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06/01/09 - Farmers' Market Update

We may have another two or three weeks before summer starts, but the Port Angeles Farmers' Market is moving ahead. We've been enjoying the spring crops of asparagus, arugula, mixed braising greens and all those new potatoes. The seafood folks have been selling salmon and ling cod, so we've been doing more shopping at the market than ever.

Keywords: farmers' market, shopping, spring, summer, salmon

04/19/09 - Expecting

We were at Dungeness Valley Creamery and noticed a number of cows in the field towards the entrance. They're with calf, that is, they're expected to deliver quite soon. Of course, cows deliver calves all through the year at the creamery. After all, that's why they give milk, but it still seems a sign of spring to us.

We are also expecting something else, fresh bread. We were shopping at Good To Go on Lauridsen Boulevard, and we heard the good news. The city has approved the installation of their oven. They hope to have their first batch of bread some time in the middle of May. They are also planning an outdoor oven for some time in the future. We'll fill you in when we taste our first loaf.

Two of the ladies expecting

Keywords: good to go, shopping, spring

03/02/09 - Good To Go

Good To Go, on the corner of Lauridsen Boulevard and Eunice Street, is now open under new management. That's Erich below, the head baker at the now closed The Little Oven. This is great news for us. Good To Go is extremely convenient, and Erich says that they are moving ahead with installing an oven, and hopes to be baking again soon. Among other things, they are selling Dungeness Valley Creamery milk. We'll keep you posted.

The obligatory storefront shot

Erich open for business

The shelves are stocked.

Keywords: food, shopping, port angeles, good to go

05/08/08 - REI's Gardens

We were shopping for portable water purification gear, so naturally, we headed over to REI. They even have solar powered UV water purifiers. We use UV to purify the already rather pristine waters of Lake Crescent, so we were attracted to this. REI closed the deal with a special sale price, even lower than the version without the solar panel.

The photo is of the REI garden, which is a great way to get out of Seattle and into the country for a few minutes. It isn't quite the real thing, but it's a great conceit.

Keywords: seattle, shopping

12/10/07 - Seattle Christmas

We were in Seattle the other day and had to admire the Christmas decorations as the shopping season gets into full swing. The gingerbread cookie decorations are from the recently remodeled Sheraton Towers lobby. We always check their Christmas display which was as much fun as ever.

Keywords: christmas, seattle, shopping

10/30/07 - A Calf is Born

We were recently out at Dungeness Valley Creamery, and as well approached we noticed a cow lying on her side in the field near the farm store. We had never seen a cow on her side before. She wasn't down on all four, but on the ground lopsided as if she had fallen on one side. Curious, we asked about her. It turns out, she was extremely pregnant and about to deliver.

We bought some milk, and some cheese, and did some Christmas shopping for a friend of ours. Meanwhile, we could look out the window and watch the cow having contractions as she tried to deliver. It looked like hard work which is probably why they call it labor. One of the spectators, not one of us, remarked that it looked like she was having a cow, which indeed she was.

Suddenly, after a series of contractions, the calf was ejected. It was wrapped in a membrane and looked like something from a science fiction movie, perhaps Calf Cocoon II - The Cow Horror Continues. The calf didn't move much, but we could see she was breathing. Sarah Brown went to check her and announced that the baby was a girl, and then left her with mom.

Grandma was in the next field bellowing advice, and she was joined by a few other cows who watched for a while and then drifted off. Meanwhile, Mom set out to the serious business of licking her newborn while her newborn tried to figure out how to stand up.

We watched for a good half hour. Mom did a good job licking, and the cocoon disappeared to reveal a wet calf. Then the wet calf turned into a dry calf despite all the licking. Meanwhile the newborn rested a few minutes, then tried to stand, then rested a few more minutes, and so on. In the nature documentaries, they use ellipsis. A calf is born, then the calf stands on its shaky legs and nurses. With Dungeness Valley Creamery milk the calf had additional impetus to get to the nursing stage.

