BY STEFFEN SILVIS
Avid urban picnickers have so few choices for a good place to toss down a blanket and hamper that is free of:
1. Other people's dogs.
2. Other people's brats.
3. Other people's dog shit.
4. Unwashed musicians with Frisbees.
Laurelhurst, Mount Tabor, Waterfront, Kelley Point, Overlook and Washington parks can be inhospitable to the picnicker who seeks quietude for reading, dining and conversation. I, however, have found the perfect picnicking spots, which I shall now ruin by allowing you to know of them: cemeteries.
Here among the pompous dead, one can enjoy a summer day's laziness in peace. My personal favorite picnic ground is Lone Fir Cemetery on Southeast Morrison Street and 26th Avenue, where there are many shaded spots to settle under for some aestival snacking. There are also some marvelous gravestones that come close to being works of art, which add a certain flair to your dining experience.
Many of our dead betters will even offer memorial benches for us so that we can comfortably sit while eating to contemplate the departed's life (if not our own).
I only ask that if you join me in the city's better boneyards that you have enough respect for the dead to take all of your trash out with you. (Let it be said that the cigarette butts, Mounds wrappers and spent condoms were left by the more wintry, nocturnal Goths.)
And if there are laws against such a thing, well, don't tell anyone I sent you.
BY KIM COLTON
They're not hawking spinach and kale. They're not the ones with the fresh-cut peonies. No, these royally popular vendors keep life at the market vibrant--not to mention a little bit weird--and stock enough treats to keep Northwest mouths full until fall. (Also check out oregonfarmersmarkets.org
for more info.)
Crustacean Queen: The woman behind Linda Brand Crab isn't a woman at all. It's a boat named Linda, docked across from Astoria in the coastal Washington town of Ilwaco. Linda's been crabbing for 15 years under the stewardship of John Edwards. Aside from offering the goods at 10(!) farmers markets, Patricia Edwards, John's wife, claims she's shipped their crabs to all 50 states. See lindabrandcrab.com for more.
Bulb Baroness: Since 2001, the Thai-born Garlic Lady (a.k.a. Lumchuan Burright) has been a pickler of garlic, green olives and other Bloody Mary accoutrements. When she's not brewing another batch of spicy Italian bulbs or offering intriguing Thai recipes on her website, www.garliclady.com, the Garlic Lady spends her weekends across the river at the Vancouver Farmers Market (Esther Short Park, Esther and West 8th streets, Vancouver, Wash., www.vancouverfarmersmarket.com), waxing eloquent about the health benefits of two of her favorite ingredients--vinegar and, of course, garlic.
BY JUSTIN NIESSNER
Enjoying the clear skies of summer is a Portlander's seasonal birthright. Hence the abundance of cafes with outdoor seating. But just try seeing a sunset from a downtown sidewalk. Rooftop patios put you under the sun you deserve and above the muck you don't.
Topping off the Convention Center Red Lion Hotel is the well-named Windows (1021 NE Grand Ave., 235-2100), a
spacious terrace and bar with an excellent view of downtown. A seven-foot glass barrier does well to block the wind and prevents the wobble-over effect if you've downed one too many.
The Rooftop Bar is an aptly named cap to the Hotel Oregon in McMinnville (310 NE Evans St., McMinnville, 503-472-8427). A quick drive through wine country scores you a cool panorama of the Portland satellite despite the unsightly air-conditioning units on the rest of the roof.
The high-rise Mark Spencer Hotel (409 SW 11th Ave., 224-3293) sports a diminutive rooftop garden available for special reservations. Not too much of a seating area up here, but the hotel was
a bona fide skyscraper upon construction in 1907; the view is a knockout.
Jax (826 SW 2nd Ave., 228-9128) is probably the best-looking rooftop spread in town, and on a clear day you can see Mount Hood. City noise ordinances keep the bar and live bands in check, so it's only open to the public on Friday nights.
Insider tip: Whether you're stargazing or soaking up the sun, summertime lounging on rooftops is almost like hanging out poolside. No diving, please.
BY JOHN MOTLEY
"Ring Around the Rosie" is an adult drinking game. Sure, it was invented as a kids' diversion during the Black Death, but it translates well to sousing it up in the 21st century.
Let's examine. In the original version, children clasped hands in a circle, then recited a brief existential poem before falling dizzily to the ground. These days, grownup children need a heady diversion from today's more insidious plagues (employment, car payments, etc.), but they need it fortified with booze.
