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SoupCycle Interview

Soupcycle Delivers

Soupcycle Delivers

One of the things I love about Portland is the way people follow their passion. Portland isn’t just a town of great ideas, it’s a place where people put their ideas into motion. One such great idea is SoupCycle which serves fresh, organic and locally made soups by bicycle.  I was so intruged by this business I decided to talk to one of the companies founders Jed Lazar about SoupCycle (a full review of the service with pics will come soon).

How did you get the idea for Soup Cycle?
We heard about someone in Texas who tried to deliver soup by bicycle. He made it work for a while, but eventually switched to delivering by truck. To Shauna and I – this was the perfect challenge. We knew it could be done and wanted to prove that bicycles are a feasible form of cargo transportation within cities.

Why Soup?
Because it’s perfect! There are great, tasty soups for every season of the year that use local vegetables.

Why Portland? Does SoupCycle fit Portland better than other cities?
Definitely. This city values healthy foods and healthy lifestyles. We all want to eat scrumptious foods that are good for us, but who has time to put together healthy meals every day? SoupCycle is a Soupscription- it’s one healthy meal a week that our customers don’t have to worry about. Plus, the city’s bicycle network makes bicycle-delivery possible.

How does the expense of a Soupscription compare to other dinner options people can order?
A Soupscription is almost always less than going out to a restaurant, and a lot of times it’s less than cooking for yourself. When you make a recipe at home you typically have to buy a lot of new ingredients. If you’re like me, you go to the store to shop for dinner and end up spending way more than you meant to. Our soups are $9 for two full servings, or $18 for soup, rustic bread and fresh salad for two people. And that’s for organic foods made with local ingredients and delivered by bicycle to you! It doesn’t get better than that. Our prices are low because we don’t rent an expensive retail space. We just do deliveries, and that keeps our costs down.

How far in advance do you determine what soups you are going to make?
Two weeks in advance.

Do your customers ever submit soup recipes?
They do! I’ve got a great recipe for hearty chicken and potato soup I’ve been meaning to make that a customer sent me recently.

What’s your favorite soup? Why?
My favorite soup is The Democratic Republic of Peanut Chicken. It’s an African peanut chicken stew that’s hearty beyond belief and full of tasty goodness.

What’s been the biggest challenge for SoupCycle so far?
We’ve been working for a while on a project to switch the containers we use. Right now, we’re using recyclable plastic containers, but we’d really like to be using more durable containers that we can reclaim from customers each week, wash and reuse. We’ve had some difficulty finding a good solution that meets all our needs, but we haven’t given up yet.

Has there been a moment that’s made you feel that all the hard work is all completely worth it?
Honestly, I feel like that most of the time. This is a great city to own a small business. People bike by us on the Hawthorne Bridge and tell us they like what we’re doing. Our customers love the soups, and it makes my day when I get an emails like the one I got last week: “We love the soup! My family always looks forward to Tuesdays”. A few weeks ago made our 3,000th bicycle-soup delivery and we feel really good about that. Yep, it’s a lot of work to own a small business, but there have been plenty of rewards.

Right now you deliver Soup, Salad and Bread. Any plans to deliver other kinds of products along with the soup?
We may eventually. We love to hear recommendations from your readers.

Where do you get your ingredients from?
We get most of our ingredients from Ladybug through Organically Grown Company.

How many people do you currently have delivering soup?
Just myself and our delivery Souper Hero Jen.

What kind of bikes do you use?
I’ve got a recumbent with an electrical assist.   Jen uses a regular upright bicycle.

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SoupCycle delivers locally made organic soups on a weekly basis starting at $18 (including fresh bread and salad). They offer vegan, vegetarian and meated options all delivered by bike!

More info on SoupCycle:

India Oven – Location, Location, Location

March 19, 2009 5 comments

India Oven Now on SE Belmont

I always had a love hate relationship with Kinta Restaurant.  I really valued having a vegetarian restaurant in my neighborhood with spicy ethnic food and an ever changing array of fresh vegetable choices.  Unfortunately the idea of Kinta always seemed better than the reality.  Frequently messed up orders and lack of a clear vision plagued Kinta, combined with the hefty competition with a flood of nearby Thai restaurants spelled the end for this local eatery.

