Comedic team of ‘Portlandia’ set to create an off-beat Portland, Oregon, guidebook


Are you bored of the usual travel guidebooks aimed at everyday tourists? If you’re interested in Portland, Oregon, and would rather learn about funny, fictional places that could exist rather than the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Art Museum, you should put “PORTLANDIA: A Guide for Visitors” on your shopping list. Set to debut in November of 2012, the book is being created by the team who brought you the hit comedy series “Portlandia,” starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, which takes you on an off-beat tour of Portland while poking fun at the city.

“It will be written like a Fodor’s or Lonely Planet guidebook, but full of fake, made-up, humorous stuff that could easily exist in a place like Portland, but doesn’t,” explains Ben Greenberg, the executive editor of Grand Central Publishing who will be producing the book. “Everything will be a bit off.”


To get an idea of the team’s humor and what to expect, check out the clip above from “Portlandia” on the Independent Film Channel (IFC).

Hipster Hats that Make Me Happy

We’re no Portland or Brooklyn, but dude, you can’t swing a cat in Seattle without hitting a 20 something in something tweedy, a vest, maybe, and a flat cap. The thing is, you need a good hat in this town, it’s not totally impractical to protect your melon from the relentless drizzle that dampens our spirits and waters down our Americanos. As much as I try to mock the bearded skinny jeans what on earth is your day job and did you think about how that tattoo is going to look when you are 50 plus all that bacon is bad for you set, I can’t argue with a good hat. I just can’t.

Which is why I left the house in a Tilley Endurable Ivy Cap. I joined the hipster masses and you know what people said? “Nice headwear!” The other style I tried, the Tec-Wool, got the same response. What did I say? I said you can’t argue with a good hat. No one even tried.

Here’s what I like about the Tilley winter caps. They have quilted lining and tuck away low profile ear flaps, so they’re really warm and get warmer when you pull the ear flaps out. There’s a secret pocket in the top where you can keep your bus pass or your marching orders or that love letter that really appeals to your brain. They’re made of a very water resistant wool and they keep their shape when you smash them in your backpack with your laptop and your refillable coffee canister and all the other stuff you carry around. There’s a little cinch strap inside so you can adjust the fit — a nice touch. Both caps come in a tweedy brown or a textured black that’s really a very dark charcoal gray. And I think I mentioned, they look great.Both caps are $76.00, a pretty penny to drop on a hat, but they come with a lifetime guarantee which includes — get this, insurance against loss for two years. You’ll need your receipt or registration form, so don’t lose that too, and if you can prove you bought a hat, Tilley will replace it. Really. I asked, twice, because I didn’t believe it the first time. The lifetime guarantee will outlast hipster fashion, I promise you.

These things are great for wearing out and about around town, to the microbrewery, while shopping for artisanal cheeses or smoked meats, or heading to a knitters meetup, but they’re also great for travel to blustery cold places where you just need to be warm. Want one? Measure your head (they come in multiple sizes) and to the Tilley website.

Oh, and yes, that’s me in the picture. I look like a freaking hipster. I don’t care.

Video of the day: Bryson Andres plays on Portland street corner

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why the loop pedal is one of the best inventions ever: because an electric violinist, like Bryson Andres, can perform like this on the street in Portland. I like Portland–a lot of people do. I think Portland is a town filled with gems worth seeking out and substantial food, beer, art, and music scenes. The fact that the electric violinist street performer (loop pedal extraordinaire) featured in this video set up shop in Portland and played his heart out to Beyonce’s ‘Halo’, even to the point of (apparently) drawing in the attention of another violin-playing street performer, makes me like Portland just that much more. If you don’t have time for anything else today, make time to set aside a few minutes and let the talent this guy brings to the street brighten your day.

Visit Portland, Oregon

Video: Portland nights time-lapse

I love Portland and I love time-lapse videos and so, suffice it to say, I really love this Portland nights time-lapse video. This was the first time-lapse video made by Lance Page. Aside from the footage at the beginning of the video, this video was shot entirely at night. Page says on his blog that this was an excellent way for him to learn the relationship between shutter-speed and time-lapse. When he describes making the video in a blog post, he informs readers and viewers that he even had a few run-ins with the police throughout the filming–all through which he was, I’d say, clearly triumphant. I’ve never made a time-lapse video nor have I studied film seriously. But I have been to Portland. I have been to Portland at night even! And this time-lapse truly captures the look and feel of what I love so much about Portland, especially Portland nights.

