Restaurant Review: Rudy’s Gourmet Pizza [Portland]

Vegan pizza is easy to find.

But good vegan pizza is very hard to find.

There are some places in Portland that try hard and have good options.  But when we recently stopped into Rudy’s Gourmet Pizza in SE Portland we were blown away.

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The place is a really rad sports bar with plenty of street parking.  The space was clean and well laid out.  There were tons of big screens for watching sports games and other events.

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We sat down and ordered a bunch of different things.

For starters we got the vegan wings in Pineapple BBQ.  They are the type with the fake bone/sugar cane slice in the middle.  The sauce was AMAZING and the wings were cooked just right.  I typically hate these wings at other places as they seem too chewy.  But here, they are cooked right.

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We also ordered the vegan cheesy bread.  What I thought was awesome is that they will blend Follow Your Heart and Daiya cheeses so you get the best of both worlds.  I opted for this blend and it was great.

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With the cheesy bread we also got marinara sauce and a sample of the new red pepper dipping sauce which was really good.  It worked with everything we ordered.

The pizza we opted for was the BBQ chicken. I modded it with no onions or peppers (I know, vegan sacrilege), but I added broccoli.

This was probably the best vegan pizza I have had in a long time, if ever.  The crust is that perfect sweet spot of crispy-yet-doughy, and the sauces, vegan chicken, and broc were perfect.  It was almost too good, as this fatty vegan ate almost the whole medium (I didn’t have breakfast in preparation for the trip BTW).

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I washed this down with a pint of my new favorite IPA – Vicious Mosquito from Sunriver brewing.  It’s a great IPA and I was stoked to see them with it on tap.

Is Ideology the new Case for Concealed Carry?

As many of my readers know, I am a strange blend of liberalist, centrist, and conservative.  While I voraciously support equality – marriage equality for one, I also advocate strongly for second amendment rights and smaller government.

I also believe unequivocally – that without our second amendment, we cannot protect the others.  That single right – to keep and bear arms – allows us, the citizenry, a poker chip against a future government that steps too far.  It was baked into our rights from a group of founders, that had just recently witnessed an armed citizenry resist an oppressive government – and succeed. It is core to our nation.

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That all boils down to the fact I am a staunch believer in concealed (and even open) carry.

And yet, as I read another story of extremists plowing into, and stabbing innocent citizens, I cannot help but feel that the justification for a legally armed public is louder now than perhaps ever.

Concealed carry used to be based on individual protection.  Individual safety.  Someone is breaking into my home – or attempting to carjack me and my family.

But now, it seems that the radicals amidst us also call for an immediate need to protect not just us individually, but also the society we have built and hold dear.

Now before my more liberal friends start yelling, and complaining that “more guns don’t mean more safety,” I want you to think about one thing.  When you call the police, all you are doing is asking someone with a gun to show up and save you.  That is all.

You are requesting a gunman to come handle a situation and bring their gun.

When you realize the average police response time is 10 minutes, the issue becomes clearer.  Ten minutes is an ETERNITY when someone is stabbing people on the sidewalk , on the MAX, or at the Louvre.  Or a night club.  Or a movie theater.  Ad nauseum.

The issue is no longer about protecting just yourself.  It is now about protecting the members of society around you. Protecting our ultimate investment – society.

Last week in Portland, there was a racially-inspired stabbing attack that killed 2 men and injured a third.  They were standing up for a couple of women on the train, as a man was verbally bullying them.

I often ask myself why there was not a single concealed carrier aboard that MAX train.  I also think about how the outcome could have been radically different.  Chances are we would have one injured victim, and one dead criminal.  If concealed carry lacked the social stigmas perpetuated in the media and especially in liberal cities like Portland, we might have had a much different outcome on that train.

An armed public also has a strong side effect.  When open and concealed carry is more accepted (and not demonized), criminals are never sure who is armed and who is not.  That single fact has a lot of weight in how and where attacks happen.  Most shooting events occur in gun free zones.  Don’t think that is not by accident.  Criminals want to limit the chances of any armed resistance.

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, from the 1950’s through July 10th of 2016, 98.4 percent of mass shootings have occurred on gun-free zones, with just 1.6 percent occurring where citizens are allowed to have firearms with them.

Let that sink in.

It is probably also part of why we are seeing these terror attacks happening in cities where public gun ownership is very restricted or even outright illegal.  In the London terror attack yesterday, a police officer had to go after one of the terrorists with a baton – even they are unable to defend society.  Pure insanity.

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I wish we lived in a harmonious World where weapons were not needed on a daily basis.  However that is simply not reality.  As we see more and more liberal groups, minority groups, and others arming up one thing is clear – people do not feel safe.  They do not trust their baton-wielding governments to protect them.

I encourage all my friends to consider getting a concealed carry permit and actually becoming part of the solution.  Standing up for a crumbling reality and actively preventing more of the same when it comes to these terror events.

