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Some MNB readers/friends of mine invited me to join them at a highly respected wine store called Vino, located on SE 28th Avenue in Portland … and I came away understanding why it is so highly regarded.

It is pretty unassuming physically, but they’ve generated tremendous loyalty from customers with a terrific selection, weekend tastings that are linked to some real bargains, and a regular Friday night “Flights” feature that offers “a flight of five wines for $10, with two or three bonus pours for an extra charge. (Top picture.) Pacific Northwest pinot noirs often are featured, though the exceedingly hot weather last Friday night meant a late switch to whites and a rosé. Vino also encourages folks to bring their own snacks and food to enjoy while tasting; while we nibbled on fruit and cheese, the folks at the tAble next to us brought a pizza.

What they do, I think, is manage to make all the various wines they have highly accessible, which is very good for business. Among the wines we tasted and that I really liked last Friday were the 2016 Owen Roe Mirth Chardonnay … the 2015 J Christopher "Cristo Misto” … the 2016 Bow & Arrow Melon, from the Willamette Valley … and the 2016 Helioterra Pinot Noir Rose.

All were wonderful, just as the night was. And I thought to myself, this is how you run a tasting and a wine store. Unlike some places, where the owners want you to know how clever and superior they are, Vino is relaxed, congenial and highly approachable.

The heat in Portland - often in the nineties, and occasionally shooting above 100 - hasn’t really bothered me; after all, at home in Connecticut, temperatures that high generally are accompanied by sky-high humidity, which is actually what gets you. But many Portlanders seem to have found it to be pretty unbearable…

Among them were the folks who run the gorgeous Commons Brewery, on the corner of SE 7th and Belmont. I love the space - lots of brick, big windows, and an open, unpretentious floor plan. (Middle picture.) No air conditioning, though.

I went there last week to meet a friend, got there at about 4:15 pm and ordered a Loud & Clear IPA. I asked what sort of food they served, and was told that they weren’t opening the kitchen that day because of the heat, and actually would be closing up the place at 5 pm.

Really? I suggested, gently and respectfully, that warm weather actually was a good time to sell beer … but selling beer was the last thing on their minds that day. They just wanted to find a place with air conditioning.

So we left at 5, and went someplace else.

Loved the IPA, though. I’ll be back, but on a cooler day.

Did you ever have one of those places that you passed by all the time, but for some reason never entered even though it looked kind of cool?

There are a bunch of those places here in Portland, but one that I’ve always meat to patronize was a place called The River Pig, over on NW 13th Avenue. This summer, I decided that it was time to check it out … and it was very much worth the wait.

The decor is kind of outdoorsy and cool, but I’m always a little less focused on that than the food and drink. In this case, it was amazingly great shrimp tacos, washed down with Point Blank Red Ale. (Bottom picture.) Then, I decided to try something called Brody's Apple Pie Moonshine, which is made somewhere in the Oregon Valley. It was a little sweet for my taste, but pleasingly strong, and I drank a small jar of it because, well, it would’ve been rude not to finish.

Then I went home and slept like a baby.

I want to recommend the movie Detroit to you. Detroit is written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the team that brought us The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, so they’ve got credibility with based-on-a-real-story projects.

The movie takes place during the 1967 Detroit riots, and most of the film focuses on an incident that took place at the Algiers Hotel, where several white cops were accused of abusing African Americans who they suspected of shooting at them. Detroit is tension-filled and, while we don’t tend to learn very much about the characters, it doesn’t really matter … this is not a character study, but an indictment of a time when there was “us” and “them,” seen through the prism of one appalling, sickening incident.

There are some very good performances in the film, but to me the undeniable stars are Bigelow and Boal. There has been some controversy about whether this film should’ve been made by a white director and screenwriter, but for me they get a lot of credit just for making it. It is a serious movie about a serious subject made by and for serious people.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.


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