20 December 2006

Market day in Recife

7 November 2006

Recife tapioca stand
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
I’ve always felt that the best gauge of the true pulse of a city is to wander the streets during one of the day’s busiest times. While the tour group perused the gift shops at Casa Cultural for a little souvenir shopping, I slipped outside for a brisk walk through the teeming side streets of the central market district in Recife.

The call of the vendors, the clap of the hands to signal a potential customer, the stalls of leather belts and sandals, pyramids of fruit stacked at the ready, and the smell of street food such as grilled meat or tapioca omelets create the seamless ebb and flow of daily living. You can purchase most of your household necessities within a radius of only four or five blocks.

Recife fruit stand

Throngs of pedestrians crossing the bridge as the work day ends are treated to a serenade by a local folk duo who has positioned themselves at the bridge entrance. Some stop to listen, to shuffle a few dance steps with a partner, or to drop a few coins before continuing on to complete the evening shopping on the way home. There is a sense of purpose in their stride, and yet an air of leisure as the people of the city begin to unwind from the cares and worries of the day.

10 December 2006


Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
A few months after I moved to Salem, I met Liz. We soon discovered that we share a birthday (along with a healthy appreciation for gelato and all things Italian).

When November arrived, I posed the question, "What are we going to do for our birthday this year?" while thinking silently to myself that it should be decadent and involve chocolate.

So last Thursday we cleared some space in our schedules to celebrate at Pix Patisserie, a little corner shop in Portland that has grown to three locations. We stood for several moments in front of the pastry case transfixed by the array of eye-catching delicacies.

How does one choose between Almond cream, chocolate ganache, and orange vanilla bean crème brulée all piled into a buttery tart shell and Chocolate mousse blanketing a crisp hazelnut praline filling and dacquoise base surrounded by a mosaic of nougatine?

In the end, we couldn’t settle for just one…

04 December 2006

Astoria the Divine

sunset at low tide
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Now, if the students I worked with this past weekend heard me use such an adjective in conjuction with their small town, they'd no doubt be perplexed and perhaps even roll their eyes. I know. I grew up in an even smaller town further up the river, and you never think your hometown is anything special. That is, until you return years later and see it in another light.

I arrived in Astoria on Friday afternoon just in time to catch an inspiring sunset across Youngs Bay. When the area isn't shrouded in fog, you can truly see some amazing vistas.

That night I conducted training for ten Alumni Teen Leaders, high school students I initially met as new leaders last year. It's fun to reconnect with them and see how they're growing in confidence and individuality. It's an aspect of my work that is really gratifying, and makes the long days and sterile hotel rooms more bearable.

So yes, the sunsets were stunning, but the truly divine part? The discovery of possibly the best rocky road brownie in Oregon. As you crest the top of the hill and turn onto Niagara Avenue, you'll pass a small store called the Peter Pan Market. Neither the name nor the storefront will beckon to you, but if you pass on by you'll also miss the perfect blend of cake-like brownie speckled with walnuts, chocolate chips, and marzipan beneath a thin layer of chocolate frosting. Mmm...it's a good thing I pass through Astoria only once or twice a year.