Why you are here

So you live in Portland, and you’re hungry, and in the mood to try something new. Frankly, living in this quirky city, trying something (or somewhere) new is practically a requirement. Or maybe you’re just visiting and have heard about Portland’s reputation for culinary variety. With so many restaurants and food carts to choose from, though, how do you even know where to start? Well, hopefully, you’ll find your new favorite spot after checking out this site. You will ride shotgun as I explore the Portland area sampling dishes from some of the city’s seemingly endless options for food. Admittedly, the focus will primarily be on food carts, though I will include restaurants, at times, as well. Ideally, if you are here, then you are comfortable taking a non-traditional route when it comes to grabbing a great snack or meal.

Frying Scotsman 500x500 edited

The Frying Scotsman in downtown Portland, located in the Alder Street Food Cart Pod. One of my favorites & probably THE best fish & chips I’ve ever had. Totally worth spending a couple extra bucks to get the Halibut & chips!

One reason I want to focus so much on food carts is that I feel that there are still many people who attach a stigma to them. Often, food carts are still thought of as “roach coaches” – dirty and disgusting, places only the bravest of souls go to eat. Then there are those who, apparently, feel that food carts are beneath them. I recently spoke to the owner of a food cart situated in a more affluent area of Portland. He shared a story about one of his friends who will not go to a food cart. The man will order food from a food cart via GrubHub, but will not physically go to a food cart. Frankly, if you think you’re too cool to visit a food cart, then you’re probably not that cool, to begin with. At one time, I was one of those people who viewed food carts negatively. That is until I moved to Portland and saw their growing popularity here. So I tried one. And another one. And then another, and so on. I soon learned that these mini restaurants (some still with wheels) offer some of the most delicious snacks and meals the city has to offer. Their advantage is that, because of their limited space, they typically have a limited menu that focuses only on their specialties. So, instead of looking at a menu filled with dozens of options (some of which may or may not be delectable), you are choosing from the best they have to offer! That sounds like a win to me.

Add to separate folder - Baked n' boned edited 400x434

As far as I know, Baked N’ Boned is the only place in the Portland area where you can get a Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich – my favorite! Turns out, the owner and I grew up in the same part of Virginia.

In addition to food carts and restaurants, I will also cover some of the many food festivals throughout the year. From the Bite of Oregon and the Elephant Garlic Festival during the summer to the Seafood & Wine festival in the winter, Portland has some unique food festivals that are a must. Plus, I will include food experiences as my family and I travel throughout the United States and, eventually (fingers crossed), throughout the world. I will also, from time to time, share some of MY kitchen creations, concocted in my less-than-ideally sized kitchen (first world problem, I know). Finally, I will share suggestions for traveling as a couple, and as a family with kids, including how to get great deals FOR traveling (and, of course, snacking and eating while on vacation).

About the author

Now that you know what you can expect to find here, you may find yourself wondering who the man behind the curtain blog is, and how this all came to fruition. If you did not already figure it out, I’m Jay. I grew up in Virginia (mostly), but relocated to Portland, Oregon in 2010 where I reside with my beautiful fiancee, two step-daughters, and two fur kids.

Add to separate folder - fam pic - 210x162Add to separate folder - stitch - 135x162Add to separate folder - jacee - 236x162

Obviously, I love trying new foods (I’m always on the lookout for my next favorite dish); otherwise, it would be pretty silly of me to create this blog. And, to an extent, I even love cooking and baking (just not enough to have ever wanted to pursue it as a career). I am an animal lover (to a fault), a video gamer, sports fanatic, and I love watching TV shows (BIG Walking Dead fan) and movies. Oh, and I’m passionate about politics but, because of our current political climate, I will undoubtedly omit that topic from this blog. I need to gain followers, not run them off!

What else? I love traveling and sightseeing, though I have not yet had the opportunity to travel internationally. Aside from blogging, I have worked primarily in the construction and service industries but currently drive full-time for Uber and Lyft. And, no, I don’t have any crazy stories – I avoid the crowd that supplies them. Simply put, I lack the patience to deal with bar-hoppers and drunks all night long. No, thank you – I’ll stick to the day shift! Driving full-time has allowed me the opportunity to be selective as I pursue my next career. My goal is to get out of the construction and manual labor industries. I completed an Associate’s Degree in Communications in 2016, but have remained undecided as to whether or not I will pursue a Bachelor’s. I would love to get involved in politics, in some form (at some point), but am currently leaning towards pursuing a career in human resources or public relations.

So, why did you become a blogger?

The short version – I was inspired by my fiancée. The longer version? A few years ago, my fiancée – a beauty and travel blogger – began suggesting that I start a blog as well. She believed that there was an excellent opportunity for me to have a successful food and travel blog, especially since I also enjoy writing. Also, as far as food and travel blogs go, it seems that male bloggers may be a bit underrepresented. So I offer a somewhat unique perspective, I guess. While I liked the idea of becoming a blogger, I had a difficult time finding the motivation to get started. I am, by far, my own worst critic. I take a lot of pride in my writing, as I do with any project I undertake. The thought of having to deal with myself as I venture into writing frequently was less than appealing. Honestly, I’m still not exactly sure what finally sparked my motivation, but here I am. As I launch this blog in January 2018, it has been a work-in-progress for about three years. Hey, better late than never, right?

What’s with the name, Jay It By Ear?

For those who may not have caught on, the name is a play on words. I wanted the blog to have a simple, yet memorable name, but also have a sort of double meaning. Ideally, I wanted to incorporate my name into the title somehow, as well. Many of my food adventures come on a whim. Typically, I don’t have anything planned out. I like to go out on the town, head to a food cart pod, walk around, and try whatever grabs my attention at that particular moment. In other words, when I go out I “play it by ear,” or let things go as they may. Hence, the name, Jay It By Ear. The same can apply to my travels and sightseeing – to an extent, at least. While driving around Portland (driving for Uber and Lyft, naturally, I do a LOT of driving), I may see something, or somewhere, that catches my eye and decide that I want to check it out at some point.

Stay connected

If you have made it this far, hopefully, it means that you are interested in what this blog has to offer. That being said, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list so that you can stay up to date as I explore Portland, and beyond. Additionally, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.