It’s been an awfully long time since the Accidental Locavore found herself in Portland. Back then, it certainly wasn’t a hip and cool place, just a small Northwestern city with no direct flights from New York. How things have changed!
While it may just look like the gathering spot for everything tattooed, pierced and enrobed in snarky black tees (or the ubiquitous plaid shirt) Portland is doing its best to live up to the hype. It may be that after you live there for a while, you grow immune to the things that struck me as quirky.
If you’ve watched the first episode of Portlandia, you may or may not be surprised to listen to an earnest discussion about the provenance of any ingredient put in front of you. What does surprise is an intense conversation about the flavor profile of that day’s “pour-over” (coffee made in a Chemex to the rest of us). The question posed to the barista was about the fruitiness of that particular type of African coffee. “It’s fruity, but not like a citrus fruit. More like a stone fruit — say black cherry or even nectarine.” If you weren’t into that particular coffee, or the pour-over method, you had your choice of at least three other coffees and an equal variety of preparations.
Provenance aside, there’s a lot of good food to be had in Portland. Sadly, I had only a couple of days to try to cram in as many meals as possible, but we made the most of it and managed to try a variety of places in many different neighborhoods. Highlights included Smallwares, billed as “inauthentic Asian” tapas style with lots of interesting and delicious small plates, and Louisiana crab hash, a great version of eggs Benedict served over a pair of crab cakes at City State Diner.
For me, the highlight of the trip was an ice cream shop called Fifty Licks. Their peach ice cream was nothing to sneer at, perfectly creamy and loaded with chunks of local peaches, but the chocolate brown butter was simply incredible! Without a doubt, the absolute best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had! As a matter of fact, it was so good that I Googled it the next morning hoping it might be open for breakfast, but sadly it wasn’t. They pack pints, but don’t ship, which is probably a blessing for both my waistline and wallet.
We never made it to any of the famed food trucks, which are permanently moored in “pods” scattered around the city. And not enough time to try Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon, or Little Bird. A shame because I became a huge fan after a class he did at DeGustibus. Ditto Pok Pok Wings, and Beast. But hopefully there will be more trips to Portland in the future and I can explore further.