 days. But French pastries and coffee were motivation enough to peel my aching body out of bed. I soon remembered, “Shoot, I’m in Paris! Good morning world!” and was ready to go in about 5 minutes. We grabbed breakfast at a little cafe and we were off.

Crossing over the “love lock” bridge was such a lovely thing. I couldn’t help but wonder about the many couples that said those most sacred of words, “I love you.” I wondered who meant it, who lasted, who didn’t, wondered if maybe I’d be back one day to utter those words to someone and actually mean it. Perhaps, perhaps…

On to the Louvre! We arrived about a half an hour before it opened and still took our place at the back of a (probably) 100 person line. I had to check myself to avoid certain facial expressions when looking at the array of outfits before me. Now I was no Hepburn myself in my tennis shoes, jeans, and emerald green top, but Louvre fashion was people watching at its finest! My favorite was a woman in stilettos (I’m positive she was regretting that by the end of her visit to that colossal museum) and a neon green, leopard print trench coat. I was happy for some pre-show entertainment….”Overture, dim the lights!” It was quite amusing, I hope I was able to put on a show for someone!

I have to confess, there was so much art that my mind and feet were on the brink of going AWOL. We probably walked a good 3 miles just within the museum, but had a good strategy: pick 10-15 pieces and book it to each. Ours included the Mona Lisa, The Sphinx, The Seated Scribe, The Wedding Feast of Cana, and Napoleon’s apartments. It was an incredible sight, navigating through the crowds, seeing people push past each other to get a chance at standing in front of these famous pieces while their photographers awkwardly holds their cameras high, trying to avoid stranger photobombs. I’m not going to lie, I photobombed at least one person’s photo…purposefully…with my creepiest smile. Clarissa and I very much enjoyed imitating the statues in between bouts of artistic admiration.

After the Louvre, we hit the Musee d’Orsay for MORE art, and MORE walking. I am ever grateful we did though! We saw some incredible pieces: Van Gogh, Rodin, Degas, Pissarro, Monet, and Renoir. These pieces spring into life, the Impressionist display that the museum had was stunning. I wish I could go back on a full stomach and fresh legs…my enjoyment would have increased ten fold and I think I would have had more dynamic interpretations of the various works of art.

We had two more stops before we could eat lunch, the first of which was Rodin’s garden. The garden itself was stunning, and the famous statues that inhabited it’s verdure were astonishingly intricate. I suppose there’s a reason for Rodin being one of the most celebrated sculptors in history! My contemplation of the statues, particularly The Thinker, was severely handicapped by the MOST cringe-worthy, off-pitch hum/chant dissipating like some airborne spore seeking helpless passers by to clutch in a poisonous grasp! Ok, maybe not that extreme, but this chanting made me feel like I was back at my rotation on the psych ward, a questionable choice in artistic accompaniment.

Following that almost indescribable sense experience, we gathered ourselves and walked to the Institute of the Invalids. The inside of the Institute was incredible! Everything in Paris is ornate and wonderful! Napoleon’s tomb was gigantic! Clarissa and I gave our best Napoleon “hand in breast pocket” pose to pay our respects and then rejoiced in the idea that lunch was so soon to be had. Ready for another check off the Paris bucket list? I sure was.

Wine and sandwiches under the Eiffel Tower, basking in the glorious sun and glorious view! Check. If your face is in the shadows, let it be darkened by something beautiful. My toast to Paris and la vie en rose was bathed in the darkness of the Tower’s elegant shade. In that moment, my happiness was unalterable.

After lunch (3 p.m.), we climbed the Arc de Triomphe for the most wonderful view of the city. Emerging from the interior of the Arc, 284 steps conquered, seeing the city was spiritual. Every other panoramic view was forgotten. Before dinner we stopped at the ever fantastic Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop. It rivaled Powell’s as far as uniqueness goes! We ate delicious crepes for dinner, and are going out for some Parisian nightlife soon. Tomorrow is Catacomb and Versailles day! Goodbye for now!

To hope and madness, Lauren.

Paris Day 2: Another Day Another Destiny

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When I wrote this note, it was actually day three…not that it really matters. Here’s what I took down: Well we are getting ready to start day 3 in Paris. I did not write anything yesterday, and to be perfectly honest, I was entirely too exhausted! Rather than disclose what we did yesterday, a simpler undertaking would be to ask, “What did we not do yesterday?”

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“We’ll always have…Moonstruck.”

“I find myself stargazing, mostly finding you amazing, by the moon.” -Joshua Payne

Moonstruck that is, and the introduction to the “Mint Tingle.”

Dear reader,

There comes a time in everyone’s life when he/she makes…the face.
You know of what I speak: that look, that ray of sunshine, that starry-eyed “I have not lived until this day,” look of enlightenment!! If you have not experienced this, be patient. When it happens, you’ll know.

Brace yourself.

