Specialty Food Shopping In Portland
Monday 10 August 2015 — Category: Cooking & Food
Yesterday I joined a crowd of over 20 thousand for Portland’s 20th annual Providence Bridge Pedal and Stride. It was quite an amazing experience. My photo to the right was taken on the top level of the Marquam Bridge, which normally carries the northbound I-5 over the Willamette River in downtown Portland, Oregon. See the Portland’s Annual Bridge Pedal and Stride 2015 article and the Portland Bridge Pedal and Stride 2015 album for all the details and nearly 60 photos.
After finishing the 6 mile Bridge Stride in one hour and forty-five minutes, I treated myself to some luscious lasagna at Olive Garden. I sure was hungry, and it sure was good! After that, I drove around east Portland to two specialty food shops which I had recently discovered.
I had found the Cheese Bar totally by accident on Google Maps, when I was researching bus routes to Mount Tabor for next week’s 19th annual PDX Adult Soapbox Derby. I’m getting kind of worn out with all of the Portland events I’ve been attending this summer, so I’m going to skip that one.
Anyway, on the map, a dot for Cheese Bar caught my attention, since I love cheese. Clicking over to their Web site, I learned that they have a cheese counter with more than 200 cheeses from around the world — see photo to the right. I squatted down in front of the glass case and examined all of the choices for quite a while.
The very friendly woman behind the counter asked if there was something specific I was looking for. I mentioned that out of all their selection, there were only two cheeses from Switzerland. Obviously other countries make wonderful cheese as well, but since my wife is Swiss and I lived in Switzerland for eight years, I admit that I am biased.
She gave me a small sample of each, both made from raw (unpasteurized) cow’s milk, and both were out of this world! I had never tasted either of them before, but that shouldn’t be too surprising, seeing that there are about 450 varieties of cheese produced in tiny Switzerland.
One was Güntensberg and the other Le Sauvage (French: The Savage). I chuckled to myself that that’s the cheese for me, because my wife often refers to me as sauvage because I’m such a recluse! One was priced in the mid-$20s per pound, and the other a spendy mid-$30s. After somewhat recovering from sticker shock, I ordered the minimum three ounces (about 100g) of each. I’m sure that is the most expensive cheese I have ever bought!
To the right is a photo (click to enlarge) I took this morning in my kitchen, showing the two cheeses, as well as a Hungarian sausage I purchased at my next stop. I heard about Overseas Taste through a Portland blog called cyclotram. In one recent article he talked about the mural on the wall.
The shop is full of food from Eastern Europe, especially Russia. There is also a meat counter and deli which has rave reviews on Yelp. Unfortunately, the lady behind the counter was exactly the opposite of the one at the Cheese Bar. Her demeanor made me feel guilty that I had even dared enter her shop and bother her — as some of the Yelp reviewers have noted as well. Poor lady — she’s not just having a hard day, but a hard life.
I didn’t see too much that interested me, but I figured I would give the Hungarian sausage a try. The 150g piece in the photo cost me a very reasonable $1.50. I plan to eat it later this week in my delicious Cajun sauce — download the recipe PDF here — sounds like another food photo op! But between the uninspiring inventory and the perpetually-grouchy shopkeeper, I doubt that I will return — unless that sausage is killer!
I’m looking forward to enjoying the Swiss cheeses this week as well, with some slices of my favorite sourdough bread, made by Big River in nearby Corvallis. Their Rustic Round is such a beautiful hunk of bread that I think it is going to deserve some photography as well.
In future articles I will tell you about some more specialty food shops I have discovered in Portland. Ah, so much excellent food, so little time!