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Travel & Escape

In Portland, Oregon, a French restaurant serves the classics





With several French restaurants and legends like chef Gabriel Rucker already in residence in Portland, Oregon, the city might not have expected the arrival of a newcomer, Bistro Agnes.

But Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, the couple who won a James Beard award for their Argentine-inspired restaurant Ox, believed that Portland had lacked French classics for a few years. They wanted to create, in their former SuperBite space downtown, a Parisian-style bistro with dishes like coq au vin, escargot and sole meunière. No modern riffs here: The menu is old-school.

The cassoulet, a classic from the south of France. With Bistro Agnes, Portland gets a Parisian-style restaurant with duck confit and beef short rib bourguignon starring on the menu.
The cassoulet, a classic from the south of France. With Bistro Agnes, Portland gets a Parisian-style restaurant with duck confit and beef short rib bourguignon starring on the menu.  (JOHN VALLS / The New York Times)

The Dentons — spouses, co-chefs and business partners — met when they were both cooking at Terra Restaurant in Napa Valley. On their days off, they liked to go to places like Bistro Jeanty for leisurely lunches. “It’s the food we fell in love over,” Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton said. “We have a passion for traditional French food. Portland was missing that.”

After a lukewarm reception of their small-bite concept at SuperBite, they decided to pursue their passion. They added a brass rail in the dining room, bought an absinthe drip and hung a Jules Chéret lithograph.

Bistro Agnes opened in January, and tables have been full ever since. The dining room feels both French and Northwest, a classy bistro far removed from the nearby streetcar and freeway.

On a late-summer evening, I met a friend there for dinner. Cavalier King Charlie (a purple cocktail) set the mood, French flag toothpick on the rim. A photo of Greg Denton’s grandmother, Agnes, graced the beverage menu.

We ordered two of the lighter starters from 14 options. The local salmon carpaccio — cured and cold-smoked in-house — came with crunchy cucumber rounds, radish shavings, endive chunks, fresh dill and house-cured salmon roe. The plate was a lovely palette of orange, fuchsia, green and white.

Red and yellow heirloom tomatoes were sweet and juicy from the summer sun. Tarragon leaves and roasted Oregon hazelnuts added punch. A generous croquette of goat cheese from Briar Rose Creamery nicely complemented the tomatoes.

The duck confit was divine — crispy on the outside and almost melted inside — atop ratatouille, roasted potatoes and fresh basil. A whole, housemade fennel-duck sausage accompanied the confit.

Beef short rib bourguignon was the star. Highlighting the Dentons’ skill in traditional methods, this dish takes three days to make. The result is super tender meat with mushrooms and lardons in an unbelievably intense gravy.

We were happy to find a 2006 Bordeaux by the glass on a wine list that skews Old World. The spirits menu runs 10 pages, not including a separate absinthe sheet.

For dessert, we chose a riz au lait — creamy pudding with risotto-style rice and vanilla bean, drenched in salted caramel and dotted with almonds and fresh nectarines — which the Dentons say they order every time they go to Paris.

Unfortunately, the service did not match the quality of the food. Our server was inattentive, and his timing was a bit off. Nevertheless, the meal was outstanding. Bistro Agnes, in the middle of my hometown, captures the old-school magic of Paris.

Bistro Agnes, 527 SW 12th Ave.; 503.222.0979; An average dinner for two, without tip or drinks, is about $110.


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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!





Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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Travel & Escape

Dealing with baggage on your trip





(NC)Nothing is more embarrassing than having to unpack your baggage at the airport. It’s common to overpack because you want to make sure you have everything you need for your trip – the right shoes, a jacket in case it’s cold, a bathing suit in case there’s a pool. But you must be mindful of the baggage restrictions. So, how can you be smart with your baggage when travelling?

The first thing to do is talk to your TICO-certified travel agent about the weight restrictions and number of bags you are allowed to take. Some airlines charge per bag, while others may offer one bag for free depending on weight.

You’ll also need to know if there are security requirements for carry-on and checked baggage. For example, there may be prohibited items such as gels and liquids. These limitations vary from airline to airline and depends on if your flight is international or domestic, so you’ll need to check the policy of the airline you’re travelling with.

Naturally, you want to avoid incurring baggage fees, so talk to your travel agent, or contact the airline directly. You can also visit their website to review the luggage policy.

Here are a few more tips to help you manage your baggage when travelling:

  • Clearly label all baggage with your name, home address, and contact information
  • Place an identification tag inside the baggage in case the outside tag is torn off
  • Lock bags with CATSA/ACTSA travel locks
  • Put a colourful ribbon or other identifying marks on your bags so they are easily recognizable
  • Carry valuables in your hand luggage; jewelry, money, medications, important documents, etc.

You can’t carry everything with you, so be smart when you pack. Take only necessary items and focus on your trip.

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Travel & Escape

What travellers need to know if a destination wedding is cancelled





(NC) It’s two weeks before you’re scheduled to attend a destination wedding and then you get the call. The wedding has been called off.

Sure, you’re upset for the couple, but now you’re faced with plane tickets and hotel reservations. So, what can you do?

There’s no reason why you can’t go and enjoy the trip, but bear in mind you may face a price increase, especially if this was part of a group booking. Group bookings often include a minimum number of travellers to get the discounted price, as well as terms and conditions regarding changes or cancellations.

You could ask other travellers to come along to keep the group discount. But name changes often count as cancellations based on the terms of the vacation package and premium charges may apply. If you booked with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour company, it’s better to contact them and ask about options before making any decisions.

While it’s devastating for the couple who planned the destination wedding, the fact is that the cancellation affects all the confirmed guests. So, it’s important to know your options so you can salvage an unfortunate situation. Always book with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour operator so you can circle back and find out what they can do for you.

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