Doughnut or Donut: Portland Edition

I was super excited to go to Portland for the Vancouver USA Marathon and one of the reasons for that is that I’ve always heard about Portland’s foodie scene.  I love food and trying new things.

We didn’t have an opportunity to try as much as I would have liked because we had so much to fit into our 3 days, but we did have time to try both Voodoo Doughnuts & Blue Star Donuts.

A lot of people have heard of Voodoo Doughnuts.  With lines that can go down the block, they are known for their outrageous, crazy flavors & sizes.

We went to the Original, Voodoo Doughnut One on 3rd Avenue in Downtown Portland.  Sean had been there before and we made it our very first stop (after a stop at Barista, which is just down the street, for some coffee).  As we were walking down the street, he was like oh, good the line isn’t too bad.  There was a line, but we only waited maybe around 15-20 minutes.  Of course we realized as we were in line that it was cash only so once we got inside, Sean headed to the ATM while I waited in line.

Voodoo Doughnut, Portland, OR

There are over 90 different doughnuts on the menu so it was a challenge to choose.  They all look so cool, but ultimately we decided on the following:  Maple Bacon, Memphis Mafia & the Old Dirty Bastard.

Voodoo Doughnut, Maple Bacon, doughnut, Portland, OR

Maple Bacon bar doughnut
Raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and bacon on top!

The Maple Bacon was my favorite of the 3.  Always a great combination, I was surprised at how crisp and crunchy the bacon was, just like we like our bacon, but it didn’t just fall apart.

Memphis Mafia doughnut
Fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top!

Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland, OR, Memphis Mafia

The Memphis Mafia is HUGE! Seriously, look at it, it’s almost as big as my head!! I was impressed with this fritter type doughnut.  The banana wasn’t overpowering, the dough was moist and not the toppings weren’t overly sweet.  I really thought I would be biting into a sugar bomb and that wasn’t the case at all.

Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland, OR, doughnuts, maple bacon, memphis mafia, dirty old bastard

Old Dirty Bastard doughnut
Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, Oreo’s™ and peanut butter!

This was probably my least favorite of the 3.  I again was surprised that it wasn’t overly sweet, but I thought it was kind of blah, nothing to write home about.

After posting about our Voodoo visit, we were told that Blue Star was where all the locals go and since we saw it on our way to Vancouver on Saturday we knew exactly were it was so we could try them out too.

We made our way to Blue Star on Monday morning before heading over to Mt. Hood for the day.  Blue Star is different from Voodoo in a lot of ways.  First off, there wasn’t a line, second, their display is super clean and you are in the kitchen where you can watch them preparing the donuts.  I thought I had a photo I could share but I couldn’t find it in my photo album.  Lastly, they accept credit cards, while Voodoo is cash only.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR

From the Blue Star website: Our donuts are made from a classic brioche recipe that originated in the south of France. The dough takes 18 hours to make and is made from scratch every day; we start with a sustainable bread flour from Shepherds Grain, add cage free eggs, whole hormone-free milk, and then fold in a European-style butter. Our donuts, glazes, and fillings are made fresh throughout the day, and we only cook our donuts in rice oil. Selections change daily and sell out quickly.

Because I lost my photo of the display case and they don’t keep their donut list on their website, I’m hoping I got the flavors correct. I scoured their Instagram for the flavors. First off, they are a much more modern, clean and artisan style of donut where as the Voodoo doughnut is a more in your face and crazy.  It was hard to choose, but ultimately we went with the following 4 different types and flavors.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR, Blueberry bourbon basil, donut

Blueberry, Bourbon, Basil – Sean asked about which donut was the best seller and we were told this one was.  I feel like this was more cake donut than brioche like the Raspberry Rosemary below but I might be wrong, since there was frosting on it, it was hard to tell.  But it was definitely tasty.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR, Peanut Butter & Jelly, donut

Peanut Butter & Jelly – I had to try this one because I love PB.  This was I believe a raspberry or maybe blackberry (I can’t remember) filled with peanut butter powder and I believe a little cayenne pepper.  There was definitely a little kick in the back of my throat with this one.  Super yummy, I enjoyed this one.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR, Hard Apple Cider Fritter

Hard Cider Apple Fritter – I like apple fritters so I picked this for our fourth choice.  Made with apples, cinnamon and raisins and a nice glaze it was good, but in comparison to the others, it was probably our least favorite.

