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Archive for May, 2009

SoupCycle – Local Organic Soups Delivered

Jed Unloads The Soup

Jed Unloads The Soup

I’ve seen a ton of great business ideas come and go.  Some of them were ahead of their time, others were great ideas poorly executed. Most often though, great ideas go down in burning flames because people aren’t patient enough to let their ideas blossom and grow. They want to get from small to huge in a blink of an eye.

SoupCycle is a fantastic example of a great business, based on a fantastic idea that is getting the time and space it needs to really grow. The entire SoupCycle company is comprised of just three people. (Pretty mind blowing when you hear other local start ups like Forkfly have 16 employees!) Owners Jed and Shauna handle every aspect of the business from soup to nuts (quite literally) with some help from one other part time delivery person. The impact of this is a business whose owners are extremely in touch with the actual business and its customers. For example, as part of SoupCycle’s regular weekly email to their customers,  there is a request for feedback on each week’s soup. SoupCycle makes changes to their line-up based directly on that feedback.

SoupCyle - Soup Salad and Bread

SoupCyle - Soup Salad and Bread

The SoupCycle service is a pretty simple concept.  Every week SoupCycle delivers a container of soup, a box of salad and some bread. If you’ve got a bigger family they deliver two containers of soup, and two boxes of salad.  One of the things that sets them apart from other food delivery options is that they deliver this soup entirely by bicycle.  SoupCycle ‘s soup selections are entirely based on ‘what’s in season locally’ and their bread is baked at a small local bakery (Little T American Baker).

For my first SoupCycle delivery I was greeted by owner Jed Lazar and handed two quarts of Potato Kale soup (the vegan option) along with four big slices of french baguette and two boxes of salad.  Jed rides a recumbent bike with an electric assist. By the time he delivered our soup he had already clocked an impressive sixteen miles.

The soup is delivered cold and SoupCycle recommends you put out a cooler if you expect to be away for more than three hours during their delivery days. Many people get the soup delivered to their office so they can take it home from there.

SoupCycle's Amazing Soup

SoupCycle's Amazing Soup

The evening of our first delivery we heated up the Potato Kale soup and had dinner in moments.  The two quarts of soup easily fed my family of five (two adults and three children) with about one serving of soup left for leftovers. The Potato Kale soup was delicious, well spiced, perfectly cooked and brimming with flavor.

I had heard a lot about SoupCycle’s salad dressing (which is also impressively vegan) and so was eager to see if it lived up to the hype. It does. The salad is a nice mix of fresh greens, shredded carrot and cranberries but elevates to something entirely amazing with the dressing. With SoupCycle’s soup being so good it’s hard to say that you should try their service out just for the salad dressing, but it is THAT good.  The bread from Little T was soft and flavorful and I recommend you try dipping it in the dressing!

SoupCycle offers three different options for their soups: vegan, vegetarian and an option with meat.  Jed indicated that their most popular selection is vegetarian even among people who eat meat.

Here’s an example of two weeks of their selections:

The Cumin Chihuahua (vegan)
A flavorful cumin-infused tortilla and corn soup.

Cream of Spinach (veggie)
Your mouth will approve of this tasty soup that’s full of nutrients. Made with coconut milk.

Chicken Noodle (meaty)
One of the best chicken noodle soups you’ll ever taste. Savory chicken, wide noodles, plenty of celery and carrots and just the right spice.

French Lentil (vegan)
Hearty lentil soup with flavorful vegetables, the distinctive taste of red wine vinegar and a touch of Dijon mustard.

Who Framed Ginger Rabbit (veggie)
Sweet and savory carrot soup with a strong punch of ginger.

Clam Chowda’ (meaty)
A creamy clam chowder so tasty you’ll think you’re dining in New England.

To order SoupCycle, you sign up for a SoupScription on SoupCycle’s site which sets you up for a weekly delivery of the soup style of your choice.  SoupCycle bills you the Wednesday of your delivery and you can make changes to the following week’s delivery (vacation hold, adding or dropping your level of soup or going a la cart without salad and bread) by Friday at midnight.  SoupCycle soupscriptions start at  $18 for 1 quart of soup + bread and salad (which serves 2 people) and goes all the way up to dinner for 6.

