Eating Awesome in Portland

Contributor Paul Jarvis takes us on a unabashed, gastronomic tour of the vegan hub that is Portland. Enjoy.

It seems everything in Portland is prefixed with the word “vegan”. Everything from strip clubs to B&B’s to realtors can and do pull out the big V at every stop. And this is good news for wary vegan travelers in search of grub and adventure. Here’s a list of some of my favorite places to check out while in PDX.

Blossoming Lotus — organic vegan fusion. What does that mean? Think awesome, lots of raw options, and a diverse menu. A trick I learned to being able to eat a variety of menu items here is to go for happy hour and order half a dozen tapas (for yourself, more if you’re with friends) and go nuts.

Homegrown Smoker — stoner soul food. From mac-no-cheese to deep-friend Oreos, these dudes have your cravings covered.

Sweatpea Bakery — baked goods and strong coffee. The almost-lost art of sandwich making is alive and well (and vegan) here. Their desserts are insanely good as well.

Scapegoat Tattoo — vegan tattoo shop. Did you know not all inks are vegan? These guys and gals use plant-based inks and do a bang-up job. I’ve got a few tattoos from here.

Foodfight — heck yes, a vegan grocery store! No more do you have to stand around reading labels for hours, everything is vegan. They also carry a lot of hard-to-find vegan treats.

DC Vegetarian — mostly-vegan food cart. Although I’ve never tried an actual Philly cheese steak, their vegan version is easily one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Powell’s Books — massive bookstore. Get your vegan cookbook on in their vegan section!

Bye and Bye — vegan hipster bar. All vegan spirits and a killer southern kitchen (hello collard greens, I think I love you!).

Vita Cafe — mostly-vegan breakfast/brunch spot. They have a vegan chicken fried steak. Enough said. If you’re into “day drinking” they also have great morning vegan cocktails.

Prasad — a mostly vegan raw joint. They’ve got great lunches and killer juices.

Voodoo Donuts — any establishment where I am able to order a “coffin of donuts” is right by me. They’ve got a huge vegan doughnut selection, and they’ll even perform marriage ceremonies!

Being vegan while traveling can sometimes require a little more planning, but definitely not in Portland — almost everywhere has vegan options. The only downside is that I am not able to eat the entire city whole.

The Cheese Code

Punk Rawk smoked salt cashew cheese on raw onion crackers. Heaven. But when it comes to vegan cheeses that melt and stretch, unlike this raw (unprocessed and delectable) cheese above, there’s some science behind it. NPR recently wrote a story on this endeavor: Cracking The Code: Making Vegan Cheese Taste Cheesier.

Non-dairy cheese alternatives first sprang up in China in the 1500s, according to The History of Fermented Tofu- A Healthy Nondairy/Vegan Cheese… But to make a true vegan cheese substitute, you can’t use casein. So Gordon’s latest challenge has been to make a cheese that is completely free of animal byproducts but still retains the properties we love about cheese.


Kale Cashew Cheese

The raw cashew alchemists behind Dr. Cow have struck again, expanding their selection of delectable, hand-crafted, gastronomic-goodness. Kale and Tomato varieties are now available, and I happily sank my teeth into some of the aged, raw, vegan Kale-Cashew Cheese this morning, brimming with active, healthy pro-biotic cultures. It’s greener, with a sweet herbaceous aftertaste, dark nutty notes and a a tangy-sharp finish. This soft cheese is definitely not for the weak-of-palate! Ten more wheels please…

Snack Obsession, Blazing Through, & Alpacas in the Oil Spill

• Blazing Through. John Varvatos offers a cotton/bamboo-blend, two button blazer in tan, and a linen herringbone blazer in brown. $198 (from $595) on GILT Groupe . Varvatos is a fur-free designer, and now if he’d only replace leather, lambskin, and merino wool, I’d be a happy man!

Cotton Bamboo BlazerCotton Bamboo BlazerLinen Houndstooth Blazer

• Snack obsession of the day: Dried Chili-Lime Mango. The sweetness of mango, the kick of chili, the tang of lime – with a texture as satisfying as jerky, this is a fruit snack for big boys. To boot, recent research indicates that Chili may help stop the spread of prostate cancer cells and may contribute to improved weight loss.

I have mixed feelings about Alpaca hair being used to soak up the oil spill. According to the UK’s Telegraph, hair from more than 100 alpacas in Pennsylvania is on its way to the Gulf of Mexico to help soak up the oil spill. Something doesn’t sit right with me about this (aside from the ethical implications of exploiting animals for their fur/hair/skin). Does the ecological impact of the livestock sector outweigh any possible good that could come out of using any (or every) part of these creatures’ bodies to clean up an environmental disaster?

Alpaca hope: The fur will be stuffed into pantyhose and used as makeshift booms that will - hopefully - soak up the oil spewing in to the Gulf

Other solutions exist. In addition to Alpaca, human hair is being stuffed into pantyhose to be used  as makeshift oil booms. There are probably tens-of thousands of hair salons in the united states, if not more – why even bother using Alpaca? If you cut hair or know anyone that does, now is the time to make use of your garbage!