Mother and child
First, the calf tried her front legs a bit. Then, after a lot more licking, she tried her rear legs and actually managed to get her hindquarters in the air. Unfortunately, standing requires all four legs working together. It takes a human baby with our incredibly advanced brain, and only two legs to deal with, the better part of a year to get this right, so we were probably expecting a bit more than a calf with a cow brain and four legs to deal with could accomplish quickly.

We hung around for the next half hour trying to be encouraging, and there were definitely signs of progress. Mom seemed to have satisfied herself that her baby had been adequately licked. Her calf could rise on her hind legs, and we could see her struggling to get her two front legs into position for that critical coordinated push.

All of the other cows had left some time ago leaving mother and child on their own, or rather, with us humans and our longer attention spans. We had other errands to run, so we decided that things were likely to turn out for the best. Sarah, having determined that the newborn was a girl, wasn't worried, and the calf looked helpful, so we assume that things worked out for the best.

Trying to stand

Keywords: dungeness, science, shopping

12/24/06 - The Dungeness Dike Trail

We were exhausted from all our Christmas preparations and just wanted a place to stretch our legs so we checked out the Dungeness Dike Trail off Towne Road. It is right near the Dungeness Valley Creamery and Nash Huber's farm stand, so we could get some exercise and do some shopping.

The trail is a little gem. We had seen cars parked at the dike access area, and we had heard that this was a good area for birding, but now we have discovered another little treasure. Read our report for more info.

The Dungeness Dike Trail

Keywords: dungeness dike trail, farms, trails, christmas, dungeness, nash huber, shopping

Map for the Port Angeles Farmers' Market

03/07/06 - The Farmer's Market Has Left Downtown, Peace and Quiet Return To Our Dying City Center

We've been putting off posting this, since it is kind of a downer. We've been big fans of the Port Angeles Farmers' Market for years, even before it moved downtown. Then, we were even bigger fans after it moved downtown, since we almost never got downtown, except to have dinner at Bella Italia, visit Port Book and News, or see a movie at the Lincoln Theatre. Now we had an excuse to shop downtown, and we did.

Let's face it, downtown Port Angeles is dying, what with a Walmart a bit to the east, Sequim, even further east, turning into a down market mega-mall, and the changes in the lumber and fishing industries, the traditional mainstays of the town. There are some great 19th and early 20th century buildings downtown, but all too many empty lots and closed stores. The Farmers' Market brought us, and many other shoppers into town. There were even a few businesses that chose their locations to take advantage of the market, and now we'll see how well they do.

While we may have liked the Farmers' Market, it apparently bothered a small group of local merchants, even though there were many merchants in favor of it, and others who didn't care one way or the other. These anti-market merchants seem to have gotten stuck back in 1952, but it's not 1952 anymore. The big timber is gone, and one man with a chain saw and a self-loader can do the work of an entire team back then. Rural downtowns have to compete with their own suburbs, and everyone owns a car. If they don't find what they need in town, they can drive to Sequim, or Silverdale, or Seattle, or whatever. Some will even shop on the internet. Rather than embracing the Farmers' Market and the foot traffic it brought, these merchants felt that it interfered with their ability to park in front of their own stores, that it interfered with what little traffic flowed along the truck route through downtown Port Angeles, and quite possibly that having spent their money on a head of cabbage, few people would still be able to afford any further shopping.

In any event, there was some politicking. There was the Port Angeles Planning Commission meeting that ran into the wee hours. There was the shutdown, more politicking, a reprieve, and then the market was moved back to its old location at the Courthouse, as shown on the map above. We like this location too, and we'll be there most Saturdays. There is lots of parking near the Courthouse, and it's a bit closer to our house. We often walk down the block to the big Safeway on Lincoln Street to buy what we can't get at the Farmers' Market. But, we don't get downtown as often, and we don't spend as much money there.


Keywords: farms, port angeles, seattle, shopping, maps, farmers' market

Long Peppers

07/20/05 - Long Peppers - An Unusual Pepper-Like Spice

Just a brief note on long peppers, an out of fashion spice that we ran into recently at Uwajimaya while shopping for our luau. Stay tuned for more on our luau.

