The sweet, crafty joy of donut awesomeness

Or, is it Doughnuts? I say donuts, much easier to spell and text out.

Within the older downtown Portland (Oregon) area, there is Voodoo Doughnuts, an awesome and very well-known freshly-made donuts shop (and growing chain) in the west U.S. The lines are often long, but worth it.

It’s important that I stop here for every visit to the central Portland area. It’s central location is open 24 hours, and I will wait anytime.

Special note to locals and frequent visitors: I hear much about the Blue Star Donuts shops in the area. I will get around to that eventually, then report back. I swear!!!

For every visit, I go with a favorite and something new. On the left (see picture above) is the Mango Tango, a raised yeast shell filled with mango jelly and topped with vanilla and Tang frosting. On the right is a special only available until the end of March, The Hi Tea. That has some earl grey flavored frosting with hibiscus drizzle. Partial proceeds for the Hi Tea are donated to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Every bite leads to some finger-lickin thumbs up from me. There’s other great and tasty choices too. Here’s a sampling from the central location…

View this post on Instagram

#voodoodonuts #portland #donuts

A post shared by Orion T (@travelingorion) on

That’s all for now. If you have a favorite donut place, or just a favorite flavor… I would love to know in the comments below.

Orion T

Return to Little Tokyo

One of favorite places to visit in the central Los Angeles is within its historic district of Little Tokyo.

Little Tokyo is the cultural hub and concentration of Japanese culture, accelerated by the settling of Japanese immigrants in the late 19th century. Much of this was due to increased labor needed, resulting from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barring Chinese laborers. Little Tokyo grew from the opening of the Kame Restaurant on East First Street in 1885, which attracted many immigrants to the area, and eventually settled.

Through tough times, the area thrived until World War II, with Japan then at war with the US. This led to the signing of Executive Order 9066, where a mass relocation and confiscation of property of Japanese immigrants across the U.S West Coast would devastate the local community. The area was nearly lost to the Japanese business owners. Eventually, the war ended, and the Japanese community would slowly regain their lost area, growing Little Tokyo through the decades once again to the wonderful cultural spot it is now.

The Japanese Village Plaza

I gained a heartfelt love for Japanese culture, growing up near San Francisco’s Japantown in my teenage years. I enjoyed its history, food, and unique architecture. And with that and foremost, its stylized art then known to me as Japanimation (and later anime, and manga in printed form) applied to visual media in all forms.

Eventually living in South California, I would visit Little Tokyo often with friend of my college anime club, spending many hours going through shops, eating its specialized food, visiting art museums, and feeling further ingrained to its unique and awesome culture. This area, I would greatly miss as I left my old life in Southern California over 10 years ago.

Coming back, I was happy to see it all still very vibrant with all the crazy silly things that I grew to love about Japanese culture since my youth. Here are some recent pictures more reminiscent of that childhood part…

It’s thriving now, far more than I recall in my many visits over a decade ago. There are definitively more more businesses of Japanese influence here. The central area seems cleaner as well, with fresher paint and better details than I recall before. Pretty much all my favorite stores were still there, and packed. The anime/manga influence is also vibrant, with the Jungle Hoppy Shop store being my favorite and doubled in size now.

I also noticed a plentiful choice of Japanese restaurants, with a variety of specialties and appeal. Some showed their pride in preparation of eats, to public eyes, which I would enjoyed a moment in watch…

I would remain in Little Tokyo for only a couple hours with an old college friend, reminiscing of our time spent in this wonderful district. For lunch, we picked upon Daikokuya, a popular rice and ramen-noodle restaurant in the area. There was a 45-minute wait to this small, yet very cozy place. Eventually, the wait was worth it, and I enjoyed their prized Daikaku Ramen bowl and some takoyaki (octopus balls)…YUM!

An overall, I will surely return to Little Tokyo, again and again. You should too.

– Orion T

Cotton Candy Cheer

img_4895

From this last weekend’s annual Seattle Street Food Festival, I love the cotton candy faces!

I think cotton candy is joyful yet surreal. You enjoy it, then the stick leaves a weird residue on your fingers and lips that dissolves back into the dream that created it.  Did you know sugar is the only ingredient in cotton candy, and it’s fat-free? Not much has changed about it since it was invented In 1904, by two Nashville candy makers introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Here are other treats at this festival I wanted to savor, but too full from excessing on mac and cheese with bubble tea.  I will perhaps go for these at the next Street Food Festival…

img_4892img_4893

– Orion T

Rainer cherries, adding sweetness to the this summer

reiner-cherries-e1560315618369.jpg

Rainer cherries are back in season!

