Crepes and bubble tea at the PX

August 24, 2005

What exactly is “bubble tea?”

Many people have not so much as heard of it, and even fewer have tried it. But it is one of the featured items at Passport Exchange, a new restaurant located on Oak Street next to Cascade Travel.

“Bubble tea started in Taiwan because they weren’t getting much starch in their diet,” said employee Nicole Ricci. “It’s a flavored tea poured over ice and tapioca pearls. You can make it stronger by adding different types of tea or coffee,” she explained.

The idea for bubble tea actually came from a problem with the language barrier that the owner encountered in New York years ago.

“I was in Chinatown in the middle of summer, and I was thirsty,” owner Laura Dingmon said. “I saw a sign that said ‘smoothies,’ so I went in and started pointing to stuff.”

What she got, though, was not a smoothie like we are used to — it was a bubble tea. “It became huge over on the east coast,” she said, “and it hasn’t quite hit over here yet.”

But that is one of the concepts behind Passport Exchange. “The restaurant is themed around travel,” Dingmon said. “Hood River is full of people who travel and have an exploring attitude. This is a place to let people come together and be more worldly.”

The restaurant’s other main focus, crepes, is another thing that stems from Dingmon’s travels.

“I went to Europe around eight or nine years ago, and I fell in love with the creperies in France and Switzerland,” she said. “That’s where everyone went to have a good time. Everything happened there — it’s like America’s coffee houses, but it had more dimension.”

Passport Exchange is also a place that is meant to encourage people to travel. “We want people to come and hang out and look at travel books,” said co-owner Neal Mckinney. “We have eventual plans to sell stuff from many different places throughout the world.”

The creperie offers breakfast and lunch crepes — of both the “sweet” and “savory” variety — as well as bubble tea and fruit smoothies. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available.

“This is just the beginning,” said Dingmon. “I have big plans.”


Passport Exchange is open every day from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. The cafe also has an Internet-accessible computer and free WiFi available to customers.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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