Mozlandia – A Portland mini-guide for Mozillians

Around 1,100 Mozillians will be in Portland next week. WELCOME!

Here is a list of things I recommend that you see, do, eat and drink and some handy tips. I’ve focused on places that are in or near downtown, though included some spots worth going out of your way for.

That said, downtown is not Portland. Well, obviously it’s part of it, duh. But it’s not overly representative of the Portland you’ve heard so much about. Get out of downtown for an evening or afternoon – and check out one of the neighborhoods. Nothing listed here is very far from downtown – Portland is pretty small.

I’ve left a LOT out. And forgot the rest. If you have recommendations, leave them in the comments.

UPDATE: Blue Star donuts, which are far more delicious but far less penis-shaped than Voodoo donuts, will be giving away free beignets on Friday Dec 5.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Portland has no Uber or Uber-like services. If you have Car2Go in your city you can use that here too. Curb is the app for local taxi service through a couple of providers. You can get a bus to pretty much anywhere without too much of a wait. Ride the MAX and streetcar if you’re headed to areas that they service.
  • Oregon has no sales tax. Do your Christmas shopping while you’re here.
  • It gets dark around 16:30 – 17:00, so factor that into any plans for hikes, etc.
  • If you go into the mountains, check the road conditions to see if you need chains for the car, or if the area is accessible at all.
  • Go to Powell’s books. Go a few times. Then go back again. Check out the Science Fiction pillar there – how many have you read?
  • Get high… for a good view of the city: Have a drink at Departures, dinner at Portland City Grill or visit Pittock Mansion for great views of the city. Even driving over the Fremont bridge (Highway 405) provides a spectacular view of downtown, the Willamette River and our many bridges.
  • There aren’t a ton of restaurants/bars/coffeehouses that can hold large numbers of people. If you break up into groups of four (max), you’ll have a much better time and the servers, chefs, baristas and bartenders will like you for it.
  • Be patient. Oregon is home to the slow-food movement in America. Regardless if this explains why your coffee took 20 f***ing minutes to make, it’ll make you feel better to think about that. See also the above note about small group sizes to mitigate the waits.
  • Tipping: I tip a dollar for a good coffee. I generally tip ~20% for any kind of sit-down meal. But I also worked as a barista, server and chef before getting into tech, so I’m biased towards tipping 😉

CARTS – Just the 9th & Alder pod for the purposes of this post. If you’re from California – up here they are not “food trucks”, they are “food carts”… even when they are trucks.

  • Hoang’s – Get soup #17.
  • Nong’s khao man gai – Simple and good and oddly famous.
  • Wolf & Bear – Israeli street food that is amazing. And vegan.
  • Güero – Excellent tortas. Add an egg.
  • La Jarochita 2 – Great Mexican cart. The only Mexican cart (aside from Güero) worth going to at the 9th and Alder cart pod.
  • Brunch Box – A cart that graduated to a proper storefront, but is right by the 9th and Alder carts. Great egg sandwiches for breakfast (try the Black and Blue) and terribly good burgers the rest of time. Very fast.
  • Kargi Gogo – Georgian food. The country, not the American state. Irakli says it’s legit too.

DRINK

  • Multnomah Whiskey Library
  • Clyde Common
  • Pepe le Moko
  • Teardrop
  • Bailey’s Taproom

COFFEE

  • Courier – They also make fresh canneles daily.
  • Heart – Excellent coffee.
  • Barista
  • Coffeehouse Northwest
  • Stumptown
  • Case Study
  • Coava – Not downtown but my favorite coffee roaster in town.
  • Ristretto – Not downtown, but fantastic coffee in beautiful spaces. The Nicolai location is especially great – check out the custom metalwork and crazy woodwork, and visit Schoolhouse Electric in the same space.

EAT – I’ve only noted a few of my go-to places, or those that are near where Mozillians are staying, or open late, etc. I’ve got a somewhat-up-to-date list here with more recommendations, but there’s just really too much to cover. Go out and explore.

