The Day Pinot Was Replaced by Porter

As most of you know, Adam is a beer guy. And he's getting more and more obsessed every day to the point where I'm certain he's going to start homebrewing in our bathtub, thanks to Sam Calagione (the head of all things Dogfish Head) putting ideas into his head. Or he's going to leave me for Sam.*

Adam is also notoriously difficult to shop for and, as such, our families have bombarded him with beer and its various accoutrements for birthdays and holidays. This includes magazine subscriptions. So Adam is reading the latest Beer Traveler and there's a list of the 150 perfect places to drink a beer. One of them is Henry's 12th Street Tavern in Portland (it's #25). So we go there for lunch a couple days ago.

The beer list was insane. Here's a glimpse:

Even I found lots that I wanted to try. Like this Laurelwood Organic Tree Hugger Porter (Portland, OR):

I also tried a sample of the Oakshire Amber (Eugene, OR), which I loved - it was unique and complex in its flavor.

But the STAR of the whole experience? The gorgonzola fries:

I could use all kinds of flowery language and purple prose to describe them but I just can't. Crispness: perfect. Seasoning: perfect. Amount of gorgonzola: perfect. We had one plate of these among five of us, but we could just had two plates and called that our lunch. Next time, no doubt.

The dessert wasn't half-bad either:

That's the creme "brewlee" sampler. They use Widmer Hefeweizen to make the one so there's lots of clove and ginger and spice in it. The chocolate one uses Black Bear XX chocolate stout (of course) and it's so rich that one bite will suffice. Shortbread finishes it out.

Our hope is that Henry's is going to become a tradition - it was fantastic.

Eat, drink, and be open-minded about beer.

Note: The server told us that the waffle fries used in the gorgonzola fries are not housemade but that the fries that came with the burger were. The waffle fries were better by leaps and bounds. The house fries were lukewarm and rather soggy. Stick with the gorgonzola appetizer.

*While visiting the Dogfish Head Brewpub recently, Adam actually met Sam Calagione's son who isn't much older than our Bug. Adam is thinking of arranging their marriage...


Lutz Family Vacation: the Second Leg

So we've left Hawaii and we're in Oregon now. And it's post-ALA. So let me take this moment to thank you all for hanging in there - I know I've been MIA in a big way. I've missed blogging here very much and, even now, I'm only able to because Adam finally sat my arse down in front of his laptop and made me. He got tired of my whining about the blog, for sure. I report to you all from a lounge chair in the shade with a glass of King Estate Pinot Gris next to me - I could so get used to blogging like this...

The food has been phenomenal, as you can imagine, and the reading exceptional. I made it a point to bring NO children's/YA books on this trip because I just so needed a cold turkey break from all the coming of age and angst. So I started off with Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson (HarperStudio, 2010). I'm a die-hard Audrey Hepburn fan* and this was the PERFECT book for vacation reading. You know when you have those fantastic symbiotic moments when you read a book that so perfectly fits with your mood and your life-place? That was this one for me. And a nice outcome of this book is that the bibliography/notes are exceptional - I added about 5 more books to my to-read list after I finished.

Then, at the recommendation of my dear friend Amy Cray, I read Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace by Ayelet Waldman (better known as the author who told the world that she loved her husband more than her children and received a hailstorm of crap for it). Again, right book, right moment. It was funny and fresh, and it was so honest that there were moments where I wondered where Waldman's mind was when she decided to commit some of her thoughts and experiences to the page. Naturally, though, it made for a more compelling and authentic read and I loved every minute of it.

I started 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman. It started off interesting enough...but while on my layover in San Francisco I was called away...by another book...

Marcelo in the Real World? How did that get in my bag?! I wasn't going to bring a kids' book! But I finally, finally snagged a copy of this at ALA and decided that I needed to jump on the bandwagon. I grumbled at first - I felt like Francisco X. Stork's story starts off slow. Not by any fault of the writing but because, as the reader, you're inside Marcelo's head so it takes a bit to understand the rhythms and nuances of his autistic thought patterns (at least it did for this reader).

But then it takes off and soars. Halfway through the story, I wasn't paying attention to a single word Adam was saying to me and it took several "Hello? Helllooooo, Laura!"s before Adam could get me to even look at him. A beautiful, gorgeous, lush read. And I would occasionally close the book, just to gaze at the cover. One of my favorite covers of last year, for certain. I didn't anticipate reading this one on my vacation but, boy, am I glad I did!

Now back to 97 Orchard!

Eat, drink, and embrace summer reading!

* Funny story: at IRA in Chicago back in April, we took a number of our authors to dinner. A colleague of mine and a well-known author/illustrator got into an in-depth and passionate discussion of all things Marilyn Monroe. I mean, they're fans. As a avid classic movie viewer, I piped up with this gem: "Marilyn is okay and all, but I'm SUCH a fan of all things Audrey." They looked at me like I had sprouted goat horns, wrinkled their noses, and kept talking about their favorite gal. In hindsight, I realize my gaffe: all classic film stars are not equal. I should have known better. Luckily, later on, the discussion shifted to Cary Grant and we all agreed and gushed about his class and his beauty.

NOTE: I know I've made a tradition of doing conference recaps and I will certainly recap ALA Annual. However, being on vacation right now, I'm not in a good life-place to do a postmortem. Once I'm back in NYC, I'll whip one right up though. So stay tuned...