Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Beach Chic: What's Old is New Again with Retro Swimwear

By M. Clarissa Fong | Photos by Cambrae of Daniel James Productions

At the bottom of every dresser lies the inevitable reminder that summer is here: swimwear. Unlike staple items that most shoppers buy by the armful, the perfect swimsuit is a seasonal nightmare for those who live under perpetual cloud cover. Finding the ideal blend of Lycra and spandex can truly be an exhausting, frustrating search and many would rather forego the beach or pool altogether in order to avoid the hunt.
Fortunately, Portland offers a plethora of options for anyone hoping to brave the sun and sand this year—with a bit of retro flair. This season is all about flirty, fun swimwear styled with details from the past that suit both the teens and 40-somethings of today. Don’t know the difference between a tankini and monokini? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered (figuratively, of course).

As a general rule of thumb, think about your figure before you shop (and be honest) to fully accentuate the positive. Developing a shopping strategy in advance will minimize the fitting room meltdowns. At Popina’s Swim and Sportswear (4831 NE 42nd Ave., 282-5159, popinaswimwear.com), the hourglass shape of the female form is celebrated with ’40s and ’50s finesse. Owner and designer Pamela Levenson was inspired by the influence of days gone by but with the modern convenience of today’s fabric innovations and bathing suit construction. Popina offers pieces for both the active girl and the beach bum. “With swimwear, it’s about variety,” says Levenson, who complements her own designs with specialty vendors such as Perry Ellis, Tommy Bahama, Swim System and L*Space. If you want to de-emphasize your rear-end, consider Popina’s solid plum drawstring boy shorts paired with colorful geocentric retro halters to highlight your best assets. To dress up the staple one-piece, add a scarf tied bandana-style at the waist or cover up with a printed wrap, both of which are offered at this “delicatessen of swimsuits.”

Continuing this trend of old-school modesty, Seattle-based designer Heidi Fish (206-938-9927, heidifish.com) combines wild animal prints with basic black to craft a charming silhouette reminiscent of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Fish’s philosophy of taking elements from one era and transforming it into something new was inspired by her grandmother, who was a head designer for Saks Fifth Avenue during the height of the retro revolution. The Honey Bea Collection capitalizes on the trends of the season, including tropical themes, iridescent hues and bold color block patterns. Fish’s red and white polka dot halter with faux wrap-tie bikini bottoms compliments curvy gals. For petites bodies, try tops with ruching, ruffles, vibrant patterns or decorative hardware to build shape around the bust. Knowing how to incorporate clever detailing to draw the eye to the assets of a figure or to camouflage problem areas is paramount to great swimwear design, but if all else fails, Heidi Fish also crafts custom pieces as well.

Back in P-Town, Lille Boutique (1007 E Burnside, 232-0333, lilleboutique.com), known for romantic lingerie and sexy nightgowns, is one of a few U.S. retailers to carry a select collection by famed swimsuit designer Malia Mills of New York. Operating on the philosophy to “love thy differences,” the superior fit and fashion of these suits are guaranteed to last more than one season. For example, the “Dreamboat” is suggestive of the early ’20s and ’30s silent screen stars with its careful ruching detailing around the V-maillot design. “If the suit doesn’t fit properly, it’s the suit’s fault,” says Sarah Wizemann, owner of Lille. The boutique also carries swimwear by up-and-comers The Lake & Star, which plays with the brand’s iconic tongue-in-cheek sexiness with ultra-low necklines and high-cut leg-lines. Halter-top tankinis, some of which can be converted to strapless garments, have the added bonus of allowing sunbathers to lower the top straps to avoid weird tan lines. Lille also carries Hoff by Hoff Copenhagen, which offers a darling ruffle halterneck that is both comfortable and affordable to fit this bill.

For even more selection from this generation of glam, Jantzen Swimwear’s (multiple locations, jantzen.com) 2009 collection was born from the glamour of old Hollywood. Lisa Dixon, senior designer, wanted to mold an anthology that reflected the combination of classic vintage with contemporary detailing. Serving the Northwest since 1910, Jantzen’s current line includes retro inspired maillots, ultra-high waisted belted bottoms, tiny bandeau tops and ruffled corset-like tankinis. Jantzen’s “Vamp” swimsuit continues as the brand’s staple item, yet evolves into a two-piece with three different color stories this season (tropical, black and white, and bright summer), all with bold, exciting prints inspired by the archives. The new line pays homage to the company’s heritage and signifies the true meaning of “what's old is new again.” Just remember to wear a smile with that Jantzen.