Keywords: food, luau, seattle, shopping

Green Almonds

04/13/05 - Green Almonds

We were at Kalustyan's on our most recent trip to New York City and couldn't help noticing that the green almonds are in. One reads about green almonds in Mid-Eastern cookbooks, so we bought a bunch and cracked a few open. They have a milder, greener flavor almost like a melon, rather than a nut. We've heard that they can be used in cooking, so we'll see if our supply holds out long enough for us to find a recipe.

Keywords: shopping, food, new york city, recipe

01/05/05 - Udjat Beads

We were shopping for some Christmas presents in Port Angeles and dropped into the old Bead Tree store in the newly restored Elks building. The Elks buildings is sort of our local skyscraper and has recently recovered from damage from a fire a year ago. The camera store was back along with a new Internet cafe. There was also the bead store, but not the bead store we remembered.

The old bead store was a bit austere, for a bead store, that is. The new place was lush, with bins and strands and boxes and tubes of beads of all shapes, sizes, colors and levels of specular reflection. Udjat has two rooms full of everything you might ever need for stringing beads.

They also have a variety of belly dancing accessories. Belly dancing has been getting quite fashionable, both as dance and as exercise. If nothing else, it builds up the abdominal muscles, and you can work up a sweat. We didn't investigate their belly dancing products in detail, but they don't stock the DVDs. They do stock the decorative scarves and some shawls, and you can design your own accessories with their full line of beads.

Udjah Beads and Belly Dancing

Keywords: shopping, port angeles, christmas, elk

01/05/05 - Anime House

We've been meaning to mention Anime House for some time now, but just haven't gotten around to it. We've been comic fans for years. We even remember when you could buy comic books at supermarkets and drugstores. That was a long time ago. Now you have to go to a comic book store, and that was a problem in Port Angeles. The nearest comic book store was in Seattle (or Silverdale, where ever that is). Then, Anime House opened, and we can get all of our comics right in town.

Anime House

Keywords: shopping, port angeles, seattle

11/05/04 - New York City Update

We have just returned from a visit to New York City, and we must admit that things are bustling there. The tourist trade seems to have recovered. Thanks to the weak dollar Europeans seem to be shopping again. We did some shopping ourselves. We loaded up on chili and curry powders at Aphrodisia in the Village, we bought some books at the Lenox Hill Bookstore, we found a new annular hat at Boyd's, and we got our building supplies at Home Front, a 7/24 hardware store and lumber yard not far from the Empire State Building.

First, we'll talk about the bookstore. There used to be a really nice little bookstore on Madison Avenue. Not the one owned by the IBM heiress by the Whitney, but the other one. It always had an interesting collection of literature and art books. Even when we didn't buy anything, the place always got us thinking. When it closed, we stuck with the Borders on 57th and the Barnes and Noble on Union Square.

Madison Avenue has been changing. It has always been upmarket, but it is going international. This means it is getting more and more mall like over the years as upmarket global vendors leave Fifth Avenue and move north and east. So, we've been spending more and more time over on Lexington Avenue, and the Lenox Hill Bookstore is our latest find. It's a homey little place crammed full of books, including a lot of good reading. They tend to stock fewer authors, but more titles from those that they do. The art book collection was full of interesting stuff, not just coffee table gifts. This is a sign that they know their customers. We bought a few things for the flight home and some Christmas presents.

As for HomeFront, the hardware store and lumber yard, we stayed for part of a trip at a relative's apartment, and there were a few deferred maintenance items, as they say in commercial aviation. We needed to buy a light switch, a door knob and mechanism, tapes, glues, a screwdriver and some other goodies. We have heard that there is a new Home Depot on 14th Street, but our favorite hardware store is on 29th Street off Third Avenue. They are open seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, and they stock a broad supply of electrical, mechanical and plumbing items. They also sell glass, lumber, steel plates, cleaning supplies and the like. It's a big place for Manhattan, with three floors and a basement, and the staff knows its stuff.

We had a less satisfactory experience at Magnolia Bakery. They still have the buzz, and the lines run around the corner, but the quality of the cakes has been slipping over the past year or two. Has this trend reversed? We couldn't find out. We ordered German chocolate cake, but our box contained spice cake. We wound up doing a forced march to Buttercup Bake Shop where the German chocolate cake is still excellent.

