Saturday, June 29, 2013

How To Eat & Drink Your Way Through Portland Oregon (Day 2)

(Warning: do not read if you are averse to hearing about the gratuitous intake of large quantities of unusual foods and fermented beverages!)

I awoke to a ray of sunlight dappling the surface of the psychedelic Gothic fantasy painting hanging upon the wall of our room in the McMenamins Kennedy School.  Quickly, for there was no time to waste, I sprang into motion!  An hour later, much less urgently, but sated on house-roasted coffee, myself and Sj left the tangled grounds to pursue the succulent object of our desires--Voodoo Donuts!  We opted for the less crowded but also less "classic" second location, in an old service station.  We waited only 5 minutes for the tasty dough treats here rather than the hour at the original site.  Voodoo Maple Bacon donuts...I've had the beer of the same name from Rogue and was now able to compare with the original inspiration.  Crispy salty bacon atop the sweet maple-glazed long john is simply sublime.  We also shared a mustachioed maple custard and another topped with rice krispies, chocolate and peanut butter.  Who needs lunch?  The vibe in the place was cool and shabby at the same time, accentuated by the young child in line pop-and-locking along to the blaring rap music.

Sj wearing the appropriate colors...
After finishing our caloric load for the morning, we headed out for a new area of the city to visit The Meadow, another place featured on Bizarre Foods America.  Having seen the episode and then tasting local dishes featuring the sea salts from this boutique dealer, I had to get to the shop!  Talk about specialty store: one wall was entirely artisanal chocolates, another was cocktail bitters (all tastable and well named) and a third section filled with rows upon rows of salts.  The place is small and packed with glass jars and bottles, like a cross between an old herbalist shop and a mad scientist's laboratory.  My kind of shop for sure!  One can taste all the salts, which gets a bit fatiguing on the palate, but is an amazing experience.  Products range from sea salts with unique tastes and textures, to some smoked on a variety of exotic woods, to a  plethora of flavored salts as well.  I ended up getting the Meadow sampler and a small but pricey glass jar of truffle salt.  I am very excited about trying these in my home chefery!

Our next stop was Laurelhurst Market (also visited by Andrew Zimmern) for a "light" lunch.  We entered the classy new building to find a working butcher's counter teaming with unusual cuts of beef, sausages, duck fat, and other wondrous and unrecognizable meat products.  During they day they serve sandwiches from the counter, but at night they open up the main restaurant as a fancy steak place.  We sampled a deli meat made of boar heart (better than it sounds,) then split a couple of sandwiches: the lamb leg was superb, but the grilled pork rillet sandwich was probably the best sandwich I've ever had in my life.  The shredded meat is formed into a fatty square, lightly sizzled on a grill which crisps the outside to a flavor and texture of bacon, but the center virtually melts in your mouth.  I want to move to Portland so I can have this again. 

Heavy with more food than we had expected to eat, it was past time to get to a brewery.  This is Portland after all.  On the way to one brewery that particular morning we passed no less than three others.  One can scarcely spit in the city without hitting a brewery.  Our goal this morning was the appropriately named Hair Of The Dog Brewing Company, recommended strongly by my friend Andrew and sundry others as a must-visit.  The brewery is located in a somewhat shady industrial area of town, in the shadow of the massive overpasses and just a block away from a cardboard box shanty-town.  I wouldn't want to visit here in the evening, but this time of day it was just starting to fill up with a mixture of locals and other beer tourists.  It has an old warehouse feel, with hanging salmon tapestries adding a bit of color and decoration.  We tried individual samples of all the beers, served in a very cool stemware cordial glass (which we bought to take home with us.)  Every beer was good, but the very best was the Adam: a dark ale with a smoke, leather and sweet complexity to it, reminiscent of Surly Smoke.  The Winter seasonal Doggie Claws from 2012 was an amazing aged barleywine.  The Fred From the Wood sampling that particular day was aged on peaches and lacked carbonation, making it taste more like a peach mead, but I'm not complaining!  A great experience and not to be missed if you are in Portland.

Beer Heaven!

From here we traveled a few miles to Apex: a beer bar and bottle shop with a vibe in between a hipster and biker bar.  They have some old pinball machines and a large outdoor seating area. There is a large back wall of coolers full of aged and special release beers that you can buy to drink there or take home.  Bottles of Cantillon and Eclipse were lurking in there, but with a hefty price tag attached.  I had a tulip glass of Boneyard Brewing's Nefarious Triple IPA that is brewed specifically for them.  It was like drinking a hoppy mango mimosa and I would put this beer up against Pliny the Younger and Heady Topper any day.  I washed the beer down with a Pliny the Elder that tasted like hoppy water after that!  Word to the wise, this joint makes you pay up as you order each tabs.  They are also cash only--shocking if they want folks to put down $75 for a bottle of Cantillon!  Across the street is Beer Mongers: a similar small bar and bottle shop with beers that a little more accessible.

Not far from here we visited our 5th and final brewery in Portland (counting the McMenamins.)  Gigantic is a somewhat oxymoronic/ironic name, since the brewery is tiny, with a tasting room big enough room for a picnic and 2 high top tables.  They had three beers on tap including an excellent Vienna lager, a very well balanced IPA and a mediocre DIPA.  We ended up talking with some local beer geeks over our samples and getting some info on things we should try on the second leg of our journey to Bend. 

Our last stop of the night was Beast (within walking distance to our hotel), a restaurant we had heard about when the chef, Naomi Pomeroy was on Top Chef Masters.  Just prior to our walk, the skies let loose with a deluge of rain, making our walk a bit damp, but by the time our dinner was over the weather had cleared.  The restaurant has two seatings per night, family style with shared tables.  The dinner we had was six courses of wonderful and unusual fresh, seasonal fare, with wine pairings (they did have some beers, but I figured why not!)  As usual I was quite taken with the charcuterie plate of 6 different items including a mini steak tartar on cracker with tiny quail egg nestled atop.  I should have captured its splendor on film, but I jumped into my mouth and down my throat too quickly to do so.  The dinner was amazing, and portion sizes were just right so we did not feel ill after the meal.  We ended up getting to know our table-mates and three couples at the table were celebrating anniversaries.  A really nice guy named Randy who was sitting next to me also had a beer going to second round of NHC...a very small world indeed! 

We had taken part in the early seating (6:30) and were done with dinner way too early to go to bed.  We strolled through the lush verdure of an old neighborhood back to our base of operations at the Kennedy School.  Taking this time to further explore our environs, we peeked into the Detention bar, where they have a lot of bourbons and Scotches, but also too much cigar smoke.  Heading down the hall we settled on the Honors Bar, just big enough for about 6 people.  Sj had some sort of cocktail and I had a pint of Ruby (their trusty raspberry ale.)  When the bar closed down at 10PM we moved on to the Cyprus Room, a bar specializing in quiet Caribbean tunes and rum drinks.  I'm sure my friend Tim would have known just what tropical concoction to order there, but I ended up with some Laphroig instead!  Just a short stagger and off to bed.  Sj and I really managed to make the most of this day.

Up Next:  To Hood River and Bend!

No comments: