This is the time of year I have to be outside. I am like a caged animal if I am indoors during a warm and sunny day. The inside of my home becomes severely neglected in the spring and summer, and I am quite certain the DEQ is monitoring for toxic fumes and accumulation of garbage, but I have the rainy cool winter months to restore my home to a safe range of filth. I consider myself a single mother with three boys—19, 23, and 59 years old. This precludes me from ever having a tidy home, anyways, and gives me an excuse for a messy home. So when Mark asks me what I would like to do this weekend, an outdoor venue is a prerequisite. Today we decided to go on a guided tour of the Hoyt Arboretum.
In all the years we have called Portland our home, we have never been to the Hoyt Arboretum, but now that we have discovered this natural treasure, we will be back. Located along the upper ridge of Washington Park, it includes 189 acres of 6000 species of trees, 12 miles of hiking trails (2 miles of trails are wheelchair accessible), and is free to the public. For a $3 donation there are 90 minute guided tours most Saturdays, if you meet at the Visitor Center at noon. Roger, our charming and sagacious tour guide, gives the tree and plant life a voice by telling their history of medicinal, structural, and cultural uses, and basic lessons of botany. The beautiful grounds beckon us to take a hike after our educational and entertaining tour. The paved and dirt trails are well maintained and the dog owners are particularly well-mannered. All the dogs were leashed, non growling or non barking, and no excrement was noted on any of the trials which is more than I can say for the dog owners in my neighborhood. None of the trails were particularly challenging, at most just soft rolling hills to conquer.
The extra miles we put in hiking, earned us a late lunch/early dinner. The evergreen trees and rolling hills of the Hoyt Arboretum must have channeled my inner Bavarian bar maid because we were off to the German restaurant and pub, Stammtisch (Despite my German ancestry, I had no idea “stammtisch” is a German word for informal get-together). We were welcomed into a old burgundy brick building with furnishings much like good German stock: simple, solid and utilitarian. Its large windows open to the street, evoking a feeling of eating outdoors. The menu is great because it has options and portion sizes for every appetite. I went for the medium sized Maultaschen, a pasta filled with leek fondue and topped with asparagus and mushrooms in a white wine sauce. It was like a fried ravioli with a tart mouth-watering sauce. It may sound a bit decadent for a late lunch, but the menu is honest with its portions. With just four chewy-licious triangular morsels of pasta, I still had room for the creamy caramel house made bananas foster ice cream.
One would think that dining at a German establishment would be regrettable for me since I am not a beer drinker. But that is only true of people that have never sampled German cocktails. The cocktail I had at Stammtisch could force one to put away the beer stein permanently. A country that bases its inebriation on beer could be less conscientious about their cocktails. Not true for Stammtisch. I was intoxicated—figuratively, not literally—by the intriguing flavors of a little potion called, “Mailed.” I love cocktails with mysterious ingredients that are unknown to me. In addition to vodka and lemon, my cocktail had apfelcorn (an apple schnapps) and underberg (a herbal bitter). It was both tart and sweet and so was I, after drinking it.
Various Hoyt Arboretum Photos
I vaguely remember walking in Hoyt Arboretum as a kid. Or maybe not. We used to play the golf course that used to be near the Arboretum, maybe that is what I remember. When I play golf I spend a lot of time in the trees.
Saturdays at noon they offer guided tours of the Arboretum and it is an excellent way to get both a short hike in as well as learn about the plants in the arboretum.
Rodger was our guide as we wandered the firs, oaks and magnolias of the park, hearing about the science and ethnobiology of the plants for two hours. Rodger is well versed in Native American lore and talked at length about how these plants were used by the indigenous peoples. It took a lot of effort to stay alive back in the day. An excellent tour that covered only a fraction what is to be seen in the arboretum. There are nine miles of trails wandering through the arboretum so after the tour we wandered around more of the park.
The purpose of hiking is so I can justify eating and drinking. My brother had suggested Stammtisch in NE Portland as a place for good food and beer.
Stammtisch is a German bier pub. Too much alcohol and even Germans can’t spell beer properly. The usual wood booths, but with large open windows so it felt like you were outside (they do have street-side tables as well) and decorated with a German motif.
All the beers are German and they are not like NW beers, less hoppy, more fruity and/or metallic, which I like. I tried a variety, but it would have been nice to have a tasters menu. The most difficult part of the restaurant is not shouting “Zicke Zacke Zicke Zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi.” I’ll have to wait until October.
The food was German; duh. I went for the potato pancakes and the mussels in cream. Both perfect. The service prompt and attentive, he recognized that more bread was needed to clean up the sauces, a rare trait in a waiter. The spaetzle and weinerschnitzel that passed by guarantee a return visit to give them a try. I screwed up on the dessert: I had the Apple Strudel but I should have asked. Walnuts and raisins, the two foods that ruin everything they touch. But that is me, not the restaurant.
Various Hoyt Arboretum Photos