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Portland Baconfest, Live Wire, Food(ography)

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This weekend will yet again be another one chalk full of activities. One person asked last weekend why all the fun things happen all at once. That’s summer baby!

On Saturday, Portland celebrates the 2nd annual Baconfest. You thought bacon had gone out of style last year, but I assure you, it is still more popular than ham. Portland Baconfest 2010 is sponsored by PDX.FM and will bring together two dozen NW vendors with bacon related products, music and beer. They will even be tasting the wildly popular Bacon Vodka. Mobster Meatballs will be in attendance along with a super secret food cart I don’t even know about. In 2009, Baconfest attracted 2500 people and collected 900lbs of canned goods for the Oregon Food Bank. 2010 will be even larger. Portland Baconfest 2010 happens Saturday, August 21 from 12-8pm in the lot next to East Burn at 1800 East Burnside. More information on the schedule and list of vendors at PortlandBaconFest.com

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Live Wire Radio with Portland food carts happens Saturday evening at Gerdling Theater at the Armory. Join Gregg Abbott from Whiffies fried pies and I as we discuss the food cart scene with the wonderful hosts of the show. The show also features Reggie Watts, Dayna Hanson, and musical guests 3 Leg Torso and Menemona. It is going to be a wonderful evening. I’m so excited. More information, including tickets can be found at LiveWireRadio.com.

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Back in May or June, Cooking Channel (Food Network spinnoff,) was in town for a week on a whirlwind tour of our carts for a new show – Food(ography.) The episode on Street Food featuring BrunchBox and Lisa Wood from Big-Ass Sandwiches aired on Sunday evening and will re-air tonight, Tuesday at 7pm on the Cooking Channel. Or, if you want, you can watch it online. A friend of Big Ass Sandwiches posted a link. Well done guys.

Happy Carting!

Umai

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Ramen Food Cart

Umai Ramen Food Cart Portland

Location: SE 33rd and Hawthorne behind the Hazel Room
Hours: Wed-Sat, 12-8pm, Sun, 12-3pm

The Story: Good Food, Good Music and Community. That comes from Umai’s Facebook page and in my opinion defines food carts here in Portland. Umai is one of the latest vendors to open offering up ramen and more.

Umai is the work of Austin Moore and Forest Carter, a couple of bluegrass musicians who decided to explore the wide world of Japanese ramen and open a cart. Located in an alleyway just off 33rd north of Hawthorne, the pod sports four different vendors, seating and the day I visited, live World Cup action. The guys offer up ramen along with sandwiches and sides. For ramen, they focus on three styles – shio which is sea-salt broth; shoyu which is soy sauce based; and miso. Everything is made in the cart, even the house noodles.

Ramen Food Cart

Shio Ramen from Umai

Being a fan of shio, that was my first choice. The bowl, full of noodles with the thick broth comes topped with steamed greens, pork shoulder, marinated egg, pickled shiitake and scallions. The broth is steaming hot, so I picked at it for awhile to allow it to cool. Delicate tongue here. That picking allowed me to taste the different items individually. The shiitakes are amazing offering a cloying sweetness that when mixed with the broth or a piece of pork just took my breath away. Crisp edges of pork shoulder and the egg’s still runny yolk and the greens, cooked, but still crunchy. All these items made up a superb bowl of ramen.

Umai is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Lunch only on Sundays. Due to limited space, they do have a sign stating they can only do so much, so my recommendation is to get there early. I’m so looking forward to returning for some other great flavors. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu: (Full menu available on their website.)

  • Ramen – $10
  • Vegetarian Ramen – $10
  • Brothless Ramen: warm house noodles tossed in miso tare and topped with ginger, fried chicken or eggplant, pickled veggies, steamed greens and marinated egg – $9
  • Chicken Karaage sandwich with bacon chutney – $8
  • Eggplant Karaage sandwich with yuzu kosho aioli – $7

Website: UmaiPDX.com
Facebook: Umai PDX

Zeek’s Cheese Grill

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Zeek's Cheese Grill

Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Location: SE 82nd and Harney at Cartlandia
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:30-7; Fri/Sat, 11:30-9

The Story: Who doesn’t like grilled cheese? There are some extremely successful food trucks and food carts around the nation who have succeeded with putting cheese between two slices of bread, grilling it to perfection and selling it to the masses. Zeek’s Cheese Grill at Cartlandia is the latest to offer up that childhood delight.

Zeek’s Cheese Grill offers up an array of appetizing delights. Not just grilled cheese sandwiches, although that is what I enjoyed. The menu offers soups, sides like roasted jalapeño fondue, a few types of Mac and Cheese and some fresh cart made salads. Just the other day they posted photos of pickles made fresh that morning. Sandwiches range from the classic with American cheese all the way to the Ciao with fresh mozzarella, basil, semi dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction and black pepper. The Canard caught my attention with duck confit, brie and bacon caramelized onion jam. Whew! Writing that made my tummy rumble. Crisp buttered bread sandwiched in the unctuous and delightfully salty duck confit. The caramelized onion jam with a hint of bacon added sweetness to balance it all out. Dip an edge in the tomato soup and dive in. An excellent sandwich.

