Monday, July 26, 2010

The Torta Report

I recently had one of the best sandwiches of my life in a little hole-in-the-wall in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico called Lupita's. Since I've come home I have decided to start a search for something as delightful as the one from Lupita's.

Here is the first installment of my torta search.

I'm not sure what the official name of this taco cart is, but it is located on Portland Rd in the parking lot of an old gas station/auto shop just across from the bingo hall. It is a silver truck that says Burritos Y Tacos across the top. It sits back off the road under some shade trees and usually has a barbeque smoking out front.
The torta was not the best in my life, but it wasn't bad. I like more fresh veggies like tomato, onion, and avocado on mine and this one was mainly pork and jalepenos. It was definitely spicy and flavorful, but I think I will continue my search.

Keep your eyes peeled for more torta reports soon!

I also had a yummy chicken taco which doesn't look like much, but had great flavor.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Beat the Heat In and Around Salem

For the most part, Summer in Salem, Oregon is just about perfect. Warm days, cool nights, little humidity, and a few bugs. But then every once in awhile we get a "heat wave", as Oregonians call days in the 90-100 degree range. The reason it really feels like a heat wave is because almost no one has air conditioning since its really more of a luxury than a necessity around here. Since I've been surviving Oregon "heat waves" for my entire life, I thought I'd share some of the local secrets to staying sane in the heat.

  1. First of all, there's the window/door air-conditioning trick. Open all the windows and doors early in the morning with the fans blowing the cool air in, then close them up quickly when the temp outside starts to rise above the temp inside the house. My mother is an expert at this, standing in the middle of the doorway one arm held outside and the other inside to test the temperatures. :) Then make sure you keep all your windows closed and blinds and curtains closed until the temp drops in the evening again. 
  2. If you have a basement, move your mattress down there and sleep in it on the hottest days. My entire family and an assortment of friends would have slumber parties in our basement on the days that just wouldn't cool down. 
  3. Go to the beach or up to Detroit Lake. Both the mountains and the beaches can be 20-30 degrees cooler than the valley. So pack a cooler and head out for the day, just remember you won't be the only one, so expect traffic.
  4. Go shopping. The one place that is always air conditioned is the mall. 
  5. Go to a movie. Pick a long one and make sure its about mid-afternoon so you miss the worst of the heat. (The hottest part of the day in these parts is usually between 4-6 pm).
  6. Make friends with people who have pools (pretty uncommon around Salem) or join one of the community pool clubs. I know there are a couple in Keizer, one in West Salem, one out south and I'm sure lots of others. They can be pretty spendy, but non-members can sign up for lessons which are MUCH cheaper. You don't get full access, but you can stay cool for awhile.
  7. Head over to one of the splash fountains around Salem. The largest fountains are at Riverfront Park and River Road Park. There are smaller splash fountains at Fairmont, Northgate, Wes Bennett, West Salem and Englewood neighborhood parks.
  8. If all else fails, take a cool shower and then sit in front of a fan. Repeat as needed.
Have fun, enjoy summer, and be safe. And don't forget to hydrate!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Loving Salem

It's not always easy to do, to love your hometown. When you know it inside and out and can see all its flaws its often easier to criticize and complain than it is to love. Last night, though, was one of those nights that reminded me of my great love for this quirky little place.

I met with two retired coworkers/mentors for happy hour at the Wild Pear. We sat outside, enjoying the fine weather, catching up on our summer escapades, and just enjoying each other's company. Then we wandered over to Venti's for a glass of local cider and two of us stayed and ended up spending hours sitting on the sidewalk, talking, meeting people that I'd seen around town but never talked to, people watching, and enjoying summer.

We split up around 9, but I still wasn't quite ready to go home because the weather was so perfect for walking around, so I ended up stopping by Clockworks for a little bit of the open mic night and heard some GREAT guitar music.

Then, as I wandered along the streets, I ran into some acquaintances sitting outside at Brown's Towne who asked me to sit down and quickly moved from acquaintances to friends.

I finally wandered home around 11:30 and fell into bed. Happy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lady Who Lunches - My Summer Persona

During the school year, I rarely have to time to go out to lunch because I just have 30 minutes between classes in which to eat, go to the bathroom, etc. Ah, the life of a teacher. So, come summertime, I like to catch up on lunches with friends.

This summer I am really living it up, trying out different restaurants with other ladies who lunch. A true "Lady Who Lunches" meal consists of a long, leisurely summer lunch at an outdoor table with a cocktail in hand. But a picnic at the park with takeout from a deli works too. Or brunch with family members. Or a happy hour drink and snack with coworkers. Or a sampling of food from the farmer's market all by myself.

As you can see, I'm pretty easy. That's me, Lady Who Lunches.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Oregon Summer

What I love about summer in Oregon is the perfect outdoor weather! I also love the fact that downtown Salem is getting more and more outdoor seating. I've noticed that some of the restaurants that used to have only 2 or 3 outside tables now have 4 or 5. I'm sure this is due, in part, to the fact that the City of Salem has lowered the price on licensing outside tables. I hope the other part is that business owners are noticing more patrons out and about downtown and want to cater to them.
This is a picture of my Basil Rum Runner at La Capitale. Yum!
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