If the sport of tanning is more up your alley, American Apparel (3412 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 231-0043 or 1234 SW Stark St, 721-0700, americanapparel.com) sells quality merchandise at solid prices. If you do more posing than swimming, then the belle of the pool would enjoy sexy bandage-style, suspender swimsuits and extreme cut-away monokinis that leave little to the imagination. Metallic bodysuits and taffeta swim trunks also grace the colorful catalog, but the must-have piece for 2009 is a stylish one-shoulder number from Portland Swimwear (600 SW 4th Ave, 228-7117). Taking the lead from toga-style dresses and asymmetrical necklines, this year’s single-shoulder swimsuits are both subtly sexy and sophisticated. An added bonus: the diagonal line narrows across the upper body to give you an extra shoulder to tan.

Retro is echoing in the men’s market, too. For guys, swim on over to Under U 4 Men (50 SW Broadway, 274-2555, underu4men.com) to peruse an international collection of more than 40 designer men’s underwear and swimwear brands. “We try to have a bit of everything,” says Manager Nicholas Cruz in regards to the stylish board shorts, snug bikinis, form-fitting trunks and square cut models that line the racks. This season, plaid, houndstooth and basket weave prints are popular with top swim brands such as Aussie Bum, Diesel and Andrew Christian. But shorter surf trunks, which hang loose at mid-thigh, are the essential cut and Sauvage’s “’70s” retro suit is the perfect example of elevated design, outstanding materials and attention to detail that offer an unparalleled fit and feel.
Finally, for a no-frills look that gets the job done, dive into JD Pence Aquatic Supply (10234 SW Parkway, 292-2346, jdpence.com), where competitive brands such as TKR, Reebok, Speedo, Finis and Dolfin have outfitted serious swimmers since 1978. Breakthrough technology in material and construction—seen in Speedo’s LZR Racer series of jammers and flyback suits—have propelled athletes to the heights of Olympic stardom.

But you don’t have to be Michael Phelps to enjoy some fun in the sun. All you need is just the right suite that makes you look and feel your best—and a little sunscreen, of course.

BYOB: Where to get your favorite local brews to go!

By Shanon Emerson

If you’ve ever had a powerful thirst for a cold beer after a long, hard day of, say, browsing the web while pretending to work, then imagine how you’d feel after completing a 2000-mile trek along the Oregon Trail by wagon train only to discover that there’s no beer at the finish line. That's exactly what happened to Henry Saxer in 1852. But Saxer didn’t mope around wondering why life was so unfair. He was a true pioneer, as well as an entrepreneur who could recognize a good thing when he saw it—in this case, prime land and water for brewing. So instead of complaining, he opened Liberty Brewery, Oregon’s first commercial brewery and only the second brewery on the Pacific Coast. Saxer successfully made beer for 10 years before selling Liberty to Oregon's better-known beer-brewing Henry—Henry Weinhard, that is.

In the early 1900s, Oregon wasn't exactly the beer-friendly state that it is today. The (silly, silly) temperance movement had taken root, and in 1914, five years before national prohibition was established, the voters of Oregon approved a state-wide ban on the manufacture, sale or advertisement of intoxicating liquor. Weinhard managed to survive the dry spell of state and national prohibition by serving up sodas and other non-alcoholic drinks at the City Brewery in what is now the Pearl District. In 1933, Oregon and the nation ratified the 21st Amendment and—finally—the beer began to flow again.

Fast forward a few decades to the start of an enlightened age of beer laws. In 1979, Jimmy Carter—older brother of William "Billy Beer" Carter—signed into law the so-called Cranston Bill, which made home brewing legal (up to 100 gallons per person per year). In 1985, the Oregon Legislature legalized brewpubs. This permitted breweries to sell directly to the public, fanning the flames of Oregon’s nascent brew culture. Today the Portland metro area hosts 38 breweries, more than any other metro area in the United States.

These days, many of Portland’s best brewpubs do more than just sell bottles, pints and pitchers to the beer-loving public. A few offer to-go beers in quart jars and 64 oz. growlers. Mason jars make an ideal “single” serving for those nights when you’re enjoying a few beers at the bar but you have to nip out for your late-night Magnum PI fix. (Yes, you should buy pizza rolls on the way home, too.) A growler, on the other hand, is a great way to pull off the hobo-hipster look as you saunter into a party with a jug of your favorite beer dangling from each index finger. Both options offer the ultimate in shopping local and buying bulk, thus reconciling your desire to take home your favorite microbrews with your personal pledge to do your part for the greater good.

Below are a few brewpubs that can set you up with some bulk beer. Each brewery has slightly different rules and prices, but they’re all more than happy to pour that ice-cold beer you’re looking for into a convenient carryout container.

Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell Blvd, 232-4677)
Hopworks, one of Portland’s newest brewpubs, is impressively run on 100 percent renewable energy. The entire operation is the height of sustainability, including a waste recycling program with a goal of zero waste. And, yes, the beer is organic (and award-winning).
Growler Glass: $5
Growler Refill: $10
Quart Jar: Not for sale
Quart Jar Refill: No
BYO Growler: Yes

Laurelwood Public House & Brewery (5115 NE Sandy Blvd, 282-0622)
Laurelwood has also taken on the organic-beer challenge with their aptly named Free Range Red and Tree Hugger Porter. While big on hops, the Free Range Red is said to be “balanced and drinkable.” The Tree Hugger Porter works the chocolaty and malty side of beer like a good porter should.
Growler Glass: $4
Growler Refill: $10
Quart Jar: $2.50
Quart Jar Refill: $5.50
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

New Old Lompoc (1616 NW 23rd Ave, 225-1855)
If you ever find yourself walking down NW 23rd with an ever-growing desire for something authentic, keep going through the alphabet until you get to the New Old Lompoc Pub just past Raleigh St. If they didn’t have you at New Old, they’ll get you with their Proletariat Red, which, as their website states, “reminds us that work is the curse of the drinking class.” New Old Lompoc brews are available at all four of their pub locations.
Growler Glass: No
Growler Refill: No
Quart Jar: $2.50
Quart Jar Refill: $6
BYO Quart: Yes

Roots Organic Brewing Company (235-7668, 1520 SE 7th Ave)
Roots was the first Oregon brewery to focus solely on organic beer. Five years later, they’re still at it with a handful of regular beers that are always on tap and a few seasonal brews that show up when the time is right. This time of year brings Gruit Kolsch or, as it should rightly be called, summer in a bottle.
Growler Glass: $5
Growler Refill: $10, $12
Quart Jar: Not for sale
Quart Jar Refill: $7
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub (281-2437, 929 N Russell St)
The Widmer brothers—alternately known as Kurt and Rob or Rob and Kurt—started brewing beer as a hobby in the early ’80s. By 1984 they’d turned their hobby into a business, one that would be hugely successful. They first brewed the famous Widmer Hefeweizen, “American’s First Hefeweizen,” in 1986, when the microbrew culture in the Northwest was in its infancy.
Growler Glass: $30 (fancy), $7.50 (regular)
Growler Refill: $8
Quart Jar: Not for sale
Quart Jar Refill: $8 for two quarts (must have two)
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

Rogue Distillery & Public House (222-5910, 1339 NW Flanders)
If you’re lucky and the rogues at Rogue are feeling generous, they might fill up a BridgePort growler even though BridgePort won’t return the favor. And by might they mean probably won’t. Welcome to Rogue Nation.
Growler Glass: $3
Growler Refill: $15–$19
Quart Jar: Not for sale
Quart Jar Refill: $7.50–$10
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

Amnesia Brewing (281-7708, 832 N Beech St)
There’s something satisfying about saying the names of the beers at Amnesia: Dusty Trail Pale, Slow Train Porter, Desolation IPA. What’s even more satisfying is the little-bit-country-little-bit-rock-‘n’-roll attitude they have there. Located in an area of town where skinny jeans walk the streets on both women and men, it’s good to have a dash of country thrown in. And while they do fill growlers and quarts, their main requirement for a to-go beer receptacle is that it has a lid. If the law says they can fill it with beer, the folks at Amnesia will do it with a smile.
Growler Glass: Not for sale
Growler Refill: $13
Quart Jar: $1
Quart Jar Refill: $7
BYO Growler/Quart: Yes

Your Month in Beer

By Shanon Emerson

Oregon Craft Beer month is happening now, and July 4th is the only day this month that there isn’t at least one beer-related event planned. Below are a few highlights that you won’t want to miss. For a full calendar of all the brew-inspired revelry that July has to offer, visit oregonbeer.org/oregon-craft-beer-month-events.

Rogue’s Bloody Mary Pajama Brunch: July 13, 10am
Rogue’s Portland Distillery and Public House (1339 NW Flanders St, 222-5910, rogue.com)
Sleep in until 10am, roll out of bed, leave your pj’s on (or put them on depending on your rogue status) get yourself to Rogue’s Portland distillery. Now officially start your day by building your own Bloody Mary and ordering the Chocolate Stout pancakes.

Portland International Beerfest (PIB): July 17–19
North Park Blocks (NW 8th & NW Davis, portland-beerfest.com)
There’s no better place to taste the world’s beers than at PIB. This three-day festival features
over 150 beers from more than 15 countries. Pay $20 for 10 beer tickets and an official PIB glass. Each additional ticket is $1. Each beer will cost one to four tickets depending on the beer’s “swank factor.”

Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Homebrew Demo: July 20, 2–6pm
Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell Blvd, 232-4677, hopworksbeer.com)
For those of you who want to do more than just drink great beer, Hopworks is offering a homebrew demonstration in their parking lot. Who knows, maybe this will be the beginning of your career as a brewmaster. Or, better yet, it could be the beginning of your career as everyone’s new best friend at your next BBQ.

New Old Lompoc’s Festivus in July: July 22, 5–6pm
New Old Lompoc (1616 NW 23rd Ave, 225-1855, newoldlompoc.com)
This month New Old Lompoc takes the absurdity of Christmas in July to an entirely new level with Festivus in July. Festivus went mainstream when it was written into an episode of “Seinfeld” by a writer whose father had invented the holiday in the ’60s. Now Portlanders can sip traditional Christmas Ales while they experience the “traditional” airing of the grievances and the feats of strength.

Oregon Brewers Guild Brewers Dinner: July 22, 6–8:30
Tom McCall Waterfront Park (288-2739, oregonbeer.org/brewers-dinner)
This informal-style BBQ is held on the eve of the Oregon Brewers Festival as a fund-raiser for the Oregon Brewers Guild. The money they raise will help them continue to spread the word about Oregon’s native beers. It will feature beers that are not available at the festival. For $50 you’ll get dinner, a souvenir pint glass, and your choice of six half-pints of Oregon beer.

Oregon Brewers Festival, July 23–26, oregonbrewfest.com
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, downtown Portland
The Oregon Brewers Festival started in 1988 as a way to support and promote microbrews. Twenty-one years later the festival will feature craft beers from 80 different breweries from across the country. Packages range from $10–$50 and include a 2009 souvenir mug, which is required hardware for your beer-drinking pleasure. Admission is free if you’re more interested in the food and live music than the beer.

On Display: What's happening this month in Portland's galleries

By M. Clarissa Fong

Paul Solevad – Universes Big and Small
Onda Gallery

The floating fractal symbols and shapes in Paul Solevad’s paintings offer small windows into our expansive reality this month at Onda Gallery. Through July 29, Solevad’s work explores the idea of universality and connection as it relates to the greater continuum.
The ongoing permanence of nature, humans and the universe is melded into surrealistic expressionism with Solevad’s most recent work delving into the exploration of nature and form. Series of “Radiolaria,” (single-celled organisms that express the fractal patterns seen on every level of our organic reality) are shaped into meditative mandalas, allowing for contemplation and reflection.
Solevad grew up in Northern California and obtained a BFA in painting from the California Lutheran University in 1992. Since moving to Portland, he has developed his fine art career by displaying and selling his paintings at First and Last Thursday art walk events. Solevad has also provided editorial illustrations for the Willamette Week, The Progressive and other publications.
Onda Gallery is located at 2215 NE Alberta St and is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 11am to 6pm and Sunday from noon to 4pm. For more information, visit ondagallery.com or call 493-1909.

Charmaine Shively – Sun Kissed
B. Rogers Gallery

Charmaine Shively continues to explore the sun kissed calm that resonates from within in hopes that viewers will also feel the same saturated warmth with her second exhibit at B. Rogers Gallery from July 2 to August 2.
Known for her luminous encaustic paintings, Shively brings the audience to a visual nirvana with her densely tinted new work. Colors are fused to the surface by the application of heat—much in the style of medieval earthenware tile—with thickly applied wax, heavy pigmentation and deep rich hues that suggest atmospheres on some distant planet. With aggressive gouges and jabs, Shively evokes emerging horizons to create surreal landscapes.
The artist approaches the canvas without a plan in order to achieve a meditative state of subconscious that expresses itself in paint. Shively’s uncommon approach to encaustic painting helps expose surprise elements that provide beautiful nuances that one might find in nature. Fusing the influences of Georgia O’Keeffe and Mark Rothko, the artist has developed her own unique style with iridescent pigments that have added a new dimension to the work, emitting a subtle glow.
B. Rogers Gallery, located at 734 NE 19th Ave, is open Thursday to Saturday from 11am to 6pm and Sundays from 11am to 5pm. For more information, visit brogersgallery.com or call 225-0210.


July Gallery Calendar

Feldman Gallery+Project Space (PNCA): Marina Zurkow – Elixir. I & IV (layered video treatments) and Jessica Mein – Cegueira/Deleveled (animated works). July 2–31. 1241 NW Johnson St, 226-4391, pnca.edu/exposure/feldman.

PDX Contemporary Art
: Wes Mills – Mondrian’s Forest (new drawings). June 30–August 1. 925 NW Flanders St, 222-0063, pdxcontemporaryart.com.

Beppu-Wiarda Gallery: Lorna Nakell – Flying at Night (multi-media paintings). July 1–31. 319 NW 9th Ave, 241-6460, beppugallery.com.

Gallerie Rene: On The Scene (group show). July 2–31. 207 SW Pine St, 223-1022, gallerierene.com.

Butters Gallery: Jiro Yonezawa (Japanese basket weaving). July 2–August 1. 520 NW Davis St, 544-9171, buttersgallery.org.

Guardino Gallery: Kelly Neidig (paintings) and Shalene Valenzuela (ceramic). May 28–June 23. 2939 NE Alberta St, 281-9048, guardinogallery.com.

