Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Carte Blanche

Carte Blanche is a food cart located at the corner of SE 32nd and Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon. It's a chrome airstream cart in a small corner lot. I came to their official grand opening at lunchtime on April 4, 2012. Because their menu rotates weekly, check out their website for the latest dishes!

Grand Opening on April 4, 2012!
Carte Blanche had done several soft opens the week prior, and I finally got my rear down there for the grand opening. I saw an upscale menu, complete with vegan and gluten-free options. Overall, very healthy and filling choices.

Their current hours (Wed-Sun, noon to 7 p.m.)
"Carte blanche" is French for being able to do whatever you want. And does this cart emulate the name. Rotating menus, sewing machines as weights (anchoring down the awning), wooden chairs and tables, etc. I really believed that I could come back next week and see an entirely new setup.

Four co-owners (Jessie, Lauren, Brittany, and Alli) run this cart. They love to create random dishes in the kitchen -- "genius cooking experiments."

Carte Blanche menu during Grand Opening week!
(taken April 4, 2012)
Just one of their numerous creations during opening week!
Jessie and Alli were hard at work when I arrived. Alli greeted me with a smile, presenting me with a sample of rosemary walnuts and kale chips. A wonderful job on the chips! The rosemary perked the walnuts up to new heights I had not previously experienced. If only pandas ate rosemary walnuts for a living....

Kale chips on the left
Rosemary walnuts on the right
Alli was back with another small container. More samples? I'm gonna get full before I even order! This time, a rosemary, coconut, caramel, and blueberry bread pudding. Cartwheeling panda good. I swear, all I needed was a tray of that, a big spoon, and some sports on the tube. Prepare to gain 20 pounds!

Rosemary, Coconut, Caramel, and Blueberry Bread Pudding!
(Carte Blanche)
Through unknown willpower, I ordered my savory meal. The "Ocean Age" bowl ($6.50) included a choice of crispy calamari or pan-fried tilapia (tilapia for me) caramelized in lime, garlic, and chiles. It's served with quinoa, sugar snap peas, crispy shallots, basil, cilantro, and radish. This can also be made gluten-free, an added bonus!

"Ocean Age Bowl" with pan-fried tilapia
(Carte Blanche)
This definitely made my top three for my most beautiful photos....
The red quinoa was perfectly cooked. Vibrant, crunchy green beans provided amazing contrasts. And good grief, I could eat that tilapia until I'm 250 years old. So I'll be asking for it from beyond the grave after I pass away. Scary and yummy all at once. Since they had sriracha handy, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to engulf my meal with more awesomeness.

Even the water may have certain refreshing ingredients added. On my visit, slices of kiwi and cucumber added an ultra-refreshing feel. I've never seen that one before...very cool!

Kiwi and cucumber slices in the water?
It works!
Whatever week you arrive, you'll probably see a couple of sandwiches, bowls, salads, and snacks. A few options could be vegan and/or gluten-free.

Their lamb burger ("Lamburgerghini") may be a mainstay on this menu (or at least a semi-permanent item), having shown up two weeks in a row.

One meal and three samples later, I'm a big fan of this food cart. It will be interesting to see what other delicious food comes out of here! 8.5/10

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