Alien's Day Out

Alien’s Day Out in Portland

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My trip to Portland was far too short but still so so amazing. It was great being able to stay at my friend Betsy’s place and see her again, and ofcourse, to eat so much good vegan food. There was seriously such a high concentration of vegan stuff everywhere, more than I’ve ever seen in any other US state. I finally understand why people call Portland the vegan mecca. Everywhere I went, there was vegan-this, vegan-that, soy milk-this, almond milk-that…. I reckon being vegan there is just a way of life. For all you Portland veg-heads, color me green cuz I’m jealous. Here are some of the highlights of my trip, from the three full days I was there.

{ Day 1 }

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My first morning in Portland, I woke up early and headed downtown where I went straight to Voodoo Doughnuts. Devilish treats aside, the store is definitely a spectacle. The store is fun with clashy colors and there are all kinds of voodoo artwork and paraphernalia hanging from the walls. Only in Portland…

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I originally wanted to get one of their vegan yeast-raised doughnuts on the menu board, but the girl at the counter said that they were all out of those, and then pointed to a shelf in their display case that had all these other vegan options. Not knowing what the flavors were, I went solely based on appearance and picked the wildest, most decadent, halloweenish-looking one. I had no idea what the orange crunchy bits were until I bit into it and realized it was broken up chic-o-sticks! Holy ddong, it was good. It was definitely a cakey doughnut; not yeast-risen for any traditional, doughnut-purists out there. The chocolate base wasn’t too sweet and on its own I think I could justify eating it for breakfast, but the sticky gooey marshmallow icing and chic-o-sticks took the whole thing to dessert-status. I ate half of the doughnut right there while standing by the window counter,…

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…and then took the rest and enjoyed it with some soy coffee at Stumptown Coffee Roasters for the ultimate sugar+caffeine rush. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to kickstart my Portland adventure!

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After that, I went to Portland’s famous Powell’s bookstore: the biggest new and used independent bookstore on the planet that takes up an entire city block and goes up several levels. I won’t lie, a good percentage of my entire time in Portland was spent browsing the shelves, sipping coffee at the in-store cafe, and satisfying my inner bookworm. This was probably my favorite thing I did!

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For lunch, I got a cup of soup from Savor Soup House, one of the numerous food carts around downtown Portland with vegan options. I got the lentil stew with cauliflower, tomatoes, and cilantro, which also included two slices of bread. Instead of eating it there, I took the bag all the way to the International Rose Test Garden (about a 20 minute walk) and enjoyed it while sitting on a bench amongst roses. :)

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So gorgeous. I’ve never seen so many varieties of roses, all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Soon after I got there, it started raining so I hid under one of the gazebos until it let up a bit. What’s a visit to Portland without any rain.

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For dinner, Betsy took me to one of her favorite restaurants called Nicholas, serving Lebanese food with a very vegan friendly menu. Soon after we arrived, they brought out this honkin’ ginormous fresh pita bread that was the size of a large pizza. It was poofy, warm, chewy, and we tore bits of it off and then dipped it into this herb-oil while waiting for our main course to arrive.

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We shared one order of the Vegan Mezza Platter which consisted of one plate of hummus, falafel balls, tabouli salad, tadziki, another dish of lentils & jasmine saffron rice with caramelized onions, and a plate of stewed garbanzo beans. Everything, along with the pita bread was so delicious. And the portions were so large that we stuffed ourselves and still had leftovers. Best Middle-Eastern food I’ve had in a loooong time.

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Strawberry basil sorbet at Ruby Jewel Scoops for dessert. And that concludes day 1.

{ Day 2 }

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Ofcourse no vegan’s pilgrimage to Portland would be complete without a trip to the ‘vegan stripmall,’ a block lined with four entirely vegan establishments: a bakery cafe, clothing/bookstore, grocery store, and tattoo parlor. To be honest, it wasn’t quite as grand or mind-blowing as I was expecting, but it was still a treat to see. I’m such a vegan tourist… gahhh!

