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…

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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

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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…

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– Orion T

Rainer cherries, adding sweetness to the this summer

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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

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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

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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

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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

The crazy truth of carrots

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Carrots are not always orange. This popular vegetable can appear in white, yellow, red, and purple.

The orange color is popular and well-known, said to be the result of 17th-century Dutch farmers who selectively bred the orange variants in a higher quantity, to symbolize the Netherlands through its nation’s chosen color and independence.

Before them, carrots have been known for its many colors and grown as a food source around the world. The color is dependent on the wavelength of light they absorb, creating the natural pigments. They still do, but the orange ones remain the most popular for being an excellent source of beta-carotene in its natural pigment.

Also, popularized in modern times by the famous cartoon rabbit, Bugs Bunny.  His original voice actor, Mel Blanc, did not like carrots and spit them out while eating them in voicing sessions.

I like them because they are filling, and a healthy way to rid hunger while avoiding fast food.

– Orion T 

The picture above was taken a stand at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, where you can buy some of these unusual carrots.

 

 

A wonderful Pop-Up dinner on a rainy night.

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Sometimes, a night needs to be different and special for no particular reason. Find an opportunity, to enjoy a couple hours with good food among strangers and friends. If it centers around dinner, all the better.

Such was last Sunday evening at Peleton Cafe in Seattle’s Central District, while the rain poured down outside. I arrived by invitation to a special dinner event hosted by my good friend Megan Davies, certified holistic chef and health educator.  There, happened one of her Tigress Nutritional Support Pop-Up Dinners, hosted monthly. With each event, Megan provides and cooks to those present in four courses of tasty, nourishing, healthy food dishes (and gluten-free with vegan alternative options).

So, here is what I had (as shown in pictures below): Teaser: Sweet potato, coconut bacon and avocado canapes with burdock kimchee. Starter: oyster and maitake mushroom bisque. Main: French lentil, pork shoulder and fennel pesto (alternative not shown, chanterelle, pear and pumpkinseed Fettuccine with garden herbs and spinach). Dessert: pumpkin mousse with coconut whip and pecans. Libations were added, containing a helping of malus cranberry ginger beer (not shown).

Overall, a fantastic night. Besides the food, guests are encouraged to greet and meet others at the tables, especially strangers. That I also did and made new friends at that good time.

– Orion T

For more info on the Tigress Nutritional Support Pop-Up Dinners held in Seattle, visit http://www.tigressnutritionalsupport.com, and click on the Pop-Up tab (next one is December 10th). Seats are by ticket, and extremely limited. Send me a note if you attend. I may see you there!

Picture of Today 7/5/2017, A Seattle Dog in the Park

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I took a little time out to enjoy a local treat, being a Seattle-style hot dog. This is your usual hot dog but grilled meat (or veggie substitute) with cooked sweet onions and cream cheese on a toasted bun. For better, add some other veggie bits, and use a higher grade of cream cheese than the cheap brand name spreads and warm that up. For messy action, throw whatever condiments you love on top of it; sauerkraut, mustard, BBQ sauce, whatever. Somehow it all works out, for a fine tasty guilty pleasure.

Such was my fine evening moment, taking time out on the way home to enjoy this at Westlake Park (though, I refrained on the extras). The best Seattle Dog there you will find, is the “Dog in the Park,” stand in the back area. They have other Hot Dogs styles as well, but I find this one to be the best taste, for those hungry and passing through the area on a warm summer evening.

– Orion T

Picture of Yesterday 5/20/2017, Bees Together

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The above shot is from a moment past noon at the 5th Annual West Seattle Bee Festival, yesterday at the High Point Commons Park.

From behind the glass, I and others watched a beekeeper in action, demonstrating the inner workings of the man-made Langstroth hive box. Here, bees are inside and produce honey inside the hive frames, which are eventually raised and managed (from what I understood, please comment if I am wrong or leaving something important out).

Such activity was fun to watch and interesting the countless little worker bees in the process.   Here are some fun facts obtained from the Utah County Beekeepers Association:

  • Honeybees are the only insect that produces food for humans.
  • To make one pound of honey, the bees in the colony must visit 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles and will be the lifetime work of approximately 768 bees.
  • A single honeybee will only produce approximately 1/12 teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  • Honey bees’ wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz.
  • Bees communicate with each other by dancing and by using pheromones (scents).
  • Honeybees never sleep!

For more bee facts, visit www.utahcountybeekeepers.org.

– Orion T

 

Picture of Today 8/21/16, with Special Food

It’s been a while and here I am back with a hot dog and fries!

And not just any hot dog, but a Tokyo Dog from the annual Seattle Street Food Festival. The Tokyo Dog was from one of the many food trucks present over this weekend; presenting interesting food and merchants for those wanting more out of their summer weekend than sunshine.

The meal in question contains the following. A smoked cheese bratwurst with butter teriyaki onions, bacon bits, furikake, tonkatsu sauce and Japanese mayo. The fries on the side are seasoned with seaweed and sea salt. The drink is some boring canned green tea.

Meanwhile, much has happened since my last posting (and some before). I will post some of that in good time, soon.

– Orion T

 

Picture of Today 4/27/16, Loose Morels

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Just one of the many things one with a filled wallet can buy from the world-famous Pike Place Market in Seattle. And here is an entry from good ol Wikipedia about this unusual and expensive fungi…

“Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi. These distinctive fungi appear honeycomb-like, with their cap composed of a network of ridges with pits. Morels are sought by thousands of enthusiasts every spring for their supreme taste and the joy of the hunt, and are highly prized by gourmet cooks, particularly in French cuisine.

