How did I find Portland? One night at the pub, our friends Allan and Jeanette indicated to us that they were going to Portland on July 4th holiday weekend on a whim. I joked that I was jealous, and Alan mentioned "well we have room in the back". For real?!? I think he was tipsy and didn't really mean it, but we nevertheless changed our schedule at the last minute and inserted ourselves to their trip, and can't be more thankful! What an adventure!
watch this TED talk. Basically the Psychologist Barry Schwartz identified that we are paralyzed by indecision on things that aren't that important when faced with too many similar choices. And I have a bad case of foodicus maximizitis. What to eat? Download ALL OF THE FOOD APPS! I triangulated, took scientific internet surveys, read the last 10 issues of Food and Wine and Bon Appetit, added "Portland food" to my RSS feed. And still I was not prepared. So enjoy this tour-de-force of my somewhat planned/somewhat random restaurant and brewery picks.
I've also inadvertently discovered the recipe for restaurant success. Take gorgeous skinny hipster culinary artisan in a plaid shirt (my lord, bearded hipsters in plaid are hot) + interesting and unique food ideas that involve some sort of a.) pork product and/or b.) organic and locally sourced ingredients + rustic digs and/or cutesy food cart + pickles = successful food enterprise. That's it. I'm quitting my job and opening up a food cart.
Voodoo Doughnut 22 SW 3rd Ave
some major television press over the years, and it has attracted a crowd. It was good, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't necessarily worth the line. I shouldn't say that, because our friends Drew and Ashley waited on line for us while we chomped down on sub-par calzones and subs next door at a place I won't bother summarizing (ok, Captain Ankeny's Well wasn't bad, it was just alright, their calzones had honey in the dough which was nice and interesting). They picked out a maple bacon, captain crunch, and bubble gum donut. And yes, I'm from NJ, they are donuts, not doughnuts, goddamit. Fascinating, tasty, and totally sinful, but not worth an hour line. Although if I had been there back in the days of NyQuil and Pepto-Bismol donuts, you might have had my attention (well, I would have gawked at the menu but wouldn't have purchased...).
Deschutes Brewery 210 NW 11th Ave
Broder 2508 SE Clinton St
Oh, and check out what I discovered - a new hot sauce. Secret Aardvark! This habanero sauce packs quite a punch, and isn't too vinegary for my taste. It's everywhere too. Portlandians love their local things. Added this to my pytt i panna to give it some rocket power.
Waffle Window 3610 SE Hawthorne Blvd
What can I say about this hole in the wall - yes, its a brick building with a window. Those bastards stole my idea! On our trip to Belgium last year, I had discovered the Liege waffle - which is a richer and denser variety (almost like a doughy cake) made with sweet heavenly orbs of pearl sugar. They put Brussels waffles (the kind most Americans eat) to shame. None was better than the waffles at Waffle Time, a waffle hut (actually a train) nestled in the Haute Fagnes of eastern Belgium. Ok, I'm a little biased, this is a family-owned establishment. But when you are there (because I know now that you will go), you must try the rail bike too! Anyway, I was sad when I returned to the states and couldn't find Liege style waffles. Thought I might quit my job and open one up and try crazy things like adding savory ingredients to it. novel concept, I'm sure. Turns out Waffle Window beat me to it. These were amazing - had the Three B's - pepper bacon, brie, and fresh basil with peach jam. You can also order waffles with goat cheese, mushrooms, spinach, avocado, salsa (ok, yuck), and whatever these crazy people randomly come up with. After this place, I began seeing Liege style waffle huts all over Portland. This is how I know for a fact that Portland is indeed legit. Amen.
Hophouse 4111 SE Hawthorne Blvd
We stopped by this busy pub nicely hidden in a strip mall off of Hawthorne, drawn in by the fresh green sign with the cute hop symbol. We only intended to go there to beat the heat after walking around Mount Tabor, but ended up staying for beer and snacks instead. I had been on a porter obsession since I arrived, and ordered a Full Sail Brewery - Top Sail Imperial Porter - Bourbon Aged Barrel Aged Brewmaster Reserve, 2012 (they say my memory is a steel trap, you see). Oh, and we ordered some very tasty poutine and wasabi deviled eggs. The eggs were zingy, but not enough umami for my taste (I have high deviled egg standards these days). You can't go wrong with poutine. Not sure if it paired well with a porter (does anything?). Oh well.
Carte Blanche Food Cart (variable)
The cutest little food truck you will ever see. Portland isn't as much know for their food trucks as their "food carts", which are more permanent establishments and look like the back of a truck with a window cut out. So actual trucks, let alone awesome things like an Airstream RV, were tougher to find. We stumbled upon this food RV at the corner of Hawthorne and 33rd. Carte Blanche, with its stylistically fonted sign and religious adherence to OSL (organic, seasonal, and local - yes, I just came up with that acronym), had a short but intense menu of drool-worthy bowls and sandwiches. Their selection changes daily with creative names like "Juniper's Keynote Speech" (watermelon and cabbage salad), "Nebraskan Eggplant Folklore" (eggplant and tofu bowl), and the "Tricycle Apocalypse" (grilled salmon sandwich with pickles and sriracha mayo). There are many more ingredients in there, but I'm short on space, so check out the menu. Can you guess what I ordered? The Tricycle Apocalypse was a sweet and spicy explosion of crunchy flavor that really beat the heat. The cooks were also adorable and sweet. I have a crush on this food cart.
Skyline, fireworks and Voodoo sign photos courtesy of Allan Hise. Voodoo line courtesy of The Unworldly Travelers.