Let Me Feed You Portland

August 10, 2012

1026 SW Stark St
The Pacific North-West of the US is, I feel, sadly under-appreciated in guidebooks and in popular opinion. It was my favourite place in my entire trip, bar NYC. I was there with my friend K and her family, and really enjoyed exploring both the cities and the parklands of Oregon and Washington (coming in my next post). The area is decidedly liberal, on average highly educated, and home to a curious mix of hipsters and hippies, plus the occasional normal/employed person.
But I digress from the point of this blog; food. To begin, what’s a trip to Portland without a Stumptown coffee?

My first, proper coffee in the US. It was glorious; I can see why Stumptown has such a good reputation.

Later that day we had yummy sushi in a suburb that I can’t remember in a restaurant that I can’t remember the name of. Helpful? I know – I’m useful like that.

Came across this beauty of a street-cart one day while wondering round the inner-suburbs. Grilled PB&J, yummo. Both my mum and I enjoy PB&J on toast, but my dad and brother always look on, disgusted. Finally, a country free of PB&J prejudice!!

While we were at the beach one day (Oregon has a beautiful coastline, by the way) we ventured into a huge old-fashioned candy shop. If there’s one industry that’s in over-drive in the US, it’s the confectionary industry. All manner of crazy combinations and endless options of chewy, sticky, fruity, or chocolate creations. K and I enjoyed darting around all the young kids and picking out the weird lollies, such as these giant gummy bears. They were actually made of gummy lolly, just 100x bigger than normal!

This is the bacon lollipop I bought for my brother. Am convinced it had no actual bacon in it, but he appreciated it nonetheless, like only a teenage boy would. I was also tempted by a pack of edible mustaches, but restrained myself.

Pop Rocks! Popping candy is very difficult, almost impossible to find in Melbourne, so I stocked up on a few packets. Warning: giggle-inducing candy!

The shop also had more traditional sweets; a myriad of toffee apples covered in different toppings, old-style Hershey’s bars and fudge, along with barrels and barrels of salt-water taffy, made in house. I’ve never had them before – they have quite an unusual texture that’s halfway between a starburst chew and gum. Watermelon was the winning flavour out of the 20 or so we tried.

Another funny thing about Portland – very keen on designer dog and cat accessories. These doggie cupcake treats (reminds me of that scene in Modern Family) were inside a store that pushed ‘Holistic Dog and Cat Food’ as its claim to fame.

Because, you know, my dog just isn’t having all of her cognitive, emotional and psychosomatic needs met by tinned food. She feels marginalised by it. It compromises her autonomy and her personal development. Also sheep’s wool coats irritate her skin, do you have any alpaca wool coats? (That last sentence wasn’t my creation; it came from a woman in front of me in the shop).

Smoothies for dogs…

Look, I have no words for this kind of thing, apart from a) it’s ridiculous and b) congrats to whoever it was for finding such a lucrative market.

Pok Pok

3226 Southeast Division St

Went here for dinner with my friends on my last night in Portland – one person at the table of four was vegetarian and another was pescatarian, so we were slightly limited in our choice of dishes, although ultimately everything was delicious. But I would have liked to have seen a few more vegetarian options on the thai-based menu.

Tamarind whiskey sour – excellent.

Pok Pok reminds me a tad of Chin Chin, and not just because of the repeated, monosyllabic name – also because of the no bookings policy, the medium-priced thai-ish cuisine, and the casual atmosphere with shared dishes.

Everything came out at once which made the table look gloriously full. A good way to start was the spicy green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans and Thai dressing. Lots of palm sugar and chili and fish sauce and all manner of good things in here. It certainly had my nose running with the heat level, but I really enjoyed it.

By way of curries, we had the khao soi, a coconut milk curry with noodles and vegetables. Served alongside were some fresh shallots, mustard greens, and roasted chili paste to add as we liked. I normally get curries with meat or fish, but this had a wonderful aroma and taste without being spicy, though I ramped it up a notch by adding a touch of chili paste to my bowl.

We also had a whole steamed sea bass with soy, ginger, garlic and oyster mushrooms. I thought the flavours here were more Chinese than Thai, but then again I’ve had similar dishes at Thai restaurants before. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful dish; the sea bass was perfectly steamed and had a wonderful ginger-heavy taste.

My favourite dish by far was the one meat dish we ordered (scant hopes of me becoming a vegetarian, it seems…) – Ike’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings, deep fried AND caramelised!! Preposterously good. The only way to effectively tackle these babies is hands on. You get that gloriously salty and sweet sauce all over your fingers, but that’s part of the fun.

In all, had a brilliant time in Portland, would seriously recommend it to anyone looking to see that corner of the country. Big thanks also to K, S and T for being such wonderful hosts!

Filed under: United States