Portland: still awesome

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I both had separate work things going on in Portland, so we got an extra field trip there.

Seattle’s my city, but Portland is pretty fabulous. It contains elements of my two favorite towns – Seattle and Olympia – in one. Some of the sleekness, bigger-city advantages and pop culture influence of Seattle, with more of the hominess and hippie-ness of Oly.

I continued to find fabulous plant-based food there. Probably my favorite thing about Portland. We herbies are truly at home there.

Take a look at some highlights:

Not pictured is the wonderful beer I had at Burnside Brewing Company. Plant-based grub AND excellent beer make Portland heaven.

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What does it matter?

I kept my vegan-ness unknown around my workplace until I ordered the “vegan wrap” for a work lunch and my cover was blown.

I was still pretty new. I wanted to be known for my work and my personality, not as “the vegan one.”

But my boss has been super-de-duper nice about it since she learned about my leanings. Whereas pizza is the go-to working meal for journalists normally, last election night she opted to order us Thai food, which made it possible for me to order something without imposing on anyone else. She thinks of me any time there’s a meal on the company dime.

Same for when this representative for a web video distributor came to Seattle last week and brought us lunch. My boss told him ahead of time there’s a vegan in the newsroom and though he planned on getting pizza, he’d bring me a salad.

I don’t expect people to go out of their way to accommodate me. But I’m grateful for every thoughtful gesture.

The guy came with boxes of pizza and a bag containing my salad. My boss peeked inside, came to my desk and whispered, fretfully, “I think there was a mistake. The salad is covered in cheese.”

“No big deal,” I assured her, “I’ll pick it off.”

Didn’t want to bite the hand that fed me. I hate waste as much as I love free food.

But as I furtively flicked blue cheese bits from my salad into a trash can with a fork, I wondered why I was taking such pains. I used to love blue cheese. And it’s not like I’m saving a cow by throwing out the cheese, already made, distributed and sold. Can’t unring that bell, as one might say.

And in order to remove most of the cheese presence, I had to sacrifice the tomatoes and cucumbers with them, leaving mostly just greens. And there were still itty bits of cheese here and there that I was not anal enough to pick through. So basically I chucked nearly half my salad just for my choice – not an allergy or life-threatening condition, but a choice and a stance.

As I picked through greens and walnuts while the rest of my colleagues piled up on cheese, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and sausage pizza – and oh, it smelled so good – I felt a mix of pride and a strange guilt. Why can’t I just eat the cheese if it’s served to me? I just wasted perfectly good food, didn’t I?

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Portland!

After some tough weeks at work for the both of us, my boyfriend and I went to Portland for the weekend.

My main experience with Portland is my mom taking my brother and me to the Clackamas Mall (quite outside of Portland) for sales tax-free back-to-school shopping. Of course I’ve been to Portland proper, the metropolitan neighbor to the south, but I hadn’t explored it on my own.

Seattle is an easy city in which to be vegan, but in Portland they totally cater to you. I had a waiter volunteer to check on the veganness of a salad, went to places with special vegan menus and you can just say “make it vegan, please” and they know what to do (too many people don’t know what that means, so I always have to specify no mayo/sour cream/cheese/aioli, etc.). Portland is particularly vegan-savvy.

Now eating out with the man friend means seeking out omni restaurants that have something I can eat. Homeboy doesn’t quite get that it’s possible to have a meal without meat.

But it was so easy!

Oh and we drank lots of craft beer. So happy beer is vegan.

Not pictured: a grilled PB and J from the famous Bunk Sandwiches. Yeah I’m gonna make those at home now.

Recommended brewery: Pints.

Maybe next time I’ll go to Portland with girlfriends who will eat at the vegan joints with me.

I need to try all of the places

My boss has kind of anointed me the unofficial food blogger at the Seattle P-I as of late, so of course I had to insert my own interests into my work.

A couple weeks ago I posted a Seattle guide to vegan and vegetarian restaurants. It was fun. And actually attracted lots of traffic. I think it surpassed my superiors’ expectations. We veggies crave to know where to go!

Anyway, if you’re in the know, let me know what I’ve missed. For the sake of limiting the scope of the piece, I stuck to places that are veggie-only. There are infinitely more places that are veggie friendly, of course.