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Everyone can use a midweek break to mop brow, savor, sip and sample

Weekend!Food: Taste
by: DENISE FARWELL, Wine Wednesday regulars Argentina Erdman and husband John recently sampled Rieslings at Paley’s Place alongside a selection of German charcuterie and mussels and prawns in a spicy coconut curry.

In college, Wednesday was 'hump day.' The name referred to getting over the midweek hurdle, and at my college (and at most colleges, I presume) it was an excuse to get together with friends and drink beer.

I'm older and wiser now (and I drink more than just beer) but I still think of Wednesday as hump day, which is one reason Wine Wednesday at Paley's Place (1204 N.W. 21st Ave., 503-243-2403) appeals to me. I think of it as an upscale hump day celebration.

Every Wednesday in the bar or dining room at Paley's a flight of wine is offered. One taste is a mystery wine. If you can guess the varietal and the producer of the mystery wine, you get the flight free.

And since this is Paley's, food is involved, too. The restaurant's award-winning chef and co-owner, Vitaly Paley, develops a special menu to complement the flight of wines each week.

The upcoming two Wine Wednesdays celebrate the holidays. On Dec. 20, a flight of boutique-grower champagnes will be featured, and on Dec. 27, prestige cuvée champagnes take the stage.

Reservations are recommended for dinner. Feel free to drop in for wine tasting. For information, visit www.paleysplace.net.

Paley's is open 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

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Have you ever tasted wine at a restaurant and loved it so much you wanted to take a bottle home?

Unfortunately, few restaurants in Portland have a license to sell bottles to go. (There are, of course, a handful of notable exceptions, such as Caprial's Bistro.)

What to do?

Darryl Joannides, owner of the wine shop Cork (2901 N.E. Alberta St., 503-281-2675), says tracking down wine for people is one of the main services he provides. The increased popularity of wine has made the process a little more complicated.

Joannides says the number of wine distributors in Portland has almost doubled in less than two years. 'When we started building the shop, there were 42 wine distributors in town. By the time we opened (in May) there were 55. Now there are at least 70,' Joannides says. He relies on 12 to 15 key distributors.

If you taste a wine someplace and you've just got to get your paws on a bottle of it, Joannides says you should write down everything you see on the label. 'The more information, the better,' he says. Then contact him, and he'll get to work finding you a bottle or case.

Like Paley's, Cork also has weekly wine tastings. Cork's are on Friday nights. Tonight, Dec. 15, will feature Nebbiolo ($18 flight) and the Dec. 22 event highlights champagne and artisan chocolates ($20 flight).

I'm eager to attend one of Cork's monthly tasting-room dinners but, with only 10 seats, they sell out quickly.

December's dinner is sold out, and next year's dinners haven't been finalized. Visit www.corkwineshop.com and get on the e-mail list to be one of the first to learn about the shop's upcoming dinners, classes and tastings.

If you're still looking for presents for your adult friends, why not give a bottle of wine? Cork has a huge selection that always includes at least 100 bottles for $20 or less.

Cork is open noon to 6 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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Back from lunch! I'm so full, I can barely lift my fingers to type.

I just returned from a long meal at Bo Restobar (400 S.W. Broadway, 503-222-2688), the new restaurant in the Hotel Lucia from Bo and Steve Kline, who also own Typhoon restaurants.

A few of the items are so good I want to mention them in case you're downtown shopping this week and want to stop for a bite.

My first impression of the menu (which is Pan-Asian rather than straight Thai) is that seafood shines here. Crab cakes are as ubiquitous as calamari on many restaurant menus, and most are only so-so. Bo Restobar's delicate crab cakes are superbly flavorful and have great texture. No fillers here.

Salmon tataki is another big hit: Chopped salmon is lightly dressed with chili oil, ginger, shiso (a Japanese herb) and mixed with a little tobiko (fish eggs), creating a spicy explosion of flavor.

At first glance, the shrimp Chinoiserie looks like the breaded fried shrimp served at many Chinese-American restaurants, but look closer and you'll see that it's not exactly shaped like shrimp. That's because inside the crisp packet, the shrimp is nesting with chopped vegetables and prosciutto.

Bo Restobar also has a long list of specialty cocktails, most of which are far too sweet for my taste. I'll stick with a cold bottle of Singha, one of my favorite beers, and the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant's flavorful food.

Bo Restobar is open noon to 11 p.m. Monday, noon to midnight Tuesday to Thursday, and noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

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