I gravitate towards phases. In high school I had a riveting love affair with K-pop (like many of us, I’m sure). While home-schooled as a child, I spent road trips passing the time playing horseback riding computer games.The space bar was well-loved after constant clicks to make the horse jump at the correct time. My style has evolved to a climax of a flannel obsession and for all things plaid. And for food, my current mood is for acai bowls. (In the past, it’s involved things from gnocchi to lemon bars.)
But I adore acai bowls because they’re simply healthy. Like a dessert that feels indulgent but isn’t, a breakfast that’s hearty but not heavy. I’ve learned that the granola’s honeyed toastiness creates a major difference, that a splash of almond milk or a date sweetener drastically alters the acai’s flavor. That there can even be too much banana. So while home in Portland, I went all the way to the northeast side for Carioca Bowls.
Carioca is vegetarian and vegan friendly, and the bowls’ aesthetic is lovely. My bowl featured a mound of a silky acai and cherry smoothie covered in a sheen of dragonfruit puree and a chocolate sauce drizzle. With a banana nestled in one side, a few helpings of blackberries on top and a handful of granola on top, I didn’t want to dig in my spoon–too pretty to eat.
I also got to dabble a bit more in vegan food after a visit to Harlow Restaurant on SE Hawthorne. Harlow appears rather cluttered at first sight, but as you stay longer, an odd sense of order arises. Not all the furniture match, the tables aren’t aligned parallel to each other, and the line of customers haphazardly unwinds out the door. But the place still feels very serene and organized somehow.
I balanced out the richness of the Moondrop Mocha (agave, cacao powder, hazelnut milk) with forkfuls of walnut pesto mixed with quinoa and kale. And as ridiculous as it all sounds (we hear the word “kale” and seem to collectively groan due to its overuse), this meal proved to me that vegan food can be excellent. I admit that I cheated a little and got eggs, too. BUT. Harlow needs more love in PDX, folks. I even tried my sister’s smoky tempeh (deep-fried soybeans, like a cooler cousin of tofu) and liked it. Yet I’m still a wannabe vegan.