Thursday, August 28, 2014

REPOST Americana Series Part III: PART I BEERVANA Exploring the Pacific NW with Gringo G ... Portland!


The Place: Portland, Oregon - Beervana

Gringo G’s Experience

Summary: Portland is a very interesting place. From the quirky hotel, to the converted old brew-n-view theaters to the gardens to the people the Gringo G Mexico City Foodie got to know there, Portland was worth every minute of Gringo G’s visit.

The Eats: First up is the Portland Saturday Market (which actually operates both Saturdays and Sundays from March through December 24 annually) alongside the Willamette River adjacent to Downtown Portland. The market has an astounding assortment of local food and craft vendors.

Between sessions browsing through local crafts, from vegan soap all the way through gourmet chocolatiers you can have local Thai, Indian food or even gourmet sandwiches … It is not only a decent place to eat some street food but a place to keep yourself occupied while you eat!

The second place the Gringo G visited is Bollywood Theater a restaurant specializing in Indian Street Food dishes from all regions of India. Gringo G got to try a few dishes while waiting to be seated in nearby Pok Pok. The fried Okra with a yogurt sauce and a fresh lemon was delightly light, crunchy and tasty and the Gringo's favorite. The dish with Samosas and a nice ball of garbanzo bean mix placed in a tamarind sauce was nice and tangy. The last dish with boiled eggs floating in a warm curry with nice rice was also delightful. 

Fried Okra with Yogurt Sauce
Curry with Eggs

After Bollywood the Gringo moved onto Pok Pok, which it must be stated has become so popular that there can be up to a two hour wait (you can have drinks in their adjacent Whiskey Lounge Restaurant). 

No matter how long the wait the Northern Thai food is so outstanding that it will surely be worth the wait. The servers will encourage larger groups to eat family style (sharing all plates ordered amongst themselves) and it is a very nice way to dig into this fine food. The Gringo's party of 4 tried different dishes, one a wonderful noodle dish with coconut creme (very refreshing), another eggplant dish that was very interesting, Kaeng Hang Leh a wonderful pork belly stew that had a nice spicy curry broth and tender falling apart meat in the middle (very good but heavy) ... but despite the quality of these dishes the stars for the Gringo were far and away the corn on the cob with coconut creme slathered on top and the AMAZING Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings.

The patron next to Gringo's tables literally rolled his eyes back into his head when he first bit into the wings ... the Gringo thought this to be a bit of an exaggeration but once the Gringo bit into the wings he realized why the other guest reacted this way. They are very nice and crunchy on the outside with a perfect blend of fish sauce and other ingredients and if you ask for them spicy they get a little special red pepper kick! This dish was possibly Gringo G's favorite dish on a trip that spanned 6 cities, 4 different provinces and 2 different countries!

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings
Coconut Milk Noodles
Kaeng Hang Leh

After an extremely filling and pleasurable experience at Pok Pok the Gringo decided to walk around the Division District of Portland (where Bollywood and Pok Pok are located as well as S&S) to build up his appetite up for dessert (the neighborhood was very nice) at Salt & Straw. The wait to get your ice cream at Salt & Straw was about 20 minutes with a line about 100 yards from the front door of the famed Ice Cream joint. It is, incredibly, also worth the wait if not just to be able to try  some very creative and different ice cream flavors. The Gringo loved the Strawberry Balsamic with Black Pepper and the flagship Sea Salt & Caramel flavors which were amazing and served in very big balls on top of the waffle cone. The Rasberry & Cucumber flavor that another person in the Gringo's group tried was very refreshing and interesting as well. An absolute must for those that have a sweet tooth or a dessert streak in them!

The Line
Strawberry Balsalmic with Black Pepper
Rasberry with Cucumber

The last place Gringo G visited on his visit in Portland was the LePigeon restaurant. A restaurant that uses local products to create French inspired dishes with exceptionally detailed execution. The Gringo G has mixed feelings about his experience at LePigeon as many the fresh dishes were incredibly well presented and executed, particularly the squab which was very nice (hence the name of the place) (see pics below) but the pork shoulder dish even though presented well was still very tough and hard to eat. At the high pricepoint LePigeon charges everything should be perfect and it was not. Regardless eating that squab dish again would be enough motivation to make Gringo G return for another try!

The Squab
Crab Cakes
A Little Wine!
The Salmon
The Lamb Shoulder

Hospedaje: Gringo G went straight from a long day of international travel to his pre-arranged lodging, The Portland Mayor’s Mansion, an old almost colonial-era mansion that is now a 4-room bed and breakfast nestled aside cozy Laurelhurst Park in Eastern Portland. The breakfasts cooked by the B&B proprietor Dick are amazing and prepared fresh every morning.

The B&B Mansion is actually in the National Register of Historic Places and its preserved Colonial Revival Architecture brings you back in time to another era and Dick really encourages his guests to sit around the house and enjoy the property during their visits. Very relaxing.

The Portland Mayor’s Mansion is highly recommended for anyone visiting Portland and looking for a quiet, moderately priced option away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Portland. Plus the breakfasts are downright superb!

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