Category Archives: Portland

A Tribute to Portland Food Trucks

It goes without saying that the food in Portland left an indelible mark on me. But there were two vegan food trucks in particular whose taste I constantly craved when we left – The Native Bowl and Homegrown Smoker.  Here is my tribute to these two kick-ass Portland food trucks who inspired a creamy mac and cheese barbecue bowl revolution in my kitchen.

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This bowl is a combination of The Native Bowl’s Mississippi Bowl and Homegrown Smoker’s Macnocheeto and is simple to put together. First, start off with your favorite vegan mac and cheese. I used Isa’s Chipotle mac and cheese recipe which is now my go-to mac and cheese recipe.

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Next, put a layer of barbecue soy shreds, curls or even tempeh on top.  I used these soy shreds which I pick up at my local Asian market. To prepare them, I soaked the dry soy shreds in water for about 20 minutes to soften, squeezed the water out and then pan-fried them up with a liberal dousing of barbecue sauce.

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On top of that goes a layer of your favorite cole slaw. I made a quick sweet and tangy coleslaw by combining a bag of pre-cut cole slaw mix with a mixture of apple cider vinegar, sugar, a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

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Next, add a generous handful of chopped green onions.

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Then drizzle on some ranch dressing. I used Isa’s Sanctuary Dip recipe, but store bought also works. Or leave out the ranch dressing altogether if it’s not your jam (this is what Neal did).

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And finally, dig in. You can stir it all up and make a beautiful mess or carefully dig through the layers like a geological surveyor. It tastes good either way!  I’ve made several variations of this bowl swapping the barbecue soy shreds for sweet baked beans and the mac and cheese for rice.

Canteen in Portland: There’s a bowl for that


What better way to end the series of Portland posts than with the dish that, to me, defined Portland…bowls! They were such an iconic dish there that for two weeks after getting back to Atlanta, I just made bowls and only bowls.

We had these two lovely bowls at a small neighborhood joint, Canteen.

Neal got the Bangkok Bowl which was avocado, curry and red curry peanut sauce, long brown rice, aduki beans, broccoli, red cabbage, kimchi and black sesame seeds.

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I got the Walnut Taco Salad which was walnut taco crumbles with mixed greens, pico de gallo, avocado, curry sauce, carrots, cashew ancho spread, sliced avocado and green onions. While not technically classified as a bowl it had all the bowl qualities- lots of different elements layered separately that come together nicely when mixed.

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Portland vegan food, It’s goodbye for now…until we meet again..

Breakfast in PDX

I can’t believe I have more food posts from Portland. No wait, yes I can—it’s a vegan wonderland (like that John Mayer song but way better). And to think that we only scratched the surface!

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I had the “Faux Tofurkey Florentine” which was two English muffins topped with local tofu, homemade faux turkey, spinach and vegan hollandaise. I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat it all, but I did.

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Neal got the “2+2+2” which was tofu, vegan sausage and French toast. I ate some of his French Toast…delish!

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Hungry Tiger Too

Neal got the  “Chicken’ and Waffle”, which he kindly let me take generous bites of.

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I got, two vegan corn dogs with a side of slaw. I know corn dogs isn’t breakfast-y, but vegan corn dogs!! While they weren’t mind blowingly amazing, I enjoyed eating them again after not having had one for many years.

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Both of these places were pretty casual, but Hungry Tiger Too had more of a classic diner feel. Both meals were delicious and if we had more time, I would have liked to eat my way through both menus.

Fine Dining in PDX

Ever eat food so good that it made you close your eyes with every bite? Or made you dig deep to find that last empty reserve in your stomach so you could eat all the goodness that lay before you? This happened to us a lot in PDX, but embarrassingly noticeably so at The Blossoming Lotus and Departure.

Though Blossoming Lotus is an all vegan restaurant, I had no trouble picking out what I wanted. Neal wanted it too. No way were we both gonna order the same thing at a new restaurant. So instead I went with the “Carribean Phyllo Roulade”- sweet potato mash and jerked seasonal veggies wrapped in phyllo dough and served with a carrot Habanero sauce and mixed greens with a pickled onion and hazelnut vinaigrette.

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And Neal ordered the lasagna off the specials which was seitan bolognese, cashew basil cream, heirloom tomato, sorrel pesto and olive.  I know the food is beyond delicious when I end up closing my eyes and moaning in pleasure with each bite and I don’t even care that other patrons think we’re doing kinky food stuff. Throw in some picture-taking while muttering, “oh yeah baby” under my breath…hello crazy lady!

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We made room for dessert and got the raw cheesecake a la mode with the soft serve flavor of the day, orange creamsicle. More blissed out moans of pleasure.

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Though Departure is not a vegan restaurant it offers a complete vegan menu as well as a gluten-free menu (many non-vegan restaurants in PDX do this).  This restaurant is located directly downtown on the top floor of a hotel giving fabulous views of the city. Enh, are ya sure we’re dressed for this? Yes, hoodies and sneaks are a-ok.

Up first, dim sum! And because I love buns, we got two! “Steamed Onion-Ginger Buns” with a maple chili glaze (gobbled up before a pic of the inside was taken)

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and “BBQ Tempeh Buns” filled with Korean bbq sauce and spicy slaw. I wonder if they can freeze these and mail them to me so I can have them for breakfast.

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Next, we had the “Grilled Shiitake Roll” with scallions, avocado, butter lettuce and carrot sauce,IMG_0748 _Snapseed

and “Sweet Potato Tempura Roll” with spinach, ginger and spicy miso. I love that, one, I got to eat tempura because tempura usually has eggs in it and two, that these rolls broke out of the normal vegan humdrum of avocado and cucumber rolls.IMG_0749 _Snapseed

And for dessert, a “Departure Banana Split” with banana tempura, cherry compote, miso butterscotch and peanut brittle ice cream. Let the eye closing and pleasure moaning commence, onlookers be damned.

