Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

Currently Consuming
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    by Eric Ries
  • The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    by Daniel Coyle
  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow

Entries in portland 2011 (5)


They Beered Me

The Oregon Brewers Festival was just big enough to be huge, not so big as too be overwhelming. They had said they had 85 beers on tap (not including some special, limited-availability beers in the Buzz Tent), and I think I tasted about half of them. I say “I think” because I managed to lose my tasting notes on the way to the airport. Fortunately, I remember my favorites pretty well.

So here’s how it worked: You paid six bucks to get a mug, and then you could buy tokens for a dollar each. One token would get you a taste of beer — about two or three ounces — and four would fill your mug. There was one beer from each of the participating breweries. The festival bought eighteen kegs of each, which they tapped on a schedule. If they killed a keg and it wasn’t yet time to tap the next one, it would be unavailable for a little while. This meant that the most popular beers didn’t run out on Saturday, which was nice for those of us trying to taste beer on Sunday afternoon.

Gwen and I first wandered over to the festival on Thursday evening, to see how it worked. We tasted half a dozen or so beers that night. It was really nice: the pours were big enough that we could both reasonably sample from one, so we’d each get a beer in the same style (like a Scottish Ale or a Raspberry Wheat), taste, trade, and talk about the beers. That last part was my favorite, as talking with someone else about whatever I’m tasting always makes me a better taster. Eventually we got hungry and wandered off in search of dinner.

I went back to the Festival on Friday and Sunday afternoons, using Gwen’s mug as a way to continue to pair beers for tasting. I ended up pouring out a fair of amount of beer for the sake of being able to continue to be able to taste. That — and the huge number of beers vying for my attention — meant that I was pretty ruthless in my evaluations. There were a lot of beers that I would have been perfectly happy to get at a bar that I just said “It’s ok” about and moved on. That means that these six, which were my favorites, must have been pretty special:

The one big gap in my tasting scorecard was IPAs and Pale Ales. I like to pick certain categories and taste every beer in the group, and there were just too many of these. I also realized that after tasting a dozen IPAs, my palate would be so overwhelmed with hops that I wouldn’t able to taste anything else. So, with the exception of the Cascadian Black Ale sub-category, I largely decided to skip these and focus on fully exploring other categories, like porters or wheat beers.

The Festival was incredibly well-run and a great time. I hope to make it back next year. Perhaps with a posse?


Fitness: Rest day
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 123 words, 242 seven-day average, 264 average, 32681 total, 1329 to go for the week; 20-day streak

Portland, Day Four

I’d intended to write about the Brewers Festival today, as that was what I did, but my laptop battery decided to die before I got on the plane. You’ll have to wait for tomorrow to find out what my favorite were.

And so we’re back from an amazing trip. The cats appreciate the gift we got them, and I’m about to appreciate some sleep. Good night all.


Fitness: Ran 4 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 298 words, 285 seven-day average, 265 average, 32558 total, 58 past the goal for the week; 19-day streak

Portland, Day Three

Today was less food-heavy, which is probably a good thing.

We did start off the day at Kenny and Zuke’s, as Gwen didn’t get to go there yesterday. I had the corned beef hash, while Gwen had the 222 — two eggs, two latkes, and two slices of pastrimi, served with rye toast. Both were awesome, particularly the latkes. And the grumpy chef was in a better mood today. I’m tempted to try to get back there tomorrow to try either the bialies or the challah bread French toast, but we’ll see.

Afterward we wandered around at the Saturday Market, which was an interesting collection of crafts vendors. The only thing we ended up buying was a present for the cats: a toy stuffed with what we are assured is Oregon’s best catnip. Given how much our wee beasties like just ordinary nip, they should go crazy for this.