  • Clyde Common – Always interesting menu, good whiskey selection, great cocktails. Fries + harissa and a cocktail is a great way to end your day and start your evening.
  • Tasty and Alder (downtown) – Shared plates, everything is good.
  • Luc Lac – Vietnamese + cocktails, serves food VERY late, and closest place worth going to that’s also near the Waterfront Marriot.
  • Bunk – Excellent sandwiches.
  • Lardo – Excellent sandwiches as well.
  • Racion – Amazing cocktails and fun Spanish-tinged molecular gastronomy.
  • Little Big Burger – Fast and good late night burger.
  • Not downtown, but places I always want to go back to…
    • Biwa – Izakaya, open late, always amazing. Burger served only after 11pm.
    • Tarad – Northern Thai food, open late. Pok Pok gets all the attention but after living in northern Thailand, this is where we go for the real thing.
    • Mee Sen – Another good Northern Thai food spot we go to.
    • Podnah’s BBQ – Worth heading up into NE Portland for.
    • La Taq – Next door to Podnah’s, fantastic Mexican bar food.
    • Sweedeedee – Most likely to feel like you’re in Portlandia at this spot. Amazing house-baked breads. Tiny. Expect a long wait but good people watching and excellent food.
    • Por Que No (Mississippi location) – Great tacos.
    • Ha & VL – Get the special soup of the day, whatever it is.

NEIGHBORHOODS – Places to walk, eat, drink, shop and experience parts of Portland that are far more interesting than downtown.

EXCURSIONS

  • Columbia Gorge – See Multnomah Falls, the view from Vista House, climb Beacon Rock, stop at the Bonneville Dam and see Herman the Sturgeon, drive across the Bridge of the Gods (and back), then go for lunch at one of the Hood River breweries. Some easy/moderate 1-2 hour hikes I like: Angel’s Rest, the Multnomah/Wahkeena Falls loop, Triple Falls,  Horsetail Falls, Punchbowl Falls, all listed here.
  • Mount Hood – Drive out Highway 26 to the historic Timberline Lodge with amazing views of Mt Hood (if it’s clear), then down to Hood River and head home through the Columbia Gorge on Hwy 84.
  • Mount St Helens – A couple of hours north, but the view of the blast zone and crater from the visitor center on the NW side is well worth it if the view is clear. On the SE side you can hike one mile underground through Ape Cave, and check out the amazing rock formations and brave the cable bridge at Lava Canyon.
  • Oregon Coast – About two hours drive. Walk the promenade at Seaside, get ice cream at Tillamook, watch storms from the tip of Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia river.
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Portland Firefox Developers Meetup

One of the cool folks I met at BarCampPortland 3 was Benjamin Stover. He works at Vidoop, and is the developer of ineedtoreadthis.com. We were talking at BarCamp about how there’s a lot of Firefox extension development going on, but usually by lone individuals. For instance, many of the extension developers I interact with say the same thing: “Yeah, I’m _the_ person at my company who’s in charge of the extension”. And while there’s a lot of great online resources for extension developers, there’s no local group or meet-up specific to development using the Mozilla platform.

Hence the PDX Firefox Developers Group! If you’re interested in developing Firefox extensions, or hacking Firefox itself, or are already doing so, come out and meet others doing the same. For the first meeting, Ben is going to talk about his unit test framework for extensions, and I’m going to talk about Ubiquity, a Mozilla Labs project. I’d like it to be more focused on the hacking than lecturing, so bring your laptop! For example, I’ll walk through the process of writing a new Ubiquity command. Join the PDX-Firefox-Dev Google group for ongoing talk about Firefox and Mozilla hacking, or if you have topics you’d like to talk about at the meet-ups.

The group is meeting on the second Wednesday of the month. The first meeting is next Wednesday, May 13th, and is taking place at Nedspace (directions below) at 7pm. We’ll probably roll somewhere near for drinks afterwards. Please RSVP on Upcoming.