Kinta’s loss has been India Oven‘s gain.  Previously located in the dungeon that is the Hawthorne Theater, India Oven moved from SE Hawthorne to SE Belmont into its ideal new location. Even though I am a fan of India food I hadn’t visited India Oven in its previous location. The Hawthorne Theater seems like a dump from the outside, so it was hard to imagine enjoying a meal inside.

Days after their move to SE Belmont, I made a point to give India Oven a try. Even though they had completely relocated their business, I found the service and food at India Oven to be right on the mark.  My meal consisted on Vegetable Pakoras, Papadams, Dahl, Vegetable Byrani and Aloo Gobi (which I think is one of the dishes that is a true barometer of a good Indian restaurant).  All the dishes were well spiced with medium portion sizes. Of the three I enjoyed the Dahl the most with perfectly cooked lentils with nice balanced flavor. The Aloo Gobi was solid, not the best I’ve ever had, but well balanced and tasty.  The Pakoras were a nice mix of vegetables deeply fried and absolutely delicious. I also quite enjoyed the Vegetable Byrani which was the largest portion of the dishes. The final bill was in line with many of the medium priced local businesses but notably higher than going out for local Thai.

The best thing going for India Oven is its new location. Perfectly placed in the heart of the Belmont Business District India Oven should find success where Kinta failed. Even though they had only been open a few days the restaurant was fuller than I had ever seen Kinta.

India Oven is located at 3450 SE Belmont St.

Categories: Food, Vegan Tags:

How Clean is That Portland Restaurant?

January 19, 2009 No comments
Find Out How Clean it Really Is

Find Out How Clean it Really Is

In the past month I’ve had the unfortunate luck of getting sick after eating at a local restaurant (Bangkok Restaurant).  As I was feeling quite under the weather I spent some time searching the Internet for some site or resource that could have clued me in to the less than clean kitchen that my meal must have come from.

I finally found the Multnomah County Health Department Establishment Inspection Database a fantastic resource that lets you peek into the kitchen and see just how clean everything is.

The results are pretty eyeopening.  On the good side some of my favorites Dove Vivi,Vita Cafe , Kuhn Pics Thai, La Bonita, Vegetarian House and Paradox Cafe all scoring in the high 90’s or getting perfect 100.  On the bad side a number of places I eat didn’t fair so well.  Nicholas Restaurant had a pretty long list of issues and a paltry 77 score, Pad Thai Kitchen 61,  and places like Laughing Planet and Opposable Thumb Gallery Cafe seemed to have the very common issue of employees NOT washing their hands when they should.

Of course this database is just a peek at one point in time in the life of a restaurant, but it’s a good starting point to see just how clean the places you’re eating at really are.

Categories: Food, Portland Tags:

Nutshell Restaurant Has Closed

November 16, 2008 3 comments
Where Will Bigfoot Eat Now

Where Will Bigfoot Eat Now

It comes as little surprise the news that Nutshell Vegan Restaurant has closed. In September I wrote the piece In A Nutshell – They’re Screwed that took a look at how Nutshell had gone from Portland darling to a restaurant precariously on the edge of the “Portland Restaurant Dead Pool”.

That hypothesis became a reality this week when Nutshell threw in the towel and closed their doors.  Perhaps the final nail in Nutshell’s coffin came from Alison Hallett who wrote a sharp criticism of Nutshell in the Portland Mercury review: Cracked Up – Nutshell’s Unsuccessful Revisioning.

Nutshell’s closing is either vindication for chef Sean Coryell (who left the sinking ship) or a sharp condemnation of the owners of Tabla (who also run Ten01, a restaurant which had its own near death experience last year).

