Wednesday 10 August 2016

Cheers to Oregon hospitality

Most of a travel writer's life - like any writer's, really - is solitary. The writing part is self-explanatory, but add to that the nuts and bolts of the travel bit: all the standing, sitting, walking and eating alone; plus holding your own in a guide-plus-just-you scenario, which can get wearing on a multi-day trip. But occasionally there are social episodes, like on a group famil (only if the group gels well, though, which doesn't always happen), and at events like yesterday's lunch in Ponsonby.
Travel Oregon were our hosts this time, and very welcoming they were too. The media gatherings that I get invited to (separate from the travel agent do's - they have different requirements and priorities) are usually held in a bar or restaurant, involve name badges, business card lucky dips, free-flowing drinks, plenty of food, not too much in the way of speechifying, and a bag of gifts.
Since it's Oregon, and there can't be anyone now who doesn't know about Portland's craft beer culture, there was plenty of beer and beer talk, and an associated rise in the amount and volume of non-beer talk. I enjoyed the beer, especially the Bridgeport Kingpin red ale, and even the stout - though the suggestion of taking it with a scoop of icecream in it was more alarming than enticing, for me. Wine is a thing there too now, but the focus was on the brown stuff for this event, so I only got a taste of the pinot noir and too fleeting a glimpse of the label to identify it - but it was very nice too.
Of course there were sliders - when are there not, these days (and that isn't a complaint) - and pulled pork and beef, plus Dungeness crab cakes and chicken in hot sauce, and salads and yummy super-crispy chips, and lots more good stuff like salmon chowder. It was a feast, the most food I've eaten in one go since Christmas, so well done Travel Oregon and Ponsonby Central.

I was lucky to win a prize, my third this year after the Keith Urban-signed guitar in New Orleans, and a trip to Indonesia at another event of this sort (which probably isn't going to happen because it's travel agent-focused, see above) - so I suppose that's it for the year. This time it was a really stylish pair of wooden-framed sunglasses, and a hoodie. Again, thank you, Travel Oregon.

I was invited because I've made it known that I would like to go there next year, so I hope it happens. Coast, mountains, forest, good food, wine and beer - yes, I know we've got all that here in NZ, just as accessibly; but it's bigger there, and the flavours are all different, and there's bound to be lots besides that's properly unique, so I hope it happens. Especially so I can get a chance to hoe into more of that delicious gourmet Moose Munch popcorn. Chocolate coated, y'all*!
*Yes, I know that's southern, but it's a hard habit to break.

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