Since the key elements of "Ring" are the same as binge drinking, it's no surprise that the game easily translates to an adult drinking version. If you have the means, I suggest mead between rounds to honor the game's medieval origins, but anything from shots to Schlitz will get the job done (the "job" is getting the spins, falling down in a daze and waking up with a headache).
Here are the rules: You and your participating friends (I recommend playing with at least two) will each say a single word of the poem. If someone flubs a word, the flubber takes a drink. For a vicious spin, make the dizzy player who gets up last for the next round drink.
Insider tip: When you wake up the next morning, sprawled out on your lawn and pleading with your vision for merciful stillness, it will be hard to separate your childlike giddiness from your grownup hangover.
BY ZACH DUNDAS
Few summer rituals are as simultaneously fun and stressful as the short-notice barbecue. No time to scheme, no time to marinate, no time for the grill gurus' arcane voodoo (rubs! spices! Amazing Harvey's Special Amarillo Thunder Can't-Miss Sexy-Sexy Sauce With Grandma's Secret Juices™!) If the 6 o'clock "dude, we're 'cuin', dude!" phone call sends you into a tailspin, here are some tactics to think on:
Herbs. The ultimate cheater's tool. If you're not using fresh herbs, you're not really cooking. Great thing: Herbs are easy to grow, especially the hearty beasts that best complement meats. Rosemary, thyme, sage--buy starters at a grocery store, nursery or farmers' market. Plant 'em along the side of the house. Throw 'em in a bucket on your windowsill. Whatever. As long as you don't actually try to kill them, they'll grow up to provide instant flavor to impromptu meat projects. Throw branches of rosemary directly on hot coals to make yourself look really ace.
A little marinade goes a long way: Purists insist you must leave your London Broil in a teriyaki tub for friggin' days, or don't bother. Well, sure. Ideally. In reality, a mini-soak is better than no soak. If pressed for time, consider chicken--the Mr. Rogers of the poultry world pays the highest proportional dividends on a little juicing. A half-hour bath of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, diced garlic and chopped herbs of your choice will fire up some breasts quite nicely.
If you can't even do that, go Florentine: Few peoples on earth have as refined an appreciation for a naked slab of seared cow flesh as the Tuscans. Bistecca alla Fiorentina reduces grilling to its essence. To serve two, buy a Porterhouse steak weighing between a pound and a half and two pounds, about 1 3/4 inches thick. Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper, pressing the seasoning into the meat. When the coals are very hot, slap the slab down on a clean grill greased with extra-virgin olive oil. Knock it around every couple of minutes to make sure it cooks evenly. Five or six minutes to a side, plus five minutes' rest off the grill, make for medium rare. A little lemon to dress the sucker, and Mamma mia, that's-ah Italian-ah!
Finally, the single best thing you can do: Buy good stuff. Find a butcher or meat counter you like.
Insider tip: If all else fails, buy some good sausage. Works every time, and comes in its own convenient case.
BY JOEL SMITH
Say what you will of the merits of melons or a frosty lager on a sweaty day, but nothing says summer quite like ice cream. Double-dipped, sprinkled or piled high with Gummi bears, a waffle cone of chocolate-hazelnut can save you from melting.
To keep you on ice, we've skipped around town and hand-scooped four of the best sherbet shacks around. So chill out--and happy spooning!
Staccato Gelato: This joint is spoons-down the best place to eat ice cream in Portland, as it's classy but not pretentious, funky but not cloying. What's more, it has a superb, though small, selection of Italian-style ice cream. The pistachio gelato is deep and creamy, and the strawberry sorbet, made now with the freshest local berries, may be the best frozen strawberry you'll ever taste. Get it while it's ripe. 232 NE 28th Ave.,
Ben & Jerry's: You can buy B&J's famously decadent glop just about anywhere, so why come here? For the sweet waffle cones? Or because there's nothing like wallowing in a Dublin Mudslide after a long, hard day of wasting money on Northwest 23rd? 39 NW 23rd Place, 295-3033, and other locations.
Scooter's: Funky. Retro. Hip. Scooter's is Southeast Portland in a cone. Serving up all-soy soft-serve and a nicely subtle green-tea ice cream, it shares a penchant for '50s postcards and Godzilla dolls with Spoink, the campy novelty store in the next room. If irony could be distilled into chocolate syrup, this place would really hop. 3312 SE Belmont St., 235-0032.
