Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Naader Reda Visits for OregonMania IV (3/22/19 to 3/27/19)

(OregonMania I: Day 1)
(OregonMania I: Day 2)
(OregonMania I: Day 3)
(OregonMania I: Day 4)
(OregonMania II: Day 1)
(OregonMania II: Day 2)
(OregonMania II: Day 3)
(OregonMania III Recap)

In late March, Naader Reda (FreakEating) returned to the Pacific NW for one more OregonMania run.

Even after conquering several challenges the previous three OregonManias and the cancellation of a few others, there were still a handful of options remaining. As always, we remained fairly spontaneous the entire way.

In a nice coincidence, Naader had also won a Pip's Doughnuts giveaway on Instagram for two dozen doughnuts. Perfect timing.

Friday, March 22

Picked Naader up at about 12:30. Drove him to rental car Enterprise on NE Columbia. More of a truck rental spot even though Naader asked for economy car. We went to my house for a bit. Thought about giant pizza slice at Hopworks Urban (Vancouver spot).

Then chaos. Naader's Ford Escape rental overheats on SR 14 East less than two hours after getting it. We waited for an hour for the tow truck. Tow truck gets us to airport Alamo Rent a Car, who then shuttles us to PDX to the Enterprise counter.

We're told to go up to the second floor (upgrades), so we think that's a good sign. The guys there basically thought Naader wrecked the car and say he has to pay the deductible because he didn't get the Enterprise insurance. After clearing things up, they still only gave Naader a trade for a newer economy car, a Hyundai Kona. The Kona had maybe 4300 miles on it, so very new. No car issues again the rest of the way.

The time was already 5:30 so we hoofed it to Pho Tango in Hillsboro.

I know their pho challenge well, as Stephanie Torres and Stephanie "Honey Badger" Collingsworth had defeated it a few years back.

Way more failures than successes

2 lbs noodles and 1 lb meat. 1 hour. Broth optional. No contest here, Naader won handily in about 26:30.

Timer counted down from 60 minutes
I had a normal pho bowl with some salad rolls. The broth here is among the best I've had in Portland and the surrounding area.

Afterward, Sesame Donuts in Aloha, Oregon for a late-night treat. Apple fritters ftw. Naader had a doughnut with green frosting.

End of Day 1 as Naader dropped me off and headed to his hotel in East Portland / Gresham area.

Saturday, March 23

Sugar gainz all day. The fun started around 9:15, as Naader drove to my house and we headed for caffeine fuel at Felida Coffee House.

Their house mocha was quite good, and they roast their own beans (Deep Roots Coffee). It's probably more of a medium roast. Naader had regular coffee; he would get more than enough sugar at our next stop.

From there, we drove up to Longview. Naader took on the 10 lb Bear Roll at Stuffy's, the same roll that Jamie McDonald ate about six years ago. 75 minutes to eat it all. Roughly $23 if you fail, which still is a great deal when you think about how huge a roll that is.

Stuffy's requires at least one day's notice and possible prepayment (or card information) before taking it on.

Naader tackled the beast of a roll. With the hard, crusty outside and the soft, sugary inside, it would be a marathon.

Naader would later tell me that he knew it would be a major challenge 15 minutes in. We figured tackling the harder crusty parts would be better to avoid jaw fatigue, not to mention softer roll usually goes down quicker. But when the softer parts are also the most sugary, the strategy blew up in our faces.

With about 30 minutes left and about two pounds left, Naader threw in the towel, figuring he wouldn't have enough time to get everything down. Capacity was not the issue, just the sugar.

I had a Seahawk Omelet (think Denver omelet but it's Washington a.k.a. Seahawks country). And I threw in a blended margarita because proper alcohol thirty gainz.

Not being far from Mount St. Helens, we drove up to the visitors center, but alas, most of the trails were still closed for the winter season (ends in April). The 1-2 that were open would be a longer drive. Instead, we decided to walk the one-mile trail around the wetlands there.

While there, I even snapped a selfie. Very peaceful.

Portland was next. Naader fought the sugar crash all the way, and we had to stop just outside Woodland so he could get some energy drinks.

Since we both love poutine, Potato Champion was a must-stop. They're still at the Cartopia pod (SE 12th and Hawthorne) after all these years. Cartopia is one of the last original late-night food pods.

