April 22, 2013 § 4 Comments
I once read a poem that equated Valentine’s Day with venereal disease. I thought that experience would be an isolated event, but a trip to Portland proved me very wrong.
Most people don’t go on vacation expecting the topic of sexually transmitted diseases to be a prevalent motif of the trip. I certainly didn’t. What a fool I was. I should have known; the very purpose of my visit to the west coast’s hipster mecca was to attend the Sigma Tau Delta (STD) English Conference. Evidently, when the initials didn’t tip me off, the universe figured I needed more obvious hints.
In a conference wide meeting, I was inundated by a flood of innuendos, or in-your-windows as my mother is wont to call them.
“STD! Spread the love . . . of literature”
“We always test positive!”
Needless to say, I got it. At which point someone attempted to coerce me into buying a bright red t-shirt with the words “The Dickens are bigger in Texas” scrawled across the chest in the Bleeding Cowboys font. There were so many things wrong with that. From the red to the font to the words to the fact that the seller’s eyes were borderline rapey.
It was all very scary.
In any case, we eventually ended up standing in the seemingly infinite line in front of Voodoo Donuts, in a dim alley in the middle of Portland, OR. A pink sticker on the window said “Get VD in Portland” in bright, cheery letters. A few drunk partygoers stumbled out of their limo and into the line behind us. Someone told us this was the best donut shop in the world.
Ten minutes later, with an Arnold Palmer donut in my hand, I understood why. I only caught blips of the conversation around me as I reveled in flavor. I knew I’d regret it later, but donuts are about living in the moment, so that’s what I did.
Thirty minutes later, the conversation about cannibals and trust finished with a suitable but inappropriate bang and we followed the cold back onto the street. I was somewhat listlessly following my group when one of the men leaning cold against the brick wall caught my eye, his blonde hair curling with his grin.
“Spare a dollar for a donut?” he asked, pulling his ragged sweater closer around his body. I grinned back. Spread the love, right? I handed him a few dollars and a smile. A few minutes later, he emerged, bright faced from the warmth of Voodoo donuts, opening a paper bag to share his haul with a couple friends.
A little lesson about the small things, I guess.
April 22, 2013 § 1 Comment
He didn’t understand why we had to take a tram, two buses, and then our feet for another three rainy blocks just to get to another coffee shop. I told him it was different.
He said the croissant was too crumbly – not enough chocolate for what looked like a day-old pastry. The coffee was too black. He felt judgement emanating from everyone else when he just thought about adding cream and sugar.
“I’m comfortable with my uncultured taste buds,” he said. But he didn’t move. He just sat there instead, grimacing through a dark, nutty Girasoles.
At least it was hot.
My short legs, ringed by purple and vagrant goose bumps, twisted themselves around the icy metal of the hand-wrought wood table. It was good to feel something tangible against the numbness, even if it was just more cold.
Ahh. An El Ischo steamed on the rough-grained wood of the counter, waiting for me. I wrapped my hands around it and took a tentative sip. Butterscotch and peanut brittle rolled across my tongue, luring a bubbly pear flavor after them. I was happy. Happier than I’d been the entire day.
He watched me, unable to make heads or tails of my affinity for coffee.
It’s a strange thing, really. Without a cup of coffee in the morning, I’m unwilling to recognize the passing of time. Without coffee, time stops, ceases to limit me, and I move like a character stuck on repeat in a Japanese anime film, shooting through lines of neon space and never getting anywhere.
Coffee is a relationship, then. A relationship with time, a relationship with people. Coffee is a culture, a feeling, an instigator of late night conversations and unexpected A’s on papers. For Coava Coffee Roasters, it’s a relationship with the growers that constructs a community for the roasters and thus, the drinkers.
“Coava couldn’t roast the finest single origin coffees in the world without the hard-working farmers who grow the coffee. At origin we cup through hundreds of samples in search of the coffee that best represents each growing region with a distinctive personality and we get to know the farmers. Most of our coffees will only be found at Coava because we create exclusive, long-term relationships with our growers.”
