Delicious Delights On A Portland Epicurean Excursion
I recently participated in Portland Walking tours and had a great time! The group met at 10 a.m. at the posh Heathman Hotel. We were all curious as to what delicious delectable would delight our palate during our Epicurean Excursion. David Schargel, the mastermind behind Portland Walking Tours, would be our guide.
The second our soles hit the sidewalk, our foodie education began. Schargel shed some light on the definition of Epicureanism–a system of philosophy based on the teachings of Epicurus, who urged all to appreciate life’s modest pleasures. Today an epicure is one who knows how to enjoy life, particularly good food and drink. Well, call me an epicure because I certainly enjoyed some great food and drink this day!
As we set out for our first destination, Schargel reminded us (implored of us) to slow down and enjoy the food. “Use your senses to experience the taste,” he said. “You must smell your food before you eat it, be aware of the smell, taste, mouth-feel and aftertaste.” We were in for a feast of the senses!
Schargel told us that our tour would be based on F.LO.S.S.—no, not dental floss, but Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable food (something we Portlanders are used to!)
Our first stop was Flying Elephants Deli (812 SW Park Ave) where we were treated to a small cup of hearty soup. “Don’t forget to smell it,” Schargel reminded us—something I was having trouble with since I just wanted to EAT it! It smelled fantastic, but I couldn’t quite place it. What was that mouth-watering smell? It was tomato soup with a delightful citrus scent. By George, that’s Tomato-Orange soup and I liked it…a lot.
With a stop by the famous Benson Bubblers (flowing with clean and abundant rainwater), we were off to Bridgeport Brewery. After walking through their sustainable and abundantly clean brew rooms, it was time to belly up to the bar. The words of Homer Simpson danced through my head: “Mmmmm, beer!” We sampled their India Pale Ale, Blue Herron and Beer Town Brown. I’m no good at deciphering beers. I liked them all.
Time to get some bread in our bellies! We proceeded to Pearl Bakery at 102 NW 9th Ave. After donning our hair-nets (yikes) we moved into the heart of the bakery in the back—where the magic happens. Here, by the warmth of the ovens, lay plates of crusty French bread, flaky croissants and Bouchons (chocolate delights that are so named because of their resemblance to champagne corks). “Remember to smell first, remember to smell first,” I reminded myself. Oops, shoved the first bread in my mouth without smelling, but boy was it good! Food really does taste better when you notice all of its characteristics—chewy, sweet-smelling, dense, dry and moist—this place ran the gamut!
Next stop: In Good Taste Cooking School (231 NW 11th Ave). What a cool place this was. With room enough for each of us to sit around the “kitchen counter,” we settled in and prepared for a mustard and wine tasting. Excellent, I thought, I love those things! I just didn’t know how much! Have you ever had curry mustard or Grand Marnier Mustard? I have, and all I can say is YUM! I bought some of the Grand Marnier mustard there, and my chicken sandwiches have never been the same. The wine, a fantastic Oregon Pinot Noir, made an excellent counter to the sweet yet tangy mustard.
OK, I’m a coffee drinker, right? Not big on tea. However, when we sampled teas at the Tea Zone (510 NW 11th Ave.), I was ready to hang up my grinder for good (almost). We learned the difference in green, black and oolong teas. My favorite was the Jasmine Pearl; its scent and taste were scintillating!
Then it was time for a stop at the Eco-Trust building and a slice of heavenly Hot Lips Pizza. I’d been looking forward to this all day! We were treated to the daily fresh selection with hazelnuts, broccoli and squash. Sound weird? Well, if weird is absolutely scrumptious, then it was weird. Very weird! Hot Lips always has such fresh and unique selections. You never know what you’re going to get, except that whatever it is will always be amazing.
With the tour drawing to a close, it was time for our sweet storybook ending with gelato and Italian coffee at Via Delizia (1105 NW Marshall). Gelato flavors such as peanut butter, hazelnut, strawberry and chocolate, make this a place with something for everyone! Its location is perfect, with a view of the park across the street and a tree adorning the interior, I felt as though I was in Piazza Navona in Rome.
If you take this tour, you may want to pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming. Soup, beer, bread, mustard, wine and gelato—don’t wake me! Schargel was a delight. His knowledge and expertise of everything Portland made this tour informative and, well…lip smackingly fun!
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