Interesting that Potato Champion is down to one size for poutine after having three sizes (small, medium, and large) for years. It's likely to save on operating costs. The quality is still the same, and the tangy nature of the gravy is unlike any other brown gravy you'll find in the area.

Finally, we headed into the Pearl District for Cool Moon Ice Cream, another spot that had been on Naader's list for a while. Proving that he wasn't sick of sugar yet, he got a double scoop on a sugar cone. I passed on sweets this time.

We walked to NOLA Doughnuts, but by then it was the last of the items in the case. We walked out without getting anything but the inside was awesome. I'd go back again when there's more of a selection.

Sunday, March 24

In my lone scheduled event for the trip, I arranged for some filming with Jeff at Mama Chow's Kitchen in downtown Portland. Lots of spicy noodles, and I brought my usual nuclear stuff with me.

The original plan was to have Naader pick me up at my house at about 9 AM, then drive down to Mama Chow's for a 10 AM filming. But Naader was still feeling the sugar crash from the cinnamon roll and ran late. I made the call to just meet down at the cart.

Parking is free in downtown Portland on Sundays until 1 PM.

We filmed two videos for my channel. Adam, a local attorney and a Mama Chow's regular, also came down for the filming. Jeff's girlfriend, Margaret, also attended.

The videos will eventually get posted to my channel. Typical panda laziness though.

After filming, coffee was a must. Jeff, Margaret, Naader, and I headed to Barista for a beverage. The Oregon Hazelnut Latte is awesome.

Naader and I drove back to my house to relax for a bit. We then made the 90-minute drive to Albany (near Corvallis) in his rental car for a pizza challenge.

Meanwhile, Naader inquired about a burger challenge at Giant Burger in Springfield, but Naader got conflicting information. First, it was unclear whether a challenger needed to give two days' advance notice or three days. Then there was a request from the restaurant that the challenger had to come down a day or two before to sign a waiver in person (and presumably pay at that time, since they also didn't take any card payments over the phone). With Springfield already two hours from Portland, it simply wasn't meant to be this time.

The pizza challenge in Albany, at Southpaw's Perfect Pizza, was a 24" one-topping pizza. Team challenge. 48 minutes. Free if finished, $40+ if you fail.

Naader teamed with Max Carnage of the Big Eaters Club. Needless to say, the pizza had no chance. It was only how quick they would demolish it.

Honestly, the choice for half-green and half-red peppers was genius. One of the best-looking pizzas I've ever seen.

The duo finished in 7:48.8. While the billed weight has been as high as 9 pounds, it probably would be more reasonably around the 6-7 lb range.

I got a personal-sized Margherita pizza and a Dirt Road Juicy (Hazy) IPA for science. The beer is made in Corvallis, not far from Albany. I loved the pizza; definitely lives up to the "perfect" billing.

We then made the drive back into Portland, and it was time for Salvador Molly's.

We found out about their new Fear the Reaper challenge last year, but Naader only went with the regular habanero ones at the time.

This year, it was Naader vs. Fear the Reaper Challenge. Two habanero fritters w/ habanero sauce and three reaper fritters with reaper sauce. If successful, he would get his picture on the wall and a free shirt. Naader finished, but he was definitely hurting afterward.

Please note that the Wall of Flame here still predominantly has people who finished the regular habanero fritters challenge. The list of people completing the reaper challenge is more exclusive.

I sampled the sauces. Habanero was very fruity with a nice kick. Reaper sauce was smoky and more a slow burn that gradually intensified.

I got these apple fries with peanut sauce. Just OK, apple fries were soggy. Gotta find a way to make those real crispy. But their Fire-Rita, with jalapenos, was outstanding. Not spicy, just a lot of awesome jalapeno flavor.

Naader was happy I brought the max strength Tums because he needed a lot of those.

We ended the night at Fifty Licks. We had gone to their SE Clinton spot last year, but ventured to their newer spot at SE 28th and Burnside this time. Banana Pudding ice cream ftw.

Naader later told me that he stopped for a couple of milkshakes at McDonalds after dropping me off at home. And apparently a shake machine at Burger King was also down. The struggle is real on those machines.

Monday, March 25

While I went to work, Naader drove down to Multnomah Falls and did sightseeing, albeit in the rain.

At about 4:30 PM, he took on the 72 oz steak challenge at Sayler's. This was another challenge that had long been on Naader's list, and for various reasons had previously been unable to fit it into the OregonMania schedule.