My moment, which I have the privilege of sharing with many others, came in a quaint local workshop of the gods called Moonstruck. Moonstruck…even the word brings to mind some sort of celestial awakening, a night of endless stars, endless wonder, and…endless chocolate?

Well, perhaps not. But once you’ve entered Moonstruck, located in the Alphabet district on NW 23rd ST, you’ll be thinking the moon is made of chocolate despite popular belief in cheese. (Total respect for cheese BTW, but we’ll save that for a later post).
Let me set the scene for you. My first experience with Moonstruck was in the Fall of 2010. The smell of rain lingered for only a second as the door opened onto a scene from a chocolate lover’s fantasy land. Decorated walls of chocolate leaves, little Frankenstein caricatures, and all manner of creepy, crawling chocolate monsters practically demanded consumption as my lovely friends and I filed into the little shop. I despise spiders, but chocolate spiders? Ok, exceptions can be made. It’s funny how candy and chocolate makes you feel like a kid again, and pressed up against the glass case full of wonderful little truffles immediately transported me to a time when consuming copious amounts of chocolate would not be coupled with weight gain…sigh. Anyway, back to the purpose of this post. The star, the one, the only, the direct cause of the face: ladies and gentlemen, the Mint Tingle.
People, resistance IS futile. Let me break it down for you.

A milkshake that is minty, chocolatey, with crunchy bits of honeycomb. Fresh, rich, heavenly, slap you in the face good…this milkshake will always be good to you.

If that doesn’t sound delicious to you, you might not have a soul. This milkshake is the best I have ever tasted and I’m pretty sure cannot be improved upon. A Portland classic, you (yes YOU) should experience it at least once. And then, like any good friend, return frequently to visit it. The Mint Tingle, it even sounds a bit sinful. Indulge, please. Do yourself the favor.
Happy milkshake consuming!
Your faithful dining companion,
Lauren
(I hope you enjoy the Casablanca reference as well. As a side note, if you didn’t catch it, please rent the movie and watch it immediately as repentance)

Paris: I believe in La vie en Rose

The following Paris series is from the journal I kept during my trip:

I think I finally understand the Paris obsession.

We have just arrived at our hotel after having been awake for the past 24+ hours. Clarissa and I opened the door to find the most charming little room accessorized with a floor-to-ceiling window, a mini chandelier, and a view of one of Paris’ numerous Gothic churches. The church provides an enchanting focal point that commands our attention, but fortunately I tore my eyes away to peek slightly beyond to see an intricate dome barely cresting the top of one of the church’s spires (a dome that would soon be known to me as the top of the Pantheon!). My immediate reaction is to open our secluded little sanctuary to the world and let Paris in. The sights of the Latin Quarter (our home for the next four days), the sound of the bells, the musical French language floating up with sweet intoxication into my unassuming vantage point.

Driving through Paris for the first time was everything; a dream and a nightmare, a joy and a pain, beautiful and repulsive.

Like any great city, the jewels are, in a sense, quarantined to a few square miles, buried beneath layers of cast off businesses, forgotten apartments, and their somewhat miserable looking inhabitants. They might rebuttal my praises of this grandeur. But grandeur is often reserved for a city’s guests and is replaced by a certain amount of repression for those that remain, fixed in their city and their tired views of it. I know this feeling. It’s the feeling I get after I have spent too long in Portland. I have to leave, for when I come back my eyes are no longer tired. I can look upon the city fondly and with a fair amount of delighted exasperation, exasperation that would border on malice if experienced in conjunction with an extended amount of Portland rain.

But, happily, I am a stranger to this place, and the Parisian grandeur does not fall upon unenthusiastic eyes. Every second that passes presents a beautiful snapshot into a world that makes me want to lavishly cast my money towards things I do not need. Each building draws me in, and begs the passers by to peek through its windows. The sky is grey, but the city bursts through it with every color I know and dares me to name the new colors it generates, created for me by my kaleidoscopic town.

My reverie is grossly brought to an end as our French cab driver spouts off some angry sounding remarks. We had fallen prey to side street construction and were about to be treated to a beautiful display of French patience. “Oh God….” I think to myself as the cab driver lurches forward to “tap” the worker out of the way. More angry comments, this time from both parties. The exchange is drown out now by an exceedingly bad compilation of American music, music from an era filled with peace, love, bumming around the California coast, and probably a fair amount of weed. I have heard some strange remixes in my days, but it takes a special breed of desperation to remix the Beach Boys with jazzy French beats and “sultry” interjections.

As I pondered this disastrous cultural hybrid, my stranger eyes caught glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, shrouded in clouds, an elegant dagger as soft as it was severe. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach active with excitement. The only fitting description is likening it to falling in love for the first time, completely alive with delicate clarity. But for now, I must leave you, it’s adventure time…let us pursue this new love.

To Hope and Madness, Lauren.