Portland Firefox Developers Group, May 13 at 7pm at Nedspace


Beast 7/16/08

We finally made it to Beast. Overall, a fantastic experience. I would go back in a heartbeat, if only my heart (and wallet) could take that kind of a beating regularly.

Soup

The soup was cucumber and creme fraiche, was airy and cool; some citrus high notes with the cucumber keeping things steady. The flower petals were a beautiful contrast. The chili oil was… missing. Others said they could taste it, but I couldn’t. It would’ve provided perfect dissonance, as well as a textural anchor on the tongue, so my *hunch* is that it was intended to be drizzled on top, but was forgotten. It was paired with a Gruner Veltliner, worked fine.

Charcuterie

Foie gras bon-bon: Unbelievable on the tongue, but a bit too worshipful. I come from peasant stock, and wanted to eat this on some country bread.

Steak tartare and quail egg on toast: Undoubtedly a highlight of the meal. The tartare was supremely cold with maybe some… scallion and white pepper? I had a minor yolk-splosion, so best to take it all in one bite.

Pork Rillette and house cracker: High expections went unmet. The pork was unnassuming, and the cracker could’ve been crisper.

Duck, duck liver, cherry and pistachio pate: A nice blend of creamy and roasty. I’m just not a fan of mixing fruit, nuts *and* meat, so it wasn’t my favorite. Also, my less-than-blue blood again was begging for bread or a cracker.

There was also a cornichon on a daub of dijon mustard, a crisp “ice leaf” (IIRC) on a sliced pea salad, and a salami.

All of this was paired with Tessier Cheverny Blanc – wonderful choice: front of the tongue, spicy, light.

Entree

The  seared duck breast, alongside a cherry and tomato salsa and pan-fried squash blossoms. The duck was fairly unadorned, which was a great move given it’s place in the courses – nice to focus on purity after the charcuterie carnival. The salsa was more of a salad: Rainier cherries and cherry tomatoes halved and in a mild vinegar. It stood up for itself next to the duck.

The only downer of the course was the Grosbois Vielles Chinon that was the paired with it. Maybe they intentionally chose a wine that would get out of the way… or maybe it was just unremarkable. The duck cried out for a saltier, earthy red – I’d have chosen a tempranillo maybe.

Salad

Oddly, this was the simplest part of the meal, yet all agreed that it vied for a top spot among the courses. It was some local greens and a few peach slices in a sherry vinaigrette. There were marcona almonds, but as they were whole, they were bystanders. The upstaging of the course was the shaved goat cheese. The shameless creamy sourness of goat cheese, perfectly distributed via micro-shavings, hooked up with the sherry, and ravished those damn greens. Playing the excited voyeur was the Salomon Kogl Riesling – light on the tongue and a nice balance to the piquancy of the sherry.

Cheese

Steve’s cheese – one slice each of a sheep, goat and cow cheese, with poached apricots, candied hazelnuts, saffron shortbread and local honeycomb. The sheep’s cheese stood out – with a broad nuttiness, definitely was the best choice to contrast the preceding course. The shortbread were little buttons, well-sized to reign in the saffron’s tendency to dominate. The honeycomb was what really took this course over the edge, into the realm of culinary primality – a chthonic offering spilt on the civilized craftsmanship of the cheeses.

The Prieler pinot blanc was well paired, provided respite for an overstimulated palate.

Dessert

Lemon verbena meringues with buttermilk ice cream and tayberries and blackberries. The meringue was truly enjoyable, bright and sweet. The wine pairing was JJ Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Auslese, and was far too thickly sweet to be served with buttermilk ice cream. We were offered coffee, which was the right choice for this course… but then left us with wine and coffee at the same time, which was awkward.

Tips: The portions were perfect, and the progression of courses was well thought out, so I’d recommend going for all six courses. The wine pairing, with a couple of exceptions, was smart, so I recommend that as well. Go for the second seating, as you’ll get more time to linger.