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Birthday at Portland Blind Cafe

Posted Dec 09 2010 12:00am
Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the Portland Blind Cafe , a dining experience in the dark, to bring awareness to the blind community. I decided it would be an interesting way to spend my birthday and challenge myself to a new perspective. Luckily I had many friends on board with the idea as well.

This was the most amazing dining experience I have ever had. That whole night came alive since you have to concentrate on senses that are usually secondary to sight. While being seated, you had to feel the chars and figure out where your friends were seating. Then you had to feel for your dishes and discover the appetizer waiting for you on your plate. Luckily before we were seated, we were told what to expect. There would be a cold tea drink in a cup with a lid and straw to our right. A water jug was in the middle of the table, along with the salads and casserole dish since this was family style dining. I knew the open chutney container for dipping the southern dolma appetizer was gonna be trouble, and as I grabbed the casserole dish to pass it around, the chutney spilled all over my lap. Luckily people were not staring at my mishap since no one saw, and I was able to coordinate with others to find extra napkins to clean myself up. No worries. I was actually impressed with myself for dealing with the situation so well in the dark!

Passing around the food took good communication and actually serving yourself and getting the food on your plate, was a bit of a challenge. But that is what the night was suppose to be about after all, and I was loving it! One of the salads contained fruit and nuts and tasted very light and fresh. The casserole dish had a polenta base with other vegetables and parts of it tasted similar to gravy. Everything tasted amazing and vegan chef Ivy Entrekin was quite impressive!

The cello is one of my favorite instruments and I was telling others that if I could magically play one instrument, that would be it. When the cello started a solo piece, I could feel the music much more intensely and I could imagine myself being the person actually playing it. Suddenly my wish of instantly playing the cello came true (even if for only one song). The music of Rosh and The One Eye Glass Broken Band were incredible and I was truly appreciative of the experience.

I was extra fortunate that evening since someone mentioned in was my birthday while checking in, so I was treated to the entire room singing me happy birthday in the dark. People kept saying I must have been red from embarrassment, but I wasn't at all. No one even knew who they were singing to, although I did sheepishly say thank you when the song was over.

After the decadent chocolate mousse dessert and the music ended, a candle was lit and we could see around the room for the first time. I think we all imagined something different and were sad to see it come to an end, but I left feeling very blessed by the events of the evening. I look forward to the next one!
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