OverEating in Portland, Oregon

by Nancy Bestor

My daughter Emily and I went to Portland last month, ostensibly to visit Lewis & Clark College. But let’s face it, we really went to Portland to eat. Knowing we had limited time, we carefully mapped out where and when we would eat our five meals, both agreeing that breakfasts should be small to save room in our stomachs for an early lunch, an afternoon snack, and a late dinner. We also knew we had to fit in (into our stomachs, that is) at least two dessert stops.

Rest assured readers, Emily and I did not disappoint. We ate our five meals, we ate our afternoon snacks and we ate our desserts. Speaking for myself, I’m fairly certain I ate my way into a tighter pair of pants, too. But believe me, it was worth it.

We began our Portland overeating extravaganza at the food cart pods on Belmont and SE 43rd. Emily went for the penne macaroni smothered in a Secret Recipe Scratch Cheese Sauce from Herb’s Mac and Cheese. She chose her own two toppings, spinach and garlic, for $6. It was outstanding. I went for the Porchetta Sandwich from Lardos, whose tagline is “bringing fat back”. With a name and tagline like that, I knew I could not go wrong. The Porchetta sandwich ($8) was a delicious blend of pork and pork fat, and I can’t believe I ate the whole thing. I’m only sorry I didn’t get the French fries cooked in pork fat. For dessert, which we had to eat in our hotel room much, much later because we were stuffed fat—I mean full—we had lemon and marionberry pie holes from The Pie Spot, on SE Division and 32nd.

On Saturday morning, before our Lewis & Clark tour (Remember? Our excuse for visiting Portland?), we stopped in to see our good friend Mara who bakes at the Pearl Bakery. We got a tour of their impressive operation, then drank chai and coffee and nibbled on croissants and rhubarb brioche.

I’ll skip over the tour of Lewis & Clark, because no food was involved, and move straight to our lunch at one of Portland’s finest Asian eateries, Pok-Pok. If I die and go to heaven, and Pok-Pok’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings are not available, I will ask for my money back.

After lunch, stuffed to the gills, we rolled—that is walked—our way around Portland’s Pearl District. We stopped in for some spices at Penzey’s Spice, only the best spice store I have ever been in, I bought a pair of shoes at Imelda & Louie’s, then (lest you think we lost our focus), we waddled our way to Saint Cupcake for four mini cupcakes.

Are you getting full yet? Because by this time, Emily and I were feeling a little barfalicious. BUT WE HAD ONE DINNER YET TO EAT! So, to kill time until we could stand the idea of putting more food into our stomachs, we took in a movie (21 Jump Street if you must know. And thank goodness Johnny Depp, in his cameo appearance, couldn’t see how much I had been eating that day).

Time was tight when we got out of the movie, so we sped our way to Nicholas Restaurant’s second location on NE Broadway. I couldn’t leave Portland without eating at least half of a Nicholas Lamb Shawarma sandwich ($9.50), with a side of Baba Ghanoush. Emily, always wiser than me when it comes to eating, ate just two slices of her Lebanese pizza ($6.50). We drove home first thing the next morning, snacking on our Nicholas’ leftovers the whole way. If Emily ends up at Lewis & Clark College there is no doubt that I will have to join a gym.