36 Hours in Portland
Though I love the Northeast, love the deciduous trees; I love to see the snow-capped mountains of the West emerge from the plane window. Like Oregon’s welcoming committee: Mount St. Helens on the left and Mount Hood on the right. Not pictured but also pushing the East out of my mind, California’s Mount Shasta whose ghost-like looming presence on the I-5 crossing north into Oregon remains vivid in my memory. Ok, Oregon, what’s next?
Having been to Portland many times, I wanted to try some vegan option I may have looked over on other visits. As a truly and tremendously vegan friendly city, vegan options are living everywhere. Like the brunch I had at Pambiche. I had the Picadillo Comunista (Socialist Soy Hash), which, according to the menu, became a typical part of the contemporary Cuban diet due to meat shortages and food rationing. Owner Tía Miriam’s recipe is made with Bob’s Red Mill High Protein T.V.P., Iberian herbs and vegetables sautéed in an olive oil and sherry wine sofrito; served with fresh avocado, brown rice and super-ripe plantains.
Head to the South Waterfront to go by Tram! Take the Portland Aerial Tram for a roundtrip ride… because it’s a neat view–and only takes a few minutes. Plus, there’s the small strip of food carts next door, The Gantry Food Pod at Zidell Yards. There you can try one of three vegan waffle sandwiches at Smaaken Waffles, each made with coconut maple butter.
On a clear day… wait–this is the Pacific Northwest.
Take a quick drive to Salem to see the old Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health (formerly known as Oregon State Insane Asylum), which is now a museum. The hospital was the location of the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Like many asylums and old methodologies in treatments of mental illness, its history is rich and disturbing. Eventually, the building, long neglected and deemed unsafe, would eventually be reconstructed with a new mission–to tell the story of those who lived and worked there.
Among the site’s highlights is the memorial display of thousands of unclaimed cremated remains. After running out of space, all remains in the hospital’s cemetery were exhumed in 1913. The exhumed unclaimed remains of patients were cremated… as were all unclaimed patients who passed away there from 1913 through 1971. These remains sat for decades at the hospital. And hundreds more were lost completely.
Recently, Oregon made a call to artists near and far to create a memorial that would serve as both a final resting place for some while still allowing families to seek and claim family members’ remains. This is the result.
What’s better than brunch? Real, live breakfast! On my last morning in Portland I stopped at Harlow… for several reasons. For one, it’s open early. Two, they can sub any egg dish with either smoky tempeh or seasoned jackfruit. (My Outlaw scramble with jackfruit had chipotle black bean chili, dark greens, spinach, guacamole, pepitas, scallions, cilantro & jalapeño cashew cheese, and was served with quinoa.) Three, they’ve got fresh pressed juice. (I got the Howler–pineapple ginger cucumber parsley kale spinach). Four, you order at the counter and then pick the best seat, eat and then go. Fresh, delicious.
For a savory sandwich, you can feast on one of the cheese-stuffed concoctions at Vtopian Artisan Cheese Shop, right next store to Homegrown Smoker‘s deli. Or, lose the packaged cheese additions of Homegrown and add some Vtopian love! Next time I’ll do that. I grabbed myself a Tempeh Reuben from Vtopian, which was hearty and lovingly salty. A sweeter Thousand Islands dressing would have revved it up a bit more.
Did someone say sweet? Eb & Bean has got vegan Magic Shell toppings for their vegan soft serve. I repeat, Eb & Bean has got vegan Magic Shell toppings for their vegan soft serve. Not just chocolate either. Mine is the “newtella.” They also have peanut butter Magic Shell. And they have coconut milk caramel. And they have great soft serve. I got the cashew-based chocolate peanut butter cup… with the newtella Magic Shell and Sift cookie dough. Can I say Magic Shell again? Magic Shell.
Still have not satisfied your sweet treat craving? Head to Xurros + Xocolata for their fresh churros. You can get their standard cinnamon-sugary wonderfulness right out of the fryer–or their chocolate-covered, which is vegan. Their sauce “specials” usually include a vegan option. This time, a coconut cream dipping sauce. Bring a Ouija Board and use the wooden piece they’re served ’em on as a planchette.
That’s all for now. Goodbye, West. Hello, brown expanse dotted with wind turbines.