Human hair stuffed into nylon stockings is being collected for its efficiency at absorbing large amounts of oil

LIQUID FIX: Ethical Exploits – Volume 7

In this installment of Ethical Exploits, contributor Matt Lara deals with a lot of liquids – from the oceans that float Sea Shepherd to unclogging your drain without dumping deadly chemicals into the water  – and from homemade grapefruit juice and ethical bathroom cleaners to soda that funds dog shelters. These every-day tips and tricks are always tested, tried and true by Matt, himself.



by Matt Lara

He Sells Sea Scarves

I was able to score a sample one of these awesome scarves designed by a friend of mine. They are handmade and great for mild spring weather. The skull design may look familiar to you, as it’s the logo for Sea Shepherd. If you haven’t heard of Sea Shepherd yet, they are one of the ballsiest groups out there. With help from such folks like Bob Barker and Ady Gil, they utilize direct-action in helping maintain natural ocean ecosystems. Much of their work was shown on Animal Planet’s Whale Wars. These scarves really do grab attention and provide the perfect opportunity for everyday advocates to spread awareness on such an incredible group. Check out the goods (coming soon!!!) here.

Drain Drama

I had a pesky clog in my bathroom sink, and rather than continue to buy expensive and nasty chemical un-cloggers, I decided to do some research on more natural (and cheaper) ways to put my sink at ease. It turns out you don’t need much more than baking soda, vinegar, and water. And you may just need some good, old’ fashioned elbow grease with a plunger.

I sprinkled about ¼ cup baking soda into the drain, and then poured in 1 cup of vinegar. The two components fizz and help loosen the grime lodged in there. Remember the fizzing action from that volcano you made in the grade school science fair?

The verdict: I had to repeat this process twice. The sink still seemed to be clogged and draining slowly, so I went at it with the plunger. Lots of gunk came out into the sink, so I cleaned that up then repeated the process one last time. My sink drains beautifully now. Apparently, flushing regularly with boiling hot water helps keep clogs clear as well. So, there’s yet another home solution without crazy chemicals, and far less harm done to aquatic ecosystems.

You can check out more detailed instructions here.

Method Acting

O, Method…how do I love thee? Why is that I get a little giddy when a refill for your foamy hand soap comes in a more earth-friendly pouch rather than yet another plastic bottle?  I get ever so joyful from using your daily shower spray to help keep the shower from getting mildew—and to help make the big clean-ups far more manageable. And, I was so electrified to hear that your newest line of laundry detergent comes in a super-concentrated formula that pumps straight into the washer. Yes, you pump—as in, no more pouring to some mysterious fill line on a plastic cup. I know you love me too, from your letter to me (your loyal patron) on your website:

this is the product

“method was founded on the vision that business could be an agent of positive change and a source of solutions to social and environmental problems. The first step of this vision is the responsibility to ensure that our products truly strive for sustainability – from the safety of the materials they are made from, to the ways that they are made and shipped, to the partners we work with in our supply chain.”

From the way I’m acting, you’d think I had just discovered how affordable your products are. Which gives all the more reason to love thee. Let me count the ways…

Fresh and Fruity

Good, healthy whole foods—who says they have to be fancy? Most of the time, the simplest way is the best way. The theory of Occam’s razor should have a supplemental cookbook. Something as easy as a fruit plate is yummy, and provides more than enough vitamins and minerals. In fact, nature designed fruit to be appealing to mammals like us, in hopes we’d carry off the seeds and help spread their genes. Check out these amazing grapefruits from my neighbor’s tree. I was never a grapefruit fan until I juiced these giant beauties and sweetened with a tad of maple syrup. Enjoy reading about the healthy benefits of a simple grapefruit.

This Post is Going to the Dogs…

Hey New Yorkers, love your doggies? Wanna spoil them? Check out Anything Pawsible at the Ninth Avenue Street Fair this weekend. My good friend Vincent Gerrard (a veteran actor/producer) created this portable pet store. They specialize in one-of-a-kind pet items, along with organic treats and eco-friendly toys. Their goal is 100% green.

If you stop by their booth this weekend, any purchase of a toy, shirt, bandana or pet treat helps fund Broadway Barks, the annual pet adoption celeb-event. A few Broadway stars will be manning the Anything Pawsible booth:

  • • Saturday, 5/15 12pm -1pm: Tony nominee Jan Maxwell now starring in Lend Me a Tenor
  • • Sunday 5/16 12pm -1pm: Tony nominee Kevin Chamberlin now starring as Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and Dashaun Young now playing Simba in The Lion King.
  • • More info on the street fair here.

And if you’re on the west coast…I stumbled upon this sweet little root beer company called Margo’s Bark. is an all-natural cane sugar soda. I know, again with the carbs Matt, but all those summer barbeques are on the way, and this stuff is great. And what makes it even greater is that 100% of the profits from Margo’s Bark goes to supporting dogs in city shelters. The taste is sweet, happy, and fizzy sans the junk you get in mainstream sodas like phosphoric acid, preservatives, and corn syrup. If you’re going to have that once-in-a-blue-moon soda pop, why not help our furry friends get a forever home? Margo’s Bark is available at these locations.