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10th September
2009
written by spd

YAY!

  • In the past two weeks, I’ve eaten many meals while standing. And I’m not complaining! Portland’s food cart culture has been written about in every food rag there is, but somehow, I never gathered just how many carts there are in Portland, or what a fine product they turn out. Restaurants must surely loath them, because they have a miniscule overhead and can, therefore, provide a hefty meal for a fraction of the cost. During my time there, I had some mean Carne Asada Tacos, stellar Pad Thai (and not-so-stellar Pad Thai), Crab Rangoon the size of a burrito, the list goes on. The most I ever spent in one sitting (standing?) was $7.50. I was most impressed, however, by the array of vegan and vegetarian booths. You may have gathered by now that I’m certainly not opposed to eating a little meat! But I was blown away by the vegan rice bowls at Sonny’s Bowl at Stark and 3rd. Their very own BBQ Soy Curls sit atop Green and Yellow String Beans and Brown Rice with Citrus Ginger Sauce. Also at Stark at 3rd, DC Vegetarian serves up a filling “Steak” and Cheese, made with their own seitan. My only complaint is that most carts they aren’t open on the weekend, and most close before 5pm.
  • The weekend, however, is a great chance to visit numerous Farmers Markets around town. The Saturday Market at Portland State University’s South Park (between SW Harrison and SW Montgomery) is open from 8:30am-2pm. I didn’t give myself nearly enough time to take in the stands featuring picture-perfect produce, locally caught seafood, artisan charcuterie… I just ran manically through the place looking for a pre-show meal. I have to pat myself on the shoulder for my choices: Buttermilk fried chicken and Biscuits, and an Heirloom tomato sandwich on a Sesame Bagel with Cream Cheese, Basil Pesto and Bacon. The tomatoes were so incredible, and packed such an intense punch of flavor. That’s what happens when produce is allowed to ripen on the vine, instead of being picked green and packaged for sale one week later. I didn’t want to leave!

NAY!

  • Perhaps we were spoiled by Portland’s table-less eats, but the yearly Festa-Italiana offered up a pretty lackluster meal in between shows. We scoured stands, and found mostly dried out pasta slopped out of heating trays. I went for one stand’s calamari, which was heavily breaded and served with a watery marinara. The caesar salad was overdressed and missing parmesan cheese. My castmate Trevor had a doughy calzone. Are these people Italian or wha? So… stick to the carts, I say!
  • When we first arrived in Spokane, I was delighted to hear that we were visiting during the 30th Annual Pig Out in the Park. Over forty food stands conveniently located one block from our theatre? Yesplease. Unfortunately, these stands weren’t set up by restaurants selling their signature dishes… most were glorified Fair Food. Sure, the elephant ears were fantastic, and you could pick up a deep fried twinkie if you dared to. But the Asian carts are pretty run-of-the-mill and the $4 lemonade is… get this… Countrytime. Not a lemon in sight, and boxes of Countrytime in an adjacent trash can. The soba noodles at the Island Noodle stand make the fest worth a trip. Over twenty vegetables go into the wok, and they are as fresh as can be. Served with Ginger chicken and crumbled macadamia nuts for $8? One visit wasn’t enough… they were my pre-show meal on-the-go three times that week!
The nutritious soba noodles at Island Noodle, Spokane, WA (img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

The nutritious soba noodles at Island Noodle, Spokane, WA (img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

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