Then we hopped in the car and got out of town. One of the things at the top of my list for this trip was visiting the Columbia River Gorge and driving around Mount Hood. I’d done both the last time I was here, but I hadn’t been able to spend as much time doing it as I wanted to. This time, we set aside pretty much the whole day and drove the entire length of the Historic Columbia River Highway instead of just going up I-84. We saw the Women’s Forum Overlook and the Crown Point Vista House; hiked to Latourell, Bridal Veil, Wahkeena, and Multnomah Falls; and walked through the old tunnel at Oneonta Creek. Each spot was different, which makes me glad we did them all. My feet hurt a bit from all the hiking over rocky ground, but we saw some gorgeous spots today, so it was worth it.

We stopped for dinner at the Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom in Hood River. Their New Haven-style pizza was great, and the two Kriek-style beers they’d just released — made with cherries from the brewers own orchard — were fantastic. The atmosphere was loud but homey. As I said to Gwen, I think any place that serves beer on tap and has couch qualifies as a pub.

We finished off our day in the wilderness by driving around Mount Hood, which was beautiful in the evening sun. We thought about going up to Timberline Lodge, but by that point we were pretty tired and decided to head back to Portland. Our last stop of the day was at Voodoo Doughnut, where we braved the perpetual line to get half-a-dozen amazing doughnuts. The Bacon Maple Bar, topped with real bacon, was my favorite, as it was incredibly well-made. The dough was not too heavy, not too light. The maple glaze was not cloying sweet, but very flavorful. And the bacon was perfectly cooked, just salty enough, and not greasy at all. It was heavenly.

Ok, so maybe there was some food today after all.


Fitness: Hiking
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 80 words, 296 seven-day average, 264 average, 32260 total, 240 to go for the week; 17 day streak

Portland, Day Two

We are no danger of starving in Portland.

When last we left our hero, he was waiting for his lovely bride so they could go get some dinner. We ended heading over to the Oregon Brewers Festival for a little while before finally heading to dinner at Veritable Quandry. Their wine list was impressive; we ended up enjoying a pair of rosés while we waited on the patio for our table, which were a perfect match for the summer evening. When we finally sat down, I had the good sense to order the roasted wild mushroom & baby spinach salad with buttermilk blue cheese & pancetta vinaigrette. We decided to share and devoured it as soon as it arrived. Gwen opted for the Wild Oregon King Salmon with orange vinaigrette served with bulgur, pistachios, mint, cucumber, radish, yogurt & cumin. I had the Oregon Black Cod wrapped in prosciutto with shaved fennel, Dungeness crab, fingerling potatoes & lemon aioli, the last of which was really the key to the dish. And despite the hour, we just couldn’t resist desert, so Gwen got the Warm Black Beauty Plum Tartlet, and I had the Peanut Brittle Banana Split, which was absolutely delicious with the glass of Pedro Ximenez sherry I ordered. Dinner ended up being both later and better than we usually eat, so by the time we stumbled back to our hotel around midnight, we were happy to get to bed.

Today Gwen was off to classes at Sock Summit, which left me on my own to find for myself. I had a very nice run along the riverfront before heading out in search of an early lunch. I ended up at Kenny and Zuke’s, a delicatessen recommended to us by at least three different people. It was transcendently good — the pickle platter taught me that I don’t dislike sweet pickles, I’ve just not had well-made ones. The Ken’s Special, a pastrami sandwich with chopped liver, coleslaw and Russian dressing, was amazing, especially when washed down with a Henry Weinhard’s Cream Soda, whose sweetness cut through the fat, salt, and vinegar of the rest of the meal. And I am now horribly tempted to find a way to incorporate the grumpy chef I watched for a good half-hour from my counter seat into a bit of fiction, because he was such a wonderful character. So overall, I survived my abandonment.

At noon I headed back to the Oregon Brewers Festival, which we had started sampling the night before. My new-found beer tasting knowledge was put to good use. I managed to taste at least a quarter of the 80+ beers on tap here, and I think I got through the ones I’m most interested in. It wasn’t as fun without a tasting companion — Gwen and I got stopped twice last night because “we looked like we knew what we were doing.” I ended up bailing before I got crazy busy, which was just about when Gwen got back from her classes.

