Tag Archives: portland

Portland: The Flavor Sport

Someone told me this morning that they have never been to Portland but had heard it was like Austin 20 years ago. I said it is more like what I hope Austin will be… like….in 20 years! First of all the mass transit is fantastic if you can walk and you don’t have to worry about crazy people trying to murder you with their cars. It is also just so much easier to be vegan. It is super easy to be vegan in Austin, don’t get me wrong, but in Portland you go to place and say, yeah I’d like that vegan and there are no questions or eye rolls. People just say “would you prefer soy or rice milk?” I had so much food and such a great time that I am going to do multiple posts, which is something I rarely do on travel but it has to happen. A lot was crammed into those 5 days.

Perhaps my most exciting cramming was done as a recommendation from my friend Panda Cookie (who btw makes the cutest monsters and crafty things you have ever seen) who told me to check out the Flavor Spot where I could get waffle wraps. Even though I have a cast on my leg I decided to go for it, be brave and take the bus to the spot.

It was closed.

I should know better with trailers to always call ahead.

It became my number one quest of Vida Vegan con to get to that trailer when it was open, and get there I did. First, I feel like I should mention that the flavor spot only has one vegan option out of like 10 options all together and it didn’t phase me one bit because I knew, immediately, that even if I lived next door to this magnificent trailer I would never get anything else ever again.

I wonder what Dutch people or Mexican people would think of what they call a dutch taco? I can’t imagine an American that would think anything besides YES !!! Breakfast sausage and a non drippy maple spread ensconced in a waffle wrapping would have made me purr if I was a kitten. The portion was generous and though I immediately wanted to eat ten more in about five minutes I never wanted to eat again. That was it. Done eating forever. Waffle taco. Please open one in Austin.

The only thing I will do different next time (besides call ahead and check the hours!) is bring my own coffee because theirs was sub-par and they didn’t have any vegan creamer. But really, if you ever wanted to find something that you could share with the Homer Simpson in your life and still be vegan this is probably the place to go. Well, actually now I can name several, stay tuned!

 

I’m glad I don’t live in Portland

because I would gain 900 pounds. I think maybe people stay so trim there by biking everywhere. In Austin you can easily enough eat fatty foods but a huge majority of places are pro vegetable like all the raw places, casa de luz, conscious cravings, and counter culture.  In Portland you can eat ridiculously decadent food with delicious beers every place you go. It is hard to resist. I have been on an official brown rice and greens diet since I got home. It was so fun though, I came up to the Northwest for my dear friends’ wedding  where I had maybe the best food of the entire trip. They had an entire Lebanese spread from Al Amir with the creamiest baba ganoush, the most delightful roasted cauliflowers, and the most flavorful tomato eggplant dish I have ever had. I couldn’t stop talking about it all week. No pictures but the whole thing is burned into my mind. Maybe the best part was that they make the baklava with orange blossom water instead of honey. My god. I have been eating baklava all my life made by real legitimate grandmas and this was the best.

After drinking and eating way to much at the wedding I ordered one of the silliest breakfasts ever at Gravy. First I had a delicious bloody mary and told everyone about the wonders of the bloody I had in Milwaukee at the comet cafe so maybe I was a bit under the influence when I decided instead of a tofu scramble I would get a hash brown scramble because I have never one before. I was entranced by the idea of a multiple olive and potato scramble since they had several different kinds. Then I added Spinach thinking that would turn the whole meal into practically I diet dish. What can I say it was a ridiculous move since I was hungry like an hour later since the only nutrition was in the cocktail. It was like something I would make at home after coming in the middle of the night.

Later we went to Sauvie Island to hang out on the beach for a while. The best part about this was that my friend had just rescued a chihuahua named Coco a few days earlier so we were able to bring her on her first outing to the beach.

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Now I really want a chihuahua, she was so freaking cute and an extreme cuddler like our beagles. But unlike the beagles she didn’t spend the entire time trying to check out every single thing on the beach.

I was so hungry by the time we went to Hungry Tiger Too that night that I was in a total hunger panic. This is something you never want to experience for yourself by the way. It really isn’t any fun for anybody and I apologize for yelling at my extremely slow moving friends. When we finally got there I first ordered the fried butternut squash wontons. They came topped with a decadent coconut sauce that was really good but very desserty for the beginning of the meal. They were so crispy though that I fell in love and finally started to calm down. Mmm. happy. I also ordered the BBQ sandwich with some tater tots. The tots were glorious, just what the doctor ordered. When the dish came out I considered removing some of the tots to make sure I didn’t eat the whole thing but I laughed to myself and thought “of course I won’t eat all those tots, that is more tots than I could possibly ever eat at one sitting. I’m sure you can guess what I am going to say next. I ate them all. It was like I had died and gone to tot heaven. The BBQ tempeh was pretty good but the sauce, like all the sauces I had in Portland, was too sweet. The menu at Hungry Tiger Too is what I wish the Alamo Drafthouse would do here. There were so many vegan options and even 1.25 corndogs.

