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July 30, 2014

Get To Know Portland Through A Walking Tour


Definition
 of foodie (n)

food·ie [ f√≥odee ] 1. somebody who enjoys good food: an enthusiast of cooking, eating, or shopping for good food.

That’s me.  And that’s the reason for my recent trip to Portland, Oregon.  It surprised me the number of people that were dumbfounded by my plans asking, “What’s in Portland?” 

Well, it just so happens that Portland is home to one of the nation’s best food scenes and has garnered national interest.  Portland has been named the best city in the world for street food by several publications and has a reputation for the best coffee and microbrews.  Brunch, my most favorite meal, is also extremely popular here with people lining up before opening and waiting over an hour in line.  The laid back city is also known for their FLOSS concept when it comes to food (fresh, local, organic, sustainable, and seasonal).  I am a big fan of supporting and eating local.  

As I was putting together an itinerary for my trip, the Epicurean Excursion from Portland Walking Tours caught my eye.  The 3.5 hour tour is described as, “A unique and delicious walking tour where you’ll taste the foods and sip the drinks - while discovering Portland's amazing culinary scene. If you watch the Food Network or consider yourself a "foodie," then this exploration is for you. Portland has become a go-to destination for people who love to eat and we're the ones who will show you why. Each tour is limited in size so the experience is small and intimate.”  This foodie was sold.

The tour typically visits between 7 and 9 different local vendors and artisan producers, but they can vary depending on the availability of the vendor, day of the week, time of day, seasonality, and food allergies/dietary restrictions of the guests.

My friend and I arrived for the tour at the Heathman Hotel.  Yes, that hotel.  The one that is referenced many times in Fifty Shades of Grey.  The Heathman has good naturedly embraced the reference and has created a "Fifty Shades of Gin" cocktail and even offers “Our Inner Goddess” add-on package which includes a bottle of pouille fume wine and a keepsake grey tie.  Note: this is an AWESOME city. 


After meeting our friendly tour host Pat, our group of 13 started on our food adventure and headed downstairs to our first stop, Cacao.  Cacao is a specialty chocolate shop that features a hand-picked selection of chocolate from around the world, including the best premium solid chocolate bars from small producers and select chocolate from the best local chocolatiers and North American makers.  We were fortunate to start off the tour with a sampling of their house-made drinking chocolate.  I felt guilty drinking something so decadent.  But I am an adult.  So there.





Our next stop was to Flying Elephants, an outpost of Elephants Delicatessen.  There we had the most amazing tomato orange soup.  Elephants is not only a deli, but a market where you’ll find a full selection of cheeses, baked goods, fresh breads, and chocolates.


Portland is home to hundreds of food carts and this thriving phenomenon has become an integral part of the city’s culture.  In Portland, it’s all about eating local and this city, as Pat noted, has regulations that make it fairly easy to set up food cart shop.  Our food cart stop was at the Gaufre Gourmet where we ate (read: inhaled) the most delicious liege waffle.  The Gaufre Gourmet’s liege style waffle is made from a sweet brioche-style dough with big chunks of pearl sugar that are kneaded into the dough immediately before baking. The yeasted dough gives the waffles a dense and chewy texture and the sugar gives them a sweet flavor and a carmelized coating.  YUM! 



Our next stop, thanks goodness was coffee!  Courier Coffee Roasters, available only inside Portland, is wholly representative of what Portland is about.  They deliver their coffee by bicycle and will only deliver enough to last about a week to ensure their hand roasted coffee remains of the highest quality.  Here we each got our own macchiato, complete with latte art.  LOVE!   




Nothing goes better with coffee than pastries and at the Pearl Bakery we got to sample some of their best.  Their handcrafted breads and pastries are made fresh with no preservatives and this bakery takes great care to seek out the finest ingredients, buying organic, local, and small-producer items whenever possible.   We sampled their baguette, croissant, gibassier, focaccia, and fruit tart.  Hands down, my favorite was the gibassier, a French pastry made with fruited olive oil and spiced with anise and candied orange peel. 




If we weren’t starting to feel full, we definitely were after our stop at Hot Lips Pizza located in the Ecotrust Building in the Pearl District.  Hot Lips is known for using local, organic ingredients in its pizzas and in 2005 began producing fresh fruit soda.  Their raspberry lemonade was delicious!  We each had a full slice of their Squash & Goat Cheese pizza, summer squash with roasted pepper, hazelnuts, and goat cheese on an olive oil base.  Not something I would typically order, but so glad that I got to try. 





Our seventh stop took us to Ringlers Pub, where you can enjoy beer and play shuffleboard, pool or pinball if it suits your fancy.  We indulged in a flight of three beers: the ruby, a light, crisp ale with notes of raspberry; the hammerhead, a classic Northwest pale ale; and the Terminator Stout, full of toasted, chocolate, nutty and coffee-like flavors.  We even made our own rubinator, topping the ruby ale with the terminator stout. 



As I mentioned before, the brunch scene in Portland is huge and there’s no shortage of great places serving up breakfast and brunch.  One of those places is Cheryl's on 12th, a local family owned marketplace, cafe and catering company.  Cheryl’s uses fresh and pure ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible.  Here we sampled their beignets and enjoyed a plateful of their version of Portuguese fried rice with eggs, green onion, bacon, Portuguese sausage, and avocado.

 




Completing this epic Epicurean Excursion was a stop at Ruby Jewel Scoops where we tried two ice cream sandwiches: lemon cookie with honey lavender ice cream and chocolate cookie with salted caramel ice cream.  Ruby Jewel Scoops is known for their delicious ice cream sandwiches and you can find them in grocery stores from Alaska to Los Angeles.   




The tour took us on about a 1.5 mile exploration of Portland’s West End and Pearl districts complete with a ride on the Portland Streetcar.  I highly recommend this tour as it was informative, fun and delicious.  Perfect for hungry newbies to the city.  


Special thank you to Portland Walking Tours for extending a media discount. 

www.portlandwalkingtours.com

 

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading reading your excellent review Nadia and loved the pictures you took of this tour..

    ReplyDelete

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