8.34am, Monday 19th March, SW 15th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, USA
Morning, folks, and first up – why is Portland called ‘Stumptown’?
Because the city had an amazing burst of growth around 1847 – roughly the same time that our founder Samuel Smith was establishing himself as the head Gardner at George Fife Angas’s estate “Lindsay Park” just outside Angaston. A couple of years later in 1849, Samuel opened his doors at Yalumba, directly over the road from Lindsay Park.
But back to Portland – ‘Stumptown’. During this huge burst of economic growth, so many trees around Portland were cleared for roads, housing and industry day after day that the stumps were just left behind to be dug out and cleared at a later date. According to local urban myth, there were so many stumps that during the winter you could use them as ‘stepping stones’ to get across the muddy claggy roads around the town centre. Also according to local myth, other towns along the Willamette River saw the fast-developing Portland as a bit of a threat, so they said things along the lines of “there’s more stumps in the town than people” and what was supposed to be a derogatory comment down the years has become a back-handed compliment and adopted as the nickname for Portland, along with “The City Of Roses”.
And one of the famous coffee roasters in Portland has adopted the name, and “Stumptown Coffee” is definitely on the “must do” list whilst you’re in town.
Another “must do” thing for anyone in Portland – whether you’re visiting or live here – is breakfast or brunch at Gracie’s – the dining room at ‘The Queen of Portland’ in my opinion – the Hotel Deluxe. It’s like strolling through a time warp back to the Golden Era of the true movie star. Back when people actually spoke to each other during a meal instead of texting or checking to see if they’d missed a tweet about something rivettingly important!
This is me at breakfast on my own with two soft poached eggs and some local apple chicken sausage, swapped the potatoes for fresh fruit – very healthy choice well done – and yep, I cut the buttered toast into ‘soldier’ strips and dipped them! Yum!
There’s no hip hop or aggressive jazz drum solo soundtrack in here this morning. It’s the classic crooners – Dean, Frank and Sammy, and the show tunes and blues gals – that’s Judy Garland and Billie Holiday in there as well. I might just have to go out and buy a stripy dress that ‘swooshes’ when I walk, so that I fit in here for dinner. Or maybe not, and I’ll just perch on one of those cozy high lounge bar stools at the counter in the very low romantic candlelight across the hall at the Driftwood Room lounge and investigate the difference between rye and bourbon … hoping that someone very much like George Clooney will appear in the next seat … I know … daydreaming again. But the Hotel Deluxe does that to you.
I’m just really proud of myself for not doing one of the house specialities here at Gracie’s: “The Elvis” – “tall stack of pancakes layered with the King’s favorites: peanut butter, bacon and bananas, sprinkled with powdered sugar”. But I’d really like to!