The next day started with a trip to the vegan mini mall for breakfast, supplies, Soy Curls, and white chocolate chips. And I got a new wallet. This is why I don’t have money for my school books! I got a bagel at Sweet Pea and though it was good but it just brought back memories of the fantasticness that is the Bagelry in Santa Cruz. It is crazy to think I will probably will never have a bagel that perfect again. It is like something out of a dream. Honestly, I have had dreams about olives before and now that is how I remember the whole thing…fleeting and wonderful. I do love Sweet Pea. The best part is that some of my friends in Portland don’t do gluten so it is the perfect place to go to. I bought a peanut butter chocolate brownie for later from there as well and it was just amazing. After that we drove up to Mt. Hood National Forrest to go to Bagby hot springs. The northwest is just so magical.

When you walk into the forest there it is really easy to imagine that anything can happen maybe you will meet some Ents or Smurfs or find a giant wooden tub with endless hot water pouring into it. Afterwards we headed back home to Mississippi Pizza for some gluten-free vegan pizza and karaoke. The pizza was pretty good. I think we had artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and olives which is probably my all time favorite combination. The best part of the Portland dining scene is that every table has a nooch shaker. This is something that Austin totally lacks. Why does it always have to be bring your own Nutritional Yeast? Don’t places care about how wonderful it is? Even Dinger won’t eat his food without some yellow vegan pixie dust sprinkled on top. When I saw they were doing Karaoke I really wanted to sing but then I quickly learned that I was totally out of my league because nearly everyone who went up was awesome.

The next day we were headed to a Thai place but got confused and ended up going to the new rawish place Prasad, where Blossoming Lotus used to be. It was a very healthy and beautiful meal. I had the dragon bowl which had rice, a bunch of different seaweeds, pinto beans, steamed kale, avocado and lemon tahini sauce. If I ate like that every day I would probably finally develop my latent vegan superpowers. Later I went to a friend’s BBQ and totally brought my own food which in retrospect was kind of rude but I just had such a desire to try everything in Portland since the last summer I didn’t get to try everything I wanted to. Now I realize I can never try everything. It is hard enough to try everything here! I had a pretty uninspired combo from Papa G’s but I would definitely give it another shot because you gotta love a vegan cafeteria that has pictures of farm animals all over the place. Plus it is the most organic place in Portland! I think my problem was I kept getting barbecue everywhere and I have a taste for Texas barbecue and nothing else will do.

The next day we went to our Alama mater, the Evergreen State College for a visit and I was dying to go to Vic’s Pizza because they make both a vegan white sauce or yellow nooch sauce. It was fabulous! Have I mentioned my love of nutritional yeast and olives? It is kind of a theme. I think Vic’s was the first place I ever got black, green, and Kalamata olive on one pizza. Magic! I was reacquainted with my deep love for Olympia and considered moving there for most of the duration of my trip. I got to see some of my favorite people in the world  and talk a lot of shit about a great many topics. In the end I didn’t want to leave which is how it always was in Oly. Late nights, soft lighting, good conversation, and walking home. Although, I didn’t actually walk home since we went back to Portland that night.

The next day I still had tons of places that I wanted to go and it was my last day but we hit everything important. The day started with a trip to the Homegrown Smoker for, yes, more barbecue. This time tempeh and sausage. The sausage was really good. The mac and cheese was okay but the STFU puppies were out of the world! Fried dough! I wish I was eating some right now. Portland has an insane amount of food carts. Like hundreds and hundred of food carts. They are often all in a big line which reminds me of the state fair. A glorious vegan state fair. Although, truthfully, not everything is vegan. They have plenty of Thai food too! After eating way too much food (and I promise this time I did not eat it all) We headed to the Arboretum.

First we went through the slow meandering path of the garden of solace.

Then we went on, what turned out to be a grueling hike. Only because once I said “are we almost there yet” I learned we were not headed back in a loop but instead forward so there were still hours to go. I was so dehydrated from my week of drinking that I thought I would never make it back. In fact, when we later went to a bar called The Nest I got water instead of a Laura Palmer, and what other time am I going to have the option of drinking a Laura Palmer and play Ping Pong at the same place?  It was exhausting having so much fun. I think I also had a milkshake that day at Sip which was maybe the best milkshake I ever had because they were out of their regular ice cream and I was forced to substitute coconut bliss, something I would never normally do because their was a surcharge but ended up being totally worth it. I had the creamsicle and I watched her freshly squeeze the oranges for the shake and was in totally bliss drinking it. I also got a muffin from Back to Eden bakery that day which I loved.

