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Posts tagged ‘coffee’

Changes in regard to coffee

Yes it’s true, we Portlanders love our coffee, and there are a plethora of coffeehouses all around town to drive home that truth. I myself have a list of favorites in my neighborhood, but what a joy it is to discover a new treasure outside of the Alphabet District, the quaint and quirky name of the area in which I live.

And yes it’s true, shortly after moving here I dared to get rid of my coffeepot and the monkey on my back habit of half a pot of coffee in the morning. I had started to feel like a coffee junkie, so I quit cold turkey, suffered the pangs of caffeine withdrawal and stayed away for a time. Well, a short time that is, until I found myself tiptoeing back to instant coffee, only one cup a day. And hey, that’s not really an addiction, only one cup of instant coffee in the morning, is it? And I can quit anytime! But today was different, I just needed more – and here is my story…

Two Cup Day

I had relegated myself

To a self-imposed limit

Only one cup of coffee

To start my day

But today felt different

A cool breeze

Gray clouds in the skylight

The flickering candle I had lit

To stave off the dim daylight

One last swallow of the first cup

And off to the kitchen

Marching triumphantly

To celebrate my new holiday

Behold the inauguration of

Two Cup Day

tiny coffee

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Huber’s Cafe – a Chinese owner, American turkey, and Spanish coffee

It was another luncheon outing of the “lovely library ladies”, the group of us from the book club who meet once a month for lunch at various eateries in Portland. This time we decided to try Huber’s Cafe, the restaurant that sports this claim to fame, “Established in 1879, Huber’s is Portland’s oldest restaurant”. It is a beautifully old, dark wood, lowly lit place from a time past. The room we ate lunch in is covered by a ceiling of Tiffany glass, along with a bar that looks like it came out of an old Hollywood movie, complete with the original brass cash register.

Huber’s was started by Frank Huber, but was eventually taken over and bought by Jim Louie, a Chinese immigrant hired by Frank Huber as Huber’s original cook. The main menu item of the early Huber’s was a turkey sandwich and coleslaw, and Jim Louie continued on with the turkey tradition, expanding the menu to include many different types of turkey offerings. The turkey melt sandwich I had with brie cheese and caramelized onions on a toasted baguette was very tasty, along with Huber’s famous coleslaw that lived up to its reputation as delicious.

But the best part, and certainly most entertaining was the Spanish coffee we had after our meal. This drink was developed by James Louie, another member of the Louie family, and having it prepared table side is an event in itself.  This amazing and very yummy drink consists of Kahlua, 151 proof Bacardi rum, Bols triple sec and hot coffee, topped with fresh whipped cream and nutmeg – what a tantalizing combination of flavors it is! The bartender came to our table with a tray of all the needed ingredients and special heat resistant glasses rimmed in sugar, and proceeded to concoct our beverages with the showmanship of a magician. He poured layers of the various liquors into the two glasses he held, as he moved his arms in an sweeping arc, almost like the movements of a ballet dancer. And at one point in this performance, he lit the liquid inside the glasses on fire, adding much flair to the whole spectacle.

It was the perfect end to a delightful lunch on a cold and rainy Portland day, as we added another great Portland food destination to our ever growing list of lunch time adventures had by the lovely library ladies.

The bar at Huber's

The bar at Huber’s

The start of Spanish coffee

The start of Spanish coffee

Lighting the coffee on fire

Lighting it on fire

Topping it off with fresh whipped cream

Topping it off with fresh whipped cream

Ready to drink!

Ready to drink!

