I love living in a small town for every reason except one: the lack of ethnic food. Thanks goodness Portland isn’t too far away, but we need not drive an hour for authentic, creative Indian food.
Brynden Morris, owner of the Blue Elephant Indian food cart and Mika Terra Catering, takes over Rack & Cloth in Mosier every Monday evening for a surprise pop-up dinner. The menu isn’t available ahead of time and Brynden focuses on a different region of Indian cuisine every week, with local, seasonal produce taking center stage. And the food is served alongside Rack & Cloth’s amazing cider (sadly not pictured since I had to refill and then forgot to grab a pic).
When I went it was food and spices from the Coorg region of SW India. And boy was it tasty. Mustard seeds, rose water, cardamom, curry leaves, chilies, and a ton of other spices combined to make the food sing. How bland my usual food is in comparison! Entree choices included the most tender smoked pork adrack or the fresh heirloom tomato and ginger masala, served with an assortment of delicious, unique sides. Thankfully I went with friends so we got both entrees and shared. Using the naan to soak up any last juices, we literally cleaned our plates. I left feeling totally impressed, full of foods I have never tried before, and eager to try more. Rack & Cloth also has a big outdoor patio that is kid and dog friendly. Anyone want to go with me next week?
Have you been to Lake Taco? Tucked behind a few other buildings with an entrance on the hill across from Jackson Park, it’s easy to miss.
Lake Taco serves up tasty, authentic Mexican food from a colorful building in the Hood River Heights. My family loves to bike to the playground at Jackson Park and then go across the street after to have lunch or dinner at Lake Taco.
The corn tortillas are the star here. They are handmade, pressed to order, warm, and incredibly soft, just like my favorites on my last trip to Mexico. The menu is small and their food takes some time to arrive, which is honestly refreshing after too many trips to fast paced taquerias with mile-long menus.
I’ve tried pretty much everything at Lake Taco, but I always come back to the tacos. My favorites are the pollo (chicken), asada (top sirloin), and fish tacos. They are served traditionally, with warm tortillas just off the press, and a raw onion and cilantro topping or simple slaw. I usually add a squeeze of fresh lime and some of their homemade salsa. It’s perfection.
I have a problem. I work next door to Gorge Ice Cream. Every time I refill my water, go to the bathroom, or head outside I smell fresh waffle cones and have to watch everyone eating ice cream. Ahhh! Did I mention how much I love ice cream?
Gorge Ice Cream (formerly Gorge Kitchen) churns out small batch, seasonal flavors made with produce from local farms, foraged berries, local honey, grass fed milk, and 99.9% organic ingredients at their small, adorable shop in downtown Hood River. They also make kombucha, which I’ll review another day. Owners Dave and Sara are sweet as can be and encourage you to try everything.
After sampling nearly every flavor I decided on Gorge Chocolate and dairy free Mint Cacao Nib in a waffle cone. The smell of freshly baked waffle cones gets me every time! Flavored with Oregon grown peppermint and colored green with spinach, the mint was a party in my mouth. The chocolate was uber creamy with a rich, deluxe chocolate flavor from Balinese cocoa powder and raw cocoa butter. I’ve been back since my initial visit and also tried (maybe inhaled) the salted caramel, which I also highly recommend! Mmmm. Go get some. Gorge Ice Cream is open Friday-Sunday thru the winter.
Warm summer evenings are the best. You don’t need layers, it’s light for forever, and you have no excuse not to eat ice cream. The other night we headed down to the Hood River waterfront to fulfill that deep need for a cold dessert at Cicci Gelato. It was perfect. Made in small batches with organic dairy, the traveling chocolate and sea-salted caramel hit the spot. Gelato in hand, we strolled around the waterfront slowly enjoying the evening breeze. I especially love the small, plastic spoon that always accompanies true gelato, and I was instantly transported back to my college days when I studied (and ate my way) across Italy. Buonissimo!
Recently I met a friend in Bingen, WA for some playground time with our kids and we bopped over to The Huck Truck afterwards for lunch. It was one of those meals that leaves you feeling totally nourished, both from the quality of the food and the quality of the experience. The sun was out, the kids were happy, the company was great, and the food was incredible.
I ordered the pork polenta plate for myself and a beef taco for my kid, but she was so into the crispy pork and creamy polenta that the little turkey ended up eating most of my lunch! The pork, braised for 4 hours, then fried to a crisp is drool worthy. And you know you’re in food heaven when the “side salad” is a kale, radicchio, butternut squash, and parmesan salad. Mmmmmm.
So yeah, the Huck Truck doesn’t serve up your usual food truck experience. It’s fresh, bursting with flavor, served on house made rolls and tortillas, includes homegrown greens, and if you’re lucky, ends with the BEST chocolate chip cookie. If your kid is along you better get 2.