Morels have been called by many local names; some of the more colorful include dryland fish, because when sliced lengthwise then breaded and fried, their outline resembles the shape of a fish; hickory chickens, as they are known in many parts of Kentucky; and merkels or miracles, based on a story of how a mountain family was saved from starvation by eating morels. In parts of West Virginia, they are known as molly moochers or muggins. Due to the partial structural and textural similarity to some species of Poriferans (sponges), a common name for any true morel is sponge mushroom.

The scientific name of the genus Morchella is derived from morchel, an old German word for mushroom (this may be another source for the name “merkel”), while morel itself is derived from the Latin maurus meaning brown.”

There is some ominous warnings about the dangers of eating morels at the bottom of the wiki entry..

Morels contain small amounts of hydrazine toxins that are removed by thorough cooking; morel mushrooms should never be eaten raw. It has been reported that even cooked morels can sometimes cause mild symptoms of upset stomach when consumed with alcohol.[49]

When eating this mushroom for the first time it is wise to consume a small amount to minimize any allergic reaction. As with all fungi, morels for consumption must be clean and free of decay. Morels growing in old apple orchards that had been treated with the insecticide lead arsenate may accumulate levels of toxic lead and arsenic that are unsuitable for human consumption”

And now you know, and knowing is half the battle!

– Orion T,

 

 

Picture of Today 2/14/16, Valentine’s Day Madness


Happy Valentine’s Day!

And, another wacky day for cool stores to have fun with their products towards. Here at the Uwajimaya grocery market in Seattle’s International District, you can buy a lot of Pocky to share. Pocky is an import snack from Japan that’s been around a while, featuring flavored or coated crispy breadsticks. There’s almost countless flavors and similar brands out there at different times. Strawberry and chocolate are common. Chocolate and banana are the most recent I enjoyed. The most I loved too much within recent years are the grape, pineapple, and cookies and cream flavors.

Yum!

Orion T

At the Seattle Street Food Festival..

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For me, this last weekend had some interesting choices for great outside food.

Feeling a bit more local and needing clear air, I checked out the Seattle Street Food Festival in South Lake Union. This covered a few blocks and adjacent lots by Denny Park. Featured were the food truckers and other street venders. Some music can be heard in the distance, of which I paid little attention. I was very hungry, with a little extra cash.

Also, I had my camera handy. I took some shots of my food venturing experience, leading to some featured highlights below…

A vegan taco and Mexican style food truck. I got a Portland vibe from this..

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The Deep Fried PB and J stand.. I tried them at another food event. Quite good, but very thick with guilt afterwards on the body.

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Love a food truck with a mascot. I wasn’t quite in the mood for chicken, but almost…

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Love some of the names of these trucks and stands too. Also, Freedom Fries here because ‘Murica..

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Aria’s Shaved Ice flavors. Get your Tiger’s Blood here..
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Not sure on where the coconut drink out of the coconut bowl came from. But damn, I got to have one next time I see this..

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Nothing like a jumbo anything with lemonade anything at any fair/festival, right?

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Love the artwork on this truck..

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What I had to drink…a Spiced Pineapple soda from the Soda Jerk. Well worth the $4.00!

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And from the Nosh truck..their Fish and Chips dish for $7.00. I got beer-battered wild Alaskan cod, hand-cut British “chips,” mushed peas and house-made tarter sauce. All fantastic for the price. Also, on the side for a few dollars more, a raspberry mint Arnold Palmer. It was all right.

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That’s all for now…until the next festival!

– Orion T

Pictures of Today 1/13/15, Winter Fruits of Pike Place Market.

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The Pike Place Market is the most famed and cherished farmers market of Seattle. Also, the second most popular tourist destination.

The reason for such, is of many. The fantastic fish, the local businesses kept strong, the variety of entertainment, a place of unique and interesting gifts, the wall of gum, and the interesting history attached. But for today and of many random visits my favorite reason for Pike Market, is the assembly of special fruits and vegetables; much of which you could never find at those brand name grocers. Of some, I gladly pay the little extra money to get a lot more flavor and discover new boldness.

Here are some below from various vendors of the Pike, from my latest visit. There more to explain in every picture, but I must withhold for now (also, quite exhausted from errands and other work lately). I will save the info for a very special project I am working on, of which this is first hint of mention. For now, admire the colors and info within; and let your imaginary senses to those tastebuds run free!

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Picture of Today – Fire Cherries

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Not really called fire cherries. I just named them that.

The sign nearby read Gilbert’s FINEST TREE RIPE SUGAR TESTED RAINER CHERRIES, $3.99 lb. These, sat with other higher end fruits and vegetables; deep within the center of Seattle’s Pike Market.

I had a sample of two fire cherries…most impressive.

Picture of Today 1/6/14

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Good choices in life..

Especially at Pappardelle’s Pasta stand inside the great Pike Market of Seattle; where one may sample a dip from assorted balsamic vinegars, or buy at $10-$18 a bottle. Flavors include Blackberry Ginger, Chocolate, Modena Barrel-Aged, Pear Lime & Cinnamon White, Raspberry and Vanilla Fig.

Also, Pappardelle’s offers a fine selection of uncommon pasta noodles. Try the chocolate flavored!

Picture by Orion Tippens. NOTE: Do not copy or use any of the images here or herein without written consent (contact Orion at travelingorion.wordpress.com). © Copyright 2014 Orion Tippens. All Rights Reserved