I love these little tasty tarty things..often ignoring the slightly higher cost at the supermarkets for a good bundle. Rainer cherries are perfect for snacks, best when shared with good friends, and makes the summertime in the PNW a little more special. I also highly recommend them for any Fourth of July get-togethers.

Rainer cherries weren’t always a PNW thing, or anything at all until development in 1952 at the Washington State University by Dr. Harold Fogle, a research scientist of horticulture studies. He crossed two red cherries, the Bing and Van, to create this slightly larger variety with a fiery color blend.

They have a special sweetness and tougher skin, but very sensitive to temperature, wind, and rain. Birds also love the Rainer cherries, almost a bit too much as they pick at large portions of local orchards. Through what’s left, picking good ones can be tedious and require extra care for their soft interior texture in transport. Good results lead to high costs from that extra effort. Yet, locals do appreciate and many are sold.

If you can, go get some!

– Orion T

A delicious, puffy weekend treat

img_4742

Ymmmm, puffle!

From that, occurred a fitting theme to the latest South Lake Union Saturday Market, a local weekend event happening through the late Spring, and much of summer. They had an ice cream social, where desserts of frozen sugary joy would be sold and served on a lineup of small trucks, carts, tents. Such was perfect for this warmer than expected day of brighter, hotter sunlight.

The most eye-catching for me was a tent for Puffle Up. Their specialty was a special form of bubble waffle, folded over to hold strategically placed additives of the tasty and sweet variety (popular and possibly originated in Hong Kong, but not sure). Choices were great, where I picked the one with strawberries, bananas, chocolate, whipped cream, and Pocky sticks. Adding ice cream would be a small priced extra, which I turned down.

What a beautiful thing this treat to behold, to stare at for a long moment (pictured above), before devouring it in a state of blissful joy. The tasteful combination is similar to a crepe, but with the waffle texture and its open-air spots, giving a focused experience of collapsing squish.

I recommend Puffle Up, especially if you are an outgoing person who loves local festivals and markets. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram, to learn more. There’s also a Yelp list of Seattle area places where bubble waffle desserts are served.

– Orion T

 

Lively Olives at the Granville Public Market

20181231_113511.jpg

Currently, I am not a fan of olives. I dislike the taste of them, especially on salads….too oily and weird tasting. But, I will accept them on pizzas in small amounts and thinly sliced, on the vegetarian combo style looking tempting enough sometimes.

I do find olives as oddly satisfying to just stare at. I am not sure exactly why, but I think the answer lies in the composition it’s shape, texture, and hollowness. I can further stare at an olive and appreciate it’s beauty and usefulness in flavor, oil, and other odd uses.

Did you know that the olive is a fruit, not a vegetable? They come in different color hues. The color of each olive depends on its stage of growth. Unripe fruit is green. Ripe fruit ranges from dark purple to black. Olives are hollow as each originally had a stone stem plucked out.

Olives are also big sources of minerals and vitamins A, B, E, K, B. These are low in sugar, but high in oil.

So, I did a morning visit to the big Public Market on Granville Island, in Vancouver, Canada. It’s a big place, crowded, with not much in time to appreciate the large variety of foods and drinks available there. Someday, I will come back and explore further. But for then, I  passed a stand for Duso’c Italian Foods, drawn to its presentation of olive varieties for sale. I would stare like long enough, pondering on buying some before realizing I didn’t like olives (also overspent on food the past few days of my Vancouver visit).

I wondered, what the different tastes and textures of each olive could be. I thought olives, for just being olives. Seeing these, gave me a realization of complexity and variety, then perhaps some that could change my tastebud reaction to whole olives. Then, I can learn to love olives and not just stare (and snap a photo) at them.

– Orion T

Looking at some Romanesco Broccoli

img_8189

I past by some interesting, and larger sized broccoli at Sosio’s Produce inside Pike Place Market in Seattle. Only $4.99 a pound for this, and what the signed said was “Organic Italian Broccoli Romanesco.”

According to a Wikipedia entry on Romanesco broccoli, it has grown in Italy since the 16th century. Also known:

“Romanesco superficially resembles a cauliflower, but it is chartreuse in color, and its form is strikingly fractal in nature. The inflorescence (the bud) is self-similar in character, with the branched meristems making up a logarithmic spiral. In this sense the bud’s form approximates a natural fractal; each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral. This self-similar pattern continues at several smaller levels. The pattern is only an approximate fractal since the pattern eventually terminates when the feature size becomes sufficiently small. The number of spirals on the head of Romanesco broccoli is a Fibonacci number.”

Fascinating!

– Orion T