23 Sandy Gallery: Chris Haberman – Wonderland. July 3–August 1. 623 NE 23rd Ave, 927-4409, 23sandy.com.

Laura Russo Gallery: Michael Brophy (recent paintings). June 4–27. 805 NW 21st Ave, 226-2754, laurarusso.com.

Museum of Contemporary Craft: Call+Response (group show). Thru October 31. 724 NW Davis St, 223-2654, museumofcontemporarycraft.org.

Bullseye Gallery: Klaus Moje (kiln glass). Thru August 22. 300 NW 13th Ave, 227-0222, bullseyegallery.com.

Studio 2507: Brin Levinson (new paintings). July 3–31. 2507 SE Clinton St, 957-6800, studio2507.com.

Newspace Center for Photography: Dawn Roe and Catharine Stebbins. July 3–August 2. 1632 SE 10th Ave, 963-1935, newspacephoto.org.

Froelick Gallery: Lli Wilburn, Kelly Kievit and Gabriel Manca. July 13–August 29. 714 NW Davis St, 222-1142, froelickgallery.com.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery: Quilts from Gee’s Bend. July 2–August 1. 417 NW 9th Ave, 224-0521, elizabethleach.com.

Talisman Gallery: Noel Barnett and Mary Volm. July 1–30. 1476 NE Alberta St, 284-8800, talismangallery.com.

Augen Gallery: Allen Cox – Small Spaces. July 1–August 1. 716 NW Davis St, 546-5056, augengallery.com.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sweet Emotion

By Hollyanna McCollom

Like a bell causes a Pavlovian dog to drool, the tinkling sound of a truck playing “The Entertainer” makes me want a Rocket Pop. The smell of waffles makes me want a big, drippy cone full of chocolate ice cream. The sound of a blender makes me long for a frosty espresso milkshake. I blame the sun. Well, that and my voracious sweet tooth. Can you blame me? Be it a milkshake, sundae or ice-cold snack, there is no better way to beat the summertime heat than an oh-so-sweet, cool concoction.

High on the tasty treats list is Pix Patisserie (multiple locations, pixpatisserie.com) for their delicious floats. Belly up to the Rogue Chocolate Stout topped with mocha ice cream and you’ll wonder why you ever liked plain old root beer floats. Or, try the rosy-hued Lindeman’s Framboise (raspberry beer) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Très magnifique!

The good old days of the made-to-order indulgence at the soda fountain are not forgotten at BluePlate Lunch Counter (308 SW Washington Street, 295-2583, eatatblueplate.com). Sodas (like the surprisingly complex Purple Haze, with hibiscus, allspice and star anise) are made from scratch with pure cane sugar and natural ingredients and can be topped with Cascade Glacier ice cream for only $1.50 more. Personally, I love their ginormous milkshakes. A blenderful of the aforementioned Purple Haze with huckleberry ice cream tastes like a summer picnic. Of course, while house blends like chocolate and filbert butter or the Cowboy Coffee shake (made with Stumptown beans) are fun, you can always gauge a good joint by their presentation of the basic vanilla shake and BluePlate’s is creamy, rich and darn near perfect.

Another throwback to the days of old is Sellwood’s Mike’s Drive-in (1707 SE Tenino St, 236-4537) where the shakes are often made with fresh, local ingredients like strawberries and marionberries. But the list of options at Mike’s does not end there. Besides offering seasonal favorites, they have a bevy of choices like marshmallow, orange creamsicle, peanut butter and—what I like to call the Funky Monkey—chocolate and banana.

Portland’s newest gastronomic darling, The Original, opened in May and immediately brought a flush of melancholy to PDX foodies everywhere over the guilty pleasures that were Quality Pie (a 24/7 diner that closed in 1992) and Farrell’s ice cream parlor (which closed in 2001). Fortunately, much like the sorely missed QP and Farrell’s, The Original taps into that 1950s charm that makes me nostalgic for the days when it was sexy to hold hands while you sipped a malted with your sweetheart. Build your own sundae with their house-made ice cream or sorbet and a plethora of toppings and sauces. If you are really feeling like a tart (the trollop, not the treat) order your sundae with sour cherry sauce and pop rocks. Dirty and delicious!

If you are feeling adventurous (or are tired of the old chocolate-vanilla-strawberry trifecta) head over to Cool Moon Ice Cream (1105 NW Johnson, 224-2021, coolmoonicecream.com) near The Pearl District's Jameson Park. The locally-owned shop concocts their own flavors and the list goes all the way from traditional to downright crazy. I am absolutely in love with their Cardinal Zin, a mix of bittersweet chocolate, Zinfandel wine, dark sweet cherries and Balsamic vinegar, but on my last visit I sampled Kulfi (pistachio and cardamom with a touch of rosewater) and found myself torn between two lovers. Cool Moon offers happy hour pints every day from 4pm to 6pm, when you can get pre-packed pints for just $4 each (perfect for an impromptu bench picnic in the neighboring park).

