City of Roses

February 7, 2012

My dear readers, I’m sorry to have abandoned you to the fate of unguided gluttony for so long.

The other day, while musing and munching, realization struck: it’s no mere coincidence that Portland is home to so much rose-flavored fare.  Portland is the City of Roses!  (I know, my powers of deduction are staggering.)

In honor of the lesser-known prize roses in Oregon, here is a list of PDX’s Best Vegan Rose Flavored Foods.  Unlike Buff Beauty and Cardinal de Richlieu, these roses taste as delectable as they smell.

Rose Flavored Fare with Flare

1. Pistachio Rosewater Mini-cake, Back to Eden Bakery

As I wrote in my Back to Eden post, this is my favorite cake of all time everywhere always.  Sometimes in mini-cake and sometimes in regular-cake form, but always vegan and gluten free, this cake has an incredibly delicate balance of uncommon flavors.

2. White Rose Kombucha, Townshends

Second only to Townshend’s Nutritonic kombucha, the white rose kombucha is floral and sweet but still has the kombucha kick to it.

3. Rose Collins, Portobello

For vegans, Portobello is as important a tourist destination as the Washington Park Rose Garden.  Lauren, the bartender, has carefully crafted infusions, tinctures, and juices to create some of the best cocktails and mocktails in Portland.  Continuing the rose theme, I got the Rose Collins*, made with rhubarb-infused gin and rosewater, with a single floating blueberry.

Photo from

*Apparently the Rose Collins is no longer on the drink menu, but they have a house infusion of white lavender rose tea gin!

4.  Rose Quartz, Central

Central is somewhat hidden, but it’s not too hard to find because it’s right around the corner from Voodoo Donuts.  While sitting at a table in the converted alleyway, I sipped the Rose Quartz, which had gin, bitters, and rose syrup.

5. Pistachio Rosewater Cookie, Back to Eden Bakery

You can’t go wrong with the pistachio/rosewater combo, and the cookie has its own appeal.  Back to Eden’s cookies have the perfect crunchy to chewy ratio, with crip edges and soft centers.  Plus, the cookie is slightly less sweet than the cake, making it easier to eat on a daily basis (& that’s my baked good time frame, let’s be real).

Photo from Back to Eden's blog, pistachio rosewater second from left.


Homegrown Smoker

November 5, 2011

Not fit for mixed company.  Utterly indecent.

Such are the phrases that come to mind when contemplating Homegrown Smoker‘s sloppy BBQ delicacies.

Homegrown Smoker is hands down my favorite food cart in PDX.

Even though they specialize in down-home cooking, HS’s flavors are often surprisingly complex.  It’s not often a restaurant features both remoulade & rutabagas, and deep fried pickles & oreos.

Among the many standouts from their standard menu is the Smoker Salad: Soy curls, baked beans, cabbage and collards, tortilla strips, diced peppers, onions, daiya cheese & ranch, with a slice of molassas cornbread (left, with the Smoked Shroom Burger and Deep Fried Pickle Spears).

They’ve got some extra naughty items for you too, including the Frito Chili Pie, Tye Dye Chili Cheeze Fryz and…

The Portorrito: a burrito with smoked portobello and vegan mac nocheeze!  Yeah, that’s right: mac’n’cheese in a burrito!!

Keep an eye on their blog, which features daily specials.  Our last meal in Portland (and possibly the best we had) was one of their featured sandwiches, the Philthy NoCheezesteak.

Here we have the sandwich, sweet potato fries, and lurking in the front, those innocent-looking lumps of white and black, are none other than OREOS DEEP FRIED IN COCONUT BATTER. How can something so wrong taste so right? But hey, vegans need a little more fat every once in a while (on the off chance you’re not already getting more than your fair share from Voodoo Donuts).

Go eat, be amazed, build up some winter paunch, and be sure to wash your food down with a mint lemonade.

P.S. They’ll deep fry anything on request.

I’m Jammin’

September 10, 2011

No trip to Portland is complete without some pleasantly cliche urban homesteading.

I started the process at Kruger Farms on Sauvie Island

Summertime berry picking is so popular that the berries are always pretty well picked over.  We had to settle for some blueberries that weren’t quite as ripe & plump as I had hoped.  Next time I’d look for a more out-of-the way farm.  Nonetheless, we got 5 pounds of blueberries for $10.

I got home and realized that I had blueberries and a crock pot, but absolutely no idea how to make jam.  Luckily, there are tons of websites on the subject.

First I had to take a quick trip to New Seasons to pick up some pectin (derived from apples, it’s what gives jelly the jelly consistency).  Then I put the prescribed amounts of lemon juice, sugar, pectin and blueberries into my crock pot and cooked for 10 hours.

