January 2013


She’s Baaack!

As a “from the beginning” Portlander (my beginning, not the city’s) Ladd’s Carriage House is a lifelong memory for me. IMG_3265In long ago days, the intersection of Broadway and Columbia tended to be one of those you circled constantly, perhaps looking for parking somewhat near the movie theaters that used to line Broadway (I think they are all gone now?) or near the Paramount (the Schnitz) where you might be attending a concert and perhaps sleeping on the sidewalk the night before. The Carriage House was always there (unless you were born before 1883, not me) and while you never saw any activity there, you were happy to see it still existed, even with its somewhat gloomy charcoal and white paint job. As this isn’t Elizabethan England, the building was always a distinctive one here. Portland has been lame when it comes to cool looking timbered construction since the early 20th century, we used to have lots of cast iron (and still have a decent selection) but really no comparable buildings in the Ladd’s Carriage House style.

Yes, it’s true this building was erected to house horses and carriages for the mansion that used to sit across Columbia where that Chevron station has been abandoned for years. Can you imagine what this block would look like if the Ladd Mansion still existed? (Yes, thank god there’s an abandoned gas station there instead!) It seems an interesting juxtaposition though, from horsie stable to multimillion dollar eatery.IMG_3286 Luckily they cleaned up all the poo years ago. There was a time when some offices were in the building, but that seems to have ended decades ago, so all you had over the last 20-30 years or so was a fancy but drooping shell. I read a feature story with Lisa Mygrant, the owner of Raven and Rose, saying one reason the build-out of the restaurant took so long, 14 months, and surely cost so much, was because there was nothing really inside the building to work with, no ducts, plumbing or wiring. I’m not sure what happened to all the infrastructure after the offices moved out, maybe they were removed to make the building “easier” to move and to create more possibilities for a future buyer?



Xico and the Man, and the Woman, and the Heath Care Insurance

I’m basically a foreign language dummy, ¬†while I had two years of college level beginning French, and can pick out a few written words in that language, and am fine and dandy saying hola, that’s about it. IMG_3261Imagine my trepidation when I’m approaching names like Xico and Cibo, both restaurants who opened last summer in P-Town (pronounced Pee town.) Luckily, many of the foodie reference sources I scour offer pronunciation tips for people just like me (and since I’m an American, I know there are tons of folks like me with no foreign language skills) so I know that Xico is more or less Chee Ko, and that Cibo is like Chee Bo, but that brings me to another issue. What’s with these Division restaurants and their linguistically confusing names? These places are mere blocks from one another, both on the same side of Division, and they both have these Chee names that you would never guess how to say without being told first. What restaurant is coming next, Chee Toh or maybe Chee Zit? (and would those be something like Xito or Cieit?) Good questions indeed, if you’re like me and only marginally brain-functional.

Of course Cibo is Italian and follows those weird Italian linguistic rules as far as C often being pronounced CH. Some of these Mexican things are totally baffling though, I was nearly elderly before I understood that Oaxaca and people talking about wahawka actually had a connection. For sure, many of these indigenous names in Mexico are completely frightening to even consider how to pronounce, perhaps the Aztec’s joke on all us gringos and those unpleasant Spanish Conquistadors running around with chamber pots for hats. If the native peoples of Mexico and those Basque folks could just get together and form a country, that would be really interesting, as no outsider would know how to say anything (and think of the great food!) Whatever the case, Xico is a really cute little name, once you receive those pointers on how to say it right. Also, I guess Taco Bell was already taken (but really, what do tacos have to do with bells? Who thought up that ding dong name, anyway? As much sense as it makes, why didn’t they just call it Taco Donkey, or Taco Armpit, or Taco Spaceship? Those surely make as much sense (and think how cute the Taco Donkey mascot would be! ¬†Heee haaaaw! As long as they don’t call it Donkey Taco, that’s a whole lot less desirable.))


For anyone who is interested, check out my MysteryMeet podcast talking about Restaurant Roulette, Portland dining, and Ox restaurant. Here’s the link: http://mysterymeet.org/find-dining-podcast/podcast-episode-21-ox-in-portland-oregon/.