Blue Star Donuts, Portland, OR, Raspberry Rosemary, Donut

Raspberry & Rosemary – Sean also asked the guy helping us what his favorite was and he pointed to this one.  We were super lucky to get to try one that was still warm.  This was by far our favorite, warm and crunchy on outside while still remaining soft inside with a super yummy raspberry glaze.

After hearing about these amazing doughnuts and donuts which do you think was my favorite?

Drum roll please…

They were both good, but I have to say Blue Star was by far my favorite and the place I would recommend to anyone.  I think you have to try Voodoo because of what it is, a destination, the maple bacon was yummy, but for an amazing & unique artisan creation, I’d pick Blue Star every time.

Have you been to Portland and gone to Voodoo &/or Blue Star?  Which is your favorite?

Review: Bull & Cleaver Biltong & Chili Bites

The nice people at Bull & Cleaver gave me the opportunity to try out two of their products, Bitlong & Chili Bites in exchange for this review.

When I first heard them say Biltong I didn’t know what that was, I’ve heard of and eaten different types of jerky, but I haven’t heard of Biltong before. But being a foodie, I googled briefly, found something that looked tasty, read a little about it and then was like uh Yum!

Bull and Cleaver Biltong

So then what is Biltong?  From the Bull & Cleaver website:

Biltong is a form of seasoned dried meat similar to jerky made exclusively from fine cuts of all beef steak. Even though biltong and jerky are both dried meats, there are a few differences that give biltong a fuller and more flavorful taste preferred by carnivores and omnivores all over the world. It really all comes down to how these two dried meats are prepared.

Biltong originates in South Africa and involves a specific recipe and process, whereas jerky has its origins in North America and has had a mixed reputation over the last couple years. Jerky is a dehydrated meat usually cut into small pieces dried in a dehydrator or oven and flavoured with sugar based sauces and marinades. Biltong on the other hand is air dried for a minimum of 7 days and always starts with a full cut of steak which encourages an aging process that gives the meat its unique flavor. The process of making biltong also includes seasoning the meat in vinegar and rubbing it spices such as pepper and coriander to bring out all of the delectable flavors of the meat. 

One of the benefits of air drying and the simple use of spices is that biltong retains more protein, contains less salt and uses no preservatives.

The Biltong has a very meaty yet mild taste, it’s lightly seasoned with vinegar, salt, coriander & black pepper and is incredibly high in protein.  One 4 oz bag has only 320 calories, 60g protein, 10g fat & no carbohydrates.  It reminds me of a beef proscuitto.

Let me tell you, I’m a little sad I only have one bag, I seriously could have eaten it all in one sitting but I’ve been good & only eating a little bit here and there to save it.

I also got a bag of Chili Bites, which also taste amazing with a little spicy bite, but I did feel like they were a bit tougher to eat.

Bull and Cleaver Chili Bites

The Chili Bites are made from beef, salt, coriander, black pepper, red pepper, chili powder, garlic, paprika, onion, tumeric.

For a quick, tasty and protein filled snack, Biltong is definitely something that I’ll be reaching for.

Want to try Bull & Cleaver’s products for yourself?  Head over to their website and you can get 15% off using code RUNNER.  And let me know what you think.

Have you ever tried Biltong?

Post Run Eats: Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro San Diego

When I was in San Diego for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, Pete & I had seen an ad for Eclipse Chocolate in the San Diego Dining magazine and it looked amazing, so after looking at the website we decided to hit it up.  I went a second time over Labor Day weekend and this review shares a bit of both visits.  Seeing as I’m addicted to dessert this is so totally like Willy Wonka’s for a sweets loving foodie like myself.

From their website: Our Mission- To craft premium artisan foods & confections with a unique culinary perspective while maintaining sustainable & ethical operations that support our local community.

It’s very unique in the fact that the founder was originally a sculptor before starting to hand make exotic chocolates, not a traditional chef background.

They are a Silver Fork winner for 2013 from San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.

