May 1, 2013 By Brett Burmeister
Taste of the Nation is back and better than ever. This annual event brings together some of the best chefs, winemakers, brewers and distillers to end childhood hunger. Imagine an evening of wandering from table to table trying bites from Aviary or Departure or Lardo and mixing in sweets from Batch Chocolates or Fifty Licks while washing it all down with something from Cana’s Feast or maybe a House Spirits cocktail. For me, it is a night of fun, a bit of gluttony and a way to give back to the community. Share Our Strength is bringing Portland’s finest to the Crystal Ballroom on Tuesday evening, May 7. This year, 100% of ticket sales will go to local beneficiaries – Oregon Food Bank, Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon, St. Vincent DePaul and Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending this event for a couple of years now and everyone involved is passionate about their craft and about ending childhood hunger. Tickets are $85 for General Admission and VIP and LUXE tickets are also available. 60 purveyors of their craft – a bargain.
We have 2 VIP tickets to give away for this wonderful event. Just leave a comment stating which of the 60 purveyors you’re most excited to indulge. We’ll pick a winner on Friday morning. You can find more details about Taste of the Nation and the list of restaurants, wineries, breweries and distillers at Strength.org/Portland.
We have a winner- Ann wants to try some Broder and Lardo. Congrats Ann.
Location: SW 9th and Washington
Hours: Weekdays, lunch.
The Story: “Classic Recipes of India”. So says the sign on this demur little white cart that packs a whole bunch of flavor. First off there’s the aroma of exotic, complex spices wafting down the sidewalk. An immediate sniff lets the diner know this is no standard fast, cheap, greasy Indian food cart. This is a cart that cares about quality. That’s perhaps the main reason the menu is smaller here than the dictionary sized menus found at many other Indian carts in Portland.
There’s a confidence and regal quality to Portland Masala that says, “we don’t want to have the most, we just want to have the best”. Good Indian food isn’t a slick of oil over frozen veggies that have been cooked to an inch of their life. It isn’t a whallop of fire-spice heat that burns out all other flavors. Portland Masala is GOOD. It’s lighter, fresher, with complex and balanced layers of spicing. Each dish comes with white or brown rice, and a nice disk of homemade roti flatbread to round out your meal. Vegetarian foods are available and clearly labeled on the menu, but do ask about vegan foods as we aren’t sure if they use ghee (butter) or other dairy.
So what’s the story? In a twist, Portland Masala wasn’t a cart that later on branched out into foods sold in specialty markets. No, here we have the reverse. Portland Masala is a specialty food company that creates and sells fresh packaged foods at grocery stores around the Northwest such as Food Front and New Seasons Markets. Their grocery line includes a red lentil curry soup (Masoor Dal), garbanzo bean curry (Chole), and peas and carrots in sauce (Mattar Gajar Sabji). A few months ago Portland Masala decided to branch out to a cart and sell not only their packaged container foods, but additional hot fresh meals including specials such as ground lamb curry, chicken tikki masala, and peas and carrots with tofu in a sabji sauce, and more.
Kinderjit “Kinder” Gill hails is the genius cook and cart owner behind Portland Masala and hails from the celebrated food mecca of Punjabi Province in India. She explains her clear passion for her craft this way:
It took my husband and I many years to source the right whole ingredients, fresh spices and refine our recipes to what they are today. Each specially selected herb and spice is hand-ground and mixed to our high standards. Each of these steps combines to create the homemade flavor that makes Portland Masala dishes stand above the rest.
I have to say, I’m
a total and complete Indian food snob. It’s one of my favorite cuisines and I travelled to India specifically to eat and learn about the cuisine. I’m picky because I’ve been spoiled with the good stuff. Indian food is also incredibly easy to mess up. It takes a deft and skilled hand to blend spices and seasonings just so to elevate a dish into something special, memorable, and balanced with aromatics, sweet, salty, hot, sour flavors using fresh, high quality ingredients. I’m please to say Portland Masala is as good as it gets in the old country and certainly as good, if not better, than most Indian food you’ll find in the Portland area. Congratulations Ms. Gill and Masala Portland, and a very warm welcome to the food cart community!
