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There Food

Culinary notes from recent travels in the Pacific Northwest. The first in a series from Style Weekly food writers.

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Salt & Straw in Portland, Ore. often attracts lines down the block for exotic flavors of ice cream and a well-orchestrated sampling program while customers wait. - LEELA CYD
  • Leela Cyd
  • Salt & Straw in Portland, Ore. often attracts lines down the block for exotic flavors of ice cream and a well-orchestrated sampling program while customers wait.

Not that we don't have enough food trends to follow, but here's fair warning of what could be ahead if Seattle and Portland, Ore., are any indication. And a few of them already have taken root in Richmond.

Sweets: At Salt & Straw in Portland, expect 45-minute lines day and night for prosciutto-melon, strawberry-basil balsamic and olive oil ice cream among a couple dozen flavors. (All of these can be found here at Bev's and Gelati Celesti).

In Seattle, ice cream can be purchased in a warm waffle cone made to order.

Bluebird Microcreamery and Brewery in Seattle is big with locals for the unusual pairing of craft beer and ice cream, with board games and coffee. Draft root beer floats are locally famous.

Cream puffs are filled while you watch at Crumble & Flake Patisserie in Seattle, with black currant, caipirinha or chocolate cream among changing flavors. The place is also known for a smoked paprika and cheddar croissant.

Churros and doughnuts in all variations remain strong sellers, although locals might sneer at tourists still lining up at all hours for now three locations of Voodoo Doughnuts in Oregon.

Snacks and sandwiches: Japanese deep-fried burger at Katsu Burger in Seattle. Salmon niçoise sandwich. Mushrooms. Late-night, food-truck hot dogs or grilled buns slathered with cream cheese and grilled onions. Kimchi fried rice and Spam sliders. Frying-pan pizza with cornmeal crust. Dove Vivi in Portland has a nightly chef's pizza sampler for $24.

Breads: Diners expect to pay for bread in many places now instead of the once-free basket; an example is grilled Italian bread with olive oil compound butter for $3 in Portland. Other carbs include double-cream brie and pear chutney on Pullman bread with sweet mustard dipping sauce, and fry bread with cinnamon or Nutella, or as a savory wrap for pork tacos.

Beverages: The bar Roxy's in Seattle is serving a cocktail called the restraining order, where customers get a shot of Jim Beam and a slap in the face. Another bar serves punch with actual gunpowder in the recipe.

Dog-friendly bars welcome patrons with canines instead of 9 mms.

Vegan metal bar the Highline in Seattle and a vegan strip club in Portland both serve booze that doesn't use animal materials such as gelatins.

Vinegar by the $20 bottle is a daily dose for some, and fermented foods of all kinds are big, with kombucha growlers and bars more present. (Ellwood Thompson's is on this trend.)

More craft beer in cans. (Note that cans of Ray Ray's and Main Street ales by Ashland's Center of the Universe Brewing Co. are stylish new examples here.)

Stoners: The medicinal marijuana farmers' market in Seattle, at 420 Fremont, is a year-round hub for producers of pot and "medibles," a growing market of snacks, drinks and other THC-infused edibles in sweet and savory versions. Hempfest in Seattle is a big, multi-day event with various food elements. Chefs and pastry chefs build stoner palate-pleasers into their menus, and desserts are spotlighted more than ever from bistros to farmers' markets.

Décor and plating: Solar-powered, Mason-jar table lanterns light up evening outdoor dining. Many businesses use 100 percent compostable to-go boxes and minimal packaging overall. (Richmond has a long way to go in this area, not to mention basic recycling and green practices within restaurants.) Fancy and overlarge plates are being replaced by smaller versions. S

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