The soup, salad and bread for 4 at $30 ended up feeding 5 of us for a net cost of $6 per person for fresh, local and organic soup delivered.  A pretty affordable option for such a tasty meal.

I knew I liked the concept of SoupCycle but I’m frankly surprised by just how much I enjoyed the whole SoupCycle experience.  It’s refreshing to deal with a company so committed to its customers with such a high quality product.  SoupCycle’s soups are just plain fantastic and when you combine that with their truly exceptional salad dressing you’ve got a combination that just can’t lose. I highly recommend SoupCycle!

For more information on SoupCycle:

Tea and Poetry in Portland

Heavens Tea Teahouse

Heavens Tea Tea House

Portland is home to some truly special places. Things happen in this town that simply don’t happen anywhere else. One example of this is Heaven’s Tea, run by “Tea Monk”  Paul Rosenberg (he’s actually a Tea Master but far too modest to say so). Located at the base of Mt. Tabor, Heaven’s Tea  holds tea ceremonies in both an outdoor tea house as well as an attic tea space.  Each location could easily be classified as a “sacred space”, adorned with ancient Tibetan art with design and construction work by some of Portland’s most talented artisans. Tea ceremonies are often accompanied by fresh cut flowers and local chocolates creating a truly remarkable environment.

As majestic as the setting is, the tea ceremonies would be nothing without Paul Rosenberg, one of the foremost practitioners of the art of tea on the west coast.  From 30 year Pu-erh to Phoenix Tea from 400 year old tea trees, you never know what Paul will pull out and serve at one of his tea sessions. Paul is a tea maestro and he brews and serves rare teas you simply can’t purchase anywhere else.

The rare teas served at Heaven’s Tea have very a deep and profound impact on your state of being. If you’ve ever practiced yoga and felt yourself drift into another ‘space’, you’ll start to get an idea of what drinking tea with Paul is all about. If your image of tea involves ripping open a tea bag and plunging it into a cup of water, or a brightly colored iced bubble tea that you slurp through a fat straw, prepare to have your mind blown.

Heaven’s Tea has a wide range of events every month, from tea classes to tastings, tea and meditation, and even private one-on-one tea sessions. This week I attended an evening event called “New Moon Tea and Poetry”.  Sitting in the outdoor tea house with five other people, we sampled a wide range of rare teas, sipped sake, read and wrote poetry. Although I am a writer I tend to be a little shy when it comes to writing poetry, but the evening was so inspiring that the words just flowed.

Take a deep breath
While you may not see the road ahead, it is there
You cannot control the direction of a river
Neither can the rain
So breathe my friend
The journey is long  and you have just begun.

Heaven’s Tea offers a unique experience in both tea and getting in touch with the sacred spaces within all of us. Paul’s work is absolutely not denominational in any way and he tailors each session to the people in attendance. One thing is absolutely guaranteed: you’ll never forget the experience.

For more information about Heaven’s Tea:

More Info on Tea in Portland:

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SoupCycle Interview

Soupcycle Delivers

Soupcycle Delivers

One of the things I love about Portland is the way people follow their passion. Portland isn’t just a town of great ideas, it’s a place where people put their ideas into motion. One such great idea is SoupCycle which serves fresh, organic and locally made soups by bicycle.  I was so intruged by this business I decided to talk to one of the companies founders Jed Lazar about SoupCycle (a full review of the service with pics will come soon).

How did you get the idea for Soup Cycle?
We heard about someone in Texas who tried to deliver soup by bicycle. He made it work for a while, but eventually switched to delivering by truck. To Shauna and I – this was the perfect challenge. We knew it could be done and wanted to prove that bicycles are a feasible form of cargo transportation within cities.

Why Soup?
Because it’s perfect! There are great, tasty soups for every season of the year that use local vegetables.

Why Portland? Does SoupCycle fit Portland better than other cities?
Definitely. This city values healthy foods and healthy lifestyles. We all want to eat scrumptious foods that are good for us, but who has time to put together healthy meals every day? SoupCycle is a Soupscription- it’s one healthy meal a week that our customers don’t have to worry about. Plus, the city’s bicycle network makes bicycle-delivery possible.

