A Visit to the Cart Pod of SE 12th and Hawthorne   Leave a comment

Ever since I moved here and saw Potato Champion, I have wanted to visit the cart pod (a group of carts- this one is also known as Cartopia) in southeast Portland. I affectionately call them the "drunk pod" because they are near several late night establishments, thus their evening-wee morning hours, unlike the morning-lunchtime only and closing before the regular business workday hours that the downtown carts generally keep (which translates to me not being to eat at most of them since I work in Beaverton unless I get a friend to drive or have don't go into the office). This desire to visit the SE 12th and Hawthorne food carts only got greater as I heard legends of Whiffies, and then at the Food Cart Festival heard raves about Pyro Pizza. So, after the North American Organic Brewers Festival, I was only too happy to go along for the ride.

Now, I can only be so greedy. Whiffies that night for their savory selections had a vegan pie and a chicken pot pie, neither which I was interested in (I would try BBQ or any of their pork ones). So one friend got a savory crepe from Perierra Creperie that had a sexy sounding mix of gorgonzola, pear, walnut, and honey I believe- this was ok, very light but it didn't hit the spot for me. Another friend got the White Truffle pizza (dough brushed with white truffle oil topped with romano cheese and a dash of black pepper) while I ordered the Caramelized onion Pizza (with caramelized purple onions with gorgonzola and parmigiano-reggiano cheeses and pistachios) from Pyro Pizza, the latter being the specific pizza topping combo that was so raved about at the food cart festival.


Unfortunately, now from the original cart this latter pizza did not deliver, being more onion with some cheese and a few pistachios rather than cheese topped with caramelized onions and sprinkled with pistachios. Besides the proportions of onion to the other two topping ingredients, the important element of caramelized did not happen- the oven at the food cart festival was not what this cart had, and I wonder if the other one burned hotter because of it's larger capacity (it was the size of the wood burning oven that Tastebud always brings to the PSU Saturday Farmer's Market). Or maybe they got too hot in the cart.

Fortunately, the White Truffle pizza did deliver, though I think the winning element was the crunchy romano that crisped up like a frico (aka parmesan crisp). I ended up taking a box home to share with F… which actually only I ate the next day by myself. Heh.

The highlight of this food cart pod visit was from Potato Champion, with a large order of poutine, which means fries topped with gravy and cheese curds, one of the few gifts from Canada. The fries were fresh and crisp, even better then what I had at the Food Cart Festival from Spudnik (their roaming cart; Potato Champion is the original home base cart). They were more generous here with the rich gravy (I went with the meat based one not the veg one although there is one available- but look at how thick that gravy is, well flecked with seasoning), and there were nice sprinklings of squeaky chewy chunks of Rogue curd throughout.

When placing my order, I was tempted to order a cone to try their other sauces, but thankfully I didn't because a large poutine is huge as you can see. But, so delicious and good size for sharing, and a perfect way to soak up alcohol. Want to buy my friendship? Here's one currency to use. And yes, my friendship is for sale… for the price of taking me/bringing me deliciousness like this. If you don't like cheese or fried foods… well, we can't be friends anyway.


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