Portland may not have a lot of local ice cream parlors like Cool Moon left, but if there’s one thing we’ve got in spades, it’s gelato joints. If you’ve never had it (where have you been?) you’re missing out. Slightly less fattening than ice cream and blended with less air, this Italian original is smoother and more full-flavored than its American counterpart. There are many hot spots in P-Town to catch on to the gelato craze, but one of my go-to spots is Staccato Gelato (2 locations, including 232 NE 28th, staccatogelato.com) which carries 18 different flavors a day including PDX uber-faves, Honey Lavender and Rose Petal. Another Portland gelato giant is Mio Gelato, which boasts three locations including one in the Pearl (25 NW 11th Ave, 226-8002). Mio serves an array of flavors, but they excel at the Italian classics like pistachio, amaretto and chocolate. They also serve Illy espresso, so stop by and ask them to make you an affogato di gelato (drowned gelato) with fresh-brewed espresso and a rich chocolate scoop.

Up on Trendy-third, Alotto Gelato (931 NW 23rd Ave, 228-1709, alottogelato.biz) is a favorite neighborhood stop. It’s no wonder when they stock fresh-daily flavors like hazelnut, mint chocolate chip, limoncello and papaya, as well as some crazy (but good) concoctions like strawberry black pepper, yellow cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate chipotle.

Remember those squishy ice cream sandwiches you used to love? Well, they’re all grown up at Ruby Jewel (rubyjewel.net). Creator and former chef Lisa Herlinger is a food connoisseur and her handmade ice cream sandwiches are a perfect testament to her expertise. When they debuted at a local farmers market a few years back, they were a runaway hit. Soon the demand for her fresh-made portable treats began to outweigh the supply. These days, Ruby Jewel produces tens of thousands of the tasty treats, but they are still committed to using locally grown ingredients such as mint and lavender as well as fresh, locally roasted coffee (for the oh-so-delectable cinnamon chocolate cookie and espresso ice cream sandwich). Plus, they manage to do this all while maintaining a highly sustainable and eco-friendly "nearly 100% waste-free" business. So, I'm not afraid to admit that I love the refreshing and summery honey lavender ice cream and lemon cookie concoction and often find myself gravitating towards the freezer section at Zupans when I should be buying lunch. You can purchase Ruby Jewel sandwiches online by the case or find them in a number of local stores and restaurants like Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, Elephant's Deli and Pastaworks.

If you are old enough to remember the frozen yogurt craze of the late 1980s, the idea of grabbing a “fro-yo” may not appeal to you. Sure, it was cold and if you topped it with enough bits of crumbled candy bars and chocolate sauce, it kind of resembled ice cream. Well, set aside all your preconceived notions about yogurt because today’s version is tangier, smoother and considerably more healthy thanks to the millions of live active cultures swimming around in the creamy swirls. Each serving is about 110 calories (compared to about 200 for regular ice cream) and is completely fat free. One of my favorite haunts is Active Culture (820 SE 8th Ave, 608-7742, activeculturepdx.com), where they have 10 flavors that rotate daily, some tart and some that edge on the creamier side. Try the key lime flavor with fresh berries, or the original tart flavor swirled with raspberry. It’s a cool treat that you can actually chalk up to a good deed because the cultures aid with digestion and boost the body's immune system.

With the economy in a downward spiral, I'm all about small indulgences. Last year, we were all concerned about our waistlines; this year we're a bit more concerned about our wallets and while we can't afford that gym membership or that cruise to Hawaii, we can afford a cool and tasty gastronomic getaway. So, bring on the stretchy pants, we're having ice cream!

July Set List

By Jenny Rapf

Hawthorne Theater
July 9th

As one of the founding members of one of the most highly coveted rap groups in rap and hip hop history, RZA left Wu-Tang Clan to focus on his solo career. But not much has happened with the Wu since we lost our beloved crack-smoking Big Baby Jesus (aka Ol' Dirty Bastard). Interestingly enough, few people know that RZA produced nearly all of the Wu's albums including many of the members' solo work. Heralded as one of the greatest producers of all time, he has also released solo albums under the alter-ego Bobby Digital. In addition to the Wu-Tang Clan and his solo releases, RZA was also a founding member of the rap group Gravediggaz where he used the name "The Rzarector." You may have also seen him in 2007's film Derailed as a corporate mailroom clerk/gun slinger on the sly (classic Hollywood cliché if I’ve ever seen one). Any way you slice it, RZA's appearance in Portland will be a good show.