How does the expense of a Soupscription compare to other dinner options people can order?
A Soupscription is almost always less than going out to a restaurant, and a lot of times it’s less than cooking for yourself. When you make a recipe at home you typically have to buy a lot of new ingredients. If you’re like me, you go to the store to shop for dinner and end up spending way more than you meant to. Our soups are $9 for two full servings, or $18 for soup, rustic bread and fresh salad for two people. And that’s for organic foods made with local ingredients and delivered by bicycle to you! It doesn’t get better than that. Our prices are low because we don’t rent an expensive retail space. We just do deliveries, and that keeps our costs down.

How far in advance do you determine what soups you are going to make?
Two weeks in advance.

Do your customers ever submit soup recipes?
They do! I’ve got a great recipe for hearty chicken and potato soup I’ve been meaning to make that a customer sent me recently.

What’s your favorite soup? Why?
My favorite soup is The Democratic Republic of Peanut Chicken. It’s an African peanut chicken stew that’s hearty beyond belief and full of tasty goodness.

What’s been the biggest challenge for SoupCycle so far?
We’ve been working for a while on a project to switch the containers we use. Right now, we’re using recyclable plastic containers, but we’d really like to be using more durable containers that we can reclaim from customers each week, wash and reuse. We’ve had some difficulty finding a good solution that meets all our needs, but we haven’t given up yet.

Has there been a moment that’s made you feel that all the hard work is all completely worth it?
Honestly, I feel like that most of the time. This is a great city to own a small business. People bike by us on the Hawthorne Bridge and tell us they like what we’re doing. Our customers love the soups, and it makes my day when I get an emails like the one I got last week: “We love the soup! My family always looks forward to Tuesdays”. A few weeks ago made our 3,000th bicycle-soup delivery and we feel really good about that. Yep, it’s a lot of work to own a small business, but there have been plenty of rewards.

Right now you deliver Soup, Salad and Bread. Any plans to deliver other kinds of products along with the soup?
We may eventually. We love to hear recommendations from your readers.

Where do you get your ingredients from?
We get most of our ingredients from Ladybug through Organically Grown Company.

How many people do you currently have delivering soup?
Just myself and our delivery Souper Hero Jen.

What kind of bikes do you use?
I’ve got a recumbent with an electrical assist.   Jen uses a regular upright bicycle.

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SoupCycle delivers locally made organic soups on a weekly basis starting at $18 (including fresh bread and salad). They offer vegan, vegetarian and meated options all delivered by bike!

More info on SoupCycle:

Live Blog From Portland Opera's Opening Night of Rigoletto

Rigoletto at The Portland Opera

Rigoletto at The Portland Opera

The only thing worst than a theater critic is a theater blogger. Good criticism is well thought out, reasoned and considered. I have mere moments to jot my thoughts about a production which dozens of people have toiled weeks and even months on.

Given that caveat, I can only really give my first impressions of Portland Opera‘s production of Rigoletto. Performance wise Mark Rucker is putting forward a very strong performance as Rigoletto pretty much eclipsing Richard Troxell, but both men are clearly upstaged by the sheer vocal beauty and presence of Sarah Coburn as Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter.  Coburn elevates ever scene she is in. For me the high point so far has been the duet between Gilda and Rigoletto.

I’ve had a few issues so far with the Portland Opera’s production of Rigoletto. The stage is murky and dimly lit. I understand what they are going for, but it doesn’t work. The dim stage seems to mute some of the performers on stage and in the second part of the first act after the opening number the chorus never quite is able to break out of the shadows.

The stage is also an issue. There was a huge pause between the first and second scene. Long at the point of being too long.  After touring the huge stage I can understand the issues they have with it. Hopefully the transition will go smoother the next performance.

But the Opera itself is enjoyable. I kept thinking about how Rigoletto gets cursed at work in the course of doing his job, how the issues of his work follow his home and impact his home life. Somehow this feels oddly timely. Should Rigoletto be punished for doing his job as a court jester? He’s hates the fact that he has to ridicule for a living and yet at the behest of the Duke he is forced to do it. Punished for a job he doesn’t want to do…But as a fool Rigoletto seems to be pretty sharp. Compare him to the fool in Hamlet and realize that Rigoletto is in fact a reluctant fool.

Perhaps Rigoletto is more the fool for thinking he can imprison his daughter and keep her from the world. Perhaps its this sin, the one of trying to control her that he’s ultimately punished for. Does his proximity to the Duke color his view of the world? Does he see all men as lecherous?