- Ground lamb curry with rice and roti – $7
- Butter chicken with rice and roti – $7
- Peas, carrots and tofu with rice and roti – $7
- Fresh pack containers of red lentil curry soup, peas and carrots, or chickpea curry – $5
Phone: 971 242-9797
Website: PortlandMasalaFoods (prepared food information only, not cart information)
A number of Portland’s food carts are coming together to support the victims of the Boston bombings. On Tuesday, April 30, the following vendors will donate 30% of their sales to The One Fund, a fund started to assist those who are recovering from injuries.
- Gonzo – SE 9th and Oak, 12-9pm
- Pizza Box – SE 9th and Oak, 12-9pm
- Wolf and Bear’s – 3925 N Mississippi & 113 SE 29th Ave, 11am-9pm
- Fried Egg I’m in Love – SE 32nd and Hawthorn, 7:30am-2pm
Tal Caspi, the owner of Gonzo put this event together as a way for Portland to show our support for Boston. Head on out to one of these great vendors Tuesday and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner while helping those in need. More details about The One Fund can be found at OneFundBoston.org.
Location: SW 3rd and Stark
Hours: Weekdays, lunch; Fri/Sat late night
The Story: A few years ago, a friend told me about a new pizza he was making at home on his gas grill. I just couldn’t picture putting a pizza on a grill. Wouldn’t it stick and burn? Fast forward to this week and I was able to see how it is done at the newest pizza cart in Portland – Pulehu Pizza.
Pulehu is the work of Pierre and Annebelle who originally hail from Maui. Pierre was a chef at the Four Seasons for eight years and both wanted to escape their jobs, so while camping among waterfalls, the idea of grilling pizzas was hatched. After trying their concept at a block party, the idea grew into a full service catering and concession operation. In Hawaii, they didn’t have a cart or food truck and were forced to carry everything to their events. They earned the right to be inside a box here in Portland. Pulehu – slang for grill.
The grill used is a large outdoor style gas grill you would see permanently installed for your outdoor kitchen. Pierre makes fresh pizza dough which is rolled out for either an 8″ or 12″ personal pie. He quickly grills one side and then waits for your order. I chose the Truffle Mushroom which comes with mushrooms, grana padano, garlic, truffle oil, cracked black pepper and other seasonings. Pierre tops the grilled side then slides it onto the grill to finish the crust. After a bit, once the crust is just right, he removes it onto a pie pan and closes the lid to cook the toppings and melt the cheese. After some final seasoning and slicing, they hand it over. I love truffle oil on pizza, it adds a fruity flavor that is amazing and subtle. This pie was right up my alley. The crust, thin and crisp enough you could pick up a slice without it getting all floppy. Simple toppings and simple prep made for a wonderful meal.
Pierre and Annebelle now call Portland their home and have opened their doors to be one of only a few pizza vendors in food carts. They have a diverse menu of pizzas along with salads for the non-pizza eater. They are open late night on the weekends for your fourth meal cravings. Drop on by, welcome them to the Rose City and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Classic Cheese- 8″, $5; 12″, $11
- Margherita: tomato, cart made ricotta and pesto – 8″, $6; 12″, $13
- Pepperoni – 8″, $6; 12″, $13
- Meat Lovers: pepperoni, artisanal sausage, grana padano and garlic – 8″, 7; 12″, $13
- Veggie Lovers: tomato, mushroom, feta, kalamata olives, cart made pesto – 8″, $7; 12″, $13
April 22, 2013 By dieselboi
Eat Mobile is six days away. Six days until you get to stuff your gullet with samples from some of Portland’s best street food vendors. Eat Mobile showcases the food and people that make Portland’s food cart scene so special. This year, Willamette Week is partnering with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) for the second year and will expand Eat Mobile to include food demonstrations and provide attendees with a more hands-on food experience with the Whole Foods Eat Mobile Culinary Science Stage. I’ll be MC’ing the event.
Did you get your tickets? VIP Tickets are sold out, but GA is still available. Get ‘em quick as they are selling fast. We have a pair you could win. All you have to do is comment here on which vendor you’re most excited to try on Saturday. We’ll randomly pick a winner Wednesday at 12 noon and notify the winner. Be sure to leave a valid email address so we can contact you.
