Get the Jay D's Holiday Bundle for only $39, free shipping on orders of $50 or more with code SAUCY

Monday, October 12, 2015

On Gourmet Doughnuts, Chicken Wings, and Craft Beer: A Portland, Oregon Odessey


My soul smiled.

An hour after arriving on location for this past summer's guy's trip, I had a cold beer in my hand and a platter of fried chicken wings tossed in various sauces at my fingertips. 

"Is this heaven?" I asked myself. 

"No, Jay," my inner monologue replied, "this is Portland."

Maple Doughnuts made from a croissant inspired dough from Nola Doughnuts in Portland, OR
Maple Doughnuts made from a croissant inspired dough from Nola Doughnuts in Portland, OR

While Portland exists as a Mecca for all things hipster, shades of just being really freaking cool were evident at every turn. I focused my trip on a few food groups that I heard Portland did exceptionally well: gourmet doughnuts, chicken wings, and craft beer. This post represents a modest selection of my overall calorie intake on those food groups during my stay. Only the best for Bite and Booze.

Nola Doughnuts


We begin with the above photographed Maple Doughnuts from none other than Nola Doughnuts. Robert Herkes, the man seen through the donut hole, is a New Orleans/Baton Rouge transplant who found himself slinging croissant-inspired doughnuts at farmers markets outside of Portland. His apple fritters, doughnuts, and bites sell out quickly, and soon he's building a brick and mortar location for his insanely good treats. 

Robert is really onto something here. 

I ate my way around the Portland doughnut scene, and his were the best. The. Best. I need more of them in my life. Buttery layers of sweetened croissant dough flaked brilliantly under a fresh maple icing. Robert presented other flavors on the doughnuts as well, like his signature jelly or oats filled "La'ssant" and the even more magical apple fritters. If you're in Portland, track him down. Seriously. 


Blue Star Donuts


Blur Star Donuts' Raspberry Buttermilk, Buttermilk Old Fashioned, and Vanilla Poppyseed Brioche Donuts
Blur Star Donuts' Raspberry Buttermilk, Buttermilk Old Fashioned, and Vanilla Poppyseed Brioche Donuts

The next stop on the sugar train with donut wheels came in the form of the award winning Blue Star Donuts. Often thought as the culinary superior but less gimmicky (compared to Voodoo) donut heavyweight of Portland, Blue Star crafts brioche-style donuts with delightful results. The soft bread-like interior is a pleasant contrast to the flavored sugar shell on the outside. We ordered a mixed dozen and tried all twelve. I didn't regret any decision.

Voodoo Doughnuts


Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Crisp Doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts
Cap'n Crunch and Cocoa Crisp Doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts

Voodoo Doughnuts represents Portland's most popular and hipster doughnut joints. If you ask locals, most will tell you that while they may not be the best, a visitor still needs to check them out. Known for their promotion of the color pink and topping doughnuts with craziness, Voodoo made a splash as pioneers of the Gourmet Doughnut revolution. We tried quite a few options including their signature Voodoo Doll doughnut and their Maple Bacon Bar doughnut. I thought the most intriguing were the above pictured Captain my Captain (aka Cap'n Crunch) and Triple Chocolate Penetration (aka Cocoa Puffs) doughnuts.

Pok Pok


Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Chicken Wings from the OG Pok Pok
Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Chicken Wings from the OG Pok Pok

Hands down, more people suggested Pok Pok to me than any other eatery in Portland. Why? The chicken wings. These flappers aren't just any old run-of-the-mill wing. Each order bestows up on the table a half dozen whole natural chicken wings, marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Phu Quoo Fish Sauce and garlic, and served with a Vietnamese table salad. They were possibly, and I'm not exaggerating, the best chicken wings I've ever eaten. I've had some really spectacular Korean fried chicken wings, but these take the cake. And the trophy. And the medal. And everything else I have. To everyone who suggested Pok Pok: you were right.

Fire on the Mountain


A Platter of Chicken Wings from Fire on the Mountain in Portland
A Platter of Chicken Wings from Fire on the Mountain in Portland

Fire on the Mountain is a great name for a wingery. It is also the first place we feasted on wings and beer in Portland within moments of our arrival. Eric, Eusebio, Brent and I got a table and placed a wing and beer order as we waited for Chuck P. to join the party. A slathering of sauced up chicken hit our table and we gorged ourselves, hungry from a day of travel.

Base Camp Brewing


S'mores Stout from Portland's Base Camp Brewing Company
S'mores Stout from Portland's Base Camp Brewing Company

Of course, beer drinking in Portland is paramount. No single beer caught my eye more than the S'mores Stout from Base Camp Brewing. Any time beer preparation starts Sandlot style ("First you roast the mallow"), said beer should always win. Add a hint of chocolate and graham in the brew, and this stout is perhaps double winning. Base Camp poured a plethora of other great beers as well, but how could you not order this beauty?

Cascade Brewing House of Sours


Figaro Sour and Apple Crisp Sour from the Cascade Brewing House of Sours in PDX
Figaro Sour and Apple Crisp Sour from the Cascade Brewing House of Sours in PDX

On one of our walking tours of East Portland we came across the Cascade Brewing House of Sours. I'm a man who enjoys just about anything, and sour beers fit right in that category. They can get funky and dank, but what's not to enjoy about that? Most sour beers have a nice yeasty fruitiness to them that gives you more of a sour candy lip pucker rather than a bitter beer face. If you like Sour Patch Kids and the like, you'll enjoy sour beers. We wanted to try every beer on their menu, but time ran out before we needed to get to the next bar. However, this place certainly needs to be on everyone's Portland beer crawl list.

Migration Brewing


Terry's Porter from Migration Brewing
Terry's Porter from Migration Brewing

Many, many great beers were had in Portland. I didn't fare as well at keeping track as Brent, who tracked every ounce of beer he drank in Portland (464 fl oz, he's been counting it all of 2015 so far as his New Year's resolution), or Eric, who checked into damn near every beer he drank on Untappd. I tried to enjoy a vacation and not get too carried away with documenting everything but instead just enjoy drinking great beers and eating great food. The above Terry's Porter from Migration Brewing is one of countless brews that I consumed in Oregon. It drank roasty and toasty with a great head retention. Mostly I just liked this picture, but a beer like this always make me happy. It is a beer. it isn't pretentious. It doesn't need to be double dry hopped. It is just a delicious, dark beer. Hopefully, eventually, I'll be back in Portland for another round.