Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Picnics

I love Portland, OR. I cannot think of another city that has its combination of atmosphere, entertainment and love of food. We often visit for the Oregon Brewer's Festival, but last month we made the trek to watch the Vancouver Whitecaps take on the Portland Timbers in USL1 soccer action.

We lost the game 2-0.

Fortunately for us, the food more than made up for the loss. But rather than visit Portland's exceptional restaurant scene (which we did the first night) we made our way to the Portland Farmer's Market at PSU and gathered some tasty tidbits for a picnic, riverside in Tom McCall Park.

On the menu: pate from Chop, frommage frais from Monteillet, fresh strawberries and a loaf of bread from Delphina's. The wine you see was not procured from the market. Rather it was from Vino Paradiso, who have the brilliant offer of 1/2 price bottles for anything from their by-the-glass list. This Spanish white was bright and fresh and a perfect addition to the picnic.

I mention the wine for several reasons:
  1. It was excellent.
  2. The concept of off-sales for 1/2 price is brilliant!
  3. While enjoying the wine in a public park, we were not bothered by police or anyone for that matter. I understand the law is the law. But sometimes our liquor laws in BC are so puritan.

The second picnic? On our last day in Portland, we dropped by Kenny & Zukes Deli for some of their famous pastrami & corned beef. "Zuke" is Nick Zukin, a friend of mine from my eGullet days. I've shown him the best of Vancouver, he's shared his Portland favorites with me. These are the sorts of friends you want to keep around.

Now the plan was to have a big breakfast before the drive home ... but we were full from the day before, an affliction we often suffer in Portland. So the plan changed, and we took 1/2 a pound each of pastrami & corned beef to have later with some baguette on the drive home.

The scenery wasn't as pretty as Portland. But the Washington State DOT has several very serviceable rest stops. Concrete picnic tables, clean washrooms, and FREE coffee. You can even get some home made cookies for a buck from some friendly volunteers.

The meat was awesome. The pastrami was almost as good as mine (insert knowing wink here) but the corned beef was perfect. All we needed was some saurkraut and we'd be set.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Just Scratching the Surface

A new line of tile from Ann Sacks introduced me to a new term: "sgraffato." Sgraffato is technique where a surface is scratched to create design and texture. Each of these tiles is a one-off, but certain motifs are followed to allow for some pretty stunning murals.

Perhaps not for an entire backsplash, but I could imagine something like this behind the cooktop.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Idea Monday: No Wires Attached

The Leviton Wireless Sensing Solution combines the energy saving benefits of occupancy sensors with self-powered and wireless technologies.

From an energy-saving point of view, occupancy sensors are a no-brainer. In fact, this technology is law in countries like France. I won’t lie … it takes some getting used to. But after a couple days you’ll find yourself wandering through your house or apartment with a smug grin on your face. Why? You’ll never worrying about finding a light switch again, and you’ll have reduced your carbon footprint that much further.

As if that wasn’t enough, the whole system is wireless. Simply wire the Wireless Wall Switch Receiver into a standard light switch, mount the remote sensor on the ceiling, and add as many wireless switches as you like, and you’re done! No new wires, no holes in the wall, no wondering why the light in the other room doesn’t work because your electrician accidentally disconnected the wrong wire.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Proof Apple is Evil Empire 2.0

Paul over at Kitchen and Residential Design gives his review of the new iPhone app from Benjamin Moore. Called "Ben" (after BM's new line of Ben paints), the app allows you to match colours from photos you take with the BM colour catalogue.

If the iPhone learns how to draft, I'm in trouble.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yin Yang Island

First of all, you've probably noticed a lack of content on Useful Spaces. Fact is, my paying job just got really busy and time has been scarce. I haven't forgotten you, but money talks.

This beauty of an island comes to us from Japan's Toyo Kitchen. Called the Isola S, it can be re-arranged into a variety of shapes to suit its use and environment. It features a 3 burner cooktop, a sink and more LED lights than they used on the set of Battlestar Galactica.

Toyo has no North American distributors I can find (I don't read kanji, sorry), so you'll be importing this one yourself!
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