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Today we have been mostly

Tasting wines at wineries beginning with the letter A, eating black food (and buying books)

Breakfast wasn't black; it was hash browns and omelette and scones and spice tea at Zells, after which we drove out into the misty Willamette valley in search of wineries like the Barking Frog. The Barking Frog has moved; in its place is August Cellars (which has space for other wineries, but none of them were tasting today). We drove on to admire the sign and cuddle the cats and praise the wine at Arbor Brook where we tasted some excellent pinot gris (stainless and barrel style) and some 2009 pinot noir as well as one of the fruity style pinot noirs they do so well around here and a dessert semillon that would be Sauternes if it wasn't growing up so high it doesn't get enough mist in the morning for botrytis (but if it was any damper they couldn't leave it on the vine until after thanksgiving). And we finished at Aramenta, where the pinot noirs are also fine and the claret is amusing, but they were the only winery that didn't comp the tasting fee when we bought wine - which always feels mean, frankly...

We turned back to Portland this point to go to the mass SF signing at Powells and trawl the shelves (we're going to need another suitcase at this rate) and drive around downtown looking for somewhere to stay. We wanted to actually be in town for a change and we ended up at the so-hip-I-think-I-dislocated-something Ace hotel; a kind of budget W or premium hostel (shared bath with keys, raw planks in the elevator, slide-across plank shutters instead of curtains, battered trunk for a side table, giant clip lights, custom blankets - the designer goes to college on a budget look, with Stumptown Coffee and Voodoo Donuts opening off the lobby and a nice restaurant on the other side, where we had rye beer and winter warmer and black porter, and I had much Black Food; fideos with squid and sausage and squid ink and aioli (baked - so black and viscous and flavourful with a white dollop) then sturgeon with black rice and bacon and clams (and I think frisee buried under it all). Simon had chicken-fried chicken livers and pork belly with fried egg and chicory salad; alphabetically speaking it should have been an n-dive.

Coffee and donuts tomorrow will move us from A&B to C&D; there will also be more looking at books, of course...

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full steam ahead
marypcb
Mary Branscombe
Simon & Mary

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