Wednesday, 22 August 2012

New Article: Portland Booty

This past weekend Carrie & I went down to Portland with the Unintentional Housewife and her Hubby. We came back with booty.

I’ve been to Portland many times, of course. But I haven’t really had the quintessential Portland tourist experience… until now!

First things first. Before we even got to Portland we had to stop for din-dins at Burgerville in Centralia. It’s a requisite for any Tacoman who is driving to Portland. You gots ta stop at Burgerville. Gots ta.

They have a seasonal menu, and right now ’tis the season for Walla Walla onions. I have an especial fondness for them seeing as how my dad was borned and raised in Walla Walla, Washington. Please forgive the following crappy cell phone photos:

Burgerville's Walla Walla Onion Rings

Burgerville’s Walla Walla Onion Rings

We got to Portland rather late due to exceptionally awful traffic. The Housewife and Hubby had gone down earlier in the day (but still had awful traffic), and we were all staying with the Housewife’s sister and her hubs. As soon as Carrie & I got down there we all went out to Voodoo Donuts. I had never been there before.

We didn’t go to the downtown one, though, because (A) it was recently renovated and apparently isn’t as cool as it used to be and (B) it always has like a half-hour line outside of it. We went instead to the Voodoo Too on the east side. We had to wait for maybe a minute or two before we ordered. I got a bacon maple bar, an Old Dirty Bastard, and a new lemony thing with a gumdrop on it. I stupidly forgot to take photos even though I knew I was going to blog about it. But oh, well. More on Voodoo later…

That was enough excitement for one night, so the next morning (Saturday) we got up early and headed to the big Farmer’s market at Portland State University. PSU is one of the largest urban college campuses in the USA. It takes up an enormous chunk of downtown Portland. And the Farmer’s market takes up a sizable chunk of that campus:

Portland State Farmer's Market

Portland State Farmer’s Market

Seriously, it is huge compared to any of the Tacoma Farmer’s Markets. I had never been there before. Carrie & I bought a bunch foodstuffs from the vendors there (though no produce—go figure). More on that later as well…

Then it was time to break a fast! The six of us all went to Mother’s Bar & Bistro downtown. Carrie has always raved about Mother’s, but I had never been there before.

Mother's

Mother’s: Breakfast in Portland

On Carrie’s recommendation I got the Salmon Hash, which was made up of big chunks of potatoes, salmon, and the like. It had a very light coating of some sorta creamy sauce. It was delicious. I packed half of it in my stomach and the other half in a box to have later.

From there it was a short jaunt to Powell’s. Powell’s claims to be the world’s larges independent bookseller. I can’t imagine a store like this doing as well anywhere other than Portland. It’s four stories and its footprint is an entire city block. It is quite amazing. I had never been there before.

Powell's City of Books

Powell’s City of Books

I picked up the two William Gibson books that I am missing: All Tomorrow’s Parties and Zero History. I’ve read the first two books in each trilogy but not the last. Now I can rectify that problem.

On a big pillar in the Sci-Fi section they’ve written in Sharpie the winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards for every year going back since those awards’ inceptions. I’ve only read maybe a dozen of them total. It gave me an idea. I’d like to read all the Hugo & Nebula award winners in chronological order. I’ll even blog about them. I know it’s been done before, but I have mine own opinions, you know! I think it’s important to read the classics of the genre, and blogging about it will keep me motivated. I’ll probably only read maybe six to ten a year (and I probably won’t get started until next year), but I’m still kinda stoked about the idea.

After that epic Portland experience we were all tired and worned out, so we went back to the Housewife’s sister’s place to veg and relax for a while. And also do do a little taste-test.

You see, Voodoo’s most famous donut is their aforementioned bacon maple bar. It’s just what it sounds like: a maple bar with strips of bacon on it. It is sweet, salty, smoky, soft, crunchy, and delicious. It has been replicated all over the place.

But Voodoo went one step further and partnered with Oregon’s Rogue Brewery to create a bacon maple ale to match with their bacon maple bar. You read that correctly:

Macon Baple?

Bacon Maple Bars and Bacon Maple Beers

None of us had ever tried it before, so we decided to all try it together. We each got a bacon maple bar and a small glass of bacon maple beer (in case we didn’t like it we wouldn’t waste a whole bottle that way).

It was… interesting. I can’t quite say that it is good. I enjoyed the maple overtones to it. The yeast ate all the sugar out of the maple so that it had a maple flavor without the maple sweetness, which was pretty fascinating. But the bacon part of it was an abject failure. It just tasted like smoke. And not good smoke. Carrie said it tasted like licking the walls of the downstairs rec room at her grandma’s place in Kansas City. I thought it was more like you accidentally inhaled too much smoke at a campfire and then took a swig of beer. So I can’t actually recommend it, but it was a fun culinary experiment.

After that I had to get back up to Olympia to do Fools Play. The Housewife’s Hubby drove me up because he had to work on Sunday morning anyway.

Carrie stayed the night and came back on Sunday afternoon after making another trip to Voodoo Too. They had to wait a little bit longer than we did on Friday evening because there just happened to be a wedding taking place inside the establishment when they arrived. It turns out that’s a thing.

Anyhoo, we came back form Portland with booty. Here is what we brought home with us:

Portland Booty

Portland Booty

That’s (clockwise from top-left) a donut from Voodoo Donuts, a sopressata salami from Olympic Provisions, some garlic-flavored cheese curds from a vendor whose name I can’t remember, garlic & chive pesto from Pesto Outside the Box, and a firm goat cheese from Fraga Farm. Not pictured but also brought back was a loaf of olive bread from Pearl Bakery. For din-dins on Sunday night we just sliced all of it up and ate it. We spread the pesto on the bread. It was all delicious. I also made some pickled carrots using a very simple and fast Japanese pickling technique.

And that’s about it. I really enjoyed doing the typical Portland stuff that I had never done before. Powell’s is especially impressive.

Oh, and Portlandia is not an exaggeration. Not even one single bit.

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