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Portland Food Trucks

You know how when you visit food trucks ya feel lucky if you find a couple of vegan options.  If you find a whole truck dedicated to vegan food, then it feels like you’ve hit the vegan jackpot.  Ok, so now imagine finding TWO completely vegan trucks right by each other offering over 15 hearty vegan meals! That happened at the Mississippi Marketplace when we were in Portland.

The food trucks were Homegrown Smoker and Native Bowl. They turned two already indecisive vegans into two crazies standing in front of both trucks scrutinizing their menus, comparing the specs of each mouthwateringly described dish against one another and saying “Oh no, you go ahead…we’re still deciding” to every person that walked up.

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We finally did reach some important decisions without resorting to coin tosses or reciting “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” rhymes. We ended up just following our guts. That and we went back to the food trucks the following day.

On the first visit we both ate at Homegrown Smoker. Neal got the SloSmoMoFo- apple wood smoked soy curls on a bun with chipotle slaw and maple bourbon bbq sauce with a side of their Mac-nocheese.IMG_0586 _Snapseed

I got the Macnocheeto – a grilled flour tortilla filled with Mac-Nocheese, sweet baked beans, grilled peppers and onions and the maple bourbon bbq sauce.IMG_0588 _Snapseed

On the second visit, Neal ate at Homegrown again and got the Smoker Sammich- smoked soy curls on a bun with grilled peppers and onions and that sweet smoky maple bourbon bbq sauce with a side of STFU puppies-crispy fried corn fritters with remoulade sauce.IMG_0636 _Snapseed

I got the Mississippi Bowl from Native Bowl- jasmine rice, house-made ranch sauce, barbecue soy curls, two kinds of barbecue sauce, fresh crisp slaw, and scallions.  This is the Mississippi Bowl not stirred.IMG_0630 _Snapseed

And here it is all stirred up- this is how ya supposed to do it!  I’ve been craving the perfect blend of sweet, savory, cool and crisp captured in this bowl ever since we left.IMG_0634 _Snapseed

This fantastical corner of the food truck park was like hitting the vegan jackpot on steroids. Next time we go (and there will be a next time) I definitely want to get the Mississippi Bowl again. Or maybe I should try the Hollywood Bowl. Then again, the treuben sounds good too…as do the chili cheese fries..

Vida Vegan Con 2013

We just got back from our little tour of the Pacific Northwest and I’m dying crying a little inside as I scan through my pictures. Oh Portland, how I miss you already!

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There’s no way to capture this magical fantasy-land all at once so I’ll start with the main attraction, the Vida Vegan Conference 2013.  Most of which took place in the Mark Building of the classy Portland Art Museum.IMG_0622 _Snapseed

Right outside the art museum was a large span of green space where I could sit and chill with Abe while basking in the Portland sun (yes, the sun did come out!).IMG_0624 _Snapseed

I could probably write a tome about all the wonderful talks that took place at Vida Vegan Con, but I’m just gonna highlight a few of my favorite tidbits. For a full play-by-play, visit Sews Before Bros.

  • To take vegan ethics beyond the plate, it’s good to seize intersectional opportunities. For example, the fire at the Bangladesh factory was a good way to introduce the idea of ethically sourced products.
  • There’s always something I can do better in my veganism. The point is to do the very best that I can.
  • I gotta stop using palm oil (see above).
  • Filter amazon searches for vegan cookbooks by “publication date” and request review copies in advance…who knew?!
  • Be authentic! There’s only one me who can tell my story in my voice. This tidbit came from Cadry from Cadry’s Kitchen who I got the pleasure of meeting. She is just as luminous in real life as she is on her blog and videos.
  • Do the things that bring me joy and my passion for these things will translate easily to readers. More words of wisdom from Cadry.
  • I gotta get Adobe lightroom, which surprisingly works with jpeg files, to post process my food photos. Susan Voisin from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen gave a real time lightroom demo and wowee! Her entire presentation on food photography is here.
  • When reviewing a recipe, put a twist on it to show it’s adaptability. This came from the incredibly talented Hannah Kaminsky from Bittersweet who I also got to meet! I didn’t get to see her first talk on food styling, but she put a recap on her blog.
  • Stop self editing myself while I write blog posts. That is what second and third edits are for. Free writing is where the magic happens. This advice came from none other than Isa Chandra Moskowitz herself in an intimate writing workshop.

In addition to the treasure trove of talks, I got to hobnob with other vegans like Kylie from Life of Kylie and of course stuff mah face silly with all the vegan foods. Everyday the exhibitors in the ballroom tempted me with their vegan eats. And I succumbed to the temptation. every. single. time.vvc2013_vendors1vvc2013_vendors3vvc2013_vendors2

Veggie Grill fed the VVC participants the first night of the conference with a kale salad marinated in their ginger-papaya vinaigrette, chickin’ wings and a chicken’ wrap served with ranch and buffalo wing sauce.

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It was so tasty that Neal and I ate there later that night. He got the Chipotle BBQ burger and mac and cheese.IMG_0560 _Snapseed

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I had the Baja Fiesta salad which had papayas and was served with that delicious ginger-papaya vinaigratte.

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Portland, I may not be able to live with you just yet, but the dream is still alive.
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Hello Portland!

Oh hey. I’m just gonna be chillin’ at Vida Vegan Con (VVC) this weekend, no bigs. No, but seriously it is bigs!! Vegan blogging super stars everywhere! I don’t plan on blogging “live” for the rest of our trip, though I will be using instagram, twitter and facebook. Stay tuned for VVC/Portland/Seattle blog posts in the near future.

A few vegangrams of some of the vegan swag I got today: