Friday, April 8, 2011

Great Meal, Great Night at the Opera

Thursday  night Linda and I went to Portland for our usual foray in to the world of culture. We checked in to Modera to drop off our bags and head to dinner. What a pleasant surprise awaited us in the room.  They gave us a very nice bottle of wine and some Oregon hazelnuts with a sweet card, and they even comped the parking.
I very much like this hotel for a number of reasons. The restaurant, Nel Centro, is very good, and they make a terrific latte' in the morning. The location is perfect for the opera as it is only two blocks from Keller Auditorium, and for Nordstrom shopping . It is very affordable, friendly, and has great art (many works by my friend Bill Park).
The location has a storied past so a little history is in order.
I used to stay in what was the Portland Inn/Day’s Inn built in 1962, back when I was first back from Germany in the late 70's and trying to decide whether to live in Portland or Eugene. The last night I stayed their I was awoken by a pounding, screaming hooker, naked in the hallway, demanding her money from the old salesman across the hall. I chose Eugene and  I did not return to that building until Modera appeared.
Last night I again was awoken at 2:30am, this time by a screaming engine, likely one of those nitrous oxide enhanced racers, as it revved up, up, and up and...WHAM! No more noise. Ah, bliss.
But first, back to great food. We had tried Urban Farmer a few weeks ago and decided it was worth another try.
We were an odd couple, me with my meat only diet for that night and Linda, with her veggies only diet. The waiter was nonplussed but took us in stride. Linda had the roasted beets, truffled chestnut purée, orange, endive ,and Brussels sprouts, shallot jam, marcona almonds and a glass of Youngberg Hill '07 Pinot Noir. When a I ask "Which vineyard?", the waiter was a bit taken aback, but found out it was from the Natasha Block. Wonderful!
I allowed myself a Sapphire Martini and it was perfect with a grass-fed, grain finished 8oz sirloin.
The Opera was at the Newmark Theater as opposed to the Keller Auditorium, where we THOUGHT it was, so we went to the Keller and saw a sign that said "Billy Madison" and with 7 minutes left before curtain, we walked very fast up to Broadway and down to Main, in the door and to our seats with a minute to spare! Seven blocks in 6 minutes after a heavy meal and my heart did not stop! A good sign.
Both Operas, "The Spanish Hour", or "L'Heure Espagnole" and "The Bewitched Child" or "L'Enfant et les Sortileges", were each well presented and the staging was inventive and quite effective. I thought the end of "The Spanish Hour" was weak and it almost is as if the composer just ran out of ideas so he made it "clever". The other work was much more accomplished and very well done. The story is of a brat who destroys his room and in a dream is punished by all the items he has abused plus the forest beings that he has harmed in the past. he learns a much needed lesson.
This morning we drove out of Portland south in to a beautiful Spring day of sunshine and low traffic volume, went to Dundee for a latte' at Red Hills Market ,and then to Carlton Cellars to watch the end of the bottling run. Ghost Hill Cellars and Carlton Cellars were each hard at it and Rebecca, the winemaker for Ghost Hill, gave us a bottle of the new Pinot Blanc, which is absolutely perfect! I tasted some out of the tanks a few months ago and it was great then. Can't wait to crack it open.
One last stop to pick up an auction item from Republic of Jam in Carlton, a one year subscription to their Jam of the Moth Club, then home.
The perfect little vacation and a treat for the soul.

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