Of course, we knew a few people who had beaten the challenge before, including Max Carnage, Molly Schuyler, and Stephanie Wu.

One hour to finish the 72 oz steak. Choice of 10 french fries (yes, 10) or a baked potato. Also a salad and ice cream for sides. Free if finished, plus shirt and announcement over PA system.

I arrived at Sayler's just as Naader finished his steak. The pictures of the challenge are from Naader.

Naader needed about 40 minutes to defeat the challenge.

We took separate cars and headed to Mekong Bistro next for their Crazy Wing challenge. 25 wings in 13 minutes. Wings are average size (not dinky but not enormous). All coated heavily in a spicy sauce that includes garlic, onions, Thai chiles, and a ton of chile oil. Again, free if finished, otherwise it's about $25.

The place opens at 6 PM on Mondays. We got there around 6:10 and it was still closed.

They eventually opened and apologized (they were running late). At the time of the challenge, maybe five others patrons were in there. They will use Facebook to live stream the challenge.

Since I'm probably the slowest wing-eater on this planet, I'd fail because of that. But I did sneak a sample of the sauce after the challenge was over. It's not nuclear spicy, but I can see how it can build over time to make people suffer. Not to mention 25 wings is a bunch of food for a normal-sized stomach. To me, this is one of the rare challenges that ideally combines speed, quantity, and spice.

Naader won in about 10:30. Free shirt and free wings.

So what did I have, you're wondering? Extra spicy Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles) and a Ninkasi Total Domination IPA. Lots of red Thai chiles in those noodles. the noodles themselves were softer and more cooked than I would have normally liked, but kickass flavor and ideal heat. I was sweating and loved every second.

As I had to pick up my mom from the airport later that night, Naader and I killed time in Portland. We went to Ruby Jewel for ice cream sandwiches, since he had never been there before. You can get the prepackaged Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches in local stores, but going to Ruby jewel itself allows you to get a custom ice cream sandwich.

Meyer Lemon Bar ice cream in between two chocolate chip cookies. I didn't know if it would pair well at first, but the server sold me on it. And it was glorious.

We then closed the night walking around Lloyd Center. Yup, there's an ice rink in the mall, which you won't see at just any mall. When it closed around 9, I took Naader back to his car (which he left at Mekong). I went home for a bit before picking mom up at the airport around 10:30 PM.

Tuesday, March 26

Again, a full day at work for me, but Naader had his own adventure.

He wanted to do a challenge at Alice's Country Kitchen in Tillamook. The day before, he called the place to confirm the challenge, and they told him he could do the challenge on Tuesday. When Naader drove to the restaurant - over two hours one way - the restaurant was CLOSED. Apparently they were open every day but Tuesday. The taped "Closed" on the hours for Tuesday made it look like a recent change. Even Yelp (at the time) showed that Alice's should have been open that day. While Yelp and other places might have had old hours, it still must have been frustrating to make that drive for naught.

Again, the two photos right below are from Naader.

As a backup, Naader went to the Tillamook Ice Cream and Cheese Factory.

He came to my house and we just had a relaxing evening. Dinner at Margarita Factory, a favorite Mexican spot for me. Tortilla soup and a Boneyard RPM IPA for me, All or Nothing Burrito for Naader.

Ice Cream Renaissance for our final stop. The same spot we visited in OregonMania II. There apparently was a challenge to eat either 9 or 12 scoops of ice cream in a set time. It might have been something similar to what Naader did for fun seven years ago. But because the place was closing, we had no time to film anything. We left without ordering.

And with that, Oregonmania IV (at least with me tagging along) came to an end.

Wednesday, March 27

Basically the epilogue here, as I spent most of the day at work, with a break in the middle to make decisions regarding completion of my master bathroom interior.

Unfortunately, Naader told me he was unable to get to Pip's for his doughnuts. Sad panda.

Instead, Naader met up with Steve "the Rabbit" Hammond at Stuffy's for a 12-egg omelet. Naader finished his in 24 minutes. Photo courtesy of Naader.

I met Steve last year when he, Naader, and Max Carnage attempted to eat a 25-pound cinnamon roll at Stuffy's. Steve can undoubtedly eat a lot of food.

Naader was at the airport before 5 PM to catch his flight home.

With most of Western Oregon conquered for OregonMania, the thoughts shifted to a possible WashingtonMania in the future. Stay tuned.

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