 

 

 

 

 

The coffee monkey

Portland is known for many things, and drinking coffee is one of them. There is not only a Starbucks on what seems like every single corner, but there is also the plethora of independent coffee houses that offer up local brews of all kinds. So what an odd thing for me to do, to throw out my coffeepot after moving here to the land of coffee and hipster coffee houses and quit my morning coffee habit, cold turkey. Oh, it was three days of caffeine withdrawal hell, complete with a headache and fatigue that had me back in bed by noon. But hey, I made it through! On the fourth day, my body said, “What coffee? We are doing just fine without that nasty habit and added expense.” But slowly, ever so slowly, I found myself wondering, can’t I just have a little cup of the lovely nectar called coffee that smells so damn good every time I walk past a coffee house? So one day, I walked to my favorite local haunt and ordered up a cup, just a small cup of their house blend with a shot of yummy caramel for good measure. Oh my! I had forgotten how rich and satisfying and downright fun the coffee buzz is! And how interesting that my now caffeine-free body was a bit shaky, trying to take in this drug that I had quit. But hey, it was worth it, even if I couldn’t hold the pen still as I tried to do some writing in the coffee house. No matter, that will wear off – the sweet taste of caramel coffee on my tongue was worth it. But, not enough for me to go back to my routine of brewing coffee in my home. But the other day, as I was doing some grocery shopping, I found myself drawn to the coffee aisle – and there I saw the answer to my dilemma – instant coffee! And look at all the great flavors they have! Vanilla and hazelnut and mocha and the one I finally caved in to with the fancy name, Cafe Francais. And as the coffee monkey on my back and I took home my treasure I heard myself saying, “I can quit anytime – it’s not like I’m going to drink it every morning again.” But just to be sure of my undisputed resolve in this, I hid the pretty coffee tin in my cupboard – right behind the packages of gourmet cookies I bought, during yet another weak moment when the other monkey was on my back – the one that just has to have that sugar fix every now and then.

Change of scenery

Usually when I read or write I prefer the quiet confines of my home. But there are those times when I just want to, need to get out of the house and immerse myself in the cacophony of people and places. And one of my favorite places is only a block away, a small local coffeehouse, with a vibe that calls to me at times. I can find myself becoming lost in a good book while the conversation and music swirls all around me, and sometimes I have to reach for pen and paper to write down thoughts that filter through it all. I never want to define myself as having to do this or that as a writer; sometimes I find I need a change of scenery in order to find my muse.

Running Away from Home

 

I slipped out

Through the open door

Down the hallway

Down the stairs

Down the street

 

I slipped through

The unlocked door

Of the coffeehouse

 

The place where some come

To meet and mingle

Others sit solitary

At a table

Under a canopy of hipster music

We are draped in coffee smells

Balancing bodies on tiny wooden chairs

 

I read pages out of a book

Then I glance at the street scene

People walking

People walking dogs

The espresso machine sounds angry

Clanging and hissing as it labors away

I scribble random words on the paper

A swirl of the coffee cup

A last swallow of the caramel coffee

 

Then I decide

I don’t want to run away from home

And I retrace my steps

 

 

Another love poem to my precious Portland

I’ll admit it – I am head over heels in love with Portland! Every time I step out my door and onto her streets, the love affair is renewed. This morning was a tease of blue skies, just a whisper of a breeze, along with coffee and an oh so delicious pastry at a nearby boulangerie (just a fancy word for a bakery that delights the wordsmith in me). And on the way home, a poem jumps up and down inside of me until I find pen and paper.

The Capricious City

 

She calls to me

A siren song

The temptress

“Come to me”

Is there a place for me to stay?

“There is room for all in my heart”

What will I find?

“I give you a feast of freedom to be yourself

A song of unbridled passion

A dance of misplaced steps”

 

Then her wry sense of humor is exposed

As I walk her streets

I spy

A tiny pink car on three wheels

Men in tights on bikes

Doll parts in the window

Interesting and disturbing

All in the same breath

 

Still, I accept her invitation

And nestle in her sweet bosom

As she sings me

Lullabies

From her rose-shaped heart

 

 

 

 

