Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gluten Free Vegan Goodies at the Portland Farmer's Market

So it's started raining in Portland lately.  So what?  It's not snow and it's gorgeous here.  Are you kidding me?  Green grass and things growing like crazy in nearly November?  For that I will deal with the rain.  The rain also didn't keep the fella and I from going to the Farmer's Market, to splash through puddles on our way to amazing produce.  And it was an excuse to wear my new rain coat, which when combined with the fella's fedora made me feel like a purple version of Carmen Sandiego.  A couple vendors commented that we were the only people smiling through the rain to which we explained that this weather is awesome compared to what we're used to.  See also: purple raincoat, what is there to not smile about?

Then disaster struck.  Even after a huge breakfast and ferreting away snacks in my purse, I was hungry.  This isn't an issue for an ordinary person who can eat anything in a pinch to keep off hunger, but for people with food allergies this is our worst nightmare.  And anyone who has dealt with me while hungry knows that just waiting until the 45 minute train ride home was not an option.  When I'm full and happy I'm Emily, when I'm hungry I become the Hulk, no one is safe.

I'm used to only having a couple options when I find myself in need of sustenance in the world outside my kitchen.  1.  I could eat the first person I see since human flesh is usually gluten free and, given how testy I get when hungry, is quite possible.  2. I could make myself very sick by eating something that might be safe.  Something that doesn't obviously contain gluten but might be cross contaminated or have traces of something icky in it. 

Then I remembered we live in Portland now.  The magical land where people know what the phrase "gluten free" means.  So as we wandered around the food carts, I was on the look out for something that might be safe.  Then I spotted Salvador Molly's Tamale cart.  I crossed my fingers while asking if they had anything gluten free.  "You've come to the right place.  Everything here is gluten free."  I very nearly jumped over the counter to hug the three very friendly and helpful guys running the tamale cart.

Not only was it gluten free, but it was the best tamale I've ever had.  The corn filling was creamy without being too dense or heavy.  And there was the perfect amount of yummy bits hidden in the polenta.  The salsa was very basic so it added a hint of spice to the tamale without overwhelming the rest of the ingredients.  I had the roasted vegetable option which was full of sweet potato, green and red pepper, onion, garlic, sweet corn, and black beans.  But they also have a chicken option and the very tempting sounding artichoke heart and cotija cheese tamale. 

As you may be able to tell from the picture I enjoyed my Salvador Molly's experience quite a bit.  Enough that I will be sure to visit their full scale restaurant one day soon, as they have a sizable gluten free menu above and beyond the tamales.  I was so happy with having a lunch that I could eat without any worries that I threatened to take one of the tamale makers home with me.  Maybe next time.  Those were damn good tamales.
 Picture by Mark Galligan from the Petunia Pies and Pastries site.  Chocolate things never last around me long enough to get photographic evidence.

But the gluten free vegan wonders did not end there, just a few stands down from where we ate lunch was a dedicated gluten free bakery called Petunia Pies and Pastries.  At first I stopped to live vicariously through looking at some chocolate goodies I couldn't eat but when I saw it was gluten free and vegan I almost cried with joy.  Instead I just body checked the fella and ran as fast as I could to get in line for a chocolate hazelnut cupcake. 

It was divine!  Literally the best cupcake I have ever had, gluten free or otherwise.  I'm not positive of exactly what magic is contained within these tasty treats but I know part of the secret is nut flour which makes these super rich but fluffy.  They are the perfect texture, none of that hard as a rock or overly chewy mouth feel of so many gluten free baked goods.  The only explanation I have for how the amazingly chocolatey frosting is possibly vegan is that fairies and the souls of babies must be involved.  And then to top it all off there is one precious little gold foiled hazelnut on top of each cupcake.  It's almost too pretty to eat, but I managed. 

Petunia has a new loyal customer for life.  Sometimes I close my eyes and dream about that cupcake,  I can't wait until next Saturday to go back and have another.  There were so many other delicious looking things at Petunia, like cheesecakes, crisp rice bars and tarts that I feel bad for them knowing I will go right back for another cupcake, never stopping to taste the other goodies.  Well I'm sure I'll get around to them eventually but right now I am in love with the chocolate hazelnut goodness.

Speaking of wonderful chocolatey things this is the furry love of my life who has been ill lately and could use all the positive energy you can send her way.  Fluffy Butt here ate something toxic the other day, spent the night in the vet hospital and is just now getting back to her normal silly self.  If you have a furry little one in your life you will understand how scary this week has been for us so please keep your fingers, toes, and eating utensils crossed that she will make a full recovery so we can return to our regular schedule of traipsing through the all the parks in Portland.

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