Tag Archive for food trucks

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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Ze Bite

Last week was a really tough, slog-through-the-work kinda week. By the time I got to Friday, I was pooped, and I felt like I’d earned a treat.

So got dressed up and headed out to meet my friend Raj for lunch. Now, Raj is turning 35 this year, and she has a list of things she wants to get done before she does. One of them is “have lunch in Paris.” Now, we didn’t actually go to Paris, but we dressed up in our best French outfits and ate crepes, so it was pretty darn close.

Raj and I make funny faces and eat crepes. It's Friday.

Raj and I make funny faces and eat crepes. It’s Friday.

Ze Bite is a food truck that has been operating on the streets of Vancouver for about two years. The owner, Mathieu Gicquel, also had a “before a I turn a milestone birthday” to-do list, and it included living abroad, owning a business, and learning to speak English. He knocked off all three with Ze Bite (although his English has a charming Parisian accent that influences the names of the dishes he makes, and if you want to practice your French, he’d be happy speak en francais with you).

Gicquel grew up in kitchens, namely his grandmother’s kitchen in France. Restaurants are in his family, both his sister and his uncle have them. Gicquel, however, became an engineer. But after moving to Canada at the age of 31, he decided he wanted to own his own business, and food seemed like a natural fit.

ze bite collage 2.jpg

Ze Bite, which promises to be “a taste of France in one bite,” offers crepes and baguette sandwiches. There is also a soup (Mediterranean tomato) and a salad available.  You’ll mostly find them in the 800-block of West Cordova.

Gicquel’s menu is heavily influenced by Morrocan spices, especially on Ze Moroccan. It’s chicken marinated with cumin and other moroccan spices, and served with mint, hummus, greens and grainy dijon. You can have it on your choice of a baguette (Gicquel sources his baguettes from Baguette and Co) or a gluten-free buckwheat crepe, which he makes right in front of you. Click here for a Gluten-free, Vegan Buckwheat Crepe recipe.

Other menu options include Ze Pig, a citrus and spice braised pork with crispy apples and spicy jalapeños, or Ze Francais, which rosemary ham, tomato sauce, dijon, and greens. I had the vegetarian option, Ze Provencal, with tender roasted eggplant, zucchini, and peppers, finished with greens, tomato sauce, dijon, and herbs du provence.

For dessert, there are many sweet crepe options, like Nutella, salted butter caramel, Raspberry Jam, or the classic sugar/butter combination.

Gicquel is also incredibly passionate about spreading his love for French food to the younger generation. He has a program where he brings the truck to high schools and teaches the kids how to make crepes.

Ze Bite is worth tracking down–it’s the taste of France, right here in downtown Vancouver. Find them onine at ZeBite.ca.

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