What’s wet, hairy, wears a beanie, and smells like beer? You got it – Portland! It’s my first time in town and I’ll be soaking up some of its food, beer and culture over the next few days. Literally……..soaking……get it, yes, it’s going to be raining every goddamn day I’m here. Welcome to the NorthWest!
Some whacky and weird facts. Did you know Portland’s not into religion? 42% of its population registered religiously unaffiliated. Very few churches and guess what, it all makes sense to me!!! Especially when the entire town is practicing Voodoo. I mean what kind of town sticks pretzels in Voodoo donut dolls? Along with a city slogan of “Keep Portland Weird” – shit is weird and I’m hungry.
And did you know Portland has more breweries/microbreweries than any other city in the world? Really!!!! It’s ranked as the #5 beer destination in the world as well. And when you’re competing against towns who have been making beer for 1000’s of years, those Bavarian Lederhosen wearing drunks have been put on notice. WTS (Wikipedia That Shit!) that’s a stat!
Today as I checked into my hotel I dropped my bags and immediately left and hit Pok Pok, Portland’s first Michelin star’d restaurant owned by Andy Ricker, one of Anthony Bourdain’s boys. And guess what type of food it is? Guess?? Wings?? Maybe … Ummm …. burgers?? Nope…. Thai food??? Nailed it!!! What a surprise Jim … you just constantly keep us guessing.
Andy the owner just released a Thai cookbook called Pok Pok, I own it, food is innovative, instruction detailed and couldn’t wait to hit the actual restaurant. He has restaurants all around Portland and another Pok Pok in New York. (Pok Pok is the sound made when you hit down into a mortar with a pestle).
Giddy with anticipation my Uber drove me up SE Division Street, lined with grocery stores, bars and a large number of restaurants; Inter mixed with condos, homes and some industrial. A true mixed-use neighborhood. As we rolled up to the restaurant, I was happy and surprised the place was a converted single-family home with a retro funky Haight Street decor. Mis matched interior, metal seats, small paper napkins and blaring Thai music. As I sat at the bar I felt I was transformed back to Thailand but a retro funky one. I liked it.
The menu was a complex array of innovative Thai cuisine. So complex I had to read the entire description of each dish to know exactly WTF it was. Boar collar, chicken wings, catfish, total excitement. I ordered a BBQ half chicken that was supposed to be spicy, NOT (typical American approach – go low – don’t hurt them) secondly an Isaan favorite. Beef Larb with sticky rice. Both were spot on and a place I’ll visit again and you should too.
Tonight, another Michelin star restaurant is set for dinner. But I really can’t wait to discuss with Portlandians why their belief in Voodoo dolls is bullshit. Those sweet little guys didn’t help the Trailblazers beat the Warriors a bit. That was a Sweep bitch!
If you love Portland as much as I do, check out this story on the food truck scene, Portland Food Trucks!