Daily Archives: April 7, 2011

Food cart field trip

It’s amazing how much you learn to appreciate a little sunshine when you live in a place where gray skies reign supreme through most of the winter and spring. The second a few rays start poking through the clouds, you figure out a way to drop everything and get outside to enjoy the sun.

So when the sun popped out just before lunch today, we quickly scrapped plans to eat indoors and instead decided to walk from Lindsey’s apartment to the pod of food carts at 12th and Hawthorne. The selection isn’t huge—there are only five carts—but it’s all about quality over quantity here.

Lindsey headed straight for Perierra Creperie, which serves the unlikely but awesome combination 0f crepes and milkshakes. The crepes come in all kinds of cool flavors: savory options like chevre, fig, prosciutto & honey; smoked salmon, arugula, cream cheese & lemon; and spincach, gruyere & baked egg (Lindsey’s choice), and sweet options like lemon & sugar; chocolate and prosciutto (seriously!); and Nutella. The shakes are just as creative, with flavors like avocado & sea salt, Nutella and banana, mint and Oreo, lavender & honey, basil & coconut milk, and dulce de leche & sea salt. Yum.

Lindsey is enjoying the crepe almost as much as she's enjoying the sun.

Beth went for the wood-fired pizza at Pyro Pizza. The menu is super simple—always a good sign, if you ask us. Just a caprese salad, 4 or 5 pizzas, and a few homemade sodas. Beth was tempted by the carmelized onion pizza with gorgonzola, parmigianno-reggiano, and pistachios, but going on her tried and true philosophy that in order to know if a place is the real deal, you have to make sure they do the basics right, she went for the standard margherita instead. Whoa. The crust was perfect—crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with just a few nicely charred spots from the fire—and the house-made mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil scattered over the top were just right.

Beth was sure she wouldn't be able to finish the whole thing—until she looked down at her plate and realized it was gone.

We (and by we, we mean Beth) topped off the meal with a dulce de leche milkshake from Perierra Creperie.

Beautiful, no? Tasty, too.

We love that in Portland, “fast food” doesn’t have to mean a trip to the Golden Arches. This place is full of independently owned food carts—more than 450 at last count. If you’re passing through town and want to visit a few, check out Food Carts Portland for ideas. The blog has a full list of carts organized by location and cuisine, plus constant updates on recent openings and closings. Or, you know, you could just ask us for recommendations. We’re slowly becoming experts!

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Top Chef-inspired Trips

As you might have noticed, we like to plan our travels around food. If there’s nowhere good to eat where you’re goin’, then you’re probably going to the wrong place. Just sayin’. This is one of the reasons why we get so excited every time a new season of Top Chef or Top Chef Masters begins. You fall in love with the way someone cooks on TV, and all of a sudden you’re online, trying to figure how to visit his/her restaurant, wherever it may be.

For example, when we were in Chicago this summer, we seriously debated visiting Rick Bayless’s restaurant, Frontera Grill. Why? Because he was our favorite on Season 1 of Top Chef Masters… and he made some mean looking Mexican food. We also got all worked up when we discovered that Jamie Lauren, of Top Chef Season 5 fame (she’s now executive chef at Beechwood in Venice), was catering a luncheon we attended in San Francisco a couple of years ago. Everything she served was fresh and delicious.

This season of Masters (first episode aired tonight!) stars one of Portland’s finest, Naomi Pomeroy, chef/owner of Beast, which has been on our must-try list since we moved. It’s supposedly very cozy, with a 24-seat dining room and a unique, seasonal menu that changes every week. We have no doubt that we will check it off the list soon. And as for the show, we’re clearly in her corner. However, we’re pretty sure that every contestant has a restaurant (or three) worth visiting. Here are a few to consider:

If you’re in New Orleans… Check out Gautreau’s, which serves New Orleans’ fare with a French twist. Contestant Sue Zemanick, who was one of the “Top 10 Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine in 2008, is the executive chef. Dish on menu that we’d like to be eating right now: Warm Asparagus with Pecorino Romano with a fried yard egg and truffle vinaigrette.

If you’re in LA… Try Playa, which just opened in February. Chef/owner/contestant John Rivera Sedlar is considered “the father of modern Southwest cuisine” by Gourmet magazine, and you know how we feel about beans and margaritas. Dish on menu that we’d like to be eating right now: Chiles Gueros Rellenos with tempura chiles, crab, corn, soy, ginger and scallion.

If you’re in Oxford, Mississippi… Visit chef/contestant John Currence’s City Grocery. Currence, who received the 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef, got his first restaurant job at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill (he went to school at UNC—big points). And while we haven’t been to any of his City Grocery Group restaurants, we can tell you that Crook’s makes some of the best shrimp & grits we’ve ever had. Dish on menu that we’d like to be eating right now: Grilled Cumin-Dusted Lemonfish with pumpkin seed pesto, jicima slaw, cocoa-braised black beans, skillet-fried corn and cilantro-lime aioli.

 

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Filed under Food, Restaurants, Travel