For the second leg of our tour, we were away from home for four nights. This was the part where I got to go to Portland for the first time, and I was pretty excited for that! We got up Monday morning and headed for Eureka, CA. Once you get past Santa Rosa there is really not very much on the way, so my lunch was what I could scrounge up at the freeway corner store.
Yum. Actually, I had never tried the Naked gold machine before, and it was quite nice.
When we arrived in Eureka it was like a ghost town. It was Memorial Day, and nothing seemed to be open. We checked in at the venue, and the bartender recommended that Eureka Natural Foods might be open, mentioning that they had a deli-style area including vegan options.
I had a hard time choosing, so I got a few things.
Hugely stuffed sandwich – horseradish vegenaise, spicy mustard, carrot, cucumber, pickles, tempeh, sprouts, avocado, tomato and lettuce on sprouted wheat bread. The sandwich guy mentioned that they marinate the tempeh in soy sauce then saute it, and he cooked it again while making the sandwich so that it was nice and crispy.
Curry tofu samosa. This was fine, but I think it would’ve been better warm.
Corn chowder, with carrot, potato and cauliflower too. It was rainy outside, and the soup was hot, well-seasoned and comforting.
I’m not sure I would purposefully go to Eureka again, but if I did I would make a point to stop at Eureka Natural Foods. They had a cute little area to eat the prepared foods, and walking around I saw lots of products that I would normally buy. They had flavors of Zevia I had never seen!
For breakfast the next morning, I tried Artisana’s Cashini Butter. We had stayed at a Hampton Inn, so I even had the luxury of toasting my english muffin! Cashini, which is a combo of cashew butter and tahini, is delicious! It tastes great on its own, but would probably be even better with some jam. I felt really healthy eating something that said “high in calcium & iron” on the package.
We stopped over for lunch in a random commercial area and settled on Pita Pit. I lived near a Pita Pit in college and ate it a bunch (admittedly, usually the tuna, before I was vegetarian), so going there is kind of nostalgic for me. Although they have a new spicy black bean patty which is apparently vegan, I went with the old stand-by of falafel and hummus.
We arrived in Portland and sought out a sports bar to watch the A’s game, and managed to find probably the one restaurant in the city with nothing vegan on the menu. Even the veggie burger had egg in it. So, plans changed and we headed down the street to La Sirenita, a taqueria with decent online reviews.
The woman at the counter helped me figure out what was vegan, and I ended up with a very tasty fajita burrito with black beans. I know the inside of a burrito isn’t very pretty, but this one was good enough to warrant showing!
After dinner we went to the hotel, and I started narrowing down my Portland must-do short list. We only had one day there, and you can be sure I was planning to make the most of it!
With the help of The PPK forums, I decided on Junior’s for brunch. Junior’s is a cute little hole-in-the-wall diner in the southeast quadrant which purportedly has lines out the door on weekend mornings. I knew the boys wouldn’t want to spend quite as long as me in the city, so I hopped on public transit and went on my own adventure.
After reading this post I had a hard time deciding on the superhero scramble or the potato plate, but I went with the scramble in the end. I think the sausage component won me over. This scramble had “garden sausage”, tomato and spinach, and the potatoes were well cooked and crispy. The toast came with earth balance, and I had a happy tummy.
My next stop was walking distance from Junior’s.
The vegan mini mall!
Cute stuff from Herbivore – a tote, a t-shirt and Papa Tofu.
Haul from Food Fight – white chocolate chips, Dandies marshmallows, bulk soy curls, Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed Peace Bomb, and a Jokerz candy bar.
While I was shopping the mini mall, the boys called and said they were on their way into town, to go to Prost!, a German beer bar and restaurant. While Prost! sounded excellent in and of itself, it also happens to be next to the food carts where Native Bowl is located, so it was a double win for me. I picked out some goodies at Sweetpea Baking Company and hopped in the van.
On the way, I ate this amazingly delicious apricot danish from Sweetpea. I don’t think I’d ever had a vegan danish, and this one didn’t disappoint!
The super-flaky crust was more salty than sweet, which played perfectly off the sugary jam and glaze.
I drank a delicious wheat beer and willed my stomach to have more room in it…Around 3PM, I decided I could handle lunch before the carts closed.
Because I wasn’t very hungry, I had a hard time deciding on what to choose. The guy working the cart helped me narrow it down, and I went with the Alberta Bowl – jasmine rice, garlic tofu, Fire Breathing Dragon Sauce, housemade furikake, shredded green cabbage, carrots and scallions.
I knew the bowl was going to be good, but didn’t know it would be THIS GOOD. The rice and tofu were cooked perfectly, the sauce was creamy and spicy, and the raw veggies gave it the perfect crunch. I am in love with this bowl and can’t stop thinking about trying to recreate it at home. The bowl was so good, in fact, that Dave chose to get one for himself over the other meaty food cart options. He said his Couch Bowl was maybe a tad too spicy, but other than that he enjoyed it.
After some time driving around and checking out Powell’s (which might be the biggest bookstore ever), we decided to go back to the hotel to rest up before the show. I had one more item on my short list of must-dos to take care of first.
Homegrown Smoker, ya’ll. I couldn’t possibly fit anything else in my belly at that point, so we took it to go.
The entire menu looked fantastic, but their sandwich special made ordering easy. (I did not get the fried oreos. Even on vacation, I’m not sure I could let myself get fried oreos…)
This sandwich was seriously amazing. The bread was really sturdy and somehow held all the fillings together. The smoked soy curls were possibly the closest thing to meat that I’ve had since being vegetarian/vegan, texture- and taste-wise. The mac and cheese was really good; it seemed like they sauced it once when making it, then sauced it again when plating, which made it really creamy. I would compare the flavor to Souley Vegan’s mac.
My stomach was starting to protest at this point, but I couldn’t not eat this peanut butter brownie that I had bought at Sweetpea earlier. That would just be ridiculous.
After eating my way through Portland I was pretty pooped, so I got a soy latte at Stumptown Coffee Roasters before the show. Even though it was ordered to go, the barista poured this cute little soy heart on top.
As expected, I pretty much fell in love with Portland and can’t wait to go back in August for Vida Vegan Con!
Breakfast on the way to Seattle was Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter on Good Seed bread. Separately they are wonderful, and together it was the best breakfast ever. I’m pretty sure you could ice a cake with the hazelnut butter, it’s so sweet and rich. The bread is chunky with seeds and whole grains, and almost tastes buttery on its own. I want to hire Dave to live in my house and bake bread every day.
Arriving in Seattle after a few hours, it was high time for lunch. We drove by the venue just to check it out, and as you so often do on tour, we ate at the closest decent-looking restaurant. This one had a big Pho sign in the window, which was enough to draw us in.
I started with fresh rolls of fried tofu, sweet potato, carrot, noodles and lettuce, with peanut sauce.
Tofu pho – I was excited to see actual vegetables in the bowl! This was pretty good for your standard veggie pho.
A few of us had never been to Seattle, so of course we had to check out the Space Needle and Pike’s Market. We had a very confusing bus ride back. There was a sign over the place where you pay that said something to the effect of “pay as you get off”, but then nobody ever asked for money. If Seattle doesn’t want my two dollars, they’re not getting it!
photo by Eric Atria
Most of the gang had pizza by the slice for dinner, and I convinced Stacie from Morningbell to take a hike with me to check out Cyber Dogs, a vegetarian internet cafe serving international gourmet hot dogs. Intriguing, right? I couldn’t decide between two dogs, so I just got both!
(iPhone pictures because my memory card was full)
Chicago-style dog – brat with dill pickle spear, tomato, pickled peppers, celery salt and mustard. We realized after being served that these were not hot dogs you pick up and eat. Stacie ordered a chili cheese dog, and couldn’t even see the dog under all the chili! This dog was really tasty and I loved the pickle spear. My only complaint is that there was a whooole lot of mustard, and I am generally a mustard lover.
Hungarian Goulash Dog. I really only needed one dog for dinner, but this one was too amazingly weird not to try. Potatoes, “beef”, celery, carrots and noodles stewed with Hungarian spices and topped with “bacon” and kraut. There’s a hot dog and bun under all that, and there were actually lasagna-style noodles and veggie bacon lining the bun, and some sort of liquid pooling in the bottom. Despite the wackiness, this actually tasted really good. I couldn’t tell the potatoes from the beef from the vegetables, but I forged on and got through about half of it. I would say it’s worth trying if you’re looking for something different.
We had a place to stay in Seattle, but decided to drive home through the night instead. We just wanted to get back home. The snacks I had packed came in handy, especially the ProBar. Tour isn’t always the most convenient form of vacation, but I had a great time, saw some new places, and ate some great food!