Monday, September 26, 2011

Portland(ia) Part 2 - Northeast Portland

Northeast Portland served as our home base for the entire week we were in town and we probably could have entertained ourselves in this neighbourhood for our entire stay. Many of the restaurants found in South Portland - like Cha Cha Cha or Pok Pok - have opened locations in the area, plus there are all the originals that call NE home, like Gravy, Tasty n Sons, Ned Ludd and Toro Bravo, just to name a few.


Though we love hotels, we decided to try vacation rentals this trip. Not only were many of the rentals we found nearly 1/3 of the price of hotels, but they were situated in less touristy, residential areas, which we loved. Furthermore, our hosts for the week were able to give us some great tips on shops, restaurants and sites. We never would have seen 'The Swifts' or made it to The Meadow if it weren't for Heather.

The 'Piedmont Cottage' was incredibly well situated - bike routes to and from downtown were just a couple blocks away and downtown itself was a 20 minute ride. It was also an easy 5 minute ride down Albina to get to the shops and restaurants on Mississippi Avenue. As far as getting to and from the airport and Union Station, MAX ran from the airport to the train, and once arriving back from Corvalis we were able to take transit (the MAX or the number 4) up to Piedmont easily. And finally, there was a gigantic rose garden across the street - Portland is, after all, the city of roses.


Ned Ludd (3925 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.) - This was the first restaurant we visited in Portland and it was fantastic. The wood fired oven that served the former pizza restaurant is still being put to good use - all the food is cooked in it. We enjoyed fresh, wood fired flat bread, whole trout stuffed with fennel and dill, smoky, rich ratatouille and finally s'mores made with chocolate from Xocolatl de Davíd.

The Albina Press (4637 N Albina) - A coffee shop perfectly situated on an easy route downtown, they made excellent cappuccinos and lattés utilizing Stumptown Coffee. Wireless, reading material and fresh pastries were also readily available.

Lovely's Fifty Fifty (4039 N Mississippi) - We were directed to this spot by the Pedal Bike Tours people and couldn't be happier with their recommendation. Lovely's features wood fired pizza and homemade hard scoop ice cream, and both were amazing (hence the half hour wait to get in). A pickled beet salad with Oregon hazelnuts and blue cheese as well as a sweet corn pizza with caramelized onions and pancetta made it to our table for dinner. For dessert, Charles went with a scoop of salted caramel, while I decided on the peach buttermilk. We definitely wouldn't hesitate to return.

Tasty n Sons (3808 N Williams) - This was one of those spots I saw on the Chow Tour of Portland, and once we realized it was in the neighbourhood, we decided to head over for breakfast. Toast and jam, the breakfast board, the beautiful potato donut and unlimited coffee came to $20 even, including tip. We were full of food, and amazed.

Gravy (3957 N Mississippi) - After waiting in line for sometime to get into this busy spot, we were served tasty, gigantic plates of food. While Charles did his toast-bacon plate, I went for an omelette filled with mushrooms and peppers and smothered with sausage gravy (how could you not have gravy at a place called 'Gravy'?).

The Meadow (3731 N Mississippi) - I was easily wowed by The Meadow. An entire wall of chocolate, another of 'finishing salts' and another full of bitters. The place was quite dreamy.

For my chocolate stash

Ruby Jewel Scoop Shop (3713 N Mississippi) - We ended up at this spot twice late into the evening, lured by the smell of fresh waffle cones and cookies. There were scoops of caramel with salted chocolate and on our final evening in town, a hazelnut-chocolate ice cream sandwiched between double chocolate cookies.

Saraveza Bottle Shop and Pasty Tavern (1004 N Killingsworth) - If I left my heart anywhere in Portland, it would certainly be here. The walls are lined with bottles of beer to be opened in house or taken home to be enjoyed, and there are eight taps which rotate every few days (mostly with brews from the NW coast) to serve in house patrons and growler fillers alike. And the pasties. While Charles adored the beef, I ended up with a daily special coconut curry pork that was particularly excellent. For dessert, an apple pasty with Carlton Cyder's 'Citizen' apple cider ice cream. It was a beautiful way to end the week in Portland.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Portland(ia) Part 1 - Food Carts

I wasn't really sure where to start discussing our stops in Portland and Seattle. Between the two cities, Portland was easily our favourite - the food and drink, the affordability and the bike-ability all made the place incredibly loveable. That said, Seattle had its charms... and oysters.

We could have eaten at food carts for our entire stay in Portland - there are over 200 operating at any one time - but with so many great restaurants around the city, we found ourselves at the carts for just about four meals, mostly sharing one item and checking out two or three carts for each meal. Here's who we hit:

The Peoples' Pig (11th and Alder) - After raves on Food Carts Portland, we had to head to this one for a porchetta sandwich ($8). It was amazing - moist, flavourful, and peppery from a nice handful of arugula. This cart also featured a few specials, and we ended up with a cone of refreshing watermelon and arugula salad ($3), that went well with our sandwich.

Just some of the carts on Alder between 9th and 11th

Flogene's Home Cooking (11th and Alder) - About five carts down from our first cart was Flogene's, and we thought it best to follow our sandwich with some fried chicken and a biscuit ($6). The fried chicken was tasty, albeit slightly greasy. The biscuit, however, was perfect in every way; flaky, buttery and tangy from the buttermilk.

Nong's Khao Man Gai (9th and Alder) - Nong's cart has received a ton of press and after we tasted her chicken and rice ($6), we can certainly see why. The garlic-y ginger sauce was beautiful and this $6 dish was easily one of the best things we ate over our entire trip.

