Friday, April 28, 2017

Porto Tonic Part 2: Vinho do Porto

Porto on Palm Sunday is a joy to behold. The blue and white of the azulejo tiles sparkle through the freshly-cut lattice of palm fronds and bells usher in the celebration from their lofty perches high over cobblestone lane-ways and hidden squares.

But even on a day that marks the oldest of traditions the new and the hip is always lurking just around the corner.  That's Porto, an effortless blend of history and hashtag, as smooth as a 30 year old tawny Port and as edgy as the political satire dripping off the street artist's brush.

Look Dad, no stalls. I can drive a manual with one hand, what's your problem?

Daddy, you said you wanted to immerse me in other cultures. You do know European kids have their first glass of sangria by 18 months...

Hate to break it to you folks, but the fact we rolled a stroller up here onto the battlements suggests your defenses aren't quite as impenetrable as you make out. At least you can admire your five star TripAdvisor ranking while you wait for the tower to fall.

The next time you manage a photo without the baby the 2017 Port batch will be a 15 year old vintage.

Only 2,786 stairs to go to get to the river. This could take as long as a blog update.

No wonder the Portuguese passed on Columbus' grand plans. Who needs a New World when you've got views like this from your front porch?

How is it possible a bridge built in 1881 is more impressive than anything New York-New Jersey has managed to construct since? It seems getting barrels of Port across the river is a powerful incentive.

Just like the rest of Porto the old and new blend seamlessly: a gondola connects directly to the bridge to whisk you effortlessly down to the Port aging caves on the far bank of the river.

So Daddy, is your Port tasting as good as my organic quinoa pouch tasting?

The way most wine tastings end: someone struggling to walk the line.

Ready to roll out for the New World? Hope you upgraded to the extra-legroom lifeboat row.

Daddy, it's way past sleepy time? It's ok son, we're from Manhattan, we just assume the whole world operates on our time.

Oh no, did Queen Isabelle cut your voyage budget again? Galleons are out, time to downsize.

If this is what bankruptcy looks like, sign me up. Bailouts pair nicely with sangria.

So Ry Ry, what does a PIIG say? Nothing, he's too busy gorging himself at Draghi's free money trough.

Daddy, what's a blog? It's like your dinner, something that never seems to get finished.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Porto Tonic Part 1: Oh Porto!

Ok son, here's the plan: when they drag Daddy down the aisle kicking and screaming make sure you hit that button with the little blue birdy on it. Bonus animal crackers if you find a witty way to incorporate #reaccommodate while it's still trending.

What strange new business model is this? Instead of black eyes they hand out bags of kid's swag? Even if you're not Global Services?! That's borderline socialism!

Ladies and gentlemen, it's your captain speaking. We're clear of American airspace, I'm going to turn off the fasten seat belt sign now, there's no further risk you'll be yanked from your chair.

Oporto, Portugal's second biggest city, hits that elusive sweet spot on the graffiti-to-street art continuum. That fleeting moment in time before you get Williamsburged and every second mural becomes a Sketchers ad in disguise.

Nothing says hipster like overpriced tea enjoyed from the comforts of a ubiquitous mid-century modern chair.

Lots of cobblestones in King's Landing, no wonder the cool kids ride on dragons, it's not very stroller-friendly.

The 2.5 Amigos.

The oldest part of town is perched on a steep hill that rises up from the banks of the Douro River. Man up, if Magellan can circumnavigate the globe in little more than a dingy you can get a stroller to the top.

So this bookstore apparently inspired J.K. Rowling's Hogwarts. Which, in this social media age, means it also inspires a gigantic queue. Luckily all those hapless muggles in line seem to have missed the fact you can just book a time online.

The fountain of youth. Drink deeply and you may be inspired to download Snapchat.

The famous azulejos tiles made monochromatic hip long before Instagram came along.

Looks like the kind of cultured establishment where distinguished gentlemen recline in patent leather arm chairs and ruminate on the day's proceedings over a glass of port. In other words, what's the wifi password?

The official drink of the J00ster Journal, Porto Tonic, a refreshing and fizzy blend of, wait for it, port and tonic. Note the bicycle on the wall in the background, clearly this is a drink destined for big things in Brooklyn.

Peak hipster is nigh! First the cunning bearded class lured unsuspecting diners out into the muddy fields to forage for their own entrees while they laughed all the way to the cold-pressed juice bar. Now they've taken things to a whole new level: grate your own eggs biatch, and pay us for the privilege.

The best way to Amazon-proof your bookstore is to install a serpentine wooden staircase. You won't find that on Prime. Actually you probably do, but not on two-hour delivery.

So Dad, what's that spell again that makes cheeseburgers materialize? AbraMcDabra?

Don't worry Ryan, after loading up on Portuguese custard tarts there's no way you'll fit down the rabbit hole.

The ultra-hip town square has a lineup of boutique shops and eateries downstairs while the roof has been converted into an elevated park, complete with rooftop bar.

Daddy, why are we having bath time so early? Is it sleepy time already?

Mommy, is gin Portuguese for shampoo? Why do we need so many bottles, you washed my hair last night.

Son, when you grow up you can drink shampoo in the bathtub too.

Being a seafaring city Oporto's specialty is canned sardines. Which sounds a bit mundane, until you see that the elaborate shop that peddles the wares comes complete with a sardine carousel. Plus you can buy vintage tins from every year back to the early-1900s. Anyone up for the gold-plated pre-GFC vintage?

Not to be outdone, purveyors of the other local specialty - fish croquettes - have upped the ante with a precision-engineered mechanical cog system. Although a more detailed examination suggests it has less to do with the production process and more to do with luring tourists through the door.

Forget New York subway tiles, there's a new tile in hipsterdom.

The perfect wheels for cruising Bedford Avenue. With the L-train shutdown it would be like catching sustainably-farmed fish in a reclaimed oak barrel.

Because of course a curated knick-knack shop has a Pavlova speakeasy hidden in the back. You know, a reminder of those dark days during the Pavlova Prohibition.

Rocking the Bock. The Flash Bock version is lurking somewhere on the Dark Webs, next to an illicit Database Concepts cheat sheet.

The Douro River, still the source of the town's ridiculously fresh river-to-table bounty. And now the source of its Instagram bounty too.

In the running for Dad of the Year: the guy who navigated the 76m spiral staircase of Clérigos Tower without waking up the kid. The clincher would be making it back down...

All roads eventually lead back to Porto Tonics on the rooftop. Plus now it's actually bath time.