Vote With Your Dollars

voteWith the presidential election looming most people are myopically focused on voting for president, but the second most important vote you can make right now is with your dollars. Times are tough and not all businesses are going to survive this recession. Already this month three notable eateries have announced that they are shuttering their doors (Rocket, Mercado and Banh Cuon Tan Dinh)  and more are soon to follow.

The dollar may be down on the world market, but it's never been stronger here at home. With each dollar you spend you are making a vote, you're voting for the business that you give your money to and perhaps voting against the places you aren't. During tough economic times people often default to the lowest cost option out there. Companies like McDonald's and Wal-Mart thrive because people think they get more for less there – something in tough times sounds appealing. If this current economic mess has taught us anything it's there's absolutely no such thing as a free lunch and today's low low deal might have some unintended consequences tomorrow.

So I encourage you to think about the long haul. Want a beer? Skip Rock Bottom Brewery and pick your beer up at Belmont Station. Want a movie? Rather than Netflixing it ensure the future of independent cinema and local art houses and catch a movie at the Hollywood Theater or Cinema 21.  Want some food? Support local farmers at your local farmer's market or visit the People's Food Coop Farmer's Market.  Chose Voodoo Doughnuts over Krispie Kreme,  Laughing Planet or Los Gorditos over Taco Bell, Pad Thai Kitchen over TGIFridays…. and yes Stumptown, Cellar Door and Z Beans over Starbucks.

There's never been a time in your life where what you spend and where you spend has mattered more. So pick the places you love and give them your business, odds are they'll be around to thank you when this whole economic mess is all over.

What local business are you rooting for to survive? Post your favorite in the comments!

Portland West Cafe's Daily Dow Specials

West Cafe PortlandI'm quickly becoming a fan of The West Cafe. My wife and I stopped in a couple weeks back for some drinks and Jazz. Excellent drinks, excellent music and perfect service.

Shortly thereafter I started following The West Cafe on Twitter and realized just how smart and cool the people running this cafe are.  First they offered an exclusive coupon for people who follow them on twitter.

Now they've got a regular Daily Dow Special where they take the point drop or percentage drop and make a drink special out of it! Tonight's special:

Daily Dow Drink Deal: Down 2.42% so we'll take $2.42 off call martinis all night!! Stop by for an extra dry one, shaken not stirred.

It's great to see a business be so savy with new media and so in touch with its customers

Oregon Brewer's Festival – Fresh Hop Beer Tastival

Oregeon Brewer’s Fresh Hop Beer Tastival

Oregeon Brewer’s Fresh Hop Beer Tastival

Packed! That's the best way to describe the Oregeon Brewer's Fresh Hop Beer Tastival at the Hop Works Urban Brewery this Saturday. Two tents filled with people enjoying the Indian Summer and a bounty of new beers with hops from the recent Oregon Hop Harvest.

$5 got you a nice pint glass and then each 4oz taste was $1. Unfortunately I was only able to taste 3 beers at the fest:

Hopworks Urban Brewery Parsec Pale Ale -I figured I had to give some love to the hosting brewery and that may Pale Ale days would be few and far between as we get into the winter. This Pale Ale is a light and tasty beer that is very clean with only a hint of hops.

Lompoc Brewing Proletariate Red – a sweet and hoppy beer with a nice clean edge,,very drinkable and if I had more time I would have enjoyed a full pint.

Beer Valley Brewing Black Flag Imperial Stout – WOW! They were only giving people 4oz tastes and that's a shame because this is quite a stout. Super Dark, Bold, flavorful and hoppy. This was a beer that really got my attention, and I'd love drink again.

I also had a chance to taste Deschutes Hop Trip before the event, and I have to say it's one of my favorite of the fresh hop bunch. I've also got a bottle of the Bridgeport's Hop Harvest in my fridge which I hope to try soon.

There's no question that Portland supports local brewery events and the excitment around the local brewers sceen is really exceptional.

Apple Tasting at The Portland Nursery

Over Thirty Types of Apples

Over Thirty Types of Apples

We've lived in Portland now for 15 years, and for some reason we've never managed to make it out to Portland Nursery's Apple Tasting Event. Since we now live in Laurelhurst (after moving from the west side) we swore that we would not miss this popular Portland event.

