Here’s part two of my shopping guide to Portland.
Here’s what we did on Saturday after the family came and met me on the Friday night.
After a leisurely breakfast at our hotel (we stayed again at the Nines, which is worthy of a separate blogpost), we wandered off to the Portland Saturday market. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t terribly impressed. There seemed to be a lot of tat and not a huge amount of originality.
We then tried to get into the legendary Voodoo Doughnuts. The magic may indeed be in the hole, but weren’t going to stand in the mile-long queue to find out. I sort of regret that now. Instead we jumped in the car and headed to the Farmers’ Market at Portland State University. This was more like it, on a par with the best of the Seattle farmers’ markets, but with new and different producers to try.
After the market we headed back downtown for lunch and went to Habibi for Lebanese food. It’s a cuisine I miss a lot from London, as I can’t find any very good exponents in Seattle, but here it’s done well – the food is fresh and tasty, with excellent rice, hummus and breads, though not particularly imaginative.
From there we went back to a couple of shops I’d visited the day before and possibly my two favourite shopping finds in Portland so far.
Woonwinkel focuses on colourful and graphic contemporary craftmade pieces – it’s the shop I wanted mirrormirror to turn into. They call it ‘new modern’: warm, inviting, tactile, quirky. Modern with soul. I loved it, though left without purchasing.
Alder & Co also does beautiful everyday items, with a clean, almost Japanese aesthetic. I bought the most stunningly smooth and tactile (and stunningly expensive) stoneware Japanese butter dish and some beautiful wooden measuring spoons.
We then headed for Powell’s Bookstore, where I have to admit that I spent a lot of time surreptitiously photographing the covers of books that look good for later download on my Nook. I sort of hate myself for doing this, though we did slightly assuage our guilty consciences by buying children’s books for the Minx. But please tell me how I can reconcile my love of independent bookstores with my Nook love? I really haven’t figured this out yet.
All the guilt was making me thirsty, so we headed over to Portland’s Ace Hotel for coffee in the downstairs Stumptown coffee shop. You buy your coffee and then can take it into the hotel lobby. I was intrigued to see the décor after my recent stays at the Ace in NYC and the Ace in Palm Springs. Again they’ve done a great job of matching the Ace’s hipster aesthetic to its surroundings. Not as smart as the NYC hotel, nor as carefree as the Palms Springs one, this was quirky, funky and yes, most decidedly hip.
As we walked back home I saw this bicycle stand outside a cupcake shop. I’ve no idea whether the cupcakes are good or not, but the bike stand just summed up Portland for me.
Tired but happy, we ended up heading back to the Nines for dinner, where the whole family sat in the king-sized bed, ordered burgers and mac’n’cheese from room service and watched Hugo on the big flat-screen telly. I digress, but what a totally gorgeous and moving film that was. I’ve never been a big Scorsese fan before, but wow.