The unique thing about all their food is that everything is infused with chocolate, vanilla and/or caramel.  All food is made from scratch with all natural ingredients.  They have vegan & gluten free options.  They have a good selection of alcoholic beverages as well, but I rarely drink, and would much rather a drinking chocolate at a place like this :).

Eclipse Chocolate, Menu, Brunch, foodie, san diego, california

Both times I’ve visited have been on Sundays and they have an awesome brunch so I always go with the tasting trio, for $20, which allows you to choose one entree and then 2 options from the sides, soup & salad & dessert options.  There are a lot of different options to choose from.

Both times, I started off with a Soy Salted Dulce de Leche drinking chocolate (31% white) which came with home made marshmallows.  My dining companion tried a Soy Double Dark Cocoa (61% dark).  Both were AMAZING!!

Eclipse Chocolate, Drinking Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Double Dark Chocolate, San Diego, California

For my entree on my first visit I selected the farm house eggs & bacon, which was 2 eggs, brown sugar glazed bacon and buttermilk toast with orange peel, vanilla bean butter and for one of my sides, sea salted fried red potato wedges with a chile burnt caramel hollandaise with serrano sea salt & chives (I had the hollandaise on the side). The potatoes are Vegan & Gluten Free.

breakfast, farm house eggs, brown sugar bacon, buttermilk toast, orange peel vanilla butter, sea salt, potatoes, eclipse chocolate, san diego, california

On my second visit, I chose the Avocado Benedict, which was the best benedict I’ve ever had.  I will clarify though, I’m not a huge fan of hollandaise sauce so I did get it on the side. From the menu: buttermilk toast+hickory salted avocado+soft poach egg+chile burnt caramel hollandaise.

My dining companion chose the Buttermilk Pancakes in Blueberry Maple Bacon flavor, OMG!!! AMAZING!! There were blueberries & pieces of bacon all thru the vanilla buttermilk pancakes with roasted white chocolate as well. There was an amazing maple topping a little bit of orange peel butter.

Eclipse Chocolate, San Diego, California, Blueberry Maple Bacon Pancakes, Brunch Eclipse Chocolate, San Diego, California, Avocado benedict, brunch

For my second side, I had the Bleu Cheese Pecan salad, baby greens, dried cranberry, point reyes bleu cheese, chile spiced pecans & a vanilla vinaigrette.  I love a good salad and this was definitely a good one.  The vanilla vinaigrette really complimented the other flavors.

The other salad was Beet & Green Apple.  Again, I’m not a huge fan of beets but the flavors all mixed together were really complimentary.  My only complaint on this one would be that there was way too much cheese.  From the menu: baby greens+roasted beet+herbed chevre+candied cocoa nib+vanilla vinaigrette

Eclipse chocoate, san diego, california, beet & green apple salad, bleu cheese pecan salad

On my second visit, we decided to make sure we had room for dessert, my favorite, and since I hadn’t just raced, it wasn’t all about having food as fuel like the previous visit after the race.

I love Peanut Butter and decided to try the Frozen Peanut Butter Mousse, milk chocolate peanut butter mousse+brownie crust+vanilla creme fraiche+serrano sea salt. This is not for the faint of heart, it’s super super rich and oh so peanut buttery.  We both took a bite of this and thought that nothing could beat it, however, the churros, where freaking amazing.  Warm, buttery and covered in cinnamon sugar, they literally melted in your mouth.  I tried them with the 2 sauces, one was chocolate and the other was maybe strawberry rhubarb? I can’t remember exactly. But really, I’m a purist and the churros were absolutely amazing on their own.

Eclipse Chocolate, San Diego, California, Frozen Peanut Butter Mousse, Dessert, Foodie, Brunch Eclipse Chocolate, Brunch, San Diego, California, churros, foodie

Eclipse wasn’t that close to downtown, from what I could tell, but I’m not super familiar with San Diego, but the website says it is in the South Park area of the city.  It wasn’t overly crowded either time I went and we didn’t make it there until at least 11am, so unlike some of the other areas of town.

If you like unique food & local venues, I totally recommend Eclipse and I can’t wait to go back and try something new next time I’m in San Diego.

Question: Have you ever tried incorporating sweet flavors into more savory dishes?