So this weekend, with the perfect fall weather, we walked down to the Portland Nursery for some apple tasting. I was surprised at just how many people come out for this event (I saw almost half the people who live on our block there).

The whole family loved having the opportunity to taste over 30 different varieties of apples and pears. Our favorites:

  • Elstar – Tart eating apple developed for European markets. Excellent for sauces or pies.
  • Cox's Orange Pippin – An Old English variety origination about 1830. Firm, juicy and aromatic apple. Wonderful for dessert.
  • Honey Crisp – Macoun x Honeygold. Crisp and juicy apple rated superior to McIntosh and Delicious for fresh eating and keeps up to five months in common storage.
  • Jonatha – Originated in 1826 as an open-pollinated chance seedling of Esopus Spintzenberg. This Apple has crisp, juicy, tart flesh. Goof for dessert and all other culinary Uses.
  • Liberty – Origin New York Fruit Experiment Station. Fruit is almost enturely red-skinned with sweet juicy flesh.

After we picked our favorites from the bunch we were able to buy them from huge tubs of apples in the middle of the nursery. If you missed out the apple tasting this weekend, fear not… the Portland Nursery is doing it again next weekend: October 17, 18, 19, 2008 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Above apple descriptions courtesy of The Portland Nursery).

Santogold Delivers The Gold

Santogold Brings The Audience on Stage

Santogold Brings The Audience on Stage

The show Sunday night at the Crystal Ballroom was billed as "Goldrush" and featured four 'Myspace buzz bands' including: Low v. Diamond, Alice Smith, Mates of State and headliner Santogold.

In an evening with four bands my expectations for the first band were pretty low, but Low v. Diamond delivered and impressed me with a strong set that felt more like a headlining set than an early opener. With good chemistry, a full textured rock sound and a talented lead singer Low v. Diamond showed showed real potential. Their sound is rocky ballad that can be filed comfortably between The Killers and Snow Patrol.

Low v. Diamond was followed up by the very stripped down Alice Smith. Accompanied onstage with only a single electric guitarist Alice Smith showed quite solidly that she has the presence to fill the stage. Her set captivated the audience who seemed to hang on every note. Smith's vocals often have the affectation and texturing that's reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, but she's really at best when she lets go of the vocal styling and is just herself. Alice Smith shines when she seems to loose herself in the emotion of her songs and I'd love to see here again when she's backed by a full band.

Alice Smith was followed by Mates of State, a keyboard and drum duet which moved swiftly through an upbeat and poppy set. I really wanted to like Mates of State, they are an extremely affable band with very listenable harmonies, but I felt like I had to really work to like them. Many of their songs are so packed that there's very little room to really connect with them. Some of the songs take left turns which clearly left the audience behind. Mates of State did their job as an opening band, but the need some fine tuning to really grow.

After Mates of State there was an extremely long break as the stage was stripped almost completely bare. The crowd was clearly impatient waiting so long for Santogold, but all frustrations were quickly erased as she took the stage. Although it was a relatively short set Santogold was on the top of her game for every moment of it. Without a single drop in energy Sontogold's set was celebration from the first note to the last.

Backed only by a DJ and two backup singers Santogold filled the stage with a contageous energy which flowed into the crowd. I saw more people dancing at the Santogold that almost any other show I've seen at the Crystal. The set which lasted just over an hour featured most of the songs off Santogold's debut album. In many of the recent concerts I've attended you can tell which song gets the most radio play because it's usually the point when the crowd comes alive. At the Santogold show the crowd responded to each song like it was a 'hit' song.

Santogold performed one cover, The Clash's Guns of Brixton, transforming it into a rich and contemporary song. Even though the show's music came from a turntable the show never felt pre-programmed or stiff. At one point Santogold messed up the lyrics to a song, laughing she ran out into the crowd pulling fans up on to stage for another go. The result felt like a dance party.

Santogold is the real deal, she's an immensely talented performer who is even better live than in her recordings. The concert at the Crystal Ballroom was her first performance in Portland, but it certainly won't be her last. Santogold is clearly a star on the rise and she's got the potencial to be an extremely hot ticket the next time she's in town.