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For breakfast I went to Sweetpea Baking Company, one of three all-vegan bakeries in Portland. I really liked the interior and set up of Sweetpea. High ceilings, open airy space, chill music, and the smell of freshly baked sweets coming from the kitchen. Ahhh~ To be brutally honest though, I wasn’t blown away by their baked goods selection. Perhaps I went too early in the morning because their display case was not as stocked-up as I was expecting and there weren’t too many things that were ‘speaking’ to me. But then I looked on their separate breakfast menu and saw the words “famous biscuits and gravy” and I knew I had to get that. I normally prefer non-savory items for breakfast, but when I see all those words together in one sentence, how could I resist? I’m not made of stone. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the biscuit was seriously big, larger than the size of my fist, and it was covered in lots of saucy gravy. The biscuit had a nice crispy outer crust and the inside was buttery, dense but soft, and just melted in your mouth. Delicious! However, I thought the gravy was a bit on the thin side and it was also a bit too salty for my taste. The first few bites, I was in heaven… and then the richness and saltiness of everything started to bring on that ‘neukki’ feeling and I imagine that if I ate the whole thing in one sitting, I would’ve gotten a tummy ache. I think I’m just not used to having something so rich and buttery first thing in the morning. Also grabbed a berry muffin to-go! Yum~~

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Herbivore clothing store! In addition to clothing they had all manner of vegan-friendly items such as bags, soy candles, non-leather wallets, vegan related literature and cookbooks, buttons and stickers.

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I ended up getting an herbivore t-shirt and some stickers as non-food souvenirs. :) I also went into ‘Food Fight,’ the vegan grocery shop. It was pretty small and they didn’t have a massive selection of stuff, however, I did get a packet of ‘Vegg,’ the newest vegan egg yolk product that is making waves on the blogosphere. I’ll have to do a review on it later when I get back to Korea!

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So many odd things that make Portland weird, unique, and totally hip. Lines of food trucks that go around the block, the church of Elvis, and cool art by the sidewalk covering up construction.

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I wasn’t in Portland over the weekend, so I missed out on the big Saturday farmer’s market, but I got to walk through one of the weekday markets and it was still just as cool and fun. I realllly wish Seoul had some kind of organic farmer’s market like the ones here. Yes, there are lots of outdoor markets where you can get fresh produce and stuff, but it’s not an event like farmer’s markets are here. This is definitely something I’m going to miss back in Korea.

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Checked out the Portland Art Museum.

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To cross vegan pizza off my bucket list for this US trip, Betsy and I went to Sizzle Pie, which was right across the street from Powell’s. There were several ready-made pizzas that we could order by the slice, and 3 or 4 of them were vegan~ drooool. I got a slice of their ‘Thunder & Lightning” pepperoni and daiya cheese pizza with a salad, and Betsy got another vegan slice (forgot the name) with soy curls and a salad. I can’t even remember the last time I had anything resembling pepperoni, and this satisfied that salty-fat craving. Each slice was really big and I loved that the crust was thin and crispy. The melty daiya cheese was also great!

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Got to hang out in Betsy’s backyard where she and her housemates are growing organic, heirloom veggies, and they even have two chickens. They are true Portlandians.

{ Day 3 }

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On my last full day, I hopped on a bus and made my way to Dovetail Bakery for breakfast. Portland definitely has no shortage of delicious vegan baked goods, and they even have three entirely vegan bakeries. I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t make it to at least two of the three. It’s hard for me to express how much I fell in love with Dovetail Bakery, just after one visit. It was small, rustic, unpretentious, and had a homey, country feel to the interior. As soon as I walked in I felt at home. The ladies behind the counter were so NICE, and you could just tell that they put so much love, soul, and care into their baked goods…. something that I felt was lacking at Sweetpea (sorry!!).

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I got a carrot apricot jam millet muffin and a cuppa coffee (by Courier Coffee Roasters) with coconut creamer, and sat at a table by the window and planned my upcoming day. The muffin was crazy-soft, the perfect amount of sweet, but wholesome at the same time. The addition of the crunchy millet was nothing short of brilliant and then the surprise filling of apricot jam in the center made it even more memorable. I don’t have a whole lot more to say except that the entire experience made me extremely happy.

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To share some of that happiness, I got extra breakfast scones and a berry muffin for Betsy and her housemates to share.

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Sights along Alberta Street.

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Check out my lunch from DC Vegetarian food cart! Portland is definitely food-cart central, and what’s great is that it’s so affordable. I opted for a vegan cheeseburger with FYH cheese on a toasty warm whole wheat bun, $5. This veggie burger was big, filling, and tasted damn good. I enjoyed every bite.

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To burn off some of the delicious calories, I got some physical activity in by walking around the Hoyt Arboretum trails at Forest Park. The weather was perfect and being surrounded by trees always makes me happy. I also picked some wild orange raspberries along the way. Yes, I ate them. If they were poisonous, well, as you can see, I survived to tell the tale.