I followed all of the directions, but fer Peet’s sake, my jam was still liquid!  Trouble at the homestead.

If your jam doesn’t set properly, the internets advises you to bring the liquidy jam, plus more lemon juice, sugar, and pectin to a boil for one minute, and then can it.  That did the trick!

While the jam was boiling, I sanitized the lids.  Then, after the jam was canned, I had to boil the sealed jars of jam for 10 minutes to sanitize and vacuum seal them.

Now I’m one step closer to a Little House on the Prairie.

Red and Black Cafe

August 28, 2011

If all of your No Fish, Go Fish pondering has left you feeling anarchistic and alone, make your next stop Red and Black Cafe.

This worker-owned vegan cafe is a haven for radicals and misfits.  Red and Black provides an amazing opportunity to talk with people from all walks of life, from formerly-homeless vegans to war veterans.  It is a great break from Portland’s potential homogeneity, and the place to go if you’re looking to commiserate about police brutality.

Their food isn’t spectacular, but it’s tasty & affordable.  They also host shows and speakers; check out their calendar.

You know you’re the kind of person who would enjoy Red and Black Cafe if…

you have this sign in your front yard.

No Fish, Go Fish

August 25, 2011

In a city with so many vegan options, it can be hard for restaurants for distinguish themselves.  There are at least three food carts  dedicated to vegan bowls, two all-vegetarian burger food carts, infinite veg-friendly Thai carts, &c.  But there is only one restaurant specializing in miniature fish-shaped sandwiches that do not actually contain any fish.

If Werner Herzog and Dr. Seuss were to open a restaurant together, it very well might be No Fish, Go Fish on Hawthorne.

Open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, No Fish Go Fish serves a variety of sweet & savory fillings inside of a fish-shaped whole grain casing.  In case the sheer bizarreness doesn’t draw you in, these ichytheological delicacies only cost $1.50 – $2.00.

Why?  Who can say!  Does anything in the world contain inherent meaning?  This is merely one of the existential dilemmas you might be faced with while consuming a fish-shaped sandwich!

The vegan options include mushroom & garlic, olive tapenade, pinto bean & salsa, berry, and apple cinnamon.  The pesce-casing is surprisingly greasy, making these a rather heavy snack.  The savory fishwiches we tried were mediocre (although we couldn’t complain, given the novelty + price).  But, the apple cinnamon was the saving grace.  It tastes like the McDonald’s apple turnover I used to enjoy in my childhood, and for roughly the same price.

No Fish, Go Fish also features a variety of novel soup flavors, such as macaroni & cheese and watermelon gazpacho.  I’ve heard their soups are quite good, but cannot vouch for them myself.

The next time you feel that all of the beautiful mystery has been sucked out of our post-Industrial-capitalist-globalized-corporatist world, head to No Fish, Go Fish and consider its possible etiological implications.

Back to Eden Bakery

August 17, 2011

The time has come.  I can avoid it no longer.  I’ve put off this post because I’m not sure that my words can to justice to the best baked goods that I have ever masticated (see what I mean?).

Where to begin?  How about with vegan soft serve.  The flavors alternate weekly between vanilla and chocolate, and two house specialty flavors.  They also make their own caramel and berry sauces.  I’m generally not big on frozen desserts, but my ice cream-fiending friend convinced me to give it a try, and I’ve been a regular at their soft-serve happy hour ($1 off M-Th 4-7) ever since.  It’s summertime; go get a large swirled with caramel sauce.  Ooh and they have ice cream punch cards!  Feel productive while you indulge.

Now let’s talk about their cookies.  Rosewater, and butterscotch white chocolate chip are tied for the best cookie I’ve ever had (srsly).

Cookies & ice cream not your thing?  How about rosewater pistachio mini-cake (best cake I’ve ever had!)?  Or strawberry lemon whoopie pies?  Or chocolate coconut cream pie?  Or almond butter fudge!!!

Head on down to Alberta and get yourself some.

Urban Safari

July 29, 2011

Alright, I know this isn’t strictly food related (well, not vegan food anyway), but I have a new favorite Portland activity: goat watching.

At SE 11th and Taylor roam the cutest goats I ever did see.  They have a whole block’s worth of foliage to munch on, and the woodworking shop across the street built them a platform for frolicking.

There are little goats and big goats and baby goats and goats with beards and goats bleating “maa” and goats cuddling and goats headbutting each other.  Apparently I can’t help but turn into Dr. Seuss when I watch them.

If you get bored with the goats, it also provides great people watching opportunities.  So many variations of the absurd squeals and moans inadvertently elicited by the mere sight of cute animals.