For dinner I got to go to Portobello Vegan Trattoria which I had wanted to try the whole trip. It is such a nice place, definitely if you are going on a trip to PDX do not miss your chance to go here. It is a really cozy restaurant with reclaimed wood walls and soft light. We ordered a bunch of everything and shared family style which is my favorite way to go. We started with the Beet Tartare which I think was our favorite of the evening. Cashew cheese and beets and a crunchy baguette was just done delightfully.

We also tried to Polenta Cakes with sweet and sour eggplant and tomato topping. I loved this dish but I think it needed more eggplant because it was a little overwhelmed by the tomato sauce. I love polenta so much which was also under the big portabello mushroom we tried.

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It was seasoned with rosemary and served with braised greens and certainly could have been a meal on its own quite easily. I think the picture makes it kind of look like a space ship.

Next we had the gnocchi that also had peppers, squash, and more tomato sauce. I think it would have been better with some olives but that is probably because I love olives.

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We also got the pizza on the gluten free crust and it was definitely the best gluten free crust I have had! They just made it perfect. I asked for more cashew cheese instead of daiya and was very pleased with the result.

Without a doubt the best pizza of the trip. After all of that we tried the tirimisu for dessert and though it reminded us more of cheesecake than tiramisu it was still fantastic. Now I am starting to have a total food panic because it all looks so good.  I was totally overwhelmed with food as were my friends by the time it was all over.

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It was sad to go home but I’ll be back! And I was honestly stoked to be back in the heat. And to see the dogs. I would love to roadtrip up there some summer.

I can see clearly now the rain is gone OR a trip to the Pacific Northwest

I used to live in Olympia Washington. Then I thought about moving to Portland along with a lot of my friends.  Then I did other stuff instead. So now Portland is like the path not taken and I spend the whole time thinking about that. I wonder if I had moved to Portland if I still would have become vegan? Would I still live with beagles? Would I be famous for having sexual relations with the president? Would I have become a world class figure skater? We’ll never know. It was really exciting to see all of my friends. I went to Olympia and ate at Le Voyer. I couldn’t believe how everything there seemed to be exactly the same.  It was as close to time traveling as I will ever get since the only thing that felt different was me.  I laughed out loud when it started raining. It is a special kind of rain in Olympia that I can’t describe.  My friend Jen and I drove through the mountains to the Gorge at George Washington.We campedand we built a fort and we saw a really good band.
Then we raced across Washington so some asshole named Thor could refuse me passage on a train and we drove back to Portland. We got doughnutsmine was so cute!

I stayed with my friend Hannah

and my friends came up from Idahoand we decided to make sandwiches. A lot of sandwiches.then we went to a park and ate the sandwiches

nate loved his sandwich so much he couldn’t believe it. ryan also loves sandwiches but could still conversate while eating

Steve’s sandwich tried to kill him

Hannah destroyed her sandwichLook at the muscles Nate used to attack his sandwichAfter that some people got in the raging riverOthers hung out looking manlyand then there was RyanI invited Kevin and Carrie to go with us to the sandwich picnic but they couldn’t come because Carrie is a celiac and can’t eat sandwiches. I felt really bad because I kept saying the word sandwiches over and over again not realizing that I was probably terrorizing her. Like if someone kept asking me to go to a hog roast and when I declined they kept mentioning different ways they were gonna cook the pig. They still let me stay at there house and play with their psychotically adorable kittiesand they took me to Blossoming Lotus where I finally got to try soy curls. Hey Wheatsville, get your act together and get some motherforkin soy curls they are delicious, nutritious, cheap, and gluten free.I bought some later in on in the week at Food Fight in the vegan strip mall. I bought a lot of food that day and then I couldn’t walk home because I was too full. That was after I stayed with Claire and Jason who took me to a bar because they know I enjoy drinking.We also went to the Bay leaf restaurant because we do enjoy eating. I ate lots of stuff there that was good and all their garnishes looked like little critters. The mango tofu was the best.and Claire and Jason got the tea which was outstanding!I think I had biscuits and gravy three times on the trip, that is something you can’t get here unless you make it yourself. Overall I mostly cooked with friends at home instead of going out. It was fun because their kitchens were approximately 40 degrees cooler than mine and it is really neat to cook on  a stove that doesn’t slope. And we got to go to a lot of grocery stores and I got to see Sharif dance in the store to “What a FeelinI love you Pacific Northwest! I love your trees and your rivers, your spring enhanced dance floors, your efficient public transportation, your people, your smurf like society, and your vegan bars and vegan breakfast spots. I’ll be back after I get warmed up.