Saturday, April 27 5:30-9pm
We have a winner. Kristy! Thanks everyone for the comments:
Location: NE 52nd and Sandy, Rose City Food Park
Hours: Wed-Sun, 11:30am-8pm, open later Friday/Saturday till 9pm
The Story: I’m a burger fiend. I admit it, I ate a burger this week and kept it secret. It even had bacon on it. For awhile, friends of mine and I would text photos of burger finds both in Portland and beyond. The burger for me is true American cuisine and there are some wonderful specimens right here in the Rose City. Rockin’ Robyn’s at Rose City Food Park may just be one of those you put on your go-to list.
My doctor told me I needed to lay off the burgers a couple of years ago, so I did, opting for sandwiches and ethnic cuisine, but every so often, due to the rigors of my work, I have to enjoy a tasty burger. I had heard good reports about Robyn’s burgers, so ventured out to NE Portland to check it out. Right as I stepped out of the car, the sky opened, dumping about nine gallons of rain on me. Luckily, a parka and Robyn’s awning protected me while I ordered. Robyn has history in the burger making business and jokingly has burgers in her blood. Her father owned The Igloo in Vancouver, so Robyn learned from family. She sources her beef down the street from where I grew up – The Original Steer Market on SE Division.
The menu at the cart is what you would expect – burgers of all types and sizes. You can get a traditional one or go crazy and get mushrooms or BBQ sauce or even a second patty. Robyn will hook you up. For me, I chose the Sassonator, a cajun spiced 1/2lb burger with Tillamook Pepper Jack cheese. I even added a fried egg to make it extra special. With one of the best in town pub buns from Portland French Bakery, fresh lettuce, tomato, thick sliced onion and the burger, I knew I was in for a treat. You know how when you first pick up a burger and stare at it longingly and maybe talk to it, telling it that soon, it will be in your belly? Yep, that was me. Once you pick it up, with the melted cheese running down your hand and juices on your chin, you don’t put it down until you’re finished. The cajun spices came through, but not overwhelming and the pepper jack with the egg were divine. An excellent burger for $7.50.
Rockin’ Robyn’s isn’t just burgers. She offers fries and sandwiches and vegetarian and gluten free options. Every lot needs a good burger and Rose City has theirs in this cart. Drop on by and let Robyn know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Cheap Sassy Basket – 1/4lb burger with American cheese and 1/2 order fries – $5
- Sassy Burger – 1/2 lb burger – $5.50
- Sassy Cheddar Burger – 1/2 lb burger with cheese – $6.25
- Sassonator – $7
- Psycho Sassy – 1/2lb burger with sauteed mushrooms and Swiss – $7.25
- Rockin’ Vegan Protabella Burger – Portabella mushroom on whole grain bun – $7
Location: SE 45th and Stark at Belmont Station
Hours: Mon-Sun, 12-9pm
The Story: Yo, cheesesteaks are for tourists! Those are the first words I remember hearing from the owners of The Italian Market almost a year ago. Hailing from the city of brotherly love, the owners Erin and Andrew bring south Philly street food to Portland.
I first met Erin and Andrew over a year ago and learned of their plans to relocate to Portland and jump into our ever evolving street food scene. Coming from Philadelphia, a food city in its own right, they wanted to bring those flavors without the schtick we all associate with the cheesesteak. I’ve been to Philly and yeah, you can find a cheesesteak on every corner, but there is so much more to eat and The Italian Market will show you. It has been a long year for the two from the move and building a food cart and securing a location. But now, in April, they are open and slingin’ sandwiches at Belmont Station, a venerable bottle shop known by many who took out their old kitchen in order to welcome a mobile vendor. A new welcoming patio was also constructed so you can enjoy your sandwich inside out of the rain with a beer.
Erin and Andrew have done their time in kitchens and know enough about their craft to know the bread for a sandwich is key. Last summer, they flew out here with a suitcase of different types of bread from Philadelphia and visited all the best bakers in town to see who they could partner with to re-create some of those signature loafs. Dean from Allesio bakery took the samples and made magic in the Rose City, creating the different types of buns The Italian Market required. Speaking of sandwiches, they offer four different ones including an Italian pork, an Italian beef, a meatball sub and a baked eggplant sammy for the vegetarians in the crowd. After tasting samples of both the pork and beef, I choose the Italian beef brisket with roasted tomatoes, sharp provolone and horseradish on a seeded roll. Andrew threw some pepperoncinis in there for good measure. The roll held the ingredients together well and even soaked up a bit of the juices without becoming too soggy and falling apart. The horseradish and brisket mixed perfectly with the acidity of the tomato. Top it all off with sharp provolone and you have one excellent sandwich.