 

Is it Possible to be Completely Vegan?

For many, veganism is like one of those religious cults.  Where, as you “progress,” you gain higher and higher levels of clarity, or stature, or sumsuchshit.

Anyway, I have seen this very same attitude apply to vegans.

“I am not totally vegan, I wear Goodwill wool.”

“I am not totally vegan, I just can’t give up cheese.”

“I am 100% vegan.”  

All of these are false.

I am, but.

Veganism today seems like an all or nothing endeavor.  You either are or you are not.  So, under these pretenses, if you are vegan, but still eat cheese/wear wool/drive a Jeep you are not vegan.

For me, veganism is not a black and white proposition.  To me, it is a set of values we can all strive for…yet they are really, honestly, impossible to attain.

156ab53877b7fc96f921d53acfc6505f.jpgIt is NOT a club where everyone compares their virtuousness to one another, and claim to one up each other based, often, on the level of sacrifices one makes.

I read an article on Facebook about how “true” vegans are against the Beyond Burger.  Their argument claims that true vegans should not eat them simply because they “simulate and appear too much like real meat.”  Let that sink in for a minute.  We should be collectively shamed to consume a vegan product on the premise it is too similar to the non-vegan version.  It is purely mad.

True Veganism is Unreachable

I think it is safe to say that veganism is primarily an answer to a pretty cruel and messed up animal rights issue in our society.  Of course there are other reasons, but I will focus on animal rights for now.

It could be said that a “true” vegan (as in a 100% vegan) would cause zero impact to animals.

Right off the bat, that means no transportation other than walking.  Which, as I think about it, probably kills quite a few insects and members of animalia.  Just the other day I heard the accidental, yet unmistakeable crunch of a snail under my shoe.  I felt terrible.

So, as long as you don’t move you are fine.

But what about where you spend your stationary time?  In a home?  Probably not.  That home was put there and replaced natural growth.  Grass, shrubs, trees, and other habitats were destroyed for that home.  Let’s not even talk about clothing and food which relies on a pretty extensive network of ex-habitat and pollution.

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So let’s assume you end up barefoot in the jungle, living off the land.  Well, if you clear any type of space for yourself you are back to impacting animals.  Even if you simply climbed a tree to live, you would be inadvertently killing or at best, displacing bugs and mosses, and animals.

So as long as you moved from the modern world, ended up “au naturale” in a jungle somewhere, not moving, and somehow living in natural underbrush without possibly impacting any other being, then yes, you would be 100% vegan.

And why am I making such an absurd metaphor here?  

Because these are the details that make us all realize that “true” 100% veganism – aka ZERO impact to the animal kingdom – is unattainable.

And, perhaps even more important is this.  Once we know that 100% is unreachable, we realize it is, in fact a gradient.  And, that gradient allows people to determine their own level of veganism.

If you try really hard to be vegan, but on a road trip had to pull off at Burger King for a Morningstar veggie burger (with egg whites), guess what?  You can still be a vegan.

If your own personal goal is to have an minimal an impact to animals and you cannot find a hiking boot that works, and find a leather variant, guess what?  You can still be vegan.

These are true because for me, veganism is not a status symbol.  It is a journey of little decisions that are stitched together to form a lifestyle.  And, sometimes those decisions tip the other way.  And that is OK.

Lynched by the Community?

Nothing really proved my point as much as the lambasting I received in the Portland Vegans Facebook group when I announced my new Vegan Gun Club.  Apparently, according to the rules of veganism established by Lord Vegan, guns and veganism are exclusive.  You cannot be vegan and still own/shoot paper and steel.

Well, my first outing of that very gun club proved otherwise.  We had a massive turnout, good food, and great fellow vegan company.

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Vegan Gun Club.  Photo (c) Zachary P. Hill

And I know my opinions here are not going to be agreed on by all the vegans.  And that is OK too.  They can continue to beat themselves up over fake meats, stockholders of vegan corporations, and wether they can shop at Safeway and eat at Taco Bell.

I have guns to shoot and Jeeps to offroad.

Restaurant Review: Blackwater Bar [Portland]

Today we ventured down Broadway in Portland, looking for a spot for some lunch goodness.  The only problem?  I wanted something new.  I remembered hearing about Blackwater Bar in Portland, an all-vegan bar.

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Blackwater is a punk-rock themed bar, that teeters on the edge of dive status for me.  Once you walk in, the space is on the dark side (not sure if deliberate for the punk theme) and has a good mix of booths and chairs with tables.  The place is pretty good size, with a full sized stage for live music shows, a bar in the back, a couple of pinball machines, and ample seating.

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Today a screen was showing Discovery Channel documentaries so we all watched lions take down Giraffes and other nature shows.  We rooted for the giraffes.

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Once we sat down we were really excited about the menu.

It was all what I call traditional bar food. Which is probably higher on the unhealthy scale, and also higher on the good taste scale.