We ended up going to Grüner, which was lovely. The weather was quite pleasant, so we decided to sit outside and ended up at a stylishly black-lacquered picnic bench. They had a flight of four German rieslings made in four different styles which we each decided to get and build the meal around. With the sparkling and the dry we split an appetizer and a salad — the charcuterie plate (speck, spicy coppa, soppressata, house-made mortadella, liverwurst canapés, country pâté, mustard, and pickles) and a salad of green beans, blackberries, goat cheese, hazelnuts, duck cracklings, black currant vinaigrette, and crispy shallots. With the Kabinett, I had the choucroute garnie — a plate of bratwurst, saucisson, cider braised pork belly, house-cured pork tenderloin, covered with sauerkraut and served with sweet mustard and yukon gold potatoes. It paired wonderfully with the wine. Gwen’s sweet & sour rabbit marinated in red wine and braised with spring onions, carrots, juniper, black pepper & rosemary, with chive-potato dumplings didn’t go as well, so we indulged our wine geekery and ordered a glass of Blaufränkish, which did go with it. For desert we split the cheese plate and the honey-walnut cake, accompanied by an Auslese riesling and something I’d never seen before: a Pinot Noir Trockenbeerenauslese. (This will either make sense to you or take too long to explain why it’s unusual.) It ended up being just as good as the dinner from last night, but both lighter and earlier. We took advantage of the not-yet-late hour to stroll along the riverfront before heading back to hotel.

So yes, I’d say were doing a pretty good job of eating and drinking our way across Portland.


Fitness: Ran 3 miles
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 262 words, 333 seven-day average, 266 average, 32180 total, 320 to go for the week; 16-day streak

Portland, Day One

As vacations go, this one has definitely started off right.

Gwen and I decided to come up to Portland, Oregon, for a long weekend. She was lured up by Sock Summit; I was lured up by the idea of spending a long weekend with Gwen. We flew up last night and checked into the Benson, a historic hotel in the heart of downtown. There was a mix-up with our reservation, so we didn’t get the right room last night. To make up for it, they moved us into a penthouse suite today. We’ve decided to forgive them.

We got up early this morning, and on the recommendation of Matt Troedson hit Mother’s for breakfast. I had what was easily the best lox I’ve ever had, and Gwen’s prosciutto scramble was deliciously flavored with thyme. Afterward we wandered by the site of the Oregon Brewers Festival (expect more about this tomorrow) before hopping on the MAX and heading up the convention center so Gwen could pick up her registration materials. Turns out that OSCON is in the same building, which is awesome on many levels. The two events combined probably approach gender parity.

We dropped a few things off at the hotel, and then it was out to Washington Park, where we walked through the Magnolia collection of the Hoyt Arboretum on our way to the Portland Japanese Garden. The latter was very different than what I expected, and much better. I don’t claim to completely understand wabi-sabi, but some of things I saw today got me closer.

We concluded our Washington Park visit with a trip to the Rose Garden, which served as a remarkable study in contrasts to what we’d just seen. It was bit overwhelming, and we ended up not staying all that long. We continued the overwhelming theme by stopping by Powell’s on the way back to the hotel. I’d been there once before, about six years ago, while it was Gwen’s first visit. Definitely fun, once we got our feet back under us.

And that’s about where we are now. Gwen has headed back to Sock Summit to check out the preview of the marketplace, and I’m hanging out in the Palm Court at the Benson, enjoying a cocktail or two and getting some words down. I have no doubt we’ll find some delicious food for dinner, and we may wander around downtown yet.

As I said, this vacation has started off right.


Fitness: One Hundred Pushups, Week 2, Day 2 (10-12-9-9-12)
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 149 words, 348 seven day average, 266 average, 31918 total, 582 to go for the week