Our Town's Food Truck Nation
Posted on Friday, Apr 10 2015 - 12:00 am
This “Great Little Town” of Carlton – home to our Noble Pig’s tasting room -- is famous for its sheer density of wine tasting rooms. Dozens of them. There are tasting rooms shoulder to shoulder all up and down Main Street. But wait, there’s more. You’ll find plenty of varied choices for a bite to eat, too. Ranging from Cuvee, a “white tablecloth joint” offering traditional French bistro fare and carefully selected wines, to Carlton Corners, with its hearty menu of comfort food and 10 taