Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rickshaws, Cigars, Champagne, and Michelle's Broken Foot

Michelle has broken her foot. The TableTalkPortland Kingdom is in an uproar! If only we'd stayed on the rickshaw.

This weekend had paleyellowlemonsouffle highs and slimybrowngunkinthebackofyourcrisperdrawer lows. We sipped bubbly at the new Sex and the City movie, picnicked on salumi and fine French cheese on my fire escape, crashed the Rose Parade in a rickshaw whilst smoking cigars and eating Jelly Bellys, and scarfed contraband Escape From New York Pizza in the Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency Room as the nearby church bells struck midnight.

It all began Friday night, when we joyfully donned our chicest frocks and hit the Pioneer Place Regal Theatre with Tata, Reatha, Brian and Eric for the sold out 10:45 pm screening of the new Sex and the City movie.

Michelle had suggested we smuggle in a bottle of champagne, and naturally, I thought that was possibly the greatest idea I'd ever heard. So we skipped into Freddy Meyers and bought a bottle of Cristalino Cava, an excellent Spanish sparkling wine that you simply can't complain about for the price ($7.99). I always buy it for my house parties and when the Cristal is gone, pour it in the empties so everyone thinks I'm almost unbearably posh. Ummm. Right. Anyhow, we popped the Cristalino cork strategically during a brief lull in the opening credits, and the theatre full of glammed-up Sex and the City-lovin' PDX divas went ape. It was less exciting when I kicked our only flute over with my stiletto during a tense movie moment and it shattered in the hushed theatre, almost perfectly in tandem with Carrie's heart (I won't give any more away, you probably knew already anyway).

Saturday morning I met Michelle on the grass outside Farmer's Market after my grueling shift as Tireless Advocate of Kohlrabi Operating on Four Hours of Sleep, feeding the masses samples of Kohlrabi and Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame Soy Dressing and saying "it's an unusual-looking vegetable to be sure, but what a wonderful mellow flavor!" 400,000 times, until I'm pretty sure my boothmates wanted to tap, tap, TAP me on the head with one of our manky skillets.

Michelle sat sweetly in the grass wearing her new dress from Nordstrom, the blue and brown flowered one with the ducky little pockets in front. I smiled at her. She bared her teeth at me. I expressed my desire for a chocolate peanut butter brownie from The Tart Lady. She held up a wood-roasted lamb kabob pita sandwich from Tastebud Farm and demanded I eat the rest because she was full.
Eeek. I tried to leave but she tackled my legs and expertly dripped tiny droplets of raspberry juice and seltzer water on my forehead until I agreed to go shopping with her.

We were as slow as boysenberry molasses as we dragged the Market. Michelle perked up briefly, once again over lamb, demanding I take her picture with Dan Wilson of SuDan Farms, her favorite market lamb purveyor. Every meat has its slogan, and Michelle got a laugh from SuDan's, "Eat lamb: 40,000 Coyotes Can't Be Wrong." She also liked his cheek tattoo. Dan is a pretty hip guy. I saw him last week at the Chef demo with Marco Fife, and he answered his cell phone in the middle of the demo! A dedicated opponent of cell phone etiquette myself, I was totally impressed.

Oh my lamb! Coyotes at the Market! Run!!!

We left the market and strolled back home, and after a brief rest, we decided to hold an impromptu picnic on my fire escape. In an effort to spread the safety gospel, I'll just tell you now that this is a Fire Code no-no, which we found out later from my building manager. We crafted a fine picnic with Fra 'Mani sopressata, Pearl Bakery rolls, and a wedge of Langres--a washed rind cow's milk cheese from the Champagne region of France, firm and salty, with a bold flavor that is more mellow than, but reminiscent of an Epoisses or Munster (they all belong to the same family).
We accompanied it with a crisp effervescent Alianca Vinho Verde from Portugal, a perfect choice for a muggy psuedo-Spring afternoon.

Then it was onto to the MBar on NW 21st Avenue for more Cristalino ($3 a glass at daily Happy Hour, 6-8 pm!!) and Jelly Bellys and cigars.

It started to rain lightly, then harder. Michelle stole the last watermelon jellybean and said she wanted to go to the Starlight Parade. I said it was raining. Why would we go see a parade? We should go inside the bar!

And then we saw the rickshaw. We'd always wanted to ride a rickshaw. We see them around town all the time. "Who rides those?" I'd always wondered. Now I know. We do. We bartered with our driver Ollie, who agreed to take us down to the parade for $15.
We got in and he began pedaling down NW Everett towards Broadway. Faster, faster, faster Ollie pedaled! NW Everett sloped downwards and we picked up speed.

