Bleu Cheese in my Ice Cream & Belly Dancers on my Brain

Portland is a city known to be a tad “left of center,” if you will. Exactly why I love it: I’m a little left of center. That’s called symbiosis: we have a complementary relationship. I appreciate the quirky, and the Rose City is excellent at dishing it up. Case in point, and one I’ve mentioned before: Voodoo Doughnut. Their maple bacon bar has become infamous. It was probably the oddest food combination I’d eaten around town…until yesterday, when I found myself plowing through a single-scoop cup of Pear and Bleu Cheese ice cream.

Choosing which flavor to divulge in took real effort!

Which, by the way, was not the weirdest flavor on the menu. (That award goes to either the Brown Ale and Bacon or the Three Berry Barbecue). The purveyor of this frozen madness? Salt & Straw Ice Cream, a food-cart-turned-brick-and-mortar ice cream shop that was recently voted as a runner-up in a list of Portland’s best ice cream joints. I’ve always been an adventurous eater, so I had no qualms about ordering such a uniquely flavored ice cream treat. And the verdict? Delicious, of course. Creamy and smooth, riddled with chunks of diced pear and just enough bleu cheese to offer a tangy contrast to the sweetness of the cream and fruit, I was hooked from the first bite. Delicious! And I pretty much never order ice cream in the middle of the day – especially an overcast day in which the temperature is hovering in the mid-sixties – but I couldn’t resist the allure, and the positive press, of Salt & Straw.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon hanging out at the Alberta Street Fair. This funky, artsy neighborhood in northeast Portland has become one of my favorite haunts this year, and I find myself returning often. Every August they close down thirty blocks of the street for a fair that includes arts and crafts vendors, juggling, magicians, music, food carts and booths, and even – be still my heart – belly dancing. How could I pass up that sort of lineup?

Answer: I couldn’t.

The best part of the street fair is probably the people watching. Alberta is home to a colorful parade of hipsters, bohemians, hippies, goths and skaters, all intermingling comfortably with more straight-laced types. There were plenty of families present, as well, small kids in tow who were happy with the offerings of balloons and face painting. A little bit of something for everyone, as it turns out, including a beer garden and three “stages” with a rotating series of entertainers throughout the day. I watched a magician/juggler who would have been right at home on America’s Got Talent – the dude contorted his body through a stringless tennis racket (it helped that he was super skinny, but still, that’s quite the feat); watched a camouflage-bedecked guy give a tarot card reading to an Asian kid; enjoyed a musical set from a three-piece outfit called The Bottlecap Boys who were so good I gave them money; dined on garlic and lemon chicken from The Horn Of Africa; and drunk in the sexy allure of a belly dance troupe called the Gypsy Heart Tribal. Turns out one of the dancers – by far the most sensual – totally wanted me. Think I’m kidding? Check out this look she’s giving me.

The girl on the right totally wants me.

And don’t call it “wishful thinking,” either. I see the desire in her eyes!

There was even an author there – or, to be technical, the wife of an author – who had set up a booth and was selling her husband’s self-published novel. I struck up a conversation with her, telling her that I had just published a book myself and was thinking of buying booth space and trying to sell it at a similar venue in the near future. She said they were there last year and sold “a ton” of books, but this year there’d only been one buyer by the time I stopped by, so it’s a real hit-or-miss proposition. I should have bought a copy of the book – support your fellow writers and good Karma and all that jazz – but I didn’t have much cash on hand. Oh well, food for thought.

All in all, it was an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon. A funky, fun festival in the city that I love. I even ended up with a “People’s Republic of Portland” hoodie and a “Put A Bird On It” t-shirt that were a steal at $30 total. Who could ask for more?

The Bottlecap Boys. They were so good, I gave them money.
This garlic and lemon chicken dish from The Horn Of Africa made for a tasty lunch.
Alberta Street is closed to traffic for 30 blocks for the annual Alberta Street Fair.
A camouflaged fortune teller giving a tarot card reading.
One more shot of my honey. What should we name our kids?
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31 thoughts on “Bleu Cheese in my Ice Cream & Belly Dancers on my Brain

  1. ” Creamy and smooth, riddled with chunks of diced pear and just enough bleu cheese to offer a tangy contrast to the sweetness of the cream and fruit, I was hooked from the first bite. Delicious!”

    Honestly? I’ve gotta say, that sounds WAY delicious because I like the taste of both those things.

    Funny, I’m not a huge ice cream eater, however, (and I know this sounds strange) but I enjoy eating it in the fall and winter, rather than the summer months.

    “And don’t call it “wishful thinking,” either. I see the desire in her eyes!”

    Definitely, Mark, I see it too!

    And hey, I think that’s a great idea about buying booth space and selling your book there, because you never know what great things could come from that.

    As always, awesome photos! Love the one of the fortune teller giving a tarot card reading.

    I think I would enjoy the vibes of Portland, because I’m definitely “left of center”

    Thanks for sharing your day, bud!

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    1. Wait. YOU’RE left of center, Ron?! I’d have never guessed!! ;)

      I enjoy ice cream in the cold months, too. Maybe it’s got something to do with fooling your body into thinking it’s not as chilly outside as it really is?

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  2. I tried Bleu cheese cheese cake last week and it was the most fabulous thing my mouth has ever tasted! I bet that ice cream was just as delicious!!
    That chick was TOTALLY into you!!! Forget the kids, time to move into a new phase of your life. Rusty and Audrey will be leaving the nest one day — hopefully… and you and your new chicky will be free to travel all over the country for book signings! Come visit me with the new chicky and we shall explore the culinary delights of Alberta – not the street but the province!

