Friday, January 15, 2010

Namaste In Portland

I read somewhere that most new restaurants don't make it past their third year. They have to build enough of a steady clientele to cover costs, and eventually make a profit, and, for whatever reason, many worthy ventures can't build momentum quickly enough to keep their doors open over the long haul. Knowing this, whenever Ked and I find a new local restaurant that we really love, we try to give it a boost along the path of longevity. We don't eat out that often (honestly we can generally cook better food at home that we find in many restaurants, and for far, far less money), but a promising start-up will lure us out to part with our dollars more readily than most eateries, because we want to make sure the place is there later when we want it. We see it as a symbiotic relationship.

Funny thing is, we often rapidly fall into a rut when we discover a new favorite. Whatever dish we loved first becomes the thing that draws us back, and a craving for specific foods, rather than places will be what calls us to dine there again. We want to be adventurous, but somehow always manage to cling to the familiar, because the familiar is so very tasty. In Namaste (at 8303 NE Sandy Boulevard, in Portland), open for only six weeks now, we have found the perfect motivator to break our pattern of culinary fidelity. Last Sunday afternoon we stopped by for an absolutely divine Indian buffet, so well prepared that all of the lovely foods we associate with India were given new standards to meet, because now every time we eat Indian food we will be comparing it to this Indian food. From the chana masala, to the lamb curry and goat, to the vegetables in curry cream sauce, to the eggplant pakoras, there wasn't a thing we ate that wasn't amazing. (The spinach was definitely the best I've ever tasted.) With such mouth-watering, delectable variety set out before us, offering instant gratification, and the opportunity to taste everything that strikes our fancy, even Ked and I can manage to stay out of a rut--or at least make the rut a whole lot wider than usual!

What makes this discovery especially exciting for us is how hard it's been to find really good Indian food in Portland, that doesn't cost so much that a trip to India to pick up a snack would seem almost as reasonable as dining here in the City of Roses. We learned to love Indian food in England, where it is as common and inexpensive as Chinese food is here in the States, and have been disappointed time and again as we've tried to repeat the experience we loved in Britain. Delicious, plentiful, and inexpensive seem to be mutually exclusive terms when is comes to Indian food here at home. When we have found well-prepared food, it has been prohibitively expensive, or left us hungry at the end of the meal. I remember one time downtown when we ordered a lamb dish which gave us three small chunks of meat in a serving dish full of sauce for somewhere in the neighborhood of $18. $18!! Seriously, we left that restaurant hungry enough to immediately go eat somewhere else. For the money it cost for that one dish we could have both dined happily and repletely at Namaste, where the lunch buffet is $8.95 per person, and dinner will cost you around $12.

Remember that three-year rule with restaurants? I expect Ked and I will be doing our part on many Sunday afternoons to come, to ensure that this wonderful gem stays open long past its third birthday. We're already planning our next Namaste outing. If you're from Portland, I suggest you do the same!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year--Welcome 2010!!

Happy New Year! Here in Portland we saw the old year pass with a little snow (on the 30th), which suited some of us just fine. Of course, it caused one of the biggest traffic jams the Rose City has ever seen, but isn't it worth a five hour commute for the pleasure of seeing the world turn white!?! Well, okay, maybe not, but since Ked and I were only stuck in traffic for an hour-and-a-half, we tolerated it rather cheerfully. We were also happy to see 2009 go away. Not the best year in the Meow household, but I'm hopeful that good things are coming down the pike, so bring on the new!!

We snapped a few photos in the waning days of December. Nothing too exciting, but some happy memories, so I'll post them here as a way to keep the memories handy... (Click to enlarge.)

We had all sorts of errands to run on Wednesday, as the weather got interesting. We went to the County and the Post Office, to turn in our passport applications, ordered replacement windows for our house, and hit Target for a few necessary pre-holiday purchases. Lots of driving in less than ideal conditions. You can see by the look on Ked's face, though, that the sticking snow didn't faze him a bit. Snow is good for the soul!

No one really needs to see another picture of Target's parking lot, but it's such a nice photo of Ked that I couldn't resist.

Our neighborhood looks so much prettier with Christmas lights and snow!

New Year's Eve day, we took a drive to the coast to watch a wonderfully blustery storm on the beach. On the way, we passed orchards and fields wearing the remnants of the previous day's snowfall. So, so very pretty.

The day was uniformly foggy. At the beach it was really more like the clouds were resting right on the water, with rain and wind springing from the solid white mass, but here in this orchard the fog was more like a veil being drawn over the old year. It was romantically spooky and beautiful.

I don't think that telescope would have been much use with the weather touching bottom the way it was, but my camera lens penetrated just far enough to show the wildly crashing waves. Those waves kept us entertained for hours.

The wind was whipping the sand around, creating lovely patterns and providing more entertainment. The boy you see above was having a grand old time leaning into the gusts, lurching forward as the wind beneath his wings would temporarily and abruptly abandon him to gravity.

After a splendid dinner at our favorite coastal restaurant--Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay--we drove home through the dark and were in bed well before midnight! (Ked, at least, was in bed before midnight. I am not a good sleeper, even when fireworks are not going off in my neighborhood!) It was a very low-key New Year's celebration, but one appropriate to the year that was passing. I hear we missed a lovely party back home, one we would have liked to attend had I not already spent all my allergen and energy points on Christmas, but given my current physical limitations I can't complain too much that I spent a quiet day watching the wind and waves with my kind and loving husband. I have hope that 2010 will be less limited, but 2009 went out with gentle cheerfulness, and I am content.

However you celebrated the start of the tens, I pray for you a blessed, productive and joyful year ahead. Happy New Year!