Noodle House (10th and Alder) - Whilst we were in Portland we happened upon this review of the Noodle House, that praised hand pulled noodles with squid and shrimp ($7.5). While I had the seafood - which easily lived up to the hype - Charles selected the chicken noodles ($6.5) which he was completely happy with. Though the noodles were lovely, the portions were quite large, and neither of us could finish our dishes.

Tábor Czech Food (5th and Stark) - The Schnitzelwich ($8) from Tábor was certainly on my list even before heading down. Though I don't think it quite lived up to the hype, the pork loin version of this sandwich was certainly tasty.

Boolkogi Taco (5th and Stark) - This cart was irresistible, and we got three tasty 'Boolkogi' beef tacos for just $5.

The Pie Spot (D Street Noshery at 32nd and Division) - After lunch at Pok Pok, we couldn't resist heading across the street to check out the carts at D Street. I only wish our stomachs hadn't been so full. We did, however, find room for maple pecan pie ($3.5). Sadly we had to miss Awesome Cone and Captured by Porches Brewing. D Street is definitely on the list next time we're in town.

Although we were staying in the Mississippi area, we never did make it to Mississippi Marketplace, where I was hoping to get my hands on some of the creations from Garden State. Once again, next time.

Since Portland is "A city of neighbourhoods" (I heard that at least a dozen times and read it in articles and guide books even more), I'm going to split restaurants up by NE, Downtown/Pearl and SE Portland, plus there will be one more post on Corvallis/Oregon coast and some general thoughts on Portland. We're doing some post-holiday catch up right now, but I promise I'll get on it soon!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ein Prosit! Oktoberfest at Next Act

On Tuesday I met up with some friends at Next Act for their September edition of Cask Night. This month the cask held Alley Kat's Ein Prosit! Oktoberfest - a fruity, malty beer that's perfect for fall. It was so lovely we even went over to Alley Kat this evening for the official launch of the brew and picked up a six pack. (The Red Dragon Double IPA was also released today. Unlike the above brew, this IPA is incredibly hoppy.)

Besides the beer, Next Act was featuring a slightly strange burger that I couldn't resist - a peanut butter and bacon jam burger. Not surprisingly, the combo was incredibly rich, though it was tasty. Smooth peanut butter covered the bottom half of the bun, while jam and lots of garlic covered the top half. I was a fan at first bite, and I think Brenna was too.

All in all, another excellent cask night in Edmonton.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Let's go for tacos - Tres Carnales

We've been to Tres Carnales a few times since they opened back in July. I don't think I have much more to add to the many posts out there, but I will add Charles and I to the lengthy list of others who love this spot.

Charles is addicted to the carnitas and pollo asado (as are many of the Folk Fest staff - these and their guac seriously livened up post-teardown) while I have a soft spot for the creamy-sweet rajas con crema with a Negra Modelo on the side. And again, like everyone else, we seriously appreciate the warm decor and well chosen music, especially since we seem to end up at the spot on cool, rainy days.

This past week we ended up stopping by twice - once for lunch with a friend and for dinner prior to Wednesday evening's Ray LaMontagne concert. Although it was a Wednesday, the place was, of course, packed and we got our order of carnitas tacos to go (I realized after ordering that they had the fish tacos! Yet another reason to head back.).

Ultimately we ended up in a cold and deserted Churchill square. But a coffee at Credo afterward was perfect and Ray LaMontagne was amazing. All in all, an excellent evening. And we can't wait for more tacos, whatever the weather.

10119 100A Street
Tres Carnales Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Patio season continues at Sugarbowl

 After a Tuesday evening dinner of grilled chicken, we decided to walk over to Sugarbowl for chocolate mousse and some of the brews currently on the feature board. Although we brought our sweaters in preparation for a cool evening on the patio, upon arrival we found an addition of sleek looking heaters which left us toasty and mostly sweater free throughout the evening.

Heaters in action

During the past year Sugarbowl has done a great job keeping the Feature Board exciting. The 'tap' selection can stay the same for some time (for instance, the creamy Wild Rose stout I enjoyed earlier in the summer is still available), but the 'bottles' below seem to be going through at a nice clip - they stay long enough to enjoy a couple before they leave, yet there is enough new selection each couple weeks that we head back for more. While Charles went to the menu for Yukon Brewing's Lead Dog Ale, I stuck to the board and had the Verdi Imperial Stout from Italy's Birrificio del Ducato.

We've both enjoyed the Lead Dog in the past. It's smooth and malty, with a slight bite to cut through it all. Perfect to enjoy during the summer or winter. Although it doesn't look like it was overly enjoyed on Beer Advocate, Charles and I both loved the Verdi Stout. It was chocolatey and malty, and there was a slight heat running through the entire glass thanks to the addition of some chili. To top things off it was perfect with the chocolate mousse.

I also ended up with a bottle of New Morning, a "Saison" from Birrificio, while Charles decided on the BIA IPA brewed by the same company. These two were both incredibly refreshing, especially after the darker brews we started with. We could definitely detect the ginger, coriander, green pepper and chamomile in the New Morning, and overall it turned out to be a beautiful spiced beer to linger over for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately Charles didn't enjoy his IPA quite as much - too much floral and fruit for his liking.

The one thing that might keep us from continually enjoying the brews from Birrificio is the price. At $10.50 a bottle these multi-beer evenings are certainly limited, although they are, of course, thoroughly enjoyed as summer comes to a close.

Sugarbowl on Urbanspoon