If you want to see, learn, and experience new things, you absolutely have to be ready to:
It’s been a while since I got good and lost in this city. That’s not me bragging about my sense of direction. Quite the opposite, it’s a lament that I haven’t found the time lately to get too far out of my comparatively small corner of the city of Portland. In all fairness, that’s not unreasonable. I’m a busy guy with a stressful full-time day job, a niche-popular industry blog, and roughly two days a week to get the rest of my adult business done, and then a tight budget that means that- if I can afford to eat out- I’m more likely to hit up my locals or places where I know I’ll be happy.
I know which bars near me have the best beer lists, which places have food I like, where I’m likely to meet friends if I want to be sociable and where I’ll be left alone if I’m not. There are few pleasures in life quite like the confluence of a cold rainy night, a warm coat, and a dark hearty beer by yourself in the corner of a warm bar.
What that means, however, is that finding new restaurants to try in this foodie wonderland has taken a back seat to convenience and practicality. I’m a food writer, dammit. I need to write about food. I need to make new stuff, find new stuff, and try new stuff so that I can write about new stuff. That or slip further down the spiral that strangely tends to lead people into their own navels and up their own asses at the same time. I have no interest in my writing turning into a human Klein Bottle, so that means I need to be more proactive in my researching AND dining experiences around Portland.
Lately I learned that the best barbecue place I’ve found in Portland is closing down. Two weeks of bad business was all it took to leave them without a way forward, let alone a shot at surviving the winter. Rising cost of ingredients, rent, bills, and the pressures of the pandemic took their toll too.
Like most great food lately, I found Holy Trinity by accident. Some friends who knew I was a beer geek asked me why I never went to John’s Marketplace- a veritable supermarket of beer on SE Powell Boulevard. John’s happened to have a food pod set up next to them (with a connected outdoor biergarden,) and Holy Trinity was in there along with Jojo’s (another amazing place with possibly the best fried chicken in Portland. It’s at least in the Top 3… a list will be forth coming.) Jojo’s is yet another place I found out about because one of my former managers got a job there and told me about them.
I got to eat Holy Trinity’s Texas Barbecue twice so far before they close down on the 23rd, so at least there’s that. The fact that I got only that though, and the fact that there are likely a thousand more legendary hole-in-the-wall places in this city alone that I won’t get to try simply because of time and money, is an endless frustration.
Alas, I’m a long way from being able to make food writing my full-time job, and even farther from being able to have someone pay me to go find these places and write about the city’s delicious food scene and the people that make it. If you always have time (and money) for the things you make time (and money) for, then I need to start putting some of those things aside to go find new places to eat.
As weird as it sounds, I need to start treating eating out as a hobby. I need to put as much love into it as I do my homebrewing, and as much research into it as I do my baking. Treating it like a hobby is- ironically- the best way I can start making it a profession, and finally write more reviews of restaurants than eulogies.
What’s something you wish you could put more time and effort into? Drop it in the comments!