Category Archives: Noteworthy Bites

Portland Notes discovers the finest Coffee, Beer, and Doughnuts in Portland!

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What do you do on a rainy, windy Springtime Saturday in Portland? Why, you put on the plaid and take it to Culmination Brewing Company for the sold-out, “2nd Annual Baker’s Dozen Coffee Beer and Doughnut Festival.”

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-02This awesome festival stirs together the three things Portland does best: coffee, beer, and doughnuts. In a city with as many coffee roasters as there are craft brewers, the marriage of the two brews is a natural pairing. Tie that in with doughnuts, and you have a trifecta of mouth watering goodness!  Admission was capped at 400, and believe it or not, all 400 tickets were sold two days before the event. We know Portlanders love their craft brews, coffee, and doughnuts so it was probably no surprise that this event would sell out. Paid admission included a well designed souvenir beer glass, 4-oz samples of all 13 coffee beers, as well as samples of all 13 doughnuts.  New this year, was the Doughnut Decoration Station for kids and non-kids alike.  For just $2, you could design your own doughnut and know that your donation went to Friends of the Children, an organization that provides commitment assistance to at-risk youth. If doughnuts weren’t your thing, Culmination’s chef, Carter B. Owen, came up with a few breakfast sandwiches that looked delicious.

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-15There were a couple doughnut offerings that had an added element of fire to them. Both Donut Byte Labs and Donut-O-Rama, employed the fire torch to craft their doughnuts. Donut Byte Labs’, “French Toast” was three layers of melted sugar and flame toasted cinnamon, topped off with their, made from scratch, cream cheese icing. Donut-O-Rama’s, “Crème Brulee” was a donut hole, rolled in a thick sugar coating, then torched to get that familiar crème brulee crust. Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream had a chocolate banana doughnut where the banana was mixed into the batter, which made for a pleasant, light banana flavor. Instead of maple on this buttermilk bar, it was topped with a generous amount of chocolate. For the chocolate lover, Coco Donuts had the “Hole in the Dark” which was a chocolate cake donut hole with espresso then rolled in cocoa. Pip’s Mobile brought out their cart to make their “Honey  & Sea Salt” on site for the duration of the event. This delicate offering featured local raw honey and pink himalayan sea salt.

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-05There was also what is believed to be the world’sfirst Collaboration Doughnut. Collaboration beers–that is, beers made by two or more brewers–aren’t new so they thought it would be fun to come up with a doughnut collaboration between the roaster, the brewer, and the baker. With ideas coming from Penny from Delicious Donuts, Marissa from Coco Donuts, Victor from Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream, Dieter from Donut Byte Labs, and the actual baker himself, Steve from Staccato Gelato, they crafted an old-fashioned buttermilk doughnut made with Culmination Chocolate Stout, Ole Coffee espresso to make a Vietnamese coffee glaze, then topped with candied bacon bits. Bacon seems to be a popular ingredient on doughnuts these days so the line was long for this tasty treat.

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-07Of course, the event wasn’t just about sampling delicious doughnuts; there were also 13 specially crafted beers to partake. It’s easier sampling 13 food items in an afternoon then it is sampling 13 beers, so many were missed. At the recommendations of many, we started with something a little different, the “Caffe” from Stung Fermented. This was a partnership with Caffe Umbria to take their cold brewed coffee and infuse it into a sparkling mead. The result was a gluten-free mead that was crisp, fragrant, and flavorful. Next was the “Napoleonic” from Labrewatory featuring Coava Coffee’s Santa Luzia from Brazil. This Imperial Brown Ale was brewed specifically for this event and gets its inspiration from the famous French coffee. It had notes of caramel, and toffee with an earthiness that nicely toned down the sweetness. “Double Stack” was a nice breakfast stout from Great Notion Brewing featuring coffee from Clutch Coffee. This stout was aged with a “ridiculous” amount of Vermont maple syrup; however, it did not have a strong sweet finish. The coffee and maple syrup balance was just right. The finale was “Black House” from Modern Times Beer using their own coffee with beans from Ethiopia and Sumatra. This oatmeal stout bursts with coffee aroma and flavor. Modern Times is one of the only breweries in the world to roast their own coffee. This stout had a delicious chocolate espresso bean finish that was the perfect choice to finish out the day.

Second-Annual-Bakers-Dozen-22You might think that a 400 capacity event would have long lines, and unhappy people, but this one was quite the opposite. People were jovial, interested in what they were tasting, asking questions of the vendors, enjoying the live music, and company of their friends. I am sure those that missed out by not getting a ticket before it sold out will be the first to buy next year. Judging from the popularity of this one, I would say there will be another. We might be a health conscious city, but Portland does love their beer, coffee, and doughnuts!

You can read more about this event’s offerings and history from BrewPublic,  and Portland Notes’, Kelly Jones.

The Amazing Taco Crawl of January, 2016 – Hawthorne District

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Portland Notes successfully negotiated the first of many food crawls this past weekend. With over 80 years of combined taco-eating experience, San Diego-based John McKinnis and Austin-raised Kelly Jones covered 5 taco restaurants and food carts in a straight 16 block walk on Hawthorne. Following are reviews of the tacos, along with a photo album of our food adventure, average meal prices, and an invitation to participate in our next event!