The definition of home

I lived over half a century in the same state, and then felt the overwhelming urge to move halfway across the country and replant myself in a state I had visited only once. This has caused me to redefine what home really is. Is it a place where we grow up and more times than not settle our adult lives in? Or is it a place that calls to our very soul and says, “come”? I have come to believe in the latter, as I find I am in love with my “new” home of Portland, Oregon. Oh, I enjoyed Minnesota all those years; I wasn’t miserable. But something in me felt a pull, a resonating as I traveled to Oregon in 2010 for a retreat, in a place that was actually outside of Portland. But I remember as I sat in the airport, waiting to board the plane to Portland, I heard a voice in my head saying, “I’m going home!” And as soon as I set foot in Oregon, I knew that one day, this place would be my home. It is a love affair here that I have with my pretty city. Every day I wake and say to myself, “another beautiful day in Portland!”, not mattering one bit if it is a grey day or a bright sun filled day. And I find other “homes” within my home. There are the two coffeehouses that I love more than all the others; one that plays the music I love and has the best caramel to add luscious flavor to my coffee, and the other one that makes the best marionberry bars and has the quaint outdoor patio that is almost meditative on a lovely Portland morning. I have also found the teashop that is akin to being in my home, with comfy over-sized chairs to sit in and the most delicious teas, both hot and cold. And then there are my two favorite parks; one that is close to my home and has gently sloping hills covered with massive, older trees that provide welcome shade on a summer day, and the other park which has an area of native grasses and plants, along with a pond full of playful fish and lovely lily pads. As I get ready to board the train in a few hours that will take me to family and friends I haven’t seen for six months, I say to myself that I am going back to Minnesota, but I will be coming home to Portland.

Bye bye coffee, Hello tea!

The city I live in, Portland, Oregon, is most definitely a coffee city. There is a Starbucks on every corner(maybe a bit of an exaggeration), but coffeehouses abound, with so many varieties of coffee to be drank. So one might find it a bit odd that after living here for a couple of months, I found myself giving up my morning routine of half a pot of coffee to start the day, when I had the coffee world at my disposal. But it all came to a head one day in Trader Joe’s. I was out of coffee and had to purchase some for the next morning’s pot – I had never gone without! But I slowly became frustrated as I searched for ground coffee, not whole bean, which seemed to be all they had to offer. I finally found a meager offering of overpriced ground coffee. And as I stood there, overwhelmed at the price, I felt like an addict spending my last few dollars on a fix – enough! I was ready to break out of my coffee prison. So the next morning I fixed myself a cup of tea, my new morning friend. There should be enough caffeine in tea to keep my body happy I thought. I was so wrong! Caffeine withdrawal was not pretty – but I made it through a week of headaches, constant naps to stave off the tiredness and voila! I woke one morning and felt alive and refreshed as I sipped my tea – no longer a coffee addict! Why not drink decaf, you ask? Because I have yet to find decaffeinated coffee that tastes right. And entering the world of tea has opened me up to the heavenly tastes of loose leaf tea, at the tea shop in my neighborhood that has both magical tasting teas and an ambiance that feels like my own cozy home.  One day though, I found myself craving a cup of coffee, and missing the atmosphere of my nearby coffeehouse. One cup can’t hurt, can it? So off I went, books in hand to read as I dipped my toes in the waters of coffee again, and I allowed myself the treat of a shot of caramel in my coffee – a reward for having given it up in the first place. Oh my! My taste buds danced with the remembrance of coffee, but my body reacted with a shaky, jittery feeling as the caffeine flooded the places it used to reside in. Coffee is like someone who is trying way to hard to be your friend, when all I really want is the quiet gentleness of tea. Soft, soothing tea – everything about it is so smooth and easy, not loud and boisterous. But despite the tender seduction of tea, every now and then, I journey to the coffeehouse for a cup of house coffee with a shot of caramel – and just wait for that caffeine buzz.

A Morning Melody

 

I waken so slowly

To this new day

Lying still as a church

When it starts to pray

 

Light tiptoes in

Trying not to disturb

Birds also awaken

Their song to be heard

 

Unwrapping myself

From soft, cotton sheets

Ambling to the stovetop

The teapot and I greet

 

I pour water in

And turn on the flame

Then wait for the moment

When it sings out my name

 

I hear a soft hiss

Then the whistle sets in

A song so familiar

Let this new day begin

 

 

 

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