Azure Ray
Mississippi Studios
July 10th

Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink (who met at the Alabama School of Fine Arts at the age of 15) have been busy putting out their own version of underrated and intimate pop music with dashes of alt country and folk Americana. As much as I enjoy putting labels on things, I can't help it here because they sound like less melodramatic versions of Tegan and Sara. Don't get me wrong I love me some angst ridden Lesbian twins singing about their most recent journal entry and what BITCH just broke their heart, but Azure Ray infuses a little less self-deprecation into their love-loss lyrical prowess. They have worked with the likes of Moby (yikes) and Bright Eyes (just to redeem themselves). Since 2004 the two ladies have been focusing on their own solo work, but more recently have started touring as Azure Ray once again. This will be a very mellow show and it's in the newly remodeled and re-vamped Mississippi Studios, and for those of you who haven't checked out the new digs, this show will be the perfect opportunity.

Death Cab For Cutie
July 17th

This show is quite the ideal li'l outdoor package (any show at Edgefield is, really). Spend the day golfing Edgefield's pitch-n-putt chipper course then have a basket of tots and go enjoy a fabulous outdoor show with Seattle's own indie rock darlings, Death Cab For Cutie. Personally I am not a huge fan, but I have learned over the years that just because I don't have a fondness for something doesn't mean that it doesn't appeal to the masses. When it comes to Death Cab...well let's just say the masses have latched on like white on rice. Their latest release The Open Door EP (April 2009) has received the usual Death Cab buzz, however, I think their rise to fame can only be properly attributed to the fact that Seth Cohen from the infamous and short lived high school “mellow” drama The O.C. was OBSESSED with them, thus launching them into indie rock stardom. Oh Seth...how I miss you with your tussled hair and wildly sarcastic sense of humor. TV just hasn't been the same without you.

Too $hort
July 24th

Too $hort is one of those artists who transcends the test of time...some might even say the boundaries of rap and hip-hop. Hailing from Oakland, Too $hort started his career at the age of 15, distributing custom made mix-tapes. By "custom" I mean he was creating his own raps personalized for whomever was requesting a tape. So, it's not like you could hand him a list of The Cure, Bob Marley, early Madonna (a'la True Blue) and maybe a little Ice Cube and ask him to throw something together for a Friday night living room dance party. It was more like you would tell him what’s on your mind and in a week's time you'd have a tape full of rhymes all about you and your current “situation”. It was unheard of at the time and still is to this day, especially with the content and rhyming ability that Too $hort was capable of at such a young age. Since then, he has released 17 LPs and sold over 11 million albums making him one of the most commercially successful rappers of all time. Though he is considered in many circles to be a Gangsta Rapper, the vast majority of his lyrical content is about sex (though his gangsta cred most likely was spawned from his huge influence on such “gangsta” rappers as Ice Cube and the whole of N.W.A). This show will be raucous...raunchy and AWESOME. Don't miss it.

Nas and Damian Marley
July 31

I was a little shocked to see this duo on tour, so in shock that I had to check the appropriate websites to make sure that the REAL DEAL Nas was actually going to attend. Because, let's be honest kids, you've seen one Marley, you've seen them all. Excuse me, Damian, I'll take that back. It's just that I would rather see your father, Bob.
At the same time, the tour does sound intriguing (if only for the fact that it’s an opportunity to see Nas live). Perhaps you know of him from his widely-publicized feud with other hip-hop heavy weight Jay-Z from 2001 to 2005 which was later “squashed” in a 2006? No? Perhaps you know him from his many collaborations with emcees from Eminem to Lupe Fiasco to KRS-One? You must know him from the phenomenal work he did in bringing to life 1996’s It Was Written, a masterpiece in its entirety. Nas has been a front runner in the support of intelligent and progressive music, pushing and fighting for his career and a voice that can cross racial boundaries…it is rare and magnificently unique.

Exploring Alberta Street

(Photo by Hilary Pfeifer)

Alberta Street—A World Away from Downtown
By Brooke Preston

In a city’s arts district, places like galleries, performance spaces, artesian bistros and independent boutiques abound. By this definition, most of Portland should be considered the arts district. Thus, calling the revitalized, gentrified cluster of businesses along Northeast Alberta Street the “Alberta Arts District” can initially be a bit of a head scratcher. After all, there are noticeably less of what might be called traditional galleries than in other local neighborhoods. However, by actually roaming this street of eclectic shops, one yields a bit of insight: nearly every restaurant and establishment is a gallery of sorts, showcasing a rotating collection on their walls and hosting openings. Most stay open late once a month to host events for the Last Thursday art walk, which provides a smaller but spirited counterpoint to the Pearl District’s First Thursdays.

Alberta is a fine place to bring visitors, but many Portlanders have yet to explore this somewhat out-of-the-way corner of their own community. It’s easy to fill an entire day ambling and noshing among the tattooed and shabby chic masses, but first, you’ll need a game plan. The district rambles all the way from NE MLK Jr. Blvd to NE Killingsworth, but most of the neighborhood’s highlights are conveniently located on NE Alberta Street between 11th and 31st Avenues. Ample street parking means you can get right down to enjoying the neighborhood on foot or bike without circling endlessly to jockey for a space.

