The week in astronomy/gastronomy

Monday was, of course the eclipse. Here in Portland it was about a percentage short of totality, which was cool enough by me. A few neighbors and I donned our special spectacles and sat in the courtyard as the light got eerie and the temperature briefly dropped. Geoff had a breakfast sandwich from a nearby food cart called Gluttony, which was slathered in some kind of green sauce and I had a bite. Yum.

Tuesday night I was back in the courtyard again, sipping some cheap white wine I purchased from the corner bodega after selling my iPad to a dude via Nextdoor. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the receding meteor shower. And as my neighbor Elise and her friend talked spirit animals and vision quests on the stoop across the way, I did spy a lone shooting star.

Wednesday, while tending to Bettie’s yard in Gresham, I was introduced to ground cherries and Mexican sour gherkins. That’s ground as in the thing you stand on, not pulverized. Ground cherries are naturally packaged in a little paper lantern, kind of like a tomatillo. They also taste sort of like a tomato-cherry. (Not a cherry tomato). The gherkins look similar to a very tiny watermelon, but have the flavor of a cucumber. Too cute. As I was weeding, the thought entered my brain that I should drive a different way home and try to find an interesting store to get groceries. Something Russian was what I envisioned, but the random thoroughfare I chose didn’t have any options at all, so I ended up taking a left on 82nd and hitting Hong Phat. After wandering a half an hour with only a Korean melon and some snacks in my cart, I finally had to buckle down and choose what to make. My own version of pho turned out to the answer. I discovered a container of vegetarian soup powder with two tea bag-like things inside, housing the spices. With some noodles, fried tofu, vegetables and various garnishes, it came together nicely. Both Stephanie and I were stuffed well into the wee hours and I almost had to take a nap after all the carbs and broth, but it was darn tasty.

After a few hours of babysitting on Thursday morning, as well as a random run-in with the Satter family, Craig and I were off to The Gorge. He’d been talking about this brewery in Parkdale called Solera for a couple years, and since he’s moving to Thailand next month, it was about time we made the field trip together. The day was mild, the conversation flowing. It was only about 4pm when we rolled past Hood River, so we decided to find somewhere to pause before imbibing. The spontaneous destination was the White House, an old house out in orchard country with u-pick flowers and fruit. Turns out they also have a cidery. So we each had a beverage on the patio amidst the pastoral setting, while discussing Anne Murray and other oddly-coiffed individuals. An hour later, we were kicked back behind Solera Brewery drinking pale ale with an unobstructed view of Mt. Hood (aside from that ONE tree). The nachos with rice and beans weren’t bad, either.

As for Friday, the evening plans to celebrate Susan’s birthday were foiled a couple times, starting with a quad-bike ride cancellation and then the temporary closure of Martha’s rooftop. Gina, Susan, Allyson and I finally landed at a new cider place called Schilling that has a hodgepodge of flavors as well as views from its perch. I had the pear-rhubarb and strawberry-spruce, but preferred others’ choices of orange blossom and black currant. We never got around to playing the giant Jenga game at Rogue Brewery next door, but at least I know it exists.

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