Travel: Notes From A Foodie Weekend in Portland

———–

———–

It’s not exactly a secret that Portland, Oregon has become one of America’s premiere food cities, known as it is for its fresh, local, seasonal, and largely organic cuisine. So, when I made a quick pre-Christmas trip there to visit my fellow foodie friend, Adele, I knew I was in store for some wonderful eating.  I was not disappointed. I was barely off the plane when Adele whisked me to Tan Tan, a friendly, family-run Vietnamese joint in the close-in western suburb of Beaverton. This is an easy-to-love restaurant, serving really fresh food, casual and inexpensive.  Reviewers on Yelp rave about the bahn mi sandwiches, but I found the more unusual Vietnamese crepe to be completely satisfying, and not to forget the spring roll. Most spring rolls don’t get me excited, but this vegan version, stuffed with seitan, tofu, and the usual rice noodles and veggies, delivered so much clean flavor you really didn’t even need to dip it in the rich peanut sauce. Pho, the much loved Vietnamese noodle soup, is  another specialty here.

Several factors have contributed to Portland’s rise as a food city. The relatively mild climate and proximity to the fertile Willamette and Hood River vallies would be two, but also there is Portland’s comparatively low cost of living which has attracted young chefs, because the cost of opening a food business is a fraction of what it would be in Manhattan, San Francisco or most big cities. Diners benefit as well, as prices nearly everywhere seem to be downright reasonable compared to the Bay Area (and Oregonians love to rub in the fact that there’s no sales tax). It would take a couple weeks of eating and food shopping in and around Portland to even skim the surface of its food culture, but in a few days, I was able to squeeze in quite a bit.  My report is after the jump.

———–

Vegan spring rolls at Tan Tan, with a luscious peanut dipping sauce.

Photos: From the top–1) Vietnamese Crepe with dipping sauce at Tan Tan in Beaverton, 2) Food carts in the S.W. Alder area of downtown Portland, and click on this video for a humorous, but informative report on Portland’s food cart scene. , 3) Retail store at Bob’s Red Mill, 4) Vegetarian Spring roll at Tan Tan contained both seitan and tofu, really yummy!

———–

Continue reading