I apologize to our dedicated readers, i.e. both our moms, for my lack of contribution to the blog. Until now you have been subjected to Mao’s poor writing style and general autobiographical yarns. I shall now dominate the blog with recommendations of restaurants, food carts, shopping destinations, websites and other trivial things to distract you during the day – that is until I myself get distracted by something shiny or begin yet another project, book, photo series that I will never finish.
Portland – amazing food town. Seriously. We knew this coming in and it was a huge influencing factor for me. There are fantastic restaurants – upscale as well as those for the budget conscious – but, what has made more of an impression on me are the food carts and markets available to visitors and locals. I have been an obsessive fan of the food carts since we first visited Portland. They are scattered throughout the city, with a primary focus in the Southwest business district for lunchtime and in Southeast for late night, post bar food. I have not frequented the carts as much as I should since we moved here, being too distracted with the offerings of Northwest. But, last night we made an impromptu taco run to the latest addition to the food cart community KOiFusion. An amazing mobile cart inspired by the Korean-Mexican fusion scene in L.A., KOi did not disappoint. For $4 we each got a taco and Mao partook in his usual street food beverage of Jaritos. I feasted on a marinated tofu taco with an array of fixings, including cilantro, tomato, avocado and various Korean additions. The carnivore had spicy chicken, which he devoured. So far the cart is stationed at PSU during weekdays and roams the city looking for folks leaving bars famished and in much need of spicy food.
KOi is really the only food cart I have visited as of late. We did have some excellent Naan at New Taste of India, at SW 5th and Stark, as my reward for agreeing to accompany Mao to the DMV. But, I have been more concentrated on exploring the markets and grocery stores in our immediate vicinity. I know a review of grocery stores will bore most of you, but I think those of the German persuasion will be interested in learning of the intricacies of my produce purchasing experiences.
Coming into the neighborhood, I was quite excited with the prospect of living three blocks from a Trader Joe’s. However, having visited the store and in light of its competition in our section of town, I am not inclined to favor this chain. I know my dear grandmother-in-law loves Joe and his $2 wine, but I find Joe to be a bit of a control freak, only selling his brand of milk, yogurt, bread, etc. Shopping here feels too much like a commune.
Moving on, I have become quite the obsessive freak with City Market, an amazing, tiny store offering organic produce, seafood, homemade pasta, and the list continues. It is a bit expensive, but if you need a few speciality items, it is my first choice.
Another favorite, and local, destination is Food Front on Thurman, near NW 23rd Avenue. I discovered the store hunting online for pints of frozen yogurt from Active Culture in Southeast. Ashamedly I have quickly become one of those people who does not want to drive across any of the bridges to visit the eastern part of the city, so I search for Southeast treasures in NW locations. I digress. Food Front is a grocery store with a soul, operating as a co-op and offering great local, organic food stuffs and even daily household items like detergent and paper towels. Plus, one can buy pints of frozen yogurt, which is helping me overcome my previous daily addiction to Bleuet on 23rd.
There are more grocery stores I could discuss ad nauseum – Zupans, Whole Foods – but my guess is many of you who are still reading have become bored to tears. So, my final review is of the Ecotrust Farmers’ Market held Thursdays in the Pearl. We have yet to partake in the large Saturday market, partly due to the masses in town for the Rose Festival, partly due to intimidation from its sheer size. The freaking market is so huge there is an interactive market where you can locate specific products or vendors so you do not get swallowed up in the chaos while shopping for asparagus or rare cheeses. The Thursday Market at Ecotrust was an easy introduction to the farmers’ market scene of the city. It was already crowded when it opened at 3:30 p.m. One vendor offered lettuces, herbs, and other green produce. I purchased Walla Walla onions, yet another NW addiction of mine, and green garlic. Most of the other vendors offered strawberries and only strawberries. I like berries as much as the next gal, but do ten vendors really need to be selling the same thing? Also on hand were several florists, including Peony Gardens. I adore peonies, often begging the men in my life, i.e. Mao and the Colonel, to gift me with such flowers, but they never were available in South Carolina. It’s a different story in Oregon, as they have overrun the city.
With flowers and onions in tow, we moved on to sample wine until I had trouble forming sentences and was publicly mocked by the spouse. We were about to leave the market when I noticed one vendor, wearing a Border Patrol uniform nonetheless, selling mushrooms and other items he had recently foraged for. We left with some exotic items, including fiddlehead ferns and mushrooms, in addition to our previous purchases.
I apologize for my thesis-length blog post. I suppose I am still in grad school mode regarding writing length. I will now be contributing more to the blog and future posts will include shopping reviews (including websites for those living outside PDX), our expedition to tomorrow’s Rose Parade, and photos from wherever we hike to on Sunday. Suggestions for future posts are much appreciated.