The advantages of being married to someone whose main job is his comic strip is tagging along to various conventions while he promotes his books. Last year, I tagged along when he exhibited at San Francisco’s WonderCon, this year I checked out Seattle and Portland.
It was Paul’s second year to exhibit at Seattle’s Emerald City ComiCon. It’s only a 2-day affair and short in comparison to many conventions which are either three or four days long. I didn’t have an opportunity to go last year but made a promise to myself to go this year and combine the Seattle trip with a short jaunt to Portland before the convention started.
Once we landed in Seattle, we picked up our rental and hustled out of the city for Portland about a three-hour drive away. Not once did I need my sunglasses as the sun hardly broke through the clouds.That seemed to set the tone for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest — or home of Bigfoot according The Mr.
Portland is known for their beer, Tillamook cheese, coffee culture (something they share with Seattle) and certainly Voodoo Donuts. Aside from a quick meal at Burgerville on the way to Portland, we had to visit Voodoo Donuts.
I had been warned from Oregon native, Sarah Kuhn, that Voodoo is “controversial” among many of her friends. Many consider Voodoo as “overrated, grody, and hipster-infested.” While I could see the reasoning behind it (it seems like Portland is home to a lot of hippies) and with the popularity of Voodoo lately in television (a lot of people in the shop were taking photos of the shop and donuts), the donuts weren’t overrated. They were quite delicious. With this visit, I feel like I’ve found the holy grail. I don’t think I can look at another donut. Or maybe I just had my fill of donuts during my visit. Three donuts in one sitting is a lot.
Bacon maple bar at Voodoo’s is divine. I’ve been disappointed with desserts incorporating bacon, but this one made it work. Also equally good and a shock to the taste buds is the Grape Ape, a raised donut topped with grape flavored drink mix. Sadly, the cake donuts didn’t seem to hold a candle to the rest. Voodoo Donuts has a few locations each with own patron saint. The Sandy Boulevard NE location’s patron saint is Kenny Rogers.
Unfortunately, the rain we had in San Diego a few days earlier followed us up to the Pacific Northwest. If I could describe the weather in Portland I would say “wet and soggy.” But that didn’t deter my goal for finding good food.
Another recommendation from Ms. Kuhn was to try the Waffle Window.
Waffle Window is self explanatory. Located on SE Hawthorne Blvd. is a window that sells waffles! The waffles can be as simple as a plain pearl sugar waffle or as gut-filling as their Whole Farm waffle. Since I’ve only had donuts since arriving in Portland, I was ready for something that wasn’t sweet.
Customarily, one would order a waffle from the window, take the food and eat out in the back on one of the covered picnic benches. But the guy taking our orders the the window must have felt sorry for us and asked us to sit indoors at the adjoining Bread and Ink Cafe.
Each of our waffles started off with a base of the plain pearl sugar waffle. My Whole Farm waffle was topped with thick-cut pepper bacon, spinach, red roasted pepper and chevre cheese. Paul’s waffle — The Three B’s — had bacon, brie, basil with peach jam on the side. A perfect combination of sweet and savory and provided us with a enough fuel to wander the city.
There is a lot to see in downtown Portland. There is Powell’s Books, a multi-story building housing the biggest collection of books I’ve ever seen for sale. One could spend hours there perusing long-lost books and discovering new ones. Checking books can take a lot of work, luckily there are various food cart “pods” scattered throughout downtown.
The food cart pods are actually tiny food stalls. Usually they have only a window to order from and no place to sit. I saw at least four different clusters with up to 15 food pods each, and according to OregonLive.com there are hundreds of them all around the city. With so many food choices I finally I opted for the schnitzelwich from Tabor, a food cart pod specializing in Czech food.
Tabor claims to be the home of the original schnitzelwich and on this particular rainy day, there was a wait for their food — always a good sign. With the schnitzelwich, there is a choice of breaded chicken or pork loin, deep fried and sandwiched in ciabatta bread with lettuce, a paprika spread and some pretty intense horseradish. It’s a hefty sandwich and I wouldn’t recommend one person trying to eat it themself unless they planned out their day to make room for this. Unfortunately, Paul wasn’t available to help me out with this one since he had his own super sandwich to tackle, Youcanhascheeseburger from the Brunch Box.
The name is pretty laughable but the sandwich isn’t for the weakhearted; I’m pretty sure it will give you a reason to start Lipitor. The sandwich is comprised of two grilled cheese sandwiches, using Texas toast, and flanking a hamburger patty — two and a half sandwiches smashed into one monster. Paul declared the creation passable, although it was more cheese sandwich than burger.
The rain started to fall more steadily that day and in between runs for coffee, hunting down unique shops and another revisit to Powell’s, trying to find stay dry was our main operative. Somehow along the way, I fell sick. Even the next morning on our way out of Portland, not even the bite of a Pig Newton (sausage links embedded in rosemary scones) and some awesome coffee from Jim & Patty’s Coffee could turnaround my health.
For the remainder of the trip I was sick with a cold, so there were no Seattle food adventures for me — a reason why I need to return next year with a bigger stomach and a lot of vitamins. Since I hardly stepped inside the convention center, you can read Paul’s convention wrap up here.
My Flickr photoset from the trip is also available for viewing.