Something Old, Something New

27 01 2013

I recently took my work to a quiet café, a quaint place that perfectly fed my creative juices. Thoughts flowed. Notes streamed onto paper. Conversations at neighboring tables ignored (ok, mostly). A quick bit of self-advice jotted in the margin, “Carry reading glasses at all times.” Wait, really? When did that happen? Between pausing to adjust my vision and contemplating how much personal 411 I’m bold enough to reveal, I realized that amid my excitement to share information lurks an underlying struggle: To stretch beyond a certain, comfortable journalistic style and unveil aspects of my life that have been excluded in print thus far. I have many “Northwesty” places and ideas to tell about, and to adequately cover it all, I could be facts-heavy or strictly adhere to my beloved AP Style. So, my personal challenge is to omit some details and add some me.

This café I alluded to is Monti’s Café located at 8600 SE Stark in Portland. It provides plenty of seating in the form of large, wooden library tables that hold soft-lit lamps and decks of playing cards. Loaded bookshelves for your reading enjoyment surround half of the tables. The view overlooks an antique mall, so you can people-watch or get a jump on your shopping. Monti’s bakes fresh pastries and cookies daily. I recommend the English Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie. It’s ginormous. It’s chewy. It’s sweet with a hint of saltiness. Need I say more? On these winter days, indulge in a drink from the espresso bar that serves Portland Roasting coffee, warm soup or a classic sandwich with a yummy twist such as capers or curry. These sandwiches also come as paninis. What sandwich isn’t better grilled and melted together? Monti’s Café offers breakfast items and salads as well. Monti’s Café is open daily, early morning through early evening depending on the day. Call (503) 256-8300.

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A trip to Monti’s must include a stroll through the adjacent Monticello Antique Marketplace that hosts over 100 dealers. You’re certain to find a treasure in this warehouse-sized mall filled with books, linens, clothing, jewelry, toys, dishes and gadgets galore. Half of Monticello is dedicated to the Furniture Showroom and to the Indoor Salvage Garden complete with gazebos, garden gates, trellises, birdbaths, fences, fountains, tables and chairs. Working fountains and CD’s playing background bird songs enhance time spent poking around the garden décor.

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Even my kids like being there and constantly say, “Mom, look at this!” Honestly, I can hardly shop with the interruptions, but I love that they appreciate history in everyday items. It’s fun to see what catches their individual eyes. Historical markers such as newspapers, money, war mementos, and printing devices call to Andrew. Hannah flocks to purses, jewelry, and anything animal. Adam notices the toys—many that I once had, but we won’t go there. Monticello Antique Marketplace also consigns items and is open daily, varying times. Call (503) 256-8600.

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If you aren’t able to visit this particular place, try out an antique mall local to you and add a touch of whimsical history to your home. Also, patronize a neighborhood café and support your own community and local business owners. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite hangout.

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