Portland Chinese Gardens
So, I just got back from a long weekend in Portland investigating Oriental Medicine schools. I've decided on the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine - hooray! And Portland was AMAZING; I felt like I walked into a dreamland. The co-ops! The friendly people! The vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free restaurant options! The bike-centric culture! I felt like I was at home. And in a way, that makes sense - it reminds me a lot of Minneapolis. Portland has all the great niche things about Minneapolis, but instead of them being niche, they are commonplace and way more accessible. In a little over a year, I will pack my bags and head westward, and become an Oregonian. I can't wait!
Anyway, I wanted to share a few of new things I found/discovered/ate while there. In preparation for the trip, I did a lot of research on restaurants, co-ops, etc so I would know where to find what I needed and wanted when I got there. I brought along my own safe snacks to make travel on the plane and my all day school student-for-a-day events easier, and bought food to cook while I was there staying with friends. The great thing about Portland is that I could actually eat at restaurants EASILY instead of having it be crazy complicated, even with all my allergies. Amazing! The culture there is very aware of alternative dietary choices, and instead of feeling like the weird allergy girl, I felt completely comfortable. What a sigh of relief.
Research in advance totally makes traveling with restrictions easier - it is worth the work, and made me feel totally at ease and prepared once I arrived. Instead of being stressed out about finding a restaurant for lunch or trying to figure out where I could find some tasty treats, I could just relax and have fun. I hope this information is helpful for any of you traveling to Portland, or at least fun to read about! I can't wait to live there and be able to take advantage of all this stuff.
So, here goes - photos to come as soon as I get them off my camera!
Stirs the Soul Organic Raw Chocolate
holy yum! These chocolate bars are organic, soy free, corn free, vegan, raw, and sweetened with agave instead of sugar. And they taste great. You can find them in natural food markets all over the city. They aren't cheap (like, $2.50 for a 1 oz bar), but for a special happy treat, it was totally worth it. I tried the Goji Berries in Dark Chocolate and the Maca Mesquite. Both were great, but the goji bar was amazing - it was creamy and delicious, studded with tart, chewy goji berries. The maca mesquite had an earthy, smoky flavor that I really enjoyed. I brought home a Lavendar and an 88% cocoa single-origin Ecuadorian variety for later. The single-origin bar is bigger, and also more expensive, but it should be divine! The best thing about these chocolates is that they aren't too sweet and they don't leave you feeling like you just ate some kind of crazy sugar crack bar.
Coconut milk yogurt:
I tried a brand of vegan, agave-sweetened coconut milk yogurt that I have never seen
before - it wasn't
It was some other brand that I can't find online anywhere, but it was GOOD. I got it at the Alberta Co-op, and I'd recommend it. I tried the plain flavor, it was relatively low in sugar and carbs, and they claimed to be low on the glycemic index. It tasted really good and had a nice texture. Way better than SoDelicious, which I think is way too sweet, weirdly flavored, and weirdly textured. SoDelicious is still better than Ricera, though, which is
Eden Organics Brown Rice Flakes
: I have been looking at these online because I can't find them in stores anywhere in Minneapolis. Lo and behold, I found them at New Season's Market - see entry for that below. I have already used some in recipe experiments for brown rice "granola" clusters - check back soon soon soon for that recipe!
Enjoy Life Very Berry Crunch "Granola"
If you aren't familiar with Enjoy Life, they make food products that are free of pretty much all possible major allergens, which is great. I don't buy their products much, if ever, but I had been curious about this gluten-free brown rice-based granola product. I see it in the stores all the time, but didn't want to fork over the $5 for a bag of cane juice sweetened stuff that I shouldn't really be eating anyway. At my visit day event at the National College of Natural Medicine, they had a bag out on the breakfast buffet table (don't we love natural medicine colleges and their gluten-free offerings?). I tried a handful; it really was too sugary for my taste (ack, cane juice!) and the berry flavor tasted a little too fake, even though it is made with real berries. But, as a special treat granola substitute, it was tasty, crunchy and not all bad. I wouldn't buy it though. Not surprisingly, it has inspired me to make my own brown rice granola, which is looking promising...
located in the quirky Alberta neighborhood, this co-op was really nice. Nice bulk, lots of specialty items, smaller produce section but good selection. Tons of seaweed in bulk, lots of bulk teas, and a good selection of local sauerkrauts.
located in SE Portland, this co-op won my heart in an instant. Great bulk selection, beautiful produce, nice selection of raw and vegan items, as well as locally produced sauerkrauts, misos, and grab-and-go options. It is so charming, the staff were really friendly, and they have a little trailer parked out in front that serves up fresh fruit and veggie juices, freshly brewed teas, and fair trade coffee. Awesome. I had a cup of yerba mate and ate a chocolate bar while sitting outside watching cute boys and girls ride up on bikes with homemade trailers to buy avocados and fresh salsas. Plus, they offer a year-round farmer's market at their store, and have a bunch of community classes and workshops, from yoga to Spanish. And if I lived in Portland, you can be damn sure that I would be attending the upcoming square dance on Wednesday night from 7-9 pm.