Baskin-Robbins: This is your typical old-school ice-cream joint, not someplace to see and be seen--unless you wear a lot of pastel pink and beige, in which case you might fit right in. The good news, however, is that the chain's just being modest with that whole "31 Flavors" thing--which means it's worth the quick skip from Pioneer Courthouse Square. 625 SW Broadway, 222-3830, and other locations.
BY KELLY CLARKE
More apt to drool over thick slabs of bacon and leafy greens than over bronzed bodies? Get an eyeful of these savory summer food events.
Berries in the Pearl: Free berry shortcake and chef demos make carting home farm-fresh flats of red raspberries, blackberries, marionberries and strawberries all the sweeter. Portland Farmers Market, Northwest 10th Avenue and Johnson Street, 241-0032. 4 pm Thursday. June 24.
Market Tours Class: Chef Robert Reynolds helps big-eyed shoppers fill their stomachs with weekly classes that guide students from the market to the kitchen to the dining-room table. Portland Farmers Market, South Park Blocks, 233-1934 or www.nwculinaryforum. org. 9:30 am-2 pm Wednesdays (between Salmon and Main streets), 8:30 am-2 pm Saturdays (between Montgomery and Harrison streets). $85. Reservations required.
Plate & Pitchfork: Farm dinners where luxury comes al fresco. This year's stellar roster of guest backyard chefs include former Genoa head Cathy Whims, Vitaly Paley from Paley's Place and Ripe gents Morgan Brownlow and Tommy Habetz. At Portland-area farms throughout July and August. Call 241-0745 or visit www.plateandpitchfork.com for info and reservations. Most dinners cost $75.
International Pinot Noir Celebration: Bacchus couldn't devise a better weekend for discriminating winos than this three-day gourmet guzzle-fest. It's like summer camp...with an international posse of 60 top pinot noir winemakers as your counselors. Linfield College, McMinnville, (503) 472-8964, www.ipnc.org. Friday-Sunday, July 23-25. See website for more.
Summer Loaf: Artisan bakers unite buns and ovens as carb lovers slaver over fresh loaves from some of the region's best dough-handlers. Portland Farmers Market, South Park Blocks between Montgomery and Harrison streets, 241-0032. 8:30 am Saturday, Aug. 7.
Festa Italiana: Grape-stompin', pizza-tossin' and cannoli-munchin' craziness; this festival's more fun than The Sopranos. Locations include Pioneer Courthouse Square. See www.festa-italiana.org for more. Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 21-29.
Bluehour's Fourth Anniversary Party: Bruce Carey and crew throw the ultimate block party (delish eats, live bands and "sectional furniture fashioned out of hay bales") for the sleek spot's fourth birthday. The bash is a benefit for the Portland Public Market. Northwest 13th Avenue between Davis and Everett streets, 226-3394. 5 pm Sunday, Sept. 12. $60.
BY BREE OSWILL
Impress your friends with your culinary sophistication and geographic savvy by serving them shashlik this summer. A version of the kebab, shashlik is a banquet staple from the shores of the Black Sea to the plains of Central Asia (the Russian word "shashlik" comes from the Turkish word for skewer). Cubes of lamb or pork are marinated in spices--ideally overnight--then grilled over a wood-fueled flame (try cherry, apple or pear). Ladies, listen up: Traditionally, men prepare shashlik. Why? Alex Komarov, at the coffee shop-cum-Russian cafe Java Man, explains: "Women make ordinary, daily food." But men? "When a man starts to make something, he takes a long time." Really, I think it's just an excuse to play with matches.
Add tomatoes, bell peppers and onion rings to the skewers, or keep it full-on meat for a more authentic take. Serve with fresh greens (parsley and cilantro preferred) and dry red wine (for lamb) or copious amounts of vodka (for a pork version). Tajikistan, anyone? Here's a recipe from www.ruscuisine.com:
3 lbs. fresh lamb, cut from the leg
2 small onions
4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 large shallots, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2.5 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
4 tablespoons oil
dash of cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste
Trim fat from meat, cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks, and place in a bowl with onion, garlic, shallots, parsley, cayenne pepper and pomegranate juice. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or four hours, minimum). Remove from marinade and pat dry. Skewer and brush with oil. Broil under a very high heat, turning often, for 12 (medium rare) to 20 minutes (well-done). Or cook it on the barbecue, turning and basting with marinade occasionally, with the rack about 5 inches above preheated coals. Serve on a heated plate.