Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Vancouver, B.C.: my husband and I were all ready to drive up for the weekend when I discovered, to my utter astonishment, that my passport had recently expired. I felt stupid. All our plans, from visiting a gluten-free bakery to him showing me his old university campus (peppered with pointed hints about a certain nude beach), suddenly stopped.

I don't do well with plans that stop.

Though I was all ready to stay home and "save money" (pout), my excellent husband announced we'd go to Portland instead. I have nothing against Portland, but it's not Out of the Country. Still: we went to Portland.

This story has a predictable ending. Of course we had an incredible time! We love to travel together because once we get on the road, anything goes. We don't have to have a plan--just excellent smart phones. (But this isn't a phone commercial.)
At Bushwhacker Cider
Our trips usually focus on one or both of two things: gaming and food. In Portland, we ate. We started at Bushwhacker Cider, which housed more varieties of hard cider than I've ever seen in a single shop. They had a number of ciders on tap as well, so we shared a sampler between us while sitting in the sun discussing which bottles to buy. These three were the highlights of our tasting:

Blue Mountain's Dry Creek: So dry, it's almost champagne; but this champagne twinkles with apples.

Blue Mountain's Cherry: Bright red and juicy, this cider's only sweetness comes from the fruit; it isn't syrupy by any means. I bought a bottle that has a dark chocolate torte in its pairing future.

Tieton's Apricot Cider: My favorite, this is utterly refreshing with a perfect balance between sweet and dry. When this is available in the bottle, I'll be hard-pressed to avoid buying a case.

After wandering around the old town area, drifting through Powell's for a quick graphic novel, and ducking under the eaves from a Spontaneous Northwest Shower, we got a table at Deschutes Brewery. Normally at a brewery, I expect to dine on French fries and--if I'm lucky--not feel the effects of gluten cross-contamination. This brewery got me in the door by promising a gluten-free menu, which they delivered along with the announcement that they now make gluten-free beer. I didn't stop smiling the entire evening.
Deshutes' Gluten-free Menu

Deschutes' gluten-free menu is one of the best I've seen (if a mite unhealthy). They didn't force me to eat salad while hungrily eyeing my husband's plate. I had an excellent gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries, which they happily made low-dairy at my request. Delicious!

Their gluten-free beer is also the best I've tasted. It actually tastes like beer--even my husband agreed and he's the first one to look at me askance when I insist on trying some new gluten-free product I didn't make myself. But the best part? I didn't feel even slightly ill later.

We went back for lunch the next day. Portland may not be Out of the Country, but it knows good gluten-free food when it has it. We'll be back soon, I hope.

I'm still getting my passport renewed.

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