To be fair 2008 has proven to be one of the toughest years for Portland restaurants yet.  With a growing list of restaurants closing because of the brutal economy including: Rocket, Kalga Cafe, Banh Cuon Tan Dinh, Genoa, and Carboni’s, the BBQ/wood-fire pizza. We expect at least five more Portland restaurants to join this list befor the year’s end. So if there’s a local Portland restaurant you don’t want to see added to the list, I highly recommend you make sure you dine there a few times before the end of the year, it does really matter.

Categories: Food, Vegan Tags: , ,

Slaying The Green Dragon

November 13, 2008 4 comments
The Green Dragon Portland

The Green Dragon Portland

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about restaurants closing due to a dramatic drop in business (including the sad news that one of my favorite Portland restaurants Kalga Kafe closed).

This week we received news of an entirely different sort:

The Green Dragon, an extremely popular watering hole for Portland’s tech set, and the standing location for the ever growing Beer & Blog has been set to be sold to Rogue on Friday November 14th.

Initial response has been overwhelming negative to word of the buy out with some pretty harsh comments posted over the news the popular brewpub may be transformed into a Rogue Taproom.

The Green Dragon has made its name for the ever changing wide variety of brews on tap, regular ‘meet the brewer’ events and as the destination of choice for many Portland tech events.

To commemorate the slaying of the Green Dragon Beer & Blog will be holding a final sendoff for the beloved brewpub on Friday (reportedly the last day for the dragon).

The sale of The Green Dragon in such a challenging economic environment lends great weight to the view that the area surround The Green Dragon, Grand Central Bowl and Holocene is destined to be Portland’s next big hot spot

The Green Dragon will be missed. We hope other beer bars like The Horse Brass, Belmont Station, Bye and Bye will step up to fill the gap created by the sale of the Green Dragon.

Ed note: Read the good follow up piece in Draft Magazine about the Rogue purchase of the Green Dragon

Categories: Beer, Books, Food, Interview Tags: ,

Sip – One of Portland's Best Food Carts

November 11, 2008 7 comments
Sip's Owner Brian Serving Amazing Stuff

Sip at People's Food Coop

Despite our sometimes inclimate weather, Portland has a pretty phenomenal food cart scene. While many focus on fairly traditional food cart fair, a handful have unique offerings and are destinations for more than just a main meal.

Of all these food carts Sip is my absolute favorite. Located in the courtyard of the People’s Food Coop (3029 SE 21st Ave), Sip is a small airstream trailer transformed into one of the best fresh juice bars in the entire city. Opened at the start of the summer, Sip made its name by offering devilshly delicious vegan milkshakes, so rich and tasty that even non-vegans could be seen licking their cups. In addition to its indulgent delights, Sip also offers a nice range of fresh and organic juices and smoothies.  On a recent trip I had a tropical green smoothie which is by far the single best smoothie I’ve ever had, anywhere.

With the turn of seasons Sip transitioned its offerings away from milkshakes and on more wintery offerings including hot soups and specialty drinks like milled cider, chai and hot coco. Recent soups have included Thai Red Curry, Vegan “Beef” Stew and Potato Leek.

Sip is a prime example of perfect simplicity, it’s the kind of place you can go, order anything, and know that it’s going to be fresh, organic and delicious.  There are rumblings that Sip’s owner is looking to expand and open a cafe in Portland, an extremely exciting prospect.

Here’s a copy of Sip’s Menu. Some extremely yummy drinks from one of my favorite Portland Food Cart:

Sip Portland Menu

Sip Portland Menu

Categories: Food Tags: , ,

Kalga Kafe – One of My Favorite Portland Restaurants Closes

November 8, 2008 6 comments

kalgakafeCatching up on my local blogs this weekend, my jaw hit the floor when I saw a post over at the Food Fight Blog reporting that Kalga Kafe had closed. I can’t tell you how sad this news is to me. Kalga Kafe was one of my favorite restaurants in Portland.

Kalga wasn’t the fanciest of places, and it was often overlooked in the crowded Portland restaurant scene when it came to accolades. But I adored it. It’s a place which will always hold many fond memories for me and I’ll forever miss Sukhdeep’s phenomenal Indian food.