The Italian Market also offers salad and pretzels and can do Gluten Free buns, just ask. They source all their ingredients locally including their “east coast kale” – broccoli rabe. I tried a sample of the greens which melted in my mouth. I’m loving this new model of pairing mobile vendors with bottle shops and bars. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a bar and all they have to eat are warmed over hot dogs. An Italian pork sandwich sounds so much better with a local IPA. Find The Italian Market at Belmont Station daily from noon-9pm. Welcome them to our fine town and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Federal Sandwich: Italian Pork w/ sharp provolone and broccoli rabe – $8
- Ellsworth: Italian beef – $8.50
- Uncle Mike’s Meatball Sub – ground beef and pork simmered in red gravy w/ sharp provolone – $8
- Passyunk: baked eggplant w/ roasted peppers and fennel, homemade mozzarella and pesto – $8
- Tasker Salad: panzanella salad w/ crusty bread, cucumber, tomato, homemade mozzarella, onion and fresh basil with olive oil and balsamic – $5.50
Location: SE 82nd and Harney, Cartlandia
Hours: Mon-Sun, 11:30-8pm
The Story: I first remember hearing the word fusion back in the 90′s and it usually implied a mix of two dichotomous cuisines that a chef decided to mix together. Sometimes it worked, many times it did not. A Kesone Asian Fusion, the mix is Thai and Laotian which compliment each other well.
You may recognize the name Kesone as they had a cafe and bistro in NE Portland for many years, but closed it to open their food cart at Cartlandia. Inside the bright red box, Kesone greats her guests with a bright grin as they come up and with most vendors, begins preparing the cuisine right then. I love that about Portland’s vendors – freshly made food. The menu is comprised of appetizers, salads, noodle and rice dishes, soups, curries and Lao specialties. Normally, upon arrival, I can choose a dish rather quickly, but this menu of 29 different items slowed me down. I skipped the appetizers and salad and focused mainly on the Lao specialties like Nam Kao Vientianene, a dish with crispy rice with coconut shavings and your choice of protein which is blended with mint, lime juice, roasted peanuts, cilantro and scallions. You scoop the mix on to a lettuce leaf and enjoy. Kesone gave me a sample and that is a tasty dish. There is also Sai Uah Lao which are seasoned pork sausages stuffed with sweet onions, lemon grass, dill, rice, scallions and chili. So many amazing options. I couldn’t order them all, so chose Gai Yai, a half of a slow roasted game hen marinated in lemongrass and pineapple house seasoning. I have enjoyed game hen prepared in other ways, so wanted to try it Laotian style and enjoyed it immensely. That first bite with juices dripping down my chin was all it took to convince me that Kesone took care in her slow roasting. The lemongrass and sweetness of the pineapple added a complex flavor I hadn’t enjoyed with fowl up to this point. Needless to say, no leftovers.
Kesone Asian Fusion is open daily for lunch and through the dinner hour. Cartlandia offers covered seating with free wi-fi and even has a beer garden open select hours. Drop on by for some tasty dishes and let Kesone know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Deep Fried Vegetarian Rolls – $4
- Jalapeno Cream Cheese Wonton – $4
- Thai Spicy Chicken Wings – $4
- Sum Thum Salad – shredded green papaya, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, roasted peanuts with dressing – $8
- Lao-style Yum Gai – chicken with crispy lettuce, boiled eggs, red onions, cucumber, tomatoes, roasted peanuts and cilantro – $8
- Pad Lao – pan-fried rice noodles, egg, scallions, roasted peanuts in house sauce with bean sprouts and lime – $6.50
- Nam Kao Vientianne – $8
- Gai Yai Half – $7
- Sai Uah Lao – $8
- Kang Massaman Curry – milder Thai style curry with potatoes, carrots, onions, basil and peanuts – $6.50-8
- Wonton Soup – ground chicken with garlic seasoning wrapped in wonton skins in homemade chicken broth with mushrooms, celery, onions and bean sprouts – $4-8
Facebook: Kesone Asian Fusion