December 1st has come and gone, yet what do we really know about this noblest of days? It is the gateway day to all other holidays occurring this month, with out the 1st, you have no other days. Also, it’s my birthday! After some snooping, I found that several noteworthy events also happened on this very day: World AIDS Day happens every year on this day, and held its first event in 1988. The game of BINGO is “created”.  Although variations have existed for centuries and the actual date and year vary depending on where you read, let’s just say it was December 1st, approximately 1929. Rosa Parks is infamously arrest in 1955 on this day, while refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Pablo Escobar, notorious drug lord and cocaine kingpin, also born on this day in 1949. And perhaps the most thrilling of events, Michael Jackson releases Thriller (see what I did there??) on December 1st, 1982. Best birthday ever.

Fast forward a few years, and here I am writing about my most recent birthday adventure. I wanted to experience something new in my city and asked my sister to join me. She also happens to be an exceptional photographer and owns her own business, Beth Olson Creative. Because December tends to be an indulgent month for most, I wanted to ensure that this first day was no different. We pursued decadence of the chocolate persuasion, and Portland certainly does not disappoint.

Our first stop was The Meadow , a boutique gourmet salt and chocolate shop which also showcases an impressive choice of bitters, fresh flowers, and wine. My god! Why would we need to go any where else? The bottles and chocolates that lined the wood shelving resembled a charming European apothecary, and I left with 0.6oz bottle of Alaska Alder Smoked salt.

Beautiful and fresh, the flowers at The Meadow are a welcomed sight in December. And yes, those are walls of chocolate bars.

Beautiful and fresh, the flowers at The Meadow are a welcomed sight in December.

One of many choices of gourmet salts to choose from.

One of many choices of gourmet salts to choose from.

I'm very intrigued with this wall of salt, and I want to sample them all!

I’m very intrigued with this wall of salt, and I want to sample them all!

Our second and third destinations had nothing to do with chocolate, but everything to do with getting a pre-lunch drink or two. The Doug Fir Lounge has a modernist log cabin theme, with ample bar seating, and fireplaces located inside, and out on the patio. The downstairs lounge is a music venue which hosts local and international musicians and acts. And it’s sexy as hell!

The Doug Fir's famous glowing floors.

The Doug Fir’s famous glowing floors. credit: flickr user Beyond Neon

My sister and I shared the eggs benedict with polenta, and I ordered a spicy, fully loaded Bloody Mary- meat, pickled veggies, booooooze.

Notice all the spicy, fully loaded action!

Notice all the spicy, fully loaded action!

About half way through my Bloody Mary I had to leave for a quick appointment at Wax On Spa Portland, the East Burnside location, just 2 blocks down. The esthetician on duty was adorable and very friendly and informed me that I would receive a shot of whiskey for booking a service. 15 minutes later-upper lip smooth, belly warm- I rejoin my sister and we head out to consume more chocolate.

Icons, Bon Bons, Bars, Toffee & Bark, Caramel Sauces. This my friends, is Portland’s own Alma Handmade Chocolates, located in the Kerns neighborhood on NE 28th Ave. I will let the photos do the talking, but I will say this: eat the Thai peanut butter cup. Just put the whole damn thing in your mouth.

Let the party begin.

Let the party begin.

It is exactly like a kid in a candy shop.

It is exactly like a kid in a candy shop.

Gold-leafed Icons.

Gold-leafed Icons.

Thai peanut butter cup and a pistachio inspired treat.

Thai peanut butter cup and a pistachio inspired treat.

Next, we entered the den of the devil: Cacao. Straight from their website, “Cacao features a hand picked selection of chocolate from around the world, including the best premium solid chocolate bars from small producers, select chocolate from the best local chocolatiers and North American makers, and our house-made drinking and hot chocolates.” 

Cacao, 712 SW Salmon St.  PDX

Cacao, 712 SW Salmon St. PDX

We savor a trio of drinking chocolates. Absolute decadence in a convenient 3oz cup.Cacao Drinking Chocolate on SW 13th Ave.

Drinking chocolate does not come in liquid form.

Drinking chocolate does not come in liquid form.

As I put this post together, I can recall how magical a cup of drinking chocolate can be. I recommend you all go out and try it immediately, and Cacao has some tasty recipes on their website to make at home!

Martinottis' Cafe Deli on SW 10th Ave.

“We have beautiful, mature wines from most anywhere!”

Our quickest stop was at Martinotti’s Cafe & Deli downtown Portland on SW 10th Ave. I was expecting a thriving Italian cafe, with gelato and wine flowing, but what we encountered instead was a sad little shop that needed some TLC! The potential is there, I just hope the owners will see it and breath life back into this darling location. I spied a grand wood bar in the back that was just dying to be polished and sat at again, but was currently being used to hold boxes. Sigh.

Interesting Italian products at every turn.

Interesting Italian products at every turn.

We quickly decided we needed a drink after that disappointment, and crossed the street to Clyde Common, an open tavern style bar, showcasing a rotating menu of fresh and local NW foods. But we came for a drink. And as anyone who has turned 33 years old knows, the only appropriate drink for a day such as this, is a Manhattan. It literally made me feel like a better person.

Life affirming drinks at Clyde Common.

Life affirming drinks at Clyde Common.

It’s obvious that birthdays can be indulgent and a little over the top when it comes to how the day is planned. However, the idea for this day began with my interest in wanting to try out some new places in my city. I narrowed it down to a few things I enjoy: chocolate, booze, walking. I mixed in a few of my favorite spots with some new ones, and the day turned out brilliant. So I challenge you, dear readers, to discover one new place in your neighborhood or city this weekend. Invite a friend and you can split any costs at the bar/cafe/show. Remember, you can also head over to a new park or take a stroll through that ridiculously extravagant neighborhood you have never been to- they’re gonna have the ultimate Christmas decorations! Leave a comment and let me know what you discover!

Next time on Graveyard Shift Travel: I will recap a few of my microadventures from around the city, AND I have an exciting house sitting assignment coming up at the very end of the month!

“Y NO ME DIGAS POBRE POR IR VIAJANDO ASI. NO VES QUE ESTOY CONTENTA? NO VES QUE VOY FELIZ?”

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