In case you haven’t been tuned in to my briney shenanigans elsewhere (Okay, we’re cool), well, that’s what I’ve been up to lately: Pickles.
Yeah, pickles. It’s already at the delicious point as to where I find myself drinking A LOT of water on my days off. Basically, I’ve been frequently artisan pickle purveyors in the Pacific Northwest for the best two weeks. I went into this whole thing knowing that I sincerely enjoyed pickles (particularly, new dills and pickled fruit) — I mean, I’ve spent a decade in Portland where you can “pickle anything” and going with the trend, even gave a demo on such this past December. Plus, I don’t always admit this first part, but growing up on Long Island, knishes and pickles were one of my all-time favorite lunches. And now, two weeks in, I can fairly say that I have learned so much more. Typing up my list of various pickles to check out, I quickly found myself utterly fascinated by the different types of pickling done in every single type of cuisine I could think of, from the quick pickles on a banh mi chay, pickled turnips and cucumbers tucked into a falafel wrap, the array of fermented sauerkrauts of Eastern Europe (which are believed to be influenced from China and SE Asia) to the sweet mango pickles of India. And then there’s the whole pickle plate scene of Portland, where my notion to explore began. I’m primarily basing my tour around the Portland metro area due to my own schedule, but I did manage a quick trip up to Seattle a few days ago and many pickles were had. Interestingly, it was quite more difficult to track down pickles plates at bars and restaurants vs. Portland. Portland is really, really obsessed. I already wish I had more time, because my first list of ideas included fermented and vinegar-soaked goodies from Olympia, Bellingham, Tacoma, Vancouver, Eugene (who has an annual fermentation festival!), so only time will tell if I decide to extend this on my own. I’m also on the lookout for any Northwest pickles that just happen to be found in Portland stores
So, if you have any recs of any pickled kind, do tell.
I’m now halfway through my Northwest Pickle Tour (thanks to Get Saga, more on that below), with even more fancy pickle plates, jars, barrels, sandwiches, sides and picklebacks ahead of me. I’ve shared quite a few on Instagram, with some additional over on Twitter.
Deep thoughts: Is the pickle plate the new hummus plate in Portland? Is is now the default vegan option on a menu? It’s certainly seemed true in the past two weeks of my life.
Here’s a handful of where I’ve been exploring so far:
This one was noteworthy and got me thinking about radishes, which consequently, found me pickling my own jar’s worth of Fraggle food the very next day. That’s some inspiration. It does need to be requested ‘vegan’, as it originally comes with some meat & cheese. Yikes.
I started out the tour at one of my favorite restaurants, Boke Bowl. It had been far too long since I’ve visited for lunch, and the tour was clearly the perfect opportunity to splurge and order some pickled sides. Silly me didn’t realize that an actual pickle spread was available on their printed menu. Pickled mushrooms are unlike anything I have ever eaten before.
Surely not the last Bloody Mary of my tour, the highlight of this one was easily the pickled spear, as the actual drink had me mildly freaking out about the lack of hot sauce in the establishment.
Surprisingly mild for something that says ‘wasabi’! Are you worried about my heat levels yet? I’m not, really. I’m no heat maniac.
I am shocked to report that the broccoli was my favorite part of this spread (besides my friend Karla).
The full disclosure part: This whole experience is an excursion presented by Got Saga, a new interactive smartphone app, which is why I’ve been using the tag #sagaexcursion on my posts. I’m technically working as an independent contractor to curate this pickle tour, and have Janessa and Craigslist to thank for finding out about it in the first place. I’ve erred on the side of private vs. public (you know, having a pen name and deleting my personal facebook, linkedin and foursquare) in recent years, so it’s quite an interesting experience to be somewhat “lifeblogging”, to say the least. I’m certainly stoked that this Saga Excursion grant is letting me curate a special collection of vegan-friendly, artisan pickle spots.
If you’d like to follow along, you can find me on Instagram as @jdfunks and Twitter as @getsconed. You can find me on the app (if you happen to have it already, this will take you right there) via my email address, getsconed AT gmail DOT com, or under “jess s”.
Learn more and apply for your own Saga Excursion right over here.