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We saw items like Mozzarella bites, burgers, chili cheese fries, pretzels, nachos and wings.  There were salads but they were at the bottom, and clearly not the prime focus of the place.

The service was really friendly and punctual.  I ordered an IPA on tap (from Breakside), and Kristin wanted a greyhound.

I decided on the traditional burger which included a house made patty (I heard great things about their burgers), Chao cheese, burger sauce, lettuce, and tomato.  I also ordered some mozzarella bites to try.  These also featured a house made mozzarella.

Kristin ended up with the Western Burger which included BBQ sauce, the same patty, burger sauce, fried onions, tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato and pickles.

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The mozz bites came out first and looked really good. They came with a small cup of marinara sauce.  I was really excited to try these as I have a lot of respect for a place that makes their own vegan mozzarella.  However I think fans of the cheesy sticks may feel a little bummed about these.  The cheese was a little “gritty” and lacked substance in my opinion.  They fell apart in the marinara.  I do think though they are on the right track and will perfect these little fried balls soon.

The burgers soon followed.

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Mine was a perfect specimen of a vegan pub burger. The house made patty was amazing and it had a little crunch on the outside which was great.  They seemed to have also cracked the code on how to get Chao to melt onto a patty.  The burger sauce lent a great flavor to the burger also.

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The Western was beautiful as well.   The patty was basted in BBQ sauce and had a ton of flavor.  The fries were crispy and some of the best I have had from a vegan joint.

In the end, our food was really good.  We weren’t able to finish our meals and most of them came home.

Minors are also allowed in the bar but not past the clearly marked zones near the actual bar.

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While Blackwater Bar is not a place you’ll be taking Grandma (unless she is a punk rocker), we will definitely be going back and spending more time there!

835 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232

 

Product Install: Genright Lock and Load Tub Rail Tie Down System

As far as installs go, this was certainly one of the easiest.  I even considered not doing an install writeup at all.  But in the end, the final product is really awesome, and I hope more people will consider this system for their JKs!

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Restaurant Review: Fatsquatch [Portland]

It’s always exciting when you hear about a new vegan place in Portland.  Especially with what seems like so many deciding to close their doors.

So yesterday, on a whim I ended up pointing the truck toward SE Belmont, and dropping in on Fatsquatch PDX.

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The cart is nestled in a small pod on Belmont (Belmont Street Eats), and if you didn’t know it was there, you could possibly walk right past it.  But once in the narrow little alleyway it opens up, with Fatsquatch lurking in the back like its namesake.  Don’t expect covered eating at this pod, however. I had to eat in the truck.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Fatsquatch [Portland]

Is Oregon Really Being Invaded?

It seems like everyone is hating on the Californians right now.

Portland is growing literally exponentially, with what seems like boundless growth. Condos are growing like weeds in popular areas like Williams, Division, and Belmont. Many of these areas are almost unrecognizable.  And that, I think, is the biggest fear with that growth – people that moved to Portland (and Oregon as a whole) for the quirky, small-city vibe, know it is losing that very characteristic.

Rents are skyrocketing, and the influx of cash offers on homes is raising real estate prices outside the capability of many that helped shape and build this very city.

I, too am just as guilty as we play the “Count the California plates” along streets like Alberta, Hawthorne, and Kenton.

So I decided to lean on the data.

Continue reading Is Oregon Really Being Invaded?

Should Vegans Have Kids?

This question, oddly, seems to have been bubbling among vegan Facebook discussion groups and pages lately.  And I am not sure why.

From what I have seen, most people surprisingly say “no,” with their primary argument being that more people = more consumption and more pollution.  There is more to it, but that is the basic gist.

A few years ago, I too would have probably answered with something similar.  I was pretty anti-child, and vegan (not anti-child, really, just not into it for me).

But a few years ago I was blessed with a little boy and he has changed my life and my view on things.

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RESTAURANT REVIEW: 49TH STATE BREWING [ANCHORAGE]

Traveling to Alaska as a vegan can be pretty daunting.  There is hope though, in the sparsely populated vegan options on menus at places like Bear’s Tooth, Middleway Cafe and others.  But you can also get sick of them pretty quickly.

So I decided to join some friends recently on a downtown crawl.

We started the night at 49th State Brewing Company.

The brewery is located in the old Snow Goose space, and they have done an amazing job with the design.  I would have taken more photos, but it was Iditarod weekend and the place was absolutely PACKED.  To the gills.  So apologies for that (you can find some photos on their website).

Continue reading RESTAURANT REVIEW: 49TH STATE BREWING [ANCHORAGE]

Are Vegans Ready?

As the man handed me the Uzi, I slid the magazine into the well, charged the handle, raised the weapon and took it off safe.  I aimed at the target and slowly pulled the trigger. I fired.  Again.  And again. And again.

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Me firing said Uzi. Photo (c) Zachary Hill.

Continue reading Are Vegans Ready?

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