Portland Food Carts @ Mississippi Marketplace
Skidmore Street & Mississippi Ave
Continuing with my trip around Portland, specifically that of food carts, one noon, I decided to go around yet another parts of town for that again, street food. At this point, I was wondering if street food was a bit of a misnomer. I mean, they aren’t necessarily sold at the curb but it has been organized to the point some of them are settled on the lots rather than sidewalks, not to mention communal areas/tables for patrons to consume their goods. So, just for sake of consistency, I will assume food carts == street food, despite they aren’t necessarily the same.
For today’s post, I went to a place called Mississippi Marketplace, I assume it name as such because it is located in Mississippi Avenue (interesting enough, there is a Vancouver Avenue; however, I doubt it is named after Vancouver, BC. Most likely Vancouver, WA?). Getting there was a bit confusing for me, as you go through residential sections and suddenly you are in a corner with several restaurants and other services. I have the odd feeling I am getting a bit too used to our city’s layout (or lack of planning)! But, I didn’t care, I was there and ready to eat….
And, once again, what this general area has to offer. There are a total of eight carts here:
Garden State, which prepares sandwiches
Sushi Tree, yeah, sushi!
Magic Beans, which has Middle Eastern
Sugar Cube, for, as you guess it, some sweet treats!
Ruby Dragon, for vegan (!)
The Big Egg
Dogfeather’s Organic Coffee
Yeah, the restaurant next to the area accept it!
Yup, quite eclectic if you ask me! C’mon, even sushi?! When I arrived at noon, I was partially disappointed the one cart I wanted to visit wasn’t open yet. I sort of panicked: I drove all the way here just to be denied? While almost resigned myself to that fact, I started looking for alternatives and, suddenly, I see them opening! Yup, I ended up being the first customer of the day, hehehehe. So what cart are we talking about here?
Garden State, which sell sandwiches. I know some of you might be disappointed I ended up in a bit of a mundane cart. I mean, a sandwich? I might as well go to Subway! Now, some of you might bash it but I will admit that I used to go to Subway quite often (at one point in my life, they even asked me if I wanted “the same”) and still go once in a while. However, here is one thing I want to point out: While food carts allow some exotic offerings, at times, you just want your basic, well known, almost comfort ones. So, if there is the customer demand, just offer it (but, please, don’t bring fusion as an excuse, OK?). Anyway, after I made my order, it was the waiting game…
Here, their meatball hero. It was a quite straight forwards sandwich: bread, meatball, tomato sauce and some cheese. For $5.50, it might be considered a bit expensive for a plain sandwich so the question would be how good/bad it is. The first bite provided the initial characteristics of the bread… And, actually, I liked the bread! The best comparison would be that the baguette used for banh mi. It was quite crunchy and easily yielded to the bite. From that perspective alone, I knew I had a good start. The tomato sauce was noticeable but, at the same time, didn’t get into the way by overpowering other components. The oddity was the cheese, which, while providing some creaminess, I think I could have done without it.
At that point, the question was what about the meatball themselves… In a way, I had some mixed feelings. The meatball themselves were good: it was moist, felt heavy but I wished it was more caramelized on the outside. It felt it was slightly seared at first (if at all) and then dropped into the sauce, as if it was stewed/boiled rather instead. Again, it was good, just that I felt it could have been better the other way. I guess it is a case where, due to circumstances, that’s what they could provide. Regardless, I will still say it is a good sandwich and certainly enticed me to try more.
After that, I thought I could go for something else. The question was… What? A rice bowl might be too heavy, sushi place was closed and wasn’t really interested in tacos and drinks (yes, there is a cart selling coffee and other drinks). So that left me with The Big Egg. Several of the options looked interesting yet, at the same time, there was something that didn’t necessarily appeal me. Furthermore, I was hoping for something light. Yeah, right. After some tossing back and forth, I ended up going for the Ultimate Sandwich. (With the caveat it might take a while for it to be prepared).
OK, here is a small conversation/argument that went with our sweets expert Mijune (of Follow Me Foodie): In a tweet, somebody asks “who does not like cupcakes” and Mijune replied that I do not. I wanted to add something on the lines of most men do not like cupcakes but they are afraid of admitting it, fearing retaliation or disdain from their love interest/spouse. Instead, men would prefer something savoury like bacon. But, then again, that explanation/argument won’t have fit in 140 characters or less so I didn’t added to that conversation. Of course, I might be generalizing as well (I do know women who prefers savoury, even bitter, over sweets and men who has no problem with sweets). So, in that quest of achieving a balance, that combination of savoury + sweet, there have been some wacky creations, including the maple bacon donut from Voodoo Doughnut (and the variant that can be made in Tim Horton’s) but, still, what if somebody does not like donuts? So, the ultimate sandwich provides yet another alternative…
Behold! The Ultimate Sandwich! A generous helping of Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) & three pieces of Hardwood Smoked Bacon lovingly laid between two pieces of grilled Grand Central brioche & dusted with powdered sugar. So, that mix of sweet and savoury, huahahahahaha! And I will have to admit, this one taste darn good! The slices of bacon were thick and smokey, while the bread had sweetness which was raised into a higher level by the nuttiness of the Nutella. The sugar was too much for me but, otherwise, this was decadent. The fact everything was still warm (as seen above, the Nutella being gooey) made things even better. Of course, this would be a nightmare in the sense of calories consumption but, as a once in a while treat, it can be easily shared by a couple and the argument of sweet vs savoury be put on to rest.
So, once again, it goes back to yesterday’s post on the concept of food carts. While the food might be common/normal, it is again, that sense of adventure. And then there are some really strange gems that can make things unique/different/interesting. For what it is, a experience of its own and food might not play first string.