Visit Portland, Oregon

Five Halloween treats for grown-ups

Halloween candyLike many former kids, I used to live for Halloween. Sure, the dressing up part was fun, but so was TP’ing the neighbor’s tree. What All Hallow’s Eve was really about were Pixy Stix, Fun Dip, mini Milky Way bars, and REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups (in my world, the latter still reigns supreme).

Still, things change. We grow up; most of us lose our appetite for eating the equivalent of eight cups of sugar in one sitting, we’re aware that those candy bars will go straight to our ass.

Still, I find something a little magical about Halloween: the brisk fall air, the aroma of woodsmoke and swirls of brightly colored leaves. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth anymore, but there are some sophisticated treats out there capable of conjuring my inner child (mercifully, minus the buck teeth and tattling habit).

Below, my favorite confections, regardless of season:

1. Jonboy Caramels
I love me a good caramel, and this micro-Seattle company does them right. I discovered Jonboy at my local farmers market; despite the feel-good ingredients and ethics, these are no half-assed candies peddled by dirty hippies (kidding; I’m a longtime market vendor myself). Made completely by hand with local cream and HFCS-free, these pretty treats come wrapped in unbleached parchment paper, and are sold in little (recycled cardboard) boxes. But it’s what’s inside that counts, and these are intensely rich flavor-bombs redolent of that good cream as well as more potent, sexy flavors.

The selection is small and includes fleur de sel caramel, molasses ginger, and my favorite, an intriguing absinthe with black salt. Inspired by the salted licorice found in Scandinavia, Jonboy’s version is made with local Pacifique absinthe and a blend of anise, fennel, and hyssop. They’re dark and mysterious, like a trick-or-treater you shouldn’t let in the door.

Jonboy Caramels are available throughout Seattle at farmers’ markets and specialty stores, and select Washington and Oregon Whole Foods. Five box minimum for online orders (you’ll be glad to have extra, believe me).Halloween candy2. sockerbit
This groovy New York shop in the West Village is dedicated to “Scandinavian candy culture.” The name translates as “sugar cube,” and is also one of their namesake treats (a strawberry marshmallow square). Just like Ikea, crazy names and diversity are part of sockerbit’s charm. All of the essential categories are here: chocolate; licorice; marshmallow (who can resist something called “Syrliga Skumshots,” which are bottle-shaped sour marshmallows?); sweet; sour, and hard and wrapped candies. All are available for order online, and free of artificial dyes, flavors, trans-fats, and other synthetic nastiness.

It’s hard to make a decision in this place, but if, like me, you’re a slave to anything gummy and chewy, (red Swedish Fish people, I’m talking to you), you’ll be very happy with the tempting selection of fruit jellies. Skogsbär, here’s looking at you.

3. Recchiuti Confections
Lucky me, I used to work next door to this revered San Francisco Ferry Building confectionary (I worked in a meat shop; they traded us for chocolate). Chocolatier Michael Recchiuti is a genius, but it’s his delicate, botanically-infused chocolates that bring a tear to my eye. Bonus: many use herbs sourced right outside the door at the Saturday farmers market. Think lemon verbena; star anise and pink peppercorn; rose caramel, and candied orange peel. Just as heavenly are Recchiuti’s exquisite pates de fruits, S’more’s Bites, and…just about everything else. Order them all online at your own risk.

4. Dutch licorice
Licorice is an acquired taste regardless, but the earthy, intense, salted Dutch stuff is another thing altogether. Made with real licorice root extract–no artificial flavors here–they’re bracing, spicy, herbaceous, and strangely addictive. Any bona-fide candy store worth it’s, um, salt, will stock at least one imported variety.

5. Salt & Straw ice cream in holiday flavors
Ice cream season is supposed to be over (isn’t it?) but this five-month-old Portland, Oregon shop begs to differ. Some examples of their delicious array of super-regionalized “farm-to-cone” flavors: Hooligan Brown Ale and Olympic Provisions bacon, Stumptown coffee with cocoa nibs, and pear with Rogue Creamery’s Crater Lake blue cheese.

New to Salt & Straw is their line-up of Thanksgiving and Holiday flavors, which includes bourbon pecan pie, made with Stone Barn’s Oregon Whiskey; eggnog with butter-rum caramel; blood orange cranberry; pumpkin cheesecake, and a sweet-and-savory brown bread stuffing studded with chestnuts, herbs, and dried apricots. Online orders are a minimum of five pints.

Understanding and Preventing Sugar Cravings