Monday, January 25, 2010

NE Alberta, Gentrification, Todbott's Triangles

A stroll along NE Alberta was strange indeed. I remember on in or around '03 when there was very little there, although back then it was already changing. Now, I am not nor have I ever been a Portland resident, so I don't have strong feelings per se about the rapid gentrification of formerly sketchy areas. But it is strange how quickly it happens.

Moving right along, I actually wanted to talk about the street food scene on Alberta. From a visit in early '09 I was mildly familiar with some good happy hours and street carts, but this time I wanted to graze.
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The grilled cheese grill was closed. It claims to be the only grilled cheese and school bus eatery in the city. Huh. They also are the only place that offers a grilled cheese hamburger, or Cheesus Burger:

The Soon-to-be-Famous Burger Behemoth. We’ve done away with the bun and replaced it with two grilled cheese sandwiches. That’s right, two of them. One on top, one on the bottom. Pickles and American cheese inside one, Grilled Onion and Colby Jack in the other. Lettuce, Tomato, Ketchup, Mustard, and 1/3lb Burger in between. You won’t need to eat again for 2 days. Comes with a bag of chips and a case of napkins.

If you want to waste eight bucks and maybe shorten your life by a couple of years, you know where to go.

I thought the street food approach in Portland was interesting. For years, the street cart scene has been growing in the city center. Parking lots have been accommodating more and more stalls over the years. But this is different. In a quickly gentrifying area, they're filling their lots with carts and stalls. A sign of the recession perhaps? Or just a new approach to parking lots?

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Unfortunately, the weather in Oregon is shit. Let's just be honest. It was cold and we were feeling depressed. Standing around outside of a stall just wasn't our idea of a good time on this day, so we made a compromise. We stumbled upon Toddbott's Triangles, a small Japanese themed eatery specializing in Onigiri.

The owner, Todd, spent a few years selling his Onigiri at all the local farmers markets recently. He purchased a shed off Alberta and put his cart inside.
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The small space provided a nice respite from the rather cold and depressing day.
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We ordered up a wild salmon, pickled plum and onion, and a sea spinach sesame and sweet tamari onigiri. They paired nicely with sencha, or green tea. This was a nice way to warm up.
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A visit to this cart inside a converted shed provided us with yet another cheap and delicious snack outside the conventional restaurnant mold.

Todbott's Triangles
2827 NE Alberta
Portland, OR 97211
(971) 344-9548

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