Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Keeping Portland Weird

Last weekend 14 friends and I went to Portland for the Warrior Dash—a 3-mile RACE FROM HELL complete with obstacles like fire jumping, diving over floating logs, and the best part… a total, full-on mud bath. It was insane, it was awesome, I loved it. Did I mention that runners were dressed in costumes, ranging from furry loin cloths and Viking helmets to wedding dresses and 3-piece suits? Did I also mention that after the race there was a huge beer garden dance party, filled with muddy warriors chugging ale and gnawing on giant turkey legs (not to mention YouTube-worthy freak-dancing, but that’s another story). I told you… totally awesome.

Since we made the trek all the way down to P-town, we decided to get a hotel and celebrate our warrior-status with a night out. Now, I’ve spent a lot of time in Portland… growing up, Portland was our nearest big city, so we went there for all our school shopping, Christmas shopping, and all around mall shopping needs (that’s right… is an hour away from the closest mall). We also went to Portland for the airport, the train station, and school field trips. So during my adult years, while my friends took off on weekend getaways to Portland, I chose to stick around Seattle, or check out other towns cities I wasn’t so familiar with. However, it turns out I wasn’t very familiar with Portland at all (past the malls, anyway). Last weekend was my first grown up night on the town in Portland, and I loved it. With an earthy-hipster vibe and street food on every block, Portland is AMAZING!

Unlike Seattle, with its soul-crushing city ordinance against food carts, Portland is a food-cart mecca! Streets and parking lots are lined with food carts made from old campers and trailers, and serving up everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to Kahlua pork. It’s like a street festival or a fair… Every. Single. Day. I now know where all of the world’s dreamers go… they go to Portland. And they make street food. Wandering the lively streets of Portland late at night, after closing down the bars, I felt like a kid in a candy store… an inebriated, 20-something kid in a candy store filled with delicious street food.

After a very disappointing street quesadilla (I don’t want to give out a bad review, because that’s not my style… but… not a fan of one specific Portland dilla-cart that has chicken sausage on the menu... you’ve been warned), I needed the streets to redeem themselves. And that’s when I spotted the waffle place. Unfortunately, I don’t even know what this place is called. I wasn’t looking at the name; I was looking at the menu… and at the vanilla scented waffles, folded half, oozing with melted chocolate in other patron’s greedy hands. J-dub and I ordered 3 waffles. Hey…we jumped over fire, we deserved it! We had a ham and cheese, a maple pecan, and…wait for it… s’more! The s’more was everyone’s favorite. A chewy, golden waffle, filled with nutella and marshmallow cream, and folded in half…gooey, sweet perfection.

While in Portland, we also had to try a favorite for locals and tourists alike: VooDoo Doughnuts. You’ve seen it on TV… the little shop adorned with posters and voodoo dolls, with pierced and tatted-up donut slingers, and the famous holy-grail of all donuts, the maple bacon bar! If you haven’t seen it, you don’t watch enough travel or food TV (or maybe I watch too much).

Either way, we went, we stood in line for over an hour, and we got a dozen donuts, including the maple bacon bar, a giant squishy donut topped with Captain Crunch, and one with a mystery grape-flavored purple powder. Then Amanda, Evan, and I ate said dozen donuts, by ourselves, with help from no one. Was it worth the long wait? Duh.

Costumed leaps through fire, street-food galore, and donuts shaped like voodoo dolls...You’re weird Portland, but I like it. A lot. Keep it up.
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