SHANGRI-LA-LA: The most surprising thing about the 10th Annual Our House Dinner and Benefit Auction, "Shangri-La: An Asian Celebration,"wasn't that it was the organization's largest dinner ever, or that it transformed the Portland Art Museum in a plush dining hall in Tokyo, or that everyone seemed to be wearing red.
The most surprising thing I noticed at the fundraiser in support of housing and care for those who live with HIV/AIDS is that people were actually spending money...lots and lots of money.
"I really believe people are starting to loosen up again," said one patron in regards to the high bids on both the silent and live auction items. And, it was true, people did seem to be loosening up. In fact, for me, it reminded me of the heady days of the early 90's when I used to cover the social beat for a local newspaper and this town threw big benefits every day of the week. Perhaps the biggest factor in the success of this weekend's Our House benefit was it's co-chairs: Marcus Lintner and his partner, Gary Maffei (who is also on Our House's board of directors).
Just like in the good old days, the always gracious Maffei and Lintner (pictured above) were able to gather together the patrons that once attended nearly every social soiree—but are rarely seen out and about anymore—with the new kids who are starting to make a difference for the causes that are near and dear to Portlanders hearts. It was a great to see these two crowds finally mix.
SAY CHEESE WHIZ: As I had hoped, the photo I've been waiting finally dropped into my lap early Saturday morn.
It is from the Thursday night opening of the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams store off of West Burnside.
And it is of our very own Mayor Sam Adams (who presided over the MG+BW ribbon-cutting) and the most delicious drag queen ever, Lady Bunny, getting to know each other behind the turntables.
Gawd, I love this town.
And speaking of love, I love, love, love the VIP lounge MG+BW designed for Mercedes-Benz and Fashion Week NYC. Check out the swank space that is currently gracing Bryant Park below (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images North America).
NIGHT OWLS: Just because you work late doesn't mean you should miss out on all the fun, right? That was the idea behind Departure Restaurant's"special media tasting party" that didn't start until 10:30 pm and was created specifically for those members of the fourth estate who don't usually end their shift until the midnight hour. "Daytime" media was also encouraged to attend the event held at The Nines notable Asian eatery but most of the media folks sipping on high-flying cocktails and sakes, as well as nibbling on Chefs Matt Christianson and Jeremy Frice's house-pickled wild 'shrooms, Kobe meatballs with foie gras, miso black cod and “Kung Pao” style chicken oysters, were those dreamy news folks you stare at on your television screen right before you go to sleep including KATU's Craig Birnbach, Meghan Kalkstein, KGW sports-dudes Adam Bjaranson and Joe Becker, FOX's Sophie Soong, Andrew Padula, Brent Weisberg, and Jim Hyde pictured above with KOIN's Kelley Day.
BUNNY HUTCH: Watching the one and only Lady Bunny—yes, THAT LADY BUNNY—take a bite into a bacon donut from Voodoo Doughnuts right before my very eyes...well, It was just too good for words. Although Lady B did say to me: "I'm not going to actually eat the bacon...that would be cannibalism." A cross between Miss Piggy and Joey Heatherton—and one of the Big Apple's most notorious and notable drag performers—Lady Bunny was in town to DJ for the grand re-opening of the Mitchell Gold + Bob Wiliams home furnishings store on Southwest 11th and West Burnside. Now, if you thought that Brewery Blocks boutique was closed...well...it was, but only for a brief time. In fact, Gold and Williams themselves decided to re-open the Portland outlet as their own, rather than have someone else do the heavy lifting (i.e.: a franchisee). The grand re-opening was a benefit for the Q Center and included, what was I told, an appearance by Mayor Sam Adams. I wish I could've seen Bunny take a bite out of Sam, but unfortunately I had to race off to another event (hence the pre-party photos of Bunny and Williams—Gold couldn't make it due to the East Coast Snowmaggedon—and my lack of being able to grab one of their adorable swag bags).
CAJUN SENSATIONS: Morrison Child and Family Service's delicious "Cooking For Kids" program—where Portland's best eating establishments turn out tasty dishes in support of this worthwhile organization—did the near impossible last night: pair sizzling Southern comfort food with subtle Northwest wines. It all took place at Southeast's Simpatica Dining Hall (the meal was a collaboration with sister restaurant Laurelhurst Market) where Chef Benjamin Dyer was more than up to the challenge with a menu that included cajun barbecue shrimp, chicory salad with braised tasso, andouille and duck confit gumbo and choco-cinnamon beignets. The spicy vittles were paired perfectly with Scott Paul Wines, including a 2007 La Paulee Pinot Noir. On a cold and windy night the hand-crafted cajun courses (which diners witnessed being created in Simpatica's spacious kitchen) hit just the right tone for a post-Superbowl, pre-Fat Tuesday mid-week meal.