Kalga Kafe would have best been described as eclectic, it was one of the only places in town with Indian, Thai, Mexican, Japanese, Mediterranean and Pizza all on the same menu (and all served very well).

Kalga’s owner Sukhdeep Singh had a deep commitment to the food he served and the community which surrounded the restaurant. The cafe was maintained as a highly sustainable business using mostly fresh, organic and local ingredients.

It’s an extremely sad day when such a fundamentally good place like Kalga Kafe closes.

ed note: Looks like Sukdeep is moving to brazil.

Categories: Food Tags: , ,

Portland West Cafe's Daily Dow Specials

October 27, 2008 No comments

West Cafe PortlandI’m quickly becoming a fan of The West Cafe. My wife and I stopped in a couple weeks back for some drinks and Jazz. Excellent drinks, excellent music and perfect service.

Shortly thereafter I started following The West Cafe on Twitter and realized just how smart and cool the people running this cafe are.  First they offered an exclusive coupon for people who follow them on twitter.

Now they’ve got a regular Daily Dow Special where they take the point drop or percentage drop and make a drink special out of it! Tonight’s special:

Daily Dow Drink Deal: Down 2.42% so we’ll take $2.42 off call martinis all night!! Stop by for an extra dry one, shaken not stirred.

It’s great to see a business be so savy with new media and so in touch with its customers

Categories: Beer, Food Tags:

Apple Tasting at The Portland Nursery

October 12, 2008 No comments
Over Thirty Types of Apples

Over Thirty Types of Apples

We’ve lived in Portland now for 15 years, and for some reason we’ve never managed to make it out to Portland Nursery’s Apple Tasting Event. Since we now live in Laurelhurst (after moving from the west side) we swore that we would not miss this popular Portland event.

So this weekend, with the perfect fall weather, we walked down to the Portland Nursery for some apple tasting. I was surprised at just how many people come out for this event (I saw almost half the people who live on our block there).

The whole family loved having the opportunity to taste over 30 different varieties of apples and pears. Our favorites:

  • Elstar – Tart eating apple developed for European markets. Excellent for sauces or pies.
  • Cox’s Orange Pippin – An Old English variety origination about 1830. Firm, juicy and aromatic apple. Wonderful for dessert.
  • Honey Crisp – Macoun x Honeygold. Crisp and juicy apple rated superior to McIntosh and Delicious for fresh eating and keeps up to five months in common storage.
  • Jonatha – Originated in 1826 as an open-pollinated chance seedling of Esopus Spintzenberg. This Apple has crisp, juicy, tart flesh. Goof for dessert and all other culinary Uses.
  • Liberty – Origin New York Fruit Experiment Station. Fruit is almost enturely red-skinned with sweet juicy flesh.

After we picked our favorites from the bunch we were able to buy them from huge tubs of apples in the middle of the nursery. If you missed out the apple tasting this weekend, fear not… the Portland Nursery is doing it again next weekend: October 17, 18, 19, 2008 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Above apple descriptions courtesy of The Portland Nursery).

Categories: Events, Food Tags: , ,

Birthday Brunch at Beulahland

October 4, 2008 No comments

Reason #412 why I am madly in love with Portland. Today is my wife’s 36th birthday and so rather than go through the regular breakfast routine we decided to go down to NE 28th and catch a bite at Beulahland.

Even though the skies were foreboding we decided to walk down to Beulahland (and we were rewarded with a nice break in the clouds).

Beulahland for Brunch is an experience in simple perfection.  We had their basic brekky (done vegan) with piping hot stumptown coffee and a Manchester United game on their big screen (they beat Blackburn 2-0). Service was fast, friendly and our coffee cups were never devoid of steaming hot coffee.

I’ve traveled quite a bit and the experience at Beulahland for brunch reminds me of some of the best pub breakfasts I’ve had around the world.  It’s a simple gem and it’s right here in our back yard.

Categories: Family, Food Tags: