Monday, January 7, 2008

Great Borscht hidden in SW Portland

So there's this Java Man coffee franchise (#7 to be exact) that serves authentic Russian food for lunch. Many Russian students at PSU know about it, because one of the professors has them go and order a meal in Russian at the end of their first term of class. The proprietor is apparently very patient with the tongue-tied patrons. It was one of these students that led me there for lunch today.

I had a bowl of Borscht that was absolutely dandy. It was served with a stuffed baked good called a Pirog, a rich kinda-fried Russian pastry. The two made for a warm, comforting and filling meal -- and cheap at only $5.25.

It's always a big deal to find good food near the University, because most of the food readily available within walking distance blows chunks. Ok, that's a bit strong, but it is sub-par to say the least.

Borscht isn't the only Russian dish that Alex and Alla serve at their coffee shop. There is also Golubtzi (cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice); Siberian Pelmeni (Russian dumplings); Vareniki (dumplings with various fillings -- cottage cheese, potato, cabbage); and polish sausage (on a bun, American style). They have a pastry counter full of home-baked pastries as well, which come highly recommended. Not all are sweet, I saw one stuffed with mushrooms and cheese.

If you find yourself near SW 5th and Taylor, look for the Java Man coffee and say hi to Alex. His thick accent is a perfect accompaniment to the food.

Java Man Coffee #7, 518 SW Taylor, Portland OR 97204. Hours 6am - 5pm Mon. - Fri./ Sat. 10-5pm. Phone # (503) 279-0298

Enjoy your hidden ethnic food gems,



Kate said...

omg, so hungry!

Stu Farnham said...

In my salad days (why are they called salad days? I ate things like cheeseburgers and chili...) I had a roommate who made his own borscht. Being a student, he was too broke to buy kielbasa, so he used nagetierewurst (my fractured german name for hot dogs -- nagatiere == rodent, wurst == sausage).

and now, for today's lesson: borscht is often thought of as a Russian dish, but is common across eastern Europe. It exists in vegetarian and non-vegie forms, and is served hot in some cultures and cold in others.

The pirog BPaul enjoyed are perhaps better known in this country as pirogi, their Polish variant. These are fried dumplings filled with any of a number of stuffings: potatoes, cabbage, meat of various sorts, hard boiled eggs, cheese, mushorrms, and probably other things I have not heard about.

Our Polish friend Krystyna makes delicious borscht and pirogi (of course, she makes delicious *everything* -- she went to culinary school with Colleen).

Now, for a linguistic digression: I have not researched the roots of either term, but I have always wondered if the name pirogi has the same root as the small boat called a pirogue.

Enjoy your random walks through my cluttered synapses.

Bpaul said...

I view Borscht like I view Baklava, it's a regional dish that many countries and cultures want to claim because it's so stinking good. I enjoy hearing different ethnicities argue these points, I get earsfull when I ask about Baklava from my Greek neighbors.

Stu Farnham said...


Enjoy your correct but seldom-used pluralization.

Bpaul said...

Are you the reason I get ads like this:

"Body Armor
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In my Adwords?

Stu Farnham said...

You misread my intentions, sir. I was delighted to see the correct plural form, 'earsfull'. The common form, 'earfulls', makes my ears fill with blood.

Enjoy your native tongue spoken well.

Stu Farnham said...

In the interest of stirring the pot (heh-heh):

Whenever I see posts BP has tagged with OGOC (old geezer on campus), I get the following mental image of him:

Enjoy your cultural references older than most readers of this blog.

Bpaul said...

That's about right Stu.

At least on a feeling level :-)