The-Amazing-Taco-Crawl-of-January-2016-01Por Que No at 4635 SE Hawthorne opens for brunch at 11 AM on Saturdays, making it especially difficult to stick to our “Tacos Only” policy of the day. We started the day by asking servers and customers to recommend their favorite items.
Tacos average $3.50-$4.50 each – drink options are phenomenal. Por Que No offers a variety of freshly made juice-based beverages that can be combined with alcohol to create all manner of delicious naughtiness. The chips and salsa are made in-house. We sampled the Al Pastor and Pescado tacos. Al Pastor rub was full of flavor, that good balance of heat and flavor we were hoping for. The fish in the Pescado taco was breaded in cornmeal, and topped with a pineapple slaw. My favorite part of this experience was seeing other taco orders coming out of the kitchen – the garnishes on each style of taco are unique and carefully conceived to give a range of taste sensation in every bite. Mucho Gusto! Por Que No offers a seasonal vegetable taco and has vegan options.
Advice: Order before you are seated, as the dining room is very busy from open to close.

The-Amazing-Taco-Crawl-of-January-2016-03Pepinos at 3832 SE Hawthorne is an unassuming casual restaurant that reminds me very much of what I grew up with in Texas – extremely varied menu with a variety of daily specials, ranging from tamales to soup, tostadas, full meals, and more. Chips and access to the fresh salsa bar are complimentary.
We selected a 2 taco special for $5.95, which included a drink. Pescado again – fish tacos were interpreted differently in each restaurant we tried, but Pepinos served the most familiar style – a breaded portion topped with classic cabbage and a secret recipe sauce. Served in a grilled, double wrapped tortilla, this was also probably the most filling taco of the entire crawl. We also consumed the heck out of a chorizo taco, which was satisfyingly spicy. The best part about Pepinos’ atmosphere was the level of comfort – service was very friendly, and the roomy dining room hosted a variety of enjoyable conversations as strangers became friendly at the salsa bar.
Advice: Don’t rush – ask questions. There is so much variety, but everyone is very friendly.

The-Amazing-Taco-Crawl-of-January-2016-05Cha! Cha! Cha! at 3433 SE Hawthorne may be the best reflection of the neighborhood, with the emphasis on healthy, responsible, and sustainable choices. The menu educates customers about where the ingredients are gathered, and why they are personally and universally healthy.
Tacos average $3.50-$4.50 individually – margaritas are available. We were given a basket of warm chips and a few salsas to choose from while we waited for our tacos to be made-to-order. Pescado tacos here offer a choice of white fish or salmon. We selected the grilled wild-caught white fish (such a difficult choice!) and the Del Dia, which is a fresh, seasonal veggie taco of the day. The tacos are served in house-made, thick corn tortillas that taste like corn – every ingredient in these tacos stood on its own. The pickled red cabbage on the fish was delicious, but not overpowering – important, because the fish was delicate, flaky, and absolutely stunning. The veggie taco was one of many vegetarian and vegan options. What we like most about Cha! Cha! Cha!? A responsible restaurant that promotes local sustainability and focuses on our health – what’s not to love?
Advice: Have fun and try new things: you can feel good about yourself when you leave!

The-Amazing-Taco-Crawl-of-January-2016-07Neza is a food stand located in the 3300 block of SE Hawthorne, directly outside House Of Vintage. No seating, so be prepared to walk and eat. The tacos are compact and not overly messy, so it’s completely doable.
Most selections are only $1.50 each, and the canned drinks were just $1.00. Because these tacos were smaller, we tried 3 options: Grilled chicken, Al Pastor, and a basic vegetarian taco. Served in foil, and ready for mobility, these tacos were double wrapped in grilled tortillas, and the basic street food we expected to find, filling and simple. The veggie taco with whole pinto beans, rice, fresh tomato and monterey jack cheese was a reminder of home! Waiting for the tacos, we could hear the comforting sounds of meat sizzling on the grill – Pretty impressive lunch for $5.50.
Advice: No seating, so just be aware. Tacos are on the smaller side, so add an extra for good measure. When you’re finished – check out House Of Vintage.

The-Amazing-Taco-Crawl-of-January-2016-10Our final stop was La Morenita in the 3100 block of SE Hawthorne. There’s a small covered seating area attached to the stand, which was greatly appreciated on this cold, drizzly day.
Tacos are $1.75 each, for the most part. La Morenita offers a full menu of Mexican delights, but the tacos were definitely a popular item. We chose a chorizo taco with avocado salsa and a tilapia pescado. The tacos are full-size, double-shelled, and overstuffed (which is a good thing) with fillings. The fish taco was so full that we had to take a few pieces out before we could pick up the taco! For the price, these tacos were very impressive! I’ve had burritos here before, and had to share with a friend. No skimping here!
Advice: Ask the fantastically helpful person at the window for a recommendation. So many good options!

This was a great first attempt at a crawl – no one was injured, and we still love tacos! Portland Notes will announce the next crawl in advance – if you have a review or a comment, we’d love to hear and share it!