July 27, 2011

Once again I find myself ensconced in my favorite plush olive-green chair at my new favorite cafe, Townshends on Alberta.

Townshends is a tea company featuring 84 kinds of hot and iced tea, as well as kombucha, boba, and elixirs.  They also have a small food menu, featuring two vegan pot pies from Stone Pie Joe’s for $3.95, and miso soup for $1.50 (although they’re perpetually out of soup).

Two things lure me back:

1. The kombucha.  Townshends brews & bottles their own kombucha, and their white rose flavor is the best I’ve ever had.  Makes me all tingly in the knees.

2. Between the wooden ceiling beams and the rich umber walls, it’s easy to relax.  No perching on a metal chair, feeling conspicuous against a barren backdrop.  Plus, they play my high school soundtrack – John Lennon, The Pixies, Iggy & the Stooges.

Sizzle Pie

July 17, 2011

Sizzle pie!  So satisfying to say excitedly in so many different accents!  That’s the first thing they’ve got going for them.  The next is their flashy sign.  Love it.  And it just keeps getting better from there.

The decor inside has got that no-frills, we-don’t-fuck-around-we-just-make-pizza, punk/biker feel apparently common to vegan-friendly pizza places (reminds me a lot of Lanesplitters in the Bay Area).  That said, their back patio is quite lovely.

They’ve always got two vegan pies ready made, so you can buy slices.  The first time we got slices of the Bad Reputation: Daiya cheese, black olives, mushrooms, and onions on a thin crust.  It was definitely tasty, especially if you add all the extras they’ve got sitting on the tables: red pepper flakes, garlic powder, nutritional yeast and Aardvark’s sauce.  Simple, good, affordable.

Plus they (like many other places in Portland) have punch cards!  I love feeling like I’m accomplishing something, working towards a goal by eating vegan pizza or soft serve or drinking kombucha.  I’m so damn productive here!  Plus, Sizzle Pie’s punch cards go to 11.

The next time we came to check out their brunch special, one slice of breakfast pizza and either a bloody mary, mimosa, or espresso stout for $6.  They didn’t have their usual Drugs Benedict (“Cheesy” Tofu Scramble, Hash Browns, Vegan “Bacon” Bits, Creamy Shallot and White Bean Spread on our Whole Wheat Crust.), which I was kinda bummed about.  We got one with tofu, vegan sausage & onions.  It was almost alarmingly meaty, but again tasty if you add all the accoutrements.

My big complaint about the brunch was the size of the drinks.  Both the Bloody Mary and the espresso stout came in tiny little-kid sized glasses.  There wasn’t even room for the salad-in-a-glass that usually accompanies Bloody Marys.  Even so, we were pretty happy:

So then.  We were wandering around SE last night around 10:30 looking for a worthy place to nosh, and found ourselves at Sizzle Pie.  We were hungry enough for a full pie this time, and decided on the New Maps Out of Hell: basil cashew cheese spread, seasoned soy curls, and your choice of three veggies.  We got mushrooms, olives, and artichoke hearts.

Oh my god!  This is my kind of pizza, loaded with toppings.  Everything about it was so damn delicious, from the savory & salty basil cashew spread to the expertly seasoned soy curls.  I would highly recommend getting artichoke hearts on it too.  You’ve gotta try this pizza!

Vita Cafe

July 15, 2011

What better place to begin our eating adventures than Vita Cafe, mere blocks from our new sublet.  Rob & I strolled down there for our first morning on Alberta.  We’ve since returned many a time to this vegan-friendly, slightly-punk & airy cafe, so I’ll just sum up what we’ve had:

Supergrain Salad: It was alright.  I can make better at home.

H.O.G. : Homemade Herb & Onion bread with almond Gravy. a.k.a. HolyOhmyGod.  Look no further on the menu.  Must order.

Huevos Rancheros: Not the best I’ve had, but they’ll definitely satisfy your early-morning mexican faux-eggy cravings.

Vegan Club Sandwich: Not quite as dripping with Vegenaise as I had hoped, but their tempeh & seitan turkey have a nice flavor.

Vegan Fish & Chips:  Mmm, fried + more fried.  I couldn’t stomach this myself, but if you’ve missed uttering the words, “Fish and chips, please,” indulge yourself.  Don’t forget to add plenty of malt vinegar + lemon.

Faux Tofurkey Florentine: This tasted like nutritional yeast.  Delicious, delicious nutritional yeast.

Sloppy Biscuit Sandwich: Had this on my birthday (only way to justify it to myself).  It necessitated an immediate nap, and the daiya cheese was really guilding the lily, but it was worth every gloppy bite of indulgence.