You’ll need plenty of energy for a full day of intrepid exploring, so start with a hearty breakfast. No problem there—several of Portland’s most beloved breakfast and brunch havens are located in the heart of the district. I started my day at Helser’s, or more specifically, outside the classic café/diner at one of several (dog-friendly!) sidewalk tables. There, the hubby, the lab and I enjoyed a veritable feast of well-made a.m. comfort food served by friendly and efficient servers, including scrumptious potato pancakes. Just down the street, the Tin Shed and Garden Café is a local staple, serving up fresh local ingredients, and a large, covered outdoor seating area, which means less wait time during these summer months. Vegetarians and omnivores alike flock to the Vita Café, now settled in its new home directly across Alberta from its previous location. Its menu heavily leans on veggie and vegan offerings, but offers some responsibly raised meat options, meaning we can finally all eat at the same table without warily perusing the menu for something tasty. The Fuel Café is rich in both ‘nutritious’ and ‘delicious’, with an entirely organic coffee selection, cozy atmosphere and WiFi to boot.

Once you’ve fueled up, enjoy a peaceful morning filled with culture and creation. The Guardino Gallery offers appealing and ever-changing selections from contemporary Northwest artists. Fellow gallery Ampersand offers a fascinating, offbeat collection of new and vintage paper ephemera (and beyond) as well as a bookstore and gift shop largely specializing in photography and design offerings. Feeling inspired after taking it all in? Children of all ages can paint a variety of pottery items to call their very own at Mimosa Studios.

All that creating can work up an appetite, and lunch options are plentiful. Stop by Francis for a rare and perfect blend of high-brow luxuries (oh, those famously comfy chairs!) at surprisingly affordable prices. Stylish décor, unique and scrumptious food and drink and an accomplished, unpretentious staff make this a perfect place to languish and make lunch an event. If you’re in a hurry, or want to continue exploring while you eat, consider the Grilled Cheese Grill, a food cart that serves the childhood favorite in surprisingly interesting and gratifying ways.

After eating your greens, it’s time to drop some green on the street’s many locally-owned boutiques and shops. No need to feel guilty about your retail therapy—chains are all but nonexistent on Alberta and its surrounding streets, so the money you spend goes straight back into the neighborhood economy, helping small business owners thrive. Plus, we’re not talking mass-produced mall trinkets. Ella’s saves 30 to 50-somethings from choosing between the junior’s section and Chico’s, providing a stylish array of fitness, casual and even formal pieces. Donna and Toots and Garnish are two Alberta boutiques that offer only handmade clothes, sewn by their owners. Local fashionistas also rave about Garnish’s willingness to change or embellish a style or custom tailor any piece to look great on the buyer’s body. If that’s not enough to perk up your day, include a visit Mabel and Zora, a store inspired by the sunny spirit of Doris Day. If you’re shopping for smaller fry, don’t miss Grasshopper. The brightly colored store is packed with finds—but is refreshingly free of the over-marketed brands and toys of other stores.

However, there’s much more to browse than dresses and scarves. For example, one must-stop Alberta attraction is Office PDX, one of the most talked-about stores in Portland. Even if you’re not in the market for their collection of vintage office furniture, retro whatnots and design-centric modern notions (including a killer selection of laptop bags), you’ll be glad you stopped in—after all, what better place to re-enact scenes from Mad Men?

Don’t leave out Fido and Fluffy—Healthy Pets Northwest’s largest location (they have three) is located in Alberta. Bring in your pet, and the welcoming staff will probably offer your pet a treat or two from the massive additive-free treat bar. (My pooch literally leapt for the chicken variety).

Nearby, one of five area women-owned Real Deals on Home Decor location keeps prices ridiculously low for their large selection of home décor by staying open only a couple days a week (currently Thursday and Saturday). In fact, gifts and goods for just about everyone are all within a stone’s throw, from home and garden goods at Digs, new and used musical instruments and more at Trade Up Music, or gently used cycles for a good cause at the Community Cycling Center.

Celebrate your newfound bargains at Every Day Wine, where the laid-back atmosphere allows for sampling of any of the 400 options, most of which are under $15 dollars. Follow this with dinner at swanky (but not too swanky) Ciao Vito, serving Italian influenced dishes under glittering chandeliers.

After dinner, (or for another great happy hour/dinner option) keep the party going by visiting Zaytoon, a neighborhood bar with a decidedly big city feel. The spacious bi-level lounge is a must-stop, offering sophistication sans snobbery. This is fantastic news for those that want to class up their night without fighting the weekend Pearl throngs. In fact, once you spend some time in Alberta, this neighborhood is virtually destined to quickly become a regular part of the social repertoire.