Like I said, these are the first things that run through my head as I watch this opera. I’ve found that I’m not reading the subtitles as much as listening and watching what’s happening on stage. I realize that I’m really drawn in when the emotion and presence of the actors is more important than ever word they say. Heck I can’t understand half the lyrics of songs I listen to on my iPod, why this need to have every word clearly defined.

The Opera is compelling and I’ll be interested to see how the next few acts are…

ACT II

The rough scene change of the first act clearly threw the performers off their game as the second act is noticeably stronger. Realized I totally forgot to mention the stellar performance by Keith Miller as Count Monterone. He’s on stage for mere moments and he’s simply fantastic. But the show is all about the duets between Rigoletto and Gilda. The opera revolves around them and the union of Mark Rucker, Sarah Coburn and conductor George Manhan is the real reason to see this opera.  Richard Troxell was much better in the second act with admittedly more to work with.

I feel remiss for not mentioning how much I’ve enjoyed the orchestration, the musical performance has been really solid. George Manhan makes you forget he’s there, nice to see a conductor so pitch perfect and so humble.

Story wise I find it interesting how Rigoletto sheds his role as the fool and tries to assume power, he shoes all the lords away and threatens his revenge on the Duke. The chorus says how you have to indulge children and madmen sometimes, but is Rigoletto either? Is the fool really able to have power? In the first act he sits on the Duke’s throne in mockery, but in act II he seems to have some real authority over the other men who seem mortified that the practical joke they plaid on him was not with his mistress but with his daughter. I love the moment they realize this, it’s the best moment with the chorus who all collectively seem to feel the same feeling at the same moment. Wish there had been more of that at the end of act I.

I love the line that Rigoletto delivers that talks about how much can change over the course of a day. What would have happened if Rigoletto just left well enough alone, listened to his daughter and accepted her love for the Duke? Is his undoing pride here?  At the top of the act it’s almost impossible to feel any sence of empathy for The Duke who thinks his love is gone, Are we being asked by Verdi to want the Duke to be dead. When you really think about it all Act 2 is pretty subversive. The Fool becomes the force of vengence and the Duke becomes the fool…  You know it doesn’t end well and yet when Rigoletto and Gilda sing together some how you wish that it could….

ACT III

The final act has all the juicy moments you go to opera for. It’s big and tragic. The one issue I have is that Richard Troxell never makes us believe that the women of Rigoletto would literally love the Duke to death. When Gilda dies in place of the Duke all I can ask is WHY? I mean she knows full well that the Duke is a womanizer. La Dona e mobile is practically an insult to women in general and the Duke professes his same “love” to Maddelen as he does to Gilda and yet she dies in his place. I can understand her trying to save her father from Sparafucile’s knife but The Duke?

Perhaps if the Duke were played more electrically we’d understand. But Troxell moves through the third act without the charisma we need to believe. He sings La Dona e mobile like it’s a greatest hits he’s had to sing over and over, but would rather be singing something else. It’s a critical moment lost. We’ve seen him profess his love to her in the first act and we needed to see him be both despicable and utterly irritable here. Maddelen sells it, Gilda sells it but the Duke doesn’t.

The high point of the third act for me is the quartet between Rigoletto, Gilda Sparafucle and Maddelen. Portland Opera’s staging of Rigolleto really comes alive outside of the solos. Heck it comes to life any time Sarah Coburn steps onto the stage.

I find myself asking… what if Rigoletto hadn’t waited to exact his revenge? He asks Sparafucile to wait to set up the hit on the Duke, is this a nod to the indecision that faced Hamlet. Had Rigoletto hired him in act one then Gilda wouldn’t have died!  And ultimately Rigoletto pays the ultimate price for his attempt at vengeance… Is Verdi siding with the royalty or covering up the subversive subplot, and what happens next?  Will Rigoletto have what it takes to face the Duke himself or is Gilda’s death his literal ruin.  A lot of stuff to chew on…

What strikes me the most is how in an opera mostly populated by male roles (and an all male chorus) it’s the women performers who shine the brightest. Both Sarah Coburn as Gilda and Jossie Perez as Maddalena are superb. While their characters fall blindly in love with the Duke, while Gilda is kidnapped and ‘ravished’ and ultimately killed, she’s still the strongest of the bunch…

In all, I enjoyed Rigoletto very much. I did have issues with the lighting, but in the face of everything else it feels like a nit. The show is worth seeing for no other reason than to see the union of Sarah Coburn, Mark Rucker and the Portland Opera orchestra. If Richard Troxell can up his game as The Duke during the run (and I truly believe he can)  it could really morph into something special, he’s the key to elevate this very good production to a really great one, if he can make us believe then it becomes something much bigger and profound.

