I enjoy food a lot. I love to try new food, to discover neat restaurants, to seek out novel ingredients and flavours. Therefore, a big part of travel for me has to do with eating local dishes and learning about culture and location through food. Some of these blog posts will therefore be somewhat food-centric.
In Portland, Oregon we were lucky enough to stay with our old friends Dave and Annie and their dog Charlie Brown. They were wonderful hosts. One of the many benefits to staying with friends is that they already know the good eats around town.
In Portland, food trucks are called food carts. For our first dinner out, we went to a permanent food cart “hub” called Mercado which hosts over a dozen food carts specializing in Latin food from countries like Mexico, Colombia, Haiti, Jamaica, and more. Each cart is a unique business offering a variety of dishes. There is a large outdoor seating area with picnic-style tables, and we even caught some live music as we were leaving. The food was inexpensive and top notch.
The next morning, we went out for brunch at The New Deal Cafe. Since we hit the road in July, I’ve eaten a lot of diner breakfasts and brunches – the standard eggs, potatoes, toast, jam, coffee, etc. Breakfast food on the road has ranged from pretty bad (hashbrowns at a Waffle House that were somehow both soggy and burnt simultaneously), to perfectly edible, but not particularly memorable meals. At The New Deal, I ordered a Mediterranean omelet and was surprised at how fresh and delicious it tasted for one so breakfast-jaded as myself. The photo really doesn’t do it justice. The omelet had olives and feta cheese and really fresh, flavourful spinach. The subtle spices and herbs really drew out the flavours. Yum!
After brunch, Dave and Annie took us fruit picking. I used to go fruit picking as a kid in Alberta and British Columbia (for strawberries and cherries), but as adults, Roman and I could never get the timing right in the summers. We were always too early or too late for the U-Pick growing season. We were therefore pretty excited about finally taking the kids. After driving to Douglas Farm just outside of Portland, we were taken to the orchard on a shaky shuttle bus to pick apples, pears and sun-warmed peaches. The peaches were actually warm to the touch and ripe enough to practically fall off the branch. The kids ate a few peaches right off the tree, with sticky peach juice trickling all over their face and hands. At home, Annie made a scrumptious peach cobbler. Delicious! The only trouble with fruit-picking is that you end up with a ton of ripe fruit that needs to get eaten ASAP. The peaches didn’t last long. However, we managed to carry some of these lovely apples and a few pears all the way to Calgary!