Zeek's Cheese Grill

Canard from Zeek’s Cheese Grill

Zeek’s is open daily for lunch and dinner with extended hours on the weekend. Beyond the cheese grill, they have daily specials, numerous flavors of lemonade and assorted teas. At Cartlandia, there is covered seating along with The Blue Room bar so you can relax and enjoy your meal. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Soups – Tomato Basil Cream, Tomato Gorgonzola, Spicy Tomato – $3 cup or $5 bowl
  • Roasted Jalapeno Fondue – $5.80
  • Four Cheese Mac & Cheese – $7
  • Caramelized onion, Gorgonzola and bacon Mac & Cheese – $8
  • Julienne Kale and Romaine Salad – $6
  • The Classic Grilled Cheese – $4
  • Oregon Grilled Sandwich – Brie, Oregon pears, gorgonzola, caramelized onion bacon – $7.80
  • Canard – $9.80
  • Ciao – $7.80

Facebook: Zeek’s Cheese Grill
Twitter: @ZeeksCheeseGrill

GO Cart

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GO Cart Food Cart

GO Cart Food Cart

Location: SE MLK and Stark at Central Eastside Food Carts
Hours: weekdays, lunch

The Story: A few years ago, I took a couple of weeks and sampled salad rolls at the different vendors downtown to discover the differences in how they were prepared. I hatched an idea – why not make salad rolls with steak or pepperoni or even ham and eggs. I crafted them at home for fun and enjoyed them immensely. The owners of GO Cart were reading my mind as they have opened offering up American Salad Rolls. Just my style.

I’m surprised that salad rolls from many carts weren’t just salad. Pork and shrimp were added. At GO Cart, that’s the norm, not the exception. At GO Cart, you get a traditional styled salad roll with rice paper and Napa cabbage, yet the menu offers up pulled pork, chicken, bacon, avocado and more as additions. Truly, savory, scrumpous salad rolls. The Blue Cheese and Cucumber with celery, radish, cashews and green onions exploded with cold and crunchy flavors. I sat there, truly enjoying the dry blue cheese notes wondering why I hadn’t ordered the pulled pork with dried cherries and pumpkin seeds. Oh well, there will be a return visit for sure.

Blue Cheese and Cucumber Salad Roll from GO Cart

Blue Cheese and Cucumber Salad Roll from GO Cart

GO Cart not only does the twist on the salad roll, they offer whole fruit smoothies as well. The list is chalk full of apples and oranges and strawberries and mangos. Salad rolls and smoothies. A great pair. GO Cart is located at the Central Eastside Food Carts on SE MLK and Stark. There are a number of great vendors there along with picnic tables and tenting to keep out of the elements. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Pulled Pork Salad Roll: cheddar, bacon, dried cherries, red bell pepper, green onions, pumpkin seeds – 2 for $5.99
  • Bacon Apple Spinach: carrot, manghego cheese, red bell pepper, smoked almonds – 2 for $5.49
  • Blue Cheese and Cucumber – $4.99
  • Chicken Bacon Avocado: red bell pepper, radish, green onions, blue cheese – 2 for $5.99
  • Roasted Tofu – spinach, radish, green onions, cashews, celery, cilantro – 2 for $5.59
  • Smoothies are $4.50

Gastro Mania

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Gastro Mania

Gastro Mania

Location: NW 19th and Quimby
Hours: M-Sun, 11am-3pm

The Story: Looking for some grilled porchetta or a foie gras burger? Look no further than Gastro Mania, a new food truck posted up at Q19 in NW Portland.

Gastro Mania opened this past spring promoting “The Best of Mediterranean Cuisine,” yet except for the top item of a Gyro, the menu is chalk full of treats that we don’t think of as from that part of the world. Salmon Sliders, Swordfish Steak, a Porchetta sandwich and what has caught the most attention – the foie gras burger. While getting foie gras is a treat for many, I opted for the Porchetta, a monster of a sandwich with more than enough grilled pork belly and charred fat. I tend to describe porchetta as bacon wrapped pork, so use your imagination. Alex, the chef, believes he has the best porchetta in town, so I had to give it a shot. A thick layer of porchetta between a crunchy seared roll with plenty of dripping fat and butter. Crazy delicious and oh so wrong. I couldn’t put it down. Each bite, a palatable bliss. This sandwich is not for those who cut off the fat when eating steaks. You have to dive right in and clean up later. The Porchetta is served with a side greek salad with feta so you can at least claim you ate your veggies that day.

Porchetta from Gastro Mania

Porchetta from Gastro Mania

Gastro Mania is at Q19, the lot adjacent to Quimby’s where you can sit indoors and enjoy a libation while chowing down. Open daily for lunch. Drop on by and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Gyros – chicken or lamb – $7
  • Porchetta sandwich – $8
  • Foie Gras burger – $8
  • Salmon Sliders – $8
  • Tuna Steak served over salad – $8
  • Chicken Breast Scallopini – $8

Phone: 5036893794
Facebook: Gastro Mania

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