Since we are on the subject of cakes and confections, we should note that La Maison du Chocolat is in excellent form, and that our current favorite hot chocolate is Caracas.

We visited a number of our favorite restaurants including some old favorites like the Union Square Cafe, the Pearl Oyster Bar, Wallse and the Tabla Bread Bar. All were at the top of their form. The knockerle dessert at Wallse has really grown, and there is a rumor that the chef at Tabla may be producing a cookbook some time in late 2005. We can hardly wait.

On a side note, we often go over upcoming Claypool comics while having dinner with one of our Claypool friends. Comic book original artwork is oversized, so it is hard to be discreet.  One of the folks working at the Tabla Bread Bar noticed that one of us was in the business and dropped by to say hello. It turns out he was Daniel Miller whose Creased original graphic novel is soon coming out from Image comics. We haven't a clue about the book, but it shows that the comic book business isn't quite dead yet.

We liked Savoy so much on our last trip to New York that we went back twice on this trip. The big hit was the roasted cauliflower with hen of the woods mushrooms seasoned with a bit of five spice powder. We also loved the fava bean fritters. That, and everything else.

October, as it turned out, was New York State Wine Month, so we had a number of good glasses of New York State wine at our first meal. New York State wines are quite good, and a lot of them haven't bought in to the Robert Parker fruit bomb 20% alcohol thing, so you can still drink them with a meal. At our second meal, all the New York State wines were gone, even though it was still New York State Wine Month. The reason: lack of demand, and a variety of issues revolving around restaurant stocking mechanisms.

We tried two new restaurants. Spice Market, Jean Georges Vongerichten's new place in the trendy meat packing district, and Tia Pol, a little tapas bar in trendy Chelsea. Spice Market was a bust with bad service and mediocre Thai food. We were distinctly unimpressed. Tia Pol, in contrast, with its imaginative little Spanish dishes and well chosen wine list, excelled. It might be a hole in the wall, but the food was excellent, and they had a great neighborhood attitude.

The Lower East Side has been getting trendy, like so many other New York City neighborhoods, so we decided to check it out. We remember Katz's "Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army" promotion from the 1960s, but there have been a lot of changes since then. Katz's is still there, and you can now send a salami to Iraq. Walking around, we could not help but notice that the entire neighborhood, once the epitome of an overcrowded slum, has been moving upmarket.

This is happening one store front at a time.

In some neighborhoods gentrification comes in like a juggernaut. Entire blocks are rebuilt, store fronts are remodeled, traffic is rerouted, and if you didn't have a GPS you'd swear that you were somewhere else. On the Lower East Side the overall fabric seems intact, but here and there you will notice a boarded up store front or an empty shop with a building permit posted. That ratty looking place across the street is now selling designer clothing, and the designer is working at the shop. The menus in the window now feature foie gras.

It seems that the Lower East Side was always about retail, despite the "I can get it for you wholesale" bravado. It was a neighborhood of small shop keepers and pushcarts. We didn't see any pushcarts, but the small shop keepers were there in force. Still, we couldn't help thinking about a 1939 article in Fortune magazine about the New York City pushcarts. Apparently shop keepers used to fight to get the pushcarts on THEIR side of the street since they encouraged foot traffic and often meant 50% more business. Now, we gather, that shop keepers want the pushcarts elsewhere.

We'll keep checking out the Lower East Side and see what develops.

Towards the end of our trip, we checked out the new Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The subway station and new escalators are great, but inside, it's a mall. That's right, it's just a big shopping mall. There was really not much reason to look around, since we knew what we would find, so we left. We really have nothing against malls, except that they lack serendipity. Maybe we should be thinking of it as the Suburban Embassy to New York City.

So, that was our trip to New York. We'd like to thank San Juan Airlines for making this all much more convenient with their $49 (each way) air taxi from Port Angeles to Boeing Field. At $98 a pop for the two of us it was only a little bit more expensive than the cab from Newark.

Keywords: food, restaurants, shopping, new york city, art, christmas, port angeles, wine

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