The Noochy Noodle

a world beyond the blue box

Tag Archives: portland

Portland Tour de Macaroni: Part 3 Hungry Tiger Too

I hate giving bad reviews. I hate it. Hate. What can I say, I’m just not cut out for this line of stressful, yet well-paying work. I knew I would have to give a  bad review at some point, I just didn’t think it would be so soon! I’m going to keep it short, and probably put up 12 new posts immediately after I hit “publish” so I can bury it forever into internet oblivion.

Saturday for lunch we went to Hungry Tiger Too a bar in Southeast Portland featuring a full vegan menu. I had heard they were famous around town for their house made vegan corn dogs, so I split a corn dog basket, which also came with tater tots, and a salad, plus a side of mac and cheeze. That’s right,  I actually ate a salad on my trip! Gross!

To put it plainly, the mac and cheeze tasted like eating margarine and lemon juice with a teaspoon of nutritional yeast thrown in. I took maybe 3 bites before I just couldn’t do it anymore. But wait, don’t stop reading! Everything else we tried was great! The corn dogs were absolutely delicious, the tater tots were perfectly crispy, and I would like to personally give them a round of applause for the vegan ranch dressing. Hungry Tiger Too is greasy vegan bar food at it’s finest, just avoid the mac and cheeze. You will be as sad and disappointed as I was.

Portland Tour de Macaroni: Part 2 Homegrown Smoker

On Friday we had lunch at Homegrown Smoker, an all vegan barbeque cart in southwest Portland. Not only do they have vegan mac and cheese, but the rest of the menu looked tasty as well. I put on my eating pants and went prepared to go big or go home.

The food was so good I sort of felt like crying. I didn’t, but I could have.

I tried out the Macnocheetoh wrap, which consisted of a healthy scoop of MacNoCheese, bbq beans, onions, peppers and smoked soy curls all on a warm and starchy flour tortilla. This thing was delicious. I think it’s moving to the top of my list of foods I would eat everyday if I was stranded on a desert island. The smoked soy curls inside were like eating the best barbequed brisket I had ever had as an omnivore, minus gross, chewy, fatty deposits, and the unnecessary death. Even better!

macnocheetoh

Gross, but totally necessary inside shot:

macnocheetoh

Now, while this thing was mind numbingly delicious, I didn’t really have a way to properly judge the MacNoCheese since it was all wrapped up in a tortilla and covered in BBQ sauce. So I tried a little side of MacNoCheese by itself (I DID NOT EAT THE SANDWICH THAT IS NOT MINE STOP JUDGING).

MacNoCheese

I’ve got to hand it to them, this is the best vegan mac and cheese I have had that was not made in my own kitchen. The sauce was decadently creamy, and a good balance between mellow, tangy, savory and cheezy. I don’t really know what else to say…good job?

My only complaint is that there is not a Homegrown Smoker in San Francisco. Get down here people! Bay Area vegans need you!

Portland Tour de Macaroni: Part 1 Vita Cafe

I have finally returned from Portland, where I got to spend 5 glorious days pretending to be an average American, eating the standard American diet of carbs, protein, 3 vegetables, and a whole lot of mac and cheeze!

The first evening in town we had a late dinner at Vita Cafe, which was deliciously close to where we were staying. I had heard that there was ‘Mac and Cheese’ on the menu, but apparently you can also add broccoli, chili, sauteed tempeh, or fried tempeh! Since I planned to spend the weekend undoing all the good results of every bit of healthy eating and physical activity I had done over the past 2 months, I went ahead and ordered the fried tempeh on top.

I’m just going to get this part out of the way so that we can all move on with our lives; while this was a really lovely pasta dish, I’m hard pressed to call it mac and cheeze. The sauce was really more of a mildly cheesy-flavored margarine, and while I agree, that does sound delicious, you could have told me it was vegan alfredo sauce and I totally would have believed you.  The cheezy sauce to noodle ratio was a little low, I even came across a hand full of sad, naked noodles hovering around the edge of my bowl. And hey, I’m just going to nit pick and say that the pasta was rotelle and not macaroni.

Now the fried tempeh deserves it’s own paragraph, because WOW(!!!!), it was amazing! Being from the south I fancy myself somewhat of an expert in all things fried, and I do declare this to be spectacular breading. I would eat it with a fork covered in gravy if you let me. Actually, I think they will let you, and even throw in a side of mashed potatoes.

There was also crispy minced garlic sprinkled on top of the pasta which added 1 delicious point, but also gave the feeling that I could be eating it in a fancy-fancy candlelit bistro with table cloths and everything. The significant other even declared that the crispy garlic bits to be his favorite part of the dish.

So there you have it. Go here, order this, it’s really good even if it’s not really mac and cheeze! Be sure and order other stuff too because it’s all really good, I’m a big fan of anything with “buffalo” in the name.

Mac and Cheeze Forever!

Let me tell you a little bit about me and macaroni and cheese. I’ve loved mac and cheese my entire life. Well, almost. I remember as a 3 year old hating the velveeta shells and cheese served at family dinners, but I soon learned to embrace the neon yellow sauce and noodles. In middle school I moved on to eating the iconic Kraft Dinner multiple times a week and by high school I was keeping the freezer perpetually stocked with Stoeffer’s frozen macaroni and cheese. Did I ever have excellent metabolism back then.

When I went vegan not much changed, except now I had to make my mac and cheese from scratch. One of the first recipes I made when teaching myself to cook was the New Farm Macaroni and Cheese recipe. Most people don’t immediately take to nutritional yeast (a vital component of most vegan mac and cheeze) the first time they try it, but I was hooked. That became my default mac and cheeze recipe for the next few years. Later I began trying out new methods of cheezy sauce making, using everything from cashews, tofu, or potatoes and carrots for the sauce and I quickly became overwhelmed with all the choices available. So I did what any good vegan would do and decided to start a blog about it.

For my first post I was hoping to make a decadent, time consuming mac and cheeze that would blow your collective minds. However, I have travel induced hypochondria; I’m flying to Portland tomorrow, so naturally I think I’m getting sick. I’m tired, my lymph nodes hurt, and from what I can discern from WebMD I might have a rare tropical disease only found on select islands in Indonesia. So I opted for something simple and went with the Easy Macaroni and “Cheese” from the Fat Free Vegan blog because it has the word “easy” in the name. Whatever.

Easy Mac and "Cheese"

So here’s how this is going to work, I’ll talk about the taste, texture, time and my overall opinion, plus the opinion of my macaroni and cheeze hating boyfriend (it’s a travesty, I know).

Flavor: The sauce has a pretty good flavor, but it’s very mellow, probably because it was created specifically for the author’s kid in mind. That’s fine! I think people who hate nutritional yeast heavy sauces would really like it.

Texture: I am all about the sauce on this one, it’s very creamy. Not gritty, not lumpy, not too thick or too thin. Awesome! Former Kraft lovers take note, I thought the textures were very similar.

Time: I’m not going to spell it out for you. The name says “easy”. It’s easy.

What does the mac and cheeze hating significant other think? “It’s okay, it’s just kind of flavorless.”

Overall: I quite liked it! I’m all about quick meals side dishes eaten in moderation, and recipes that don’t require an entire tub of Earth Balance. I would probably take the nooch up (from here on out I’m calling nutritional yeast “nooch” whenever I feel like it) because I love nooch. That’s just how I am.

First recipe success! I plan on hunting down some mac and cheeze to devour while I’m in Portland this week, so stay tuned!