Tag Archive for donuts

What I Ate: Portland

Ah, Portland. Keeping it weird. We fit right in.

Michael and I spent a little more than 24 hours in Portland, as we were there researching a story I’m writing on donuts.

keep portland weird

Now, when you go to Portland, there are three things you have to eat (or drink). The first is beer. There are close to 100 breweries in the Portland area, so there’s something for everyone’s taste. Secondly, you have to eat at a food truck. Unlike Vancouver where our food trucks roam (and are sometimes found in different locations), in Portland, they have more or less permanent pods of them. They basically have taken over city parking lots. The food trucks line the perimeter of the block, and the vendors park their cars and trucks inside. There are tons of these pods all over Portland. Thirdly, you must eat donuts!

We did all three, as well as slipping in some Powell’s Books. As you do.

hopworks urban brewery portland

Craft Brewery: as luck would have it, we had one almost right next door to our hotel. Hopworks Urban Brewery brews up some tasty seasonal favorites. I opted for a cider, Strawbarbalicious to be exact. This seasonal cider was infused with strawberry and rhubarb, one of my fave combos. Everything here was super local. Michael had a pulled pork sandwich which he loved, and I had a really nice salad featuring a local blue cheese.

the grilled cheese grill portland food truck

Food Truck: this may have been the greatest grilled cheese sandwich of my life. I love grilled cheese. It’s my ultimate, go-to comfort food. This was perfection; three different kinds of cheeses (from nearby Tillamook), all oozing together in melty perfection. But it was the perfectly toasted outside of the sandwich that really got my heart racing. The Grilled Cheese Grill knows their stuff. If you’re brave, try the “Grilled Cheesus,” a burger, made with grilled cheese sandwiches in the place of buns!

portland donuts

Donuts: I’m writing an entire blog post on this alone, but we visited 4 different donut places (we were meant to visit 5, but one was inexplicably closed). You have to start with Voodoo Donuts. You have to. And while you’re there, order something outrageous, like “Captain, My Captain,” a donut topped with Cap’n Crunch. Yeah, you read that right. When I interviewed the owner, he used the word “kooky” about 10 times. And that’s what Voodoo is, from start to finish. Go early to avoid lines.

Blue Star, just a short walk away, is a more gourmet donut, with a much cleaner, more modern space. Both Blue Star and Voodoo offer vegan options.

My fave donut of the day, however, was an incredibly simple glazed old fashioned from Coco’s, also located downtown. It was amazing. Fluffy, but with a nice toothsomeness when you bit into it, sweet but not sickly so. It was perfection.

We also tried Pip’s, an adorable joint that serves up house-made chai and mini donuts that are made to order.

We weren’t there for long, but boy, Portland did not disappoint in the food department.

Where have you eaten in Portland? What were your faves? Share in the comments below.

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Vancouver’s Best Donuts

Before we get to the business at hand, let’s have a moment to discuss donut versus doughnut. The proper, real, official word is doughnut, but modern lexicon writes donut more often than not. It’s a word that’s been heavily influenced by America, Homer Simpson, and laziness–who needs to write those three extra letters?

No matter how you spell it, the donut is a delicious treat. Yeasted dough, sweet and flavoured, is dropped into hot oil, where it puffs up, and creates a beautiful, golden-brown crust. Then, the donut becomes like a blank canvas to the donut-creators wishes, taking on whatever glazes, fillings, or toppings the creator can imagine.

Here’s where to find Vancouver’s best donuts. I’ve been to them all.

Outpost Mini Donuts–Steveston

outpost mini donuts

It’s not easy to find. Tucked away in a tiny (but adorable) shop on a side-street in Steveston, you will find Outpost Mini Donuts. Now, what makes them special is that they do only, and nothing but, mini-donuts. These are not your PNE mini donuts (which, to be fair, are really in a whole category of their own). Nope, these mini-d’s come with a variety of interesting and delicious toppings, and are served in a paper cone. Regular flavours include Vanilla Bean Icing with sprinkles, and (our fave) Maple Icing with sprinkles. They also have seasonal choices, like lemon or blueberry. Pair your cone ‘o’ donuts with a stroll on the Steveston Boardwalk–it’s an incredibly charming little town.

Lucky’s Doughnuts–Kitsilano and Main St

lucky's doughnuts

When Lucky’s and Parallel 49 Coffee conspired together to open up a shop at Main and 13th a few years back, this city hit the jackpot. Never has there been a more perfect pairing. I’ve been a huge fan of Parallel 49 since forever, and now you can dunk a donut in your perfect pour-over. These are grown-up donuts. Elegant. Everything here is made “slow,” from scratch, even the jams and fillings. The donuts are classics: I almost never recommend trying a plain donut, but honestly, at Lucky’s The Classic Old Fashioned is probably the way to go, although their apple fritter and the PB & J also rock. My favourite thing to order here, though, is not a donut, but their beignets. Warm, coated in powdered sugar, and accompanied by three sauces, they immediately transport you to New Orleans.

Lee’s Donuts–Granville Island

If I could only describe Lee’s with one word, that word would be old school. Okay, so that’s two words, but you get the idea, right? Lee’s has been in business on Granville Island for 36 years. Thirty-six! Owned by the same guy, not shockingly named Lee, every day they churn out hundreds of delicious, warm, glazed donuts. This is a classic donut. Light and fluffy and warm and sweet. They are like what I imagine clouds would taste like if you cut them into rings, deep-fried them, and sugar-glazed them.

Honey’s Donuts–Deep Cove

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Like Steveston, Deep Cove is a charming little town that I sometimes like to escape to. I love the drive out there, and arriving in the Cove always feels like an exhale. After an afternoon of hiking, walking, or kayaking, you’ll want to reward yourself with a donut from Honey’s. There’s always a line. But there’s a reason for that. Honey’s donuts are tall. In fact, it’s a bit of a challenge to get your mouth around one. They are cakier, heavier than some other donuts, but still delicious. Our fave was the maple-glazed, with bacon. Even if you skip the hike, a drive to Deep Cove for a donut is completely justified.

Cartem’s Donuterie–Downtown

For my money, Cartem’s serves the best donuts in town. Cartem’s has become the place I go to celebrate anything: first day of school, last day of school, getting all the laundry done… The sheer creativity that owner Jordan Cash and chef Rajesh Narine bring to their work puts them on top. Here, you’ll find seasonally-inspired creations that are only available for a short time (today, for example, they are serving up a special donut for Chinese New Year), but every day creativity rules, here, as well. Michael’s fave is the Whiskey Bacon, and my fave is the Honey-Parmesian. I know it sounds weird to put cheese on a donut, but it’s magic. They also have daily vegan and gluten-free choices, which I don’t believe any of the other donut shops in the city have. You really need to check them out.

Where’s your fave donut join in Vancity? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments below.

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