Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall Colors

This has been a perfect autumn in Salem. The colors are intense, the sun is still shining, and the air is perfectly crisp. I was out the other day taking some pictures and here are a couple of my favorites. I think I'm going to go back out today or tomorrow and try to get a few more of these beauties. Maybe it'll help get me through the long months to come. :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Daytrip to Portland

One of the best things about living in Salem is it's prime location. One hour from Portland, one hour from the beach, one hour from the mountains (skiing in winter, camping and hiking in summer), one hour from Eugene. In some ways it's the perfect location.

Yesterday, I took a day trip up to PDX to visit a friend and just get out of town for awhile. It was one of the best days I've had in a long time.

We started out by picking up a copy of the Portland Mercury and Willamette Week at the local bar. We ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, some tater tots, and wandered out to th patio to sit in the sun and enjoy our selections. It was warm, the beer was crisp and cold, and the tots, oh my. It's been a long time since I indulged in a treat that harkens back to elementary school days!

After looking through the music section of both papers, we settled on an early performance by the Little Sue Band at the Laurelthirst Public House on Glisan. It was their happy hour music and there was no cover. It was perfect for us because we didn't want to be out too late since I had to drive back to Salem and my friend had to work at six in the morning.

The Laurelthirst is a nice, dim, bar with open brickwork, a long bar, and cozy booths. Their food selection was a little limited, but their beer and wine list was perfect. The majority of their food was either vegetarian or poultry selections and although we were a little nervous because of the ratty piece of paper that was their menu, we ordered the nachos. The server suggested we add the beans or turkey chili since it was only fifty cents extra. We added beans for a total of $5.50. Wow. They really loaded them up and we ended up with a nice little dinner to share.

It was a good thing we shared our dinner because I somehow had gotten it into my mind while reading the papers earlier, that I needed to try out Voodoo Doughnuts. Now, I've been hearing about this place for awhile. It's gotten rave reviews. I don't even like doughnuts very much, but I just had a hankering to try this Portland hotspot. So we drove over the Burnside Bridge and circled the blocks a few times looking for a spot to park long enough to let us pick up some doughnuts. This is quite a feat on a Saturday night in downtown Portland, let me tell you. But, we finally did find a spot, walked over to the Voodoo store on SW Third Street. We had to make our way past the homeless beggars and the heroin junkies, but, boy was it worth it! Doughnuts of all shapes and sizes, with toppings you can only begin to imagine: Fruit Loops, bacon, M&M's, etc. It was amazing. People crowded into the tiny storefront, scooting between other customers to get a look at the doughnut case, make their way to the ATM (it's cash only) and find the end of the line again. Fortunately, the line moves quickly, but it never really seemed to get any shorter. We ordered a half dozen doughnuts. We each picked three, although we got a couple of the Portland Cremes (chocalate covered bavarian creams) a blueberry, an old fashioned, and a cruller. We made our way out with our pink box of doughnuts, back through the crowd of drooling doughnut customers, found our car (mercifully safe in a rather scary area of Burnside) and headed back home to enjoy our doughnuts with a cup of coffee.

If you've never had a Voodoo doughnut, I'm not going to try to describe them here. Just go get one yourself and experience the richness, the textures, the extra little oomph, that makes people drag themselves across town on a cold night to stand in line for these delicious concoctions.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last Days of Farmer's Market

The Wednesday and Saturday Farmer's Markets in downtown Salem are coming to close at the end of October. There has been inordinately beautiful weather for the late season this year. Last week I went out to the market on Wednesday during my lunch and bought fresh green beans, red potatoes, green and yellow zucchini, and green onions. I also picked up a beautiful bouquet of dahlias and some other little purple flower for only $5. The vegetables made a wonderful fresh farmer's market dinner when I added grilled chicken. Mmmm. I love eating fresh from the market. Which is why I'm so sad to see it going away for the winter.

But, spring will come again and with it the farmer's markets and fresh food and beautiful fresh flowers.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dennis Leckington at the Blue Pepper

Salem isn't exactly known for its music scene, but if you look around there is an interesting mix of musical styles going on around the city on any given weekend.

For instance, I stopped by the Blue Pepper Coffee Shop this evening to catch up on some e-mails and blogging while sipping a cup of fine coffee and I ran into this interesting musical event. Dennis Leckington. I've never heard of him, but he sings classic rock and isn't half bad. Very melodic style. Hawaain shirt. Acoustic guitar. And it definitely draws a middle aged crowd.

What I appreciate about his style for a coffee shop is that it is definitely listenable while you work on whatever you need to do. Sometimes the coffee shops have bands that sort of require all your attention because of their style or volume, but this is a very relaxing way to spend an evening at a coffee shop.

You do need to get to the Blue Pepper early enough on music event nights or all the good seats get taken. This is a popular venue for free music events and the chairs do typically fill up although there is always standing room.

And yes, their music events are always free. They have tried to do cover events, but apparently it didn't go over well with the regular crowd, so they just went back to the free events.