Barbara’s Birthday

Barbara likes what she likes. And I try to make her birthday full of likes.

She likes the beach. For a number of years, we’d head to the coast on the weekend closest to her birthday. A little over 20 years ago, we started going to Astoria nearly every year. We’d stay at different places, but we settled into a routine that included a trip to The Bowpicker for their tuna fish and chips, and a Friday night dinner at Mary Todd’s Worker’s Bar & Grill (now just Worker’s Bar) for a burger (Barbara) and prime rib (me).

She also likes Chinese food. Our go-to spot for going out to dinner used to be the Hunan in downtown Portland, where she without fail would always order Shredded Beef with Spicy Sauce, a glorious spicy confection of tender meat and crunchy vegetables. But it closed at the end of 2014, after we’d been going there for over 25 years, and Barbara—who’d never found another restaurant with that particular dish—managed to get the owner to give out a recommendation, which is how we ended up at Lake Oswego’s Hunan Pearl, which has a nearly identical dish (not too surprising, considering one of the chefs came from the Hunan restaurant).

We need to get back to Astoria one of these days—what with the pandemic and all, it’s been a few years—but this year was a trip to the Hunan Pearl.

My selection tonight: Szechuan Shredded Pork, which is the only item on the menu where the description says “Hot, hot, hot!”. My fortune makes me worry that I’m due to end up in a refugee camp.