Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's Not All About Voodoo Donuts

There's more to the Portland food scene than what you've witnessed on TV.   Then again, can't that be said about anything being misunderstood, even if it's just a bit?  If you are slightly epicurious, then the Epicurean Excursion from the Portland Walking Tours is for you.  (No they didn't pay me...I paid them!)

First mission, knock out all the Portlandia episodes I just marathoned before our trip from my memory.  Portland couldn't possibly be THAT into birds, cacao, green-anything and coffee.  Or could they?

First stop, Cacao Drink Chocolate.  Okay, so much for the safe word exiting my brain. The cup of hot chocolate below is the most silky, rich beverage I've ever had.  And not too sweet at all.  What makes it so?  The store sources their chocolate bars from small producers with the criteria you would imagine (fair trade, organic, limited chains of manufacturing and minimizing fillers such as wax).  The owner celebrates his curation so much so, he showcases the farmer on the labels.

If I learned anything on this excursion, all valuable edibles have a fan base resembling the qualities of a wine aficionado.  Onto the Flying Elephants Deli.

Everything made out of this deli is done with care of using in-season ingredients including their infamous tomato/orange soup.  Amazingly good, we went back here later in our trip for a full lunch.

The savory soup, so popular with locals they begged for the recipe.  And the deli has shared it.  Click here if you're interested.  Smartly, the deli knows it is VERY difficult to successfully use citrus with a creamy base without curdling.  Good luck to you!

No food tour in Portland would be worth its efforts without a stop at one of the infamous food carts permanently parked in a pay parking lot.

The owners of these parking lots reap huge financial rewards by bordering their lots with these food trucks who pay for "parking" as any other vehicle would, but 24/7.  For the vendor, this is a way to have a food business without the huge outlay for a brick and mortar restaurant.  Everyone views this as a win/win.   Because our tour was in the morning, our stop was for liege waffles.

Super indulgent waffles are made with a brioche dough (not batter) and pearl sugar.  Crazy sweet and extravagant.  I'm now deeply wanting a cup of coffee.  Our intuitive guide was on it.  Courier Coffee Roasters to the rescue.

While Stumptown Roasters is the most known, there are roasters on seemingly every corner of Portland.  What makes Courier special is they can only be had if it's within biking distance of the roasting facility.  I'm not exaggerating.  A typical delivery bike just above services many local restaurants.  Not only does their business model exemplify hyper local, but they aim to be incredibly sustainable.  The packaging of their coffee made entirely of compostable paper and they are working on a system of "milk on tap" to circumvent the constant opening of the refrigerator at their coffee bar.

What better way to soak up all that caffeine than a behind the scenes stop at Pearl Bakery.

Another very local approach, using as many organic ingredients as possible they source their flour from millers in eastern Washington and serve McMinnville's locally churned butter.  Bread-aholic or not, it would have been rude not to consume their tasting platter don't you think?

Thank goodness our next stop didn't require eating!

 The Camellia Lounge is a charming tea house where you can sample teas from around the world.  Come the weekends it transforms into a live jazz venue.  Most seductive and never knew existed we learned about tea bricks.

Used primarily in the 19th century, fermented tea was pressed into forms to make better transport of the ingredient.  Today, they are mostly sold as a novelty.

Apparently we still looked hungry and were escorted over to Hot Lips Pizza.  Family owned and hyper-local, the gourmet pizzas are made with ingredients only in season.

It doesn't seem possible, but we had a dessert stop.  Cool Moon Ice Cream makes home-made, hand-churned ice cream made with Oregonian ingredients.  My choice, blackberry ice cream.

Because we could put no more down our gullet, our last stop was Benessere's Oils and Vinegars.  The least "local" stop, was still an informing touch on an ever-increasing focus on quality olive oils and vinegars.

The only missing highlights (in my opinion) would be a local brew stop at Deschutes Brewery and the new/used cookbook aisles (there are 3-4 long aisles) at Powell's Books.   Happy adventuring!

1 comment:

  1. this looks delicious! I came across your post after looking through Yelp comments on Portland Walking Tours - you have me convinced that I need to do this...


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