Here are links to my fellow Portland Opera Bloggers and their take on the evening:

Other Portland Opera Rigoletto Links:

Categories: Theater Tags: ,

Back Stage at Portland Opera's Rigoletto

Here are photos and video (almost) live from backstage at the Portland Opera’s production of Rigoletto:

Back Stage Tour of Portland Opera’s Rigoletto – Part I:

Back Stage Tour of Portland Opera’s Rigoletto – Part II:

Back Stage Tour of Portland Opera’s Rigoletto – Upstairs on The Stage:

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Portland Opera's Rigolleto – The Twitter Feed

Here’s an archive of the live twitter feed from the Portland Opera’s Live Bog event:

Portland Opera's Rigoletto - Live Twitter Feed

Portland Opera's Rigoletto - Live Twitter Feed

  • Final thoughts from my Portland Opera production of Rigoletto… Live Blogged http://bit.ly/dKeKm #
  • The finale at Portland Operas Rigoletto http://yfrog.com/0e8svj #
  • Live blog up now updated with Act II of Rigoletto at Portland Operal http://bit.ly/dKeKm #
  • First act down and the opera is pretty good. Very dimly lit. Not a choice I’m really a fan of. #
  • Very long pause after the first scene as they muscle the stage change. So far I am half reading the English. Portland Opera Rigolleto. #
  • My seat at the Portland Opera Rigoletto http://yfrog.com/0ev9ij #
  • Almost time for the Opera! Rigoletto!!! #
  • great comment about this opera frokm @pxcaballero “It’s like the Law and Order of Operas” #
  • Every tried to blog with 50 or so people coming up to you and asking you what are you are doing. It’s Blogger Night at the Portland Opera #
  • Amusingly the opera’s network is called H1N1 and it’s just as slow spreading… #
  • After a nice tour of the set (which has been making the rounds for 20 years) we are on display in the lobby of the Portland Opera #
  • More back stage photos at the Portland Opera http://yfrog.com/0g8bnj #
  • Bloggers back stage at the Portland Opera http://yfrog.com/0mu2nbj #
  • Backstage at the Portland Opera http://yfrog.com/714dbj #
  • At the opera with some of the other bloggers including @culturepulp #
  • Getting an early start. Figured it was such a nice day I would take max and walk to the Portland Opera tonight. #
  • RT: @TheSquare Joe Smith heading to Portland Opera tonight for Rigoletto. It’s blogger night $10 rush tix! – @Onportland will be there too #
  • Getting psyched for the Portland Opera on Friday. Just checked out Richard Troxell’s site (The Duke of Mantua) http://www.richardtroxell.tv #
  • We will be live blogging tonight’s performance of Portland Opera’s Rigoletto. http://tinyurl.com/c85ssu #

Other Portland Opera Rigoletto Links:

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Portland Opera's Rigoletto – A Study Guide

Portland Opera Rigoletto

Portland Opera Rigoletto

The Portland Opera is hopping on the blog bandwagon with a special opportunity for a select group of bloggers to live blog the Opera with their production of Rigoletto.

On Portland will be in attendance on opening night May 8th (starting at 7:30pm at the Keller Auditorium) and will be covering the opera live here on the site as well as on twitter. Follow us @OnPortland for up to date coverage of this opera and then check in here on the site at around 9pm for the first installment of our live review  (we get to post at the first intermission).

Also if you’re going to be in the audience for opening night, let us know either here in the comments or on twitter.

In the mean time, it’s always good to study up on your opera before heading out so here are some useful bits about Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto:

Also here are some interviews with key people from the Portland Opera Production of Rigoletto:

Mark Rucker on singing Rigoletto:

Richard Troxell as the Duke:

Conductor George Manahan

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