Located in the industrial district of Portland, Oregon, Coava joined the coffee culture circle of Portland back in 2010 and has been transforming coffee culture in all the right ways ever since.
April 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
We practically flew through the bright doorway into Petunia’s Pies & Pastries as we sought to escape the wintery mix of rain-snow-sleet-wind-what-have-you whisking down Portland’s 12th Avenue. Inside, we gingerly wiped away the involuntary tears of winter from our chapped red faces and coaxed back our steady breath, which the west coast wind was so eager to steal. As the fog crept from the lenses of our glasses, we took stock of our pale green and pink surroundings.
My eyes focused on a glass case of delectable pastries, behind which stood a young blonde in a frilly green dress, smiling invitingly at my friend and me. On the ornate white shelf, a chalkboard advertised a selection of roasts from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I leapt to the counter, debit card at the ready and “GivemetheGuatemalanplease” spilling in an almost indiscernible rush from shivering lips.
She looked at me like I was a crazy person. And rightly so, I suppose. I repeated myself, slowly, adding a polite request for a slice of the walnut banana coffeecake that’d been grinning at me since I walked in the door. Money and thanks were exchanged and I left my celiac friend at the counter, asking the usual questions about what would and wouldn’t kill her while I snuggled into the back corner at a pearly white table.
My friend joined me shortly with a huge pastry in her hand and the most joyful expression on her pixie face.
“Everything is gluten-free,” she said in awe. “Everything.”
As she took a tentative bite of her cupcake, I saw tears form in her eyes and spill over. I vaguely remembered the first time she discovered Udi’s gluten-free bread and couldn’t stop talking about how it tasted like “real bread.” I had a feeling this was another one of those moments when she could recall the taste of real pastry.
I understood the emotional connection with food. Up until the age of fourteen, I ate wheat, dairy, and soy-free against my will. While all the other kids got their Wendy’s chicken nuggets and Oreo frosties, I’d sit there dejectedly munching an almond butter and jelly concoction spread between two slices of dry, crumbly bread. Everything tasted like dust or cardboard and my relationship with food was based on the fact that I needed it to live.
When I was fourteen, by some miracle I managed to sneak a box of chicken nuggets under my mother’s nose. My taste buds were opened up to a whole new world of horribly delicious breaded fried processed foods. I was especially excited when eating the entire box had no affect on my stomach, my mental capacity, or my ability to walk in straight lines. It really was a miracle. Needless to say, I branched out into the world of gluten and dairy and as the allergies begin to return five years later, I find letting go of bread and ice cream to be one of the most difficult experiences of my adult life.
That being said, I understood the tears. Gluten-free is typically billed flavor-free, and for good reason. Petunia’s, however, a frilly haven for celiacs, overcomes the stereotypes, literally bringing tears of joy to at least one customer’s eyes.
We left laden with pastries to take home, not sure what made everything so friendly to digestion and simultaneously so delicious. We called it magic and left it at that. We don’t question culinary miracles.
tues – thurs 9am-9pm
fri – sat 9am – 10pm
sun – 9am-79m
March 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
Last year, a story popped up on the Associated Press about the evolution of this trend, discussing the economical benefits of the food truck industry. In the wake of unemployment and real estate prices, the food cart is a viable option for talented foodies who want to be self-employed and independent of landlords and the like. While some of this small entrepreneurs are still battling ordinances and paperwork hoops in cities like Chicago, most large cultural centers have eased up to allow these culinary havens to flourish.
In Portland, the food cart industry is one of the most popular features of this health-conscious hipster-vegan mecca. One particular food cart that shines above the rest is Addy’s Sandwich Bar, a cheesy, fruity, French-esque heaven for your taste buds. If you ever visit Portland with an indecisive group of travelers, stroll over to Alder street, where the massive variety of food carts will guarantee happy faces and stomachs for everyone.
521 SW 10th Ave
Portland, OR 97205
mon-sat until 3pm