Tag Archives: Food

The Portland Travel Challenge: 4 Days, $200

*Backdated to late July, 2012*

I started my trip on the most easterly point of Canada. Two and a half months, and some 8,000km later, I was across the other side of the country in Vancouver BC, back to the place I had arrived in Canada almost four years earlier.

I had reached my destination, but I wasn’t ready to stop travelling. I was so close to Portland, Oregon, a city I’d wanted to check out for years. Cue spontaneous road trip.

The trouble was, after almost three months of travel and no income coming in, I was running pretty low on funds. If I was going to do this trip, I was going to have to do it cheap! I set myself a challenge: four days in Portland for less than $200 (including transport from Vancouver) without sacrificing things I want to do. (There was no point going all the way there if I wasn’t going to do the things Portland is renowned for – eating, drinking, and art.)

HERE’S HOW MY BUDGET PANNED OUT:

Accommodation:          

Free through CouchSurfing. I stayed with Jake Sauvageau (look him up if you find yourself in Portland) and his flatmate Jeannette. These two were awesome hosts, and are largely responsible for keeping my trip so thrifty (they knew all the best places to eat and drink for cheap).

Transport:                                                                                                                                                            Round-trip bus ticket from Vancouver – $60 through BoltBus

City bus tickets – $12.60 (you can get anywhere for $2.10 one-way)

Food:                                                                                                                                                                                      When I first arrived in Portland, my first meal was the Santa Fe “chicken” burger at Veggie Grill. This was a tofu burger (that tasted amazingly like fried chicken) with avocado, chipotle mayo, tomato, lettuce and a side of cabbage slaw. It was the best thing I’d eaten in ages! It came with bottomless organic iced tea for $11. Coming from Vancouver, I thought this was a steal. Turns out, it wasn’t. Rookie mistake, but no regrets!

Dinner fit for a king at Mio Sushi – $15

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Lunch at a Thai food cart – $5

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These food carts are all around town and sell almost any dish you could want for $4–$7. Many cluster along 10th Avenue.

Maple bacon doughnut from Voodoo Doughnut – $2.50

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Lunch special at Stickers – $7 (including tip). Creamy coconut shrimp, rice and a diet coke.

Late-night burger at an unspecified diner – $8

Groceries to make two-course dinner for Jake and Jeanette – $23

Drinks:

Round of drinks at “Bear Paw” bar (divey but fun) – $13. This covered two pints, a super-strong vodka and tip. Excellent value!

Bottle of wine at Trader Joes – $2.50 (Outstanding value!)

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Bottle of Jacobs Creek wine at Rite-Way (supermarket/pharmacy) – $5. (This was before I knew about the wonder of Trader Joes!)

Random drinks/coffees – $10

Entertainment:

Strolling around Portland State University – free.

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Walking down 10th Avenue and browsing through Powell’s Books (takes up a whole city block) and Crafty Wonderland (really cool stuff made from local artists) – free.

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Portland Art Museum – $15. This is sooooo worth the money! Housed over two buildings, it contains everything from classical to contemporary works of art. Paintings, sculpture, photography, artifacts, home decor, installations: this place has it all!

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Living Room Theatre – $9. Cinema/bar/restaurant in one. Love the concept of drinking and dining while you watch a movie (even though I had to skip that part!).

GRAND TOTAL: $198.60

Challenge complete.

Footnote: More Portland Awesome for your viewing pleasure. 

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Cod Tongues, Anyone? Eating and Drinking Newfoundland-Style

There’s no getting too fancy with the menu here; simple dishes using local ingredients is what this province is all about. Here’s a run-down.

Seafood:

Seafood is right up there on my list of favourite foods so I knew the fresh-off-the-boat produce would be a highlight of the trip. My favourite seafood haunt was J&J’s Fishmarket in Twillingate. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but hot damn, the food is good! It’s got $6.95 fish ‘n’ chips (with “proper” chips like home), lobster burgers

and a seafood platter for two with lobster, crab and mussels ($30!!!)

Before.

After.

Soup and Sandwich:

This comfort food combo features on most lunch menus, but the best I had was at The Rooms cafe in St John’s. (As a sidebar, the art gallery was great but the museum itself was a little sparsely curated for how big the place is).

Newfoundland pea soup and a sandwich of roasted chicken, crispy pancetta, cheese and apple – amazing!!!

Local Specialties:

Newfies march to the beat of their own drum and food is no exception.

Enter, cod tongues…

Cod tongues

They looked harmless enough (kinda like chicken nuggets) so I jumped right in with gusto! They had a chewy, firm texture and what felt like a gelatinous layer around them; I’m not going to lie, they weren’t my favourite dish. But the locals love them so they must be an acquired taste!

Then there was the fisherman’s brewis (pronounced “brews”. Don’t make the same pronunciation faux pas as I did!). Made from cod, hard bread, and scrunchions (fried salted pork fat), it was a bit more my cup of tea.

Fisherman’s brewis

Alcohol:

With a drinking culture that rivals Australia’s, I can’t really talk about Newfoundland without mentioning the booze.

When it comes to rum, there’s only one real contender.

Screech: apparently named for the sound emitted after knocking back a shot!

There are a couple of microbreweries around as well. The beers from Quidi Vidi were easy to knock back, if a little watery (if you’re a fan of IPA, apparently theirs is rated 90/100. Wasn’t to my taste though!). Yellow Belly was more my style and they do a great wheat ale. The Dominion Ale (now produced by Molson after they bought out a smaller brewery) is a cheap and tasty beer (although all the beer snobs slam it).

Grapes don’t grow in Newfoundland but that doesn’t stop them making wine! Grapes are imported from Ontario and blended with the myriad of berries that grow in abundance in Newfoundland. The result is sweet concoction that can be anywhere from sickly to yummy depending on your tastes and the berry blend that is used. The pick of the bunch for me was the Krooked Cod from Auk Island Winery in Twillingate.

Auk Island wines

If you love simple, homestyle cooking, Newfoundland’s your place. Just don’t try to order avocado at Subway!*

*apparently they had avocado for a week and no-one ordered it so they stopped getting it in!

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