Gail and Jon discover Portland’s food carts

April 18, 2011

The food cart phenomenon is well worth the visit. Food carts are scattered throughout the city. We head to Alder and 10th Street following the recommendation of neighbouring eaters last night at The Little Bird Restaurant. Carts/wagons/booths of all shapes and sizes are situated on perimeters of parking lots (oh what we could do with those empty lots in Edmonton…). Health/hygiene standards are extremely high. Vendors are cooking fresh on site and most vendors are food entrepreneurs who could not afford to open up a restaurant. Picture how a Taste of Edmonton is set up and now, forget about the food at a Taste of Edmonton, because the food at these food carts is fresh, authentic, with quality, quantity and price all in its favour. Most food is under $7, beverages are $1.

We purchase a schnitzel plate at the Traditional Polish Cuisine cart that includes dumplings, perogies, grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers and salad. We stop at I Like Thai Food and on the recommendation of the cook I purchase a Pad See Ew, stir fried broad noodles with chicken, eggs, broccoli, carrots and bean sprouts, cooked in a sweet/tart sauce similar to Pad Thai. Two good choices and we’re very full. Not bad for $12.

A latte and a shoe shine for my Blundstone’s. Just a quick word about my shoe shine. It’s my first one and I can see why guys get their shoes shined at a shoe shine. I sat up in the leather chair, with my shoes on, while Phillip, my shoe shiner spent a good 30 minutes, cleaning and applying three coast of polish, buffing after each one, and added a final shine to the edges of the soles. My boots look mighty fine for $7. Is there anywhere to get a shoe shine like this in Edmonton?

We leave Portland and head to the coast, arriving at the Blue Heron French Cheese Co. Have a wine tasting and purchase a bottle of 14 Hands 2008 Merlot from Washington State. Apparently, Washington has over 700 wineries and will soon surpass Napa….We also try Tillamook Ice Cream – blackberry cherry and vanilla bean. This ice cream is freshly made at the Tillamook Creamery, our next stop on our way to the coast.

The Tillamook County Creamery Association is a dairy cooperative and cheese and ice cream producing facility that stated in 1909. We take a self-guide tour of the factory and learn about Tillamook. From cheese curds to 40 lb blocks of cheese, 1 million pieces of cheese are packaged each week and their cheese is the #2 brand of ‘natural chunk cheese in the US’ (I wonder who number one is?.....). While this is not ‘artisanal’ cheese, the production is still very impressive. Did you know that it takes 10 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of cheese. This factory produces approximately 167,000 lbs of cheese each day.

Butter is also produced at Tillamook, but not at this facility. Found out why butter is salted, at least in this part of the US. Seems butter was traded and the main dairy export at the turn of the last century. Transporting it to market was a challenge. To prevent rancidity, it was heavily salted to preserve it and then washed later to remove the salt. Cheese was easier to handle with less chance of rancidity and became a more popular product to export.

We purchase a two year old cheddar and a bag of gluten free crackers and head off to Lincoln City.

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