Ollie had to put his feet up. We shot over the 405 with the rest of the traffic, the rickshaw shuddering and squealing, and as we bounced through the Pearl we shouted greetings to all passerby. Traffic thickened and Ollie opted for the sidewalk. We pedaled past the Teardrop Lounge, where owner Daniel Shoemaker stood outside smoking, with a mildly sullen look on his face. "HIYA DANIEL!" I shrieked. "Hey," he said, still slightly sullenly, obviously forgetting we totally know each other. Whatever Daniel! Onward we went!

We got stuck in a few tight spots, but people were kind enough to give us a push most times, or Michelle and I stuck our feet down on the ground and push-pedaled, Flintstones style. We convinced Ollie to circumvent the official orange and white barriers dividing the waiting parade participants milling around the North Park blocks from the rest of the rabble, and we pedaled through, waving encouragingly at the bands as they warmed up.
"TABLETALKPORTLAND RULES!" we told them. Some people wrinkled their noses questioningly at us, but one lady told me my braids were cute.

We screeched a Big Congratulations at the girl we think was the Rose Festival Princess as she walked to her limo outside the Gilt Club.

We got stuck under the Rockstar tent at the Dixie (Ollie was back on the sidewalk) but the bouncers gave us a helpful push and all too soon, we pulled up to Burnside so we could cross the street and hit the parade. We hugged Ollie sadly and told him we'd call him on our birthdays.

"That was the most fun I have EVER had," Michelle wheezed, as we stubbed out our cigars. "I know," I said, still awed by our rickshaw experience, "I'm not sure we can ever top that. Ever. Even when we finally meet Chef Tom Colicchio and he makes out with us a little. Even when I land Prince Charming and he surprises me with my dream La Cornue CornuFĂ© Stove in Ivory White with Chrome for our one-month anniversary. Even when the Food Network calls and asks us to do our own food show. Even when..."

"Enough," Michelle commanded. "I want to see the parade."

"I hate watching parades," I complained. "Now if we were IN the parade, that would be neat."

Michelle's eyes glazed over.

"We don't have any horses," I reminded her nervously. "And I already told you I'm not pulling you in a red Radio Flyer while you blow a party maker and throw Jelly Bellys at the crowd."

"The rickshaw," she whispered. "We'll ride in parade in the rickshaw. We must find Ollie."

We ran outside, and crossed Burnside. Ollie could not have gotten far. In fact, Ollie had pulled his rickshaw up at the corner market and was preparing to go inside, probably to buy a much-needed PBR TallBoy after having to give us a ride.

"OLLLIEEEE!" Michelle screamed, and she took a running leap towards him, like in Pride and Prejudice when Lizzie sees super hot Mr. Darcy striding through the dewy grass with his shirt undone, gosh I love that part, and Michelle's sandal slipped off the curb and there was an audible crack.

"I need to go to the hospital," she croaked. I went into action mode. "If we can just make it to Saucebox," I said decisively. "We can call the cab and then have a White Knight while we wait for it." For some reason this seemed like a phenomenal idea, even to the injured MIchelle, so we traipsed through the coagulated crowds for some time until we realized we weren't even on Broadway.

Disheartened, we flagged a cab down and headed to the Emergency Room, where we entertained ourselves telling bad jokes and blowing up purple rubber gloves until our friend Martina brought us pizza from Escape from New York Pizza on NW 23rd, where she works.

"I want a beer," Michelle groused. "And I don't even like beer."

"It's the painkillers," I said.

"I would have brought beer," Martina said sadly, "But I thought maybe we would get kicked out of the hospital."

"Wouldn't be the first time," I said cheerfully, and Michelle kicked me with her good foot as the doctor came in and told her she has a fracture and won't be dancing the cha-cha for at least four weeks. Talk about a buzzkill.

We went home sadly, reeking of cigars, champagne, pepperoni and antiseptic, and ate cheese sandwiches on Dave's Killer Bread in bed while we watched "Bed of Roses" on Netflix instant movies.

"I'm sorry you broke your foot, Sis," I said.

" 'S okay," replied my Percosat-addled sister as she drooled all over her pillow. "That rickshaw was the most fun I've ever had in my life."

I could not deny it.


  1. I have never in my life met a more classy pair of gals! So proud to have you with us at the farmers market. :) Broken bones aside, hanging out with you two sounds like oodles of fun! I love reading your blogs, keep it up.
    Amber PFM

  2. Damm Jen, you sure get around. I feel like I just experienced a glimpse last night.

    Great blog. I believe I'm going to get myself a bottle of Alianca Vinho Verde to start things off tonight.

    As anybody every played stump the food critic with you?


  3. Michelle, you are so adorable. I am sooooo going to have to keep in touch with you after I leave Oregon. You are such a bright spot here at the Opus office. I mean "literally" a bright spot. With all your festive colors and radiant smile. I will miss seeing you but will continue to read your blog updates. I need to go back and read your past entries. I will be with my sister in Texas. Our hometown is small but I perhaps I can do some taste say....Whataburger. Damnit..that's definitely not as glamorous as Simpatica! Happy Healing to you.