Sunday, August 31, 2008

i should have got the cinnamon roll.

So as I came to accept the realization that I'm two days away from a new school year, with all its tests and SATs and projects and rehearsals... I wondered what I could micromanage over the Labor Day holiday that I've put off for the last two and half months. Despite the mostly nonexistent opportunity to travel beyond a twenty mile radius of my Pacific Northwestern hometown for the majority of the summer (because God knows when I'll put aside my paralyzing fear of cars and apply for my license), a lot has happened that I've had to deal with. Thankfully, I was grateful to make the day trip down to Portland that I was hoping for.

Portland is a beautiful city with abundant natural and material treasures, as those who prescribe to the belief that it's a vegan mecca especially know. Portland's Vegan Mini-MallA day is not nearly enough to experience this, especially when one is not able to devote their day to shelling out the money to dine out breakfast, lunch, and dinner with cafe stops inbetween - because, believe you me, that would be my perfect day in Portland.

Our first stop was the obligatory and famed vegan mini-mall on Stark Street. Can anyone imagine anything more progressive and quaint? It's simple existence makes me wonder why not everyone in Portland sees the ease in veganism, but the fact that I can go and enjoy myself like this is satisfying enough for me.

Sweetpea Baking CompanyArriving around nine in the morning, I was just starving enough to ravage Sweetpea Baking Company for all its worth. On a Friday morning I came during what is apparently the middle-time between Danish and Donut Day. Still there was enough variety for me to sample and take home to treat myself for the weekend. For breakfast I ordered the Raspberry Linzer Bar in addition to a Chocolate Chip Scone. It was incredibly sticky and decadent, the sweeter version of a lemon bar. Luscious. Sweetpea Baking CompanyI expected the scone to be sweeter, but it's fluffiness and biscuit-like quality makes it good of-course-I-can-eat-chocolate-chips-for-breakfast food. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of most of the treats because I was too anxious to eat. I managed to halt stuffing my face for a moment to capture a particular piece of interesting wall art. Makes a statement, no?

Blueberry-Lemon CupcakeI bought a handful more goods to take home with me, including a Monster Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, a slice of Boston Cream Cake, a Blueberry Lemon Cupcake, and a Gluten Free Brownie. Unfortunately I blanked ordering the second time around and missed out on sampling the Cinnamon Roll with Icing that I was practically foaming at the mouth for. Ah, well. Both cakes seemed rather dry when I tasted them at home, but then again they had been sitting in a car all day. The frosting on the cupcake was nice and delicate but rather thick and creamy as well. The pastry cream filling in the Boston Cream Cake was delicious; I wish I'd had more to dump on top. The brownie was nice and soft on its own but became more moist and heightened in chocolatiness when nuked in the microwave - I finished it off for breakfast (oops) this morning.

PDX Goods - Food Fight GroceryI moved on to Food Fight! Grocery before Herbivore opened at ten to see what I could see. I live in Olympia, which is almost smack-dab between Portland and Seattle, so my closer in-state choice of all-vegan grocery is Sidecar for Pigs Peace. Food Fight is similar. I purchased only a few items that I don't see nearby, including Soy Curls (which seem to be all the rage), Ricemellow Creme (that I used buy from the local co-op, but I've been disappointed and unable to find it lately), and... TEESE. I'm very excited to try the latter, but I'm afraid that my expectations are too high.

Herbivore T-ShirtBecause no vegan has reached a certain level of well-deserved nirvana without some cruelty-free, activism wear, I practically burst into Herbivore Clothing. The shop itself has its delightful, spacious beauty, and all the graphic designs ranging from the bold and edgy to sweet and intricate make choosing just a couple items difficult.VGN/PDX Jogger Track Jacket The store also features islands of book shelves with book upon book of vegan delicacies. In the end I settled on the very lovely Herbivore Rabbit Tee and a VGN/PDX Jogger. Then I went back and immediately armed myself with a patch and sticker collection to rival the notebook collage of a third grader.

After a few more hours and more sales-tax-free shopping complete, we chose Vege Thai as our dinner spot - then arrived an hour before it reopened for the evening. Wonderful. This actually turned out to be a happy mistake because it forced us to peruse Hawthorne Blvd's House of Vintage for that hour. I recommend the vast labyrinth of a vintage shop to all antique mall patrons and fans of kitsch. The space is truly teeming with variety and houses an extensive list of retailers.

Vege Thai - Portland, ORFinally dinner time arrived, and thankfully I was not disappointed. At a glance Vege Thai has an impressive menu with reasonable pricing, but we settled on the Red Curry with Tofu and a Sweet & Sour Stir-Fry with Black Pepper "Steak" served with brown rice. Really fucking good. I really enjoyed the curry although it wasn't more impressive than most take-out curries. It earns extra points for real nicely cooked eggplant, which really skeeves me out if even slightly improperly prepared. I was delighted by my stir-fry. It may seem like something easily prepared at home, but that freaking sauce was something else. Delicious. The steak was toothsome with a good overall flavor, but also a little rubbery. Not bad for faux meat, but that sauce made up for any and all unpleasantness. I ate leftover sauce cold the next day it was so good. I would return. I would return again and again and again, and perhaps eat something more than curry and sauce. Like a Thai Iced Coffee, perhaps. And maybe buy something from House next time. If you're interested, our total came to $16. I've spent more on samosas in Olympia, so all in all not bad. (You will have to excuse plate preparation - waiting an extra hour for food when I was already hungry does not lend me much patience.)

It was a good day trip, to be sure. I don't know if it's the subliminal blog posts or something in the Portland air, but one pilgrimage to the Holy Grail (do those two allusions even work together?) is not enough. A return must be made.


Anonymous said...

What a fun trip! I really miss Portland... I agree, just one visit is not enough. I just hope I'll be able to come back soon...

Anonymous said...

I am so envious, I'm turning green.

you don't have your license either? good for you!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Sounds like a perfect day in PDX. I need to get back there... I went before the minimall existed and I simply must try some of Sweetpea's baked goods!