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    1. I know she was!! The next time I go on a road trip, I’ll bring my belly dancer girlfriend and we’ll have all kinds of adventures along the way. She can shimmy through cornfields to her cute little heart’s desire, and I’ll be there to capture the whole thing on camera!

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  3. Alberta Street totally sounds like my kind of place! I wish we lived in a place that was a little left of center. Lexington is strongly right of center–though we do have an openly gay mayor–which is nice.
    At any rate, hope your coming week is as great as your weekend————-
    Kathy

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  4. I have to say that you have totally sold me on a future visit to Portland. It sounds like my kind of place. I especially want to try the ice cream.

    I’m sorry, though, you are dreaming about your love. It’s the magic of the dance. ;)

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    1. Are you trying to tell me that the seductive, come-hither look she was shooting me was part of the act?! Oh, Lisa, say it isn’t so!

      It’s got to be more than that. She was shaking her hips at me, too…

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      1. Well, perhaps she was completely entranced by your male magnetism. :D Who am I to say otherwise?

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  5. Blue cheese. How can you stand it? It smells like puke a block away. My father loves it and used to try to make me eat it and I told him it does not matter how delicious he thinks it tasted that does not matter if you can’t stand it because it can never be delicious to me.

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    1. “It smells like puke a block away.” LOL…guess the Blue Cheese Commission won’t be hiring you for any marketing positions in the near future! :)

      I love the stuff personally – somebody needs to do a bleu cheese doughnut next!

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  6. …I’m looking forward to the follow-up post: “Bleu cheese on my brain and a belly dancer feeding me ice cream”

    And you should name one child Mabel. The other will be Roy.

    Don’t ask me why.

    ;)

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    1. Love the follow-up post! But dammit, she has yet to show up at my front door…

      I’ve always loved the name Mabel. It reminds me of Mad About You…the baby’s name was Mabel, which stood for, Mothers Always Bring Extra Love. Weird that something like that would stick in my head all these years.

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  7. Sounds and looks fabulous…and I can almost taste the ice cream!!

    I wish I had more time to explore the quirkiness that defines some of Seattle. I can just imagine the jewels that are out there.

    Speaking of jewels…that belly dancer? Oh yeah…she totally wants you! Who can miss her sultry and come-hither eyes?

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    1. Seattle does have some quirky spots! I’ve been on the underground tour…hard to believe a whole city existed twenty feet below the present one! And there’s a museum of the odd where they’ve got shrunken heads and mummies on exhibit, that sort of thing.

      I am seriously thinking a Seattle trip is in store very soon…

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  8. If you hadn’t given $$$ to those damn panhandling “Bottlecap Boys” you might have been able to buy that book, dude. (BTW, can I buy your book from Powells? Maybe Powell’s online?)

    I used to live off Alberta too, right there at 17th. What a dive … but they do have great street fairs. Ever been to a Last Thursday there? Heckuva a party!

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    1. Tough call…they’re both trying to earn a living! I guess I should have skipped the bleu cheese ice cream and given them both money.

      Never been to Last Thursday, but it’s on my To Do list!

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  9. The ice cream sounds amazing! I love street fairs, too, and farmer’s markets and outdoor art shows, live music. My hometown has something like that going every weekend during summer and alot of indoor events in the winter. And why wouldn’t that belly dancer give you the eye? she’d have to be blind, Mark! :) I just noticed No Time for Kings on your page, and I think I have to have it!

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  10. So glad that you had a great day at Alberta Street Fair. Salt & Straw has some great combinations. Brown bread stuffing (real sweet brown bread,ice cream made with savory local herbs, fresh roasted Oregon chestnuts and tart apricots) is my new favorite.

    If you enjoyed Alberta Street Fair – don’t miss Tannenbaum Madness on Alberta Street! It will be wacky, whimsical and of course a little mad! Over 30 Alberta Street businesses are creating sights not to be missed, Opening Night is Friday, November 25th from 4-8PM. The street will be hopping with carolers, festive lights, gallery openings, and a little of the usual madness.

    Only on Alberta Street will you find “Kringles Dingles” (Local Discoveries), “Pints Full of Holiday Love” (Salt & Straw) or “The 1% for the Planet Tree, it’s upcycled yo!” (Pie Footwear). It’s going to be fun…

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  11. Hello Mark …

    It’s me, the bellydancer on the right. (And while you might think I am kidding, no I am not. This fateful encounter is due to the magic of Google searches.) My sincerest thanks for enjoying our performance and the come-hither look. People usually think Chelsea is the cutest one in the group, but I’m glad you think otherwise.

    I was, indeed, “completely enhanced by your male magnetism” and I don’t routinely smile seductively at every camera that’s pointed in my direction during performances. Yours was special. So special, I’ve blocked out the memory.

    I’m sorry to have missed you and and your S.O. at this year’s Alberta Street Fair. (I was on vacation.) But I look forward to giving you bedroom eyes at Alberta Street Fair 2013.

    See you there,
    Melissa

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    1. I don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised by a comment on my blog than this one. Surprised and a little embarrassed, lol! But I’ll get over it. I’m thrilled to have a name to go along with, umm, the rest of you. And it’s true, I have a girlfriend now, but she knows all about you. We did miss you at this year’s festival, by the way. Maybe next year I’ll introduce myself as “the blogger guy who thought you were giving me bedroom eyes.”

      Seriously, thanks for stopping by, Melissa. What an unexpected (and funny) surprise! And you ARE really good. :)

      Like

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