New Season's Market
Imagine a locally owned hybrid of a more affordable Whole Foods, a normal grocery store, and the best deli/salad bar you've ever seen. This is New SEason's Market, located in multiple locations around Portland. In addition to the impressive grocery area of their store, they have an AMAZING salad bar/deli/grab-and-go with tons of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. You can make big salads, or throw everything in a bowl and they stir-fry it up in a wok for you. For the bread eaters, they make sandwiches too, and they have a variety of other hot bar entrees. They even have a seating area! I ran through one afternoon between appointments and made a rice noodle-lettuce-bean sprout-black bean-bamboo shoot salad to eat on the run. It was $3.50 and I was in and out in under 10 minutes. Amazing. As for the grocery area, they have everything you could ever want and more, from fancy raw stuff to Australian rice cakes to specialty ethnic items (flavored ghee!) and more Bob's Red Mill and Eden Organics products than I have ever seen in one place. The produce section was beautiful, it had a nice health and beauty department, and they even carry a bunch of really cute home and kitchen stuff.
Laughing Planet Cafe
: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and allergyt friendly fast food, in multiple locations all over the city. Whoa. They were really accommodating and had a big binder with ALL of their ingredients that they were willing to pull out for me in an instant. I got a beautiful bowl of steamed vegetables with happy chicken and brown rice for $8, and had enough to take home leftovers. And it was served up in, like, 5 minutes. Amazing. Gluten-eating, meat-eating, dairy-eating, egg-eating people will like this place too; they have some really good looking burritos, sandwiches, and soups. All in all, a great variety of options, and totally affordable. And for you beer and soda drinkers, they have lots of beers and BlueSky sodas on tap. Cool.
Hawthorne and Corbett Fish House
: Wisconsin-style, gluten-free fish fry in Portland; they have two locations. This place rocks; it was a total dream come true. Let me explain: I'm a total Wisconsin girl. And while you can take the girl out of Wisconsin, you can't ever take the Wisconsin out of the girl. Sure, I like clean, fresh food full of vegetables and wholesome ingredients. But sometimes I want to return to my roots and eat some fried fish. A perch and walleye fish fry is as Wisconsin as you can get; and where better to get it than Portland?
gluten-free fried walleye - amazing!
The only restaurant to serve walleye and perch on the West coast, the Hawthorne and Corbett Fish Houses use rice flour and rice bran oil to create a light, crunchy batter around perfectly moist fish. Amazing. I substituted fries for a salad, and had the most satisfying fish meal in ages! Get the walleye, it is tops. The best thing about this place is that it actually FELT and LOOKED like we had just been teleported to Wisconsin, from the tacky fish and Green Bay Packer paraphanaglia hanging from the walls, to the crop of oddly Midwest-looking clientele that seemed to be pouring in the door. If you've ever been to a fish fry at a Wisconsin supper club, you
what I mean. Go here!
New Cascadia Traditional Bakery
their gluten-free breads and confections looked beautiful. But sadly, most of the breads contained yeast, everything except the vegan chocolate cupcake contained eggs, and the vegan chocolate cupcake contained soy, so I didn't try anything. But definitely try it out if you can! It is a little tricky to find - it is located in the entryway to Trader Joe's. They also had a large ingredient book that they were willing to pull out when I asked about ingredients.
I didn't get the chance to eat or stop at the following places, but came across them in my research or while driving around - so I thought I'd share! These all have gluten free options as well as vegan and vegetarian friendly menus.
located in the Pearl disctrict, inside Pearl Yoga studio. They have a lot of raw stuff, and some really tasty looking grain-bean-veggie bowls.
vegan/vegetarian place in SE, cheap, good looking menu, and looks cool from the outside. I want to try their cashew sour cream!
looks good, vegetarian and vegan, some gluten-free options on their menu
this place looks fantastic and quirky, and although I drove by it twice, I didn't have the chance to stop. Next time! They have hot entrees and grab-and-go, by the looks of it, some is gluten free. They make gluten-free gravy that sounds tasty.
all vegan grocery store - for real
if you can eat eggs, they have a gluten free crust, so check it out
not sure what is in their crust, but they also have gluten free pizza options
: more gluten free pizza options
Looks fancy, higher priced, tasty looking menu
lots of different gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and meat options. Looks great, especially if you can eat eggs or soy - their brunch looks good
they have a separate gluten free, vegan menu that looks pretty fantastic.
And here are two great resources with even more info, written by people that actually live in Portland and know the place. Hooray!
This link is especially awesome - it has TONS of links and information, check out the link for Grandma Leeth's restaurant, it looks great :
So, if you travel to Portland, I hope this information helps! It is a great town, and I can't wait to make it my home. 2010 will be here in no time!
chrysanthemum tea with goji berries at the tea house in the Chinese Gardens
The fine city of Portland, with Mt. Hood in the distance