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Hoyt Arboretum and Vietnam veterans memorial.

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For our last meal together, Betsy, myself, and some other Portland/Norcal friends had a mini reunion at Por Que No? Taqueria. The restaurant was tiny but packed and had a long line out the door… I guess it’s a local favorite! There weren’t many vegan options, but Bets and I shared the Bryan’s bowl (vegan version) which was a very filling entree of rice, veggies, beans, cilantro, salsa, guacamole, and a side of housemade tortillas. I also got to enjoy a sweet, refreshing glass of hibiscus flower tea, which is something I haven’t had since I was at boarding school in Ivory Coast, except we used to call it ‘rosella juice.’ Brought back memories! Anyway, the Bryan’s bowl was comforting, tasty, and like a Mexican version of bibimbab.

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And then for dessert we got vegan apple pie at Random Order Coffee House. Soooo good.

So that wraps up my time in Portlandia. As you can tell, eating vegan there was just delicious, fun, and also ridiculously easy. There was nothing difficult or inconvenient about it. And on top of all that, the people were friendly, there was plenty of nature and fresh air, the public transportation system was easy to use, and I got to see lots of hip, arty, weirdness. Talk about an awesome city.

Feel free to Leave a comment!

14 Comments

  1. Yum, yum and more yum! Its amazing how vegan friendly a city can be.

  2. So glad you really dug Portland, it is a very unique city. I love love love it!

  3. ahh… it’s been much to long since i’ve been to portland! what a dream city, huh?
    how long are you out on this side of the world? i quit facebook so i’m feeling kinda out of the loop… one of these visit times, you MUST come up to vancouver! ^_^

    • Hey Natalie! :) How are you? yea, portland was so awesome. you should definitely visit again– you’re pretty close! Man, i would LOVE to visit Vancouver! It’s definitely on my list of places I want to visit in my lifetime. I just got back to Korea last night. Trying to recuperate after all that traveling. talk soon! ps, you changed your blog address?

  4. One thing I loved about Portland was how vegan friendly it was!! Something you definitely miss here in Korea :P

  5. Hey that was a nice blog. Thanks for sharing

  6. I just stumbled upon your blog and am overjoyed with all of your info on vegan options in Seoul…though I especially enjoyed this post about Portland, being a former resident (now of Suwon). I thought I would mention–I believe those berries are called salmonberries! Well, that’s what we call them in Alaska (my home state). Anyhow, did you love them? I think they might be one of my favorites. : ) Thanks so much for your thoughtful writing!

    • Hi Katrina! Thanks for the comment. yup, the berries were great! First time eating orange-colored berries. :) Oh, and I visited Alaska a few years ago and it was soooo beautiful. I’m jealous of all the amazing places you’ve lived. And now Korea! hehehe.

      • Yes, I’m heading back to the Northwest in a few months after 2 years here in Korea, and am very excited to be back in the midst of all the delicious food. It’s sad that I only recently found your blog, but I’ll be sure to pass it on to fellow veggies/vegans. Keep it up!

  7. Hi Mipa,
    Heard you this morning in 1013 Main street, and found it an interesting presentation. Also learnt about your blog during that program. I am getting increasingly interested in a healthy diet, although I am not (yet) by any measure a vegetarian or vegan for that matter. I am reading at present an interesting book though about a new life style, called “Anticancer” of David Servan-Schreiber. Concerning a healthy diet these days, which is extremely beneficiary for boosting your immune system, Servan-Schreiber believes that e.g. also wheat products should be avoided, and personally I think that soya products should be limited as much as possible as these are a source of surplus estrogen and most of the soya is grown using gene manipulated hybrids. I was wondering therefore whether in the vegan diet, there are replacements for wheat and soya, while still making the diet not too lob-sided.

    • Hi Jack, thanks for the comment and for listening to the interview! haha. Nice to know that someone heard it. :) To answer your questions, I agree that soy products should be eaten moderately, and yes, for some people, it is better to avoid wheat too. If you are eating soy for protein, you can eat quinoa, beans, lentils, brown rice, or even green peas. They are good sources of protein. And for wheat, you can use gluten-free flours such as rice flour, potato flour, tapioca flour, buckwheat flour….. I use a lot of these for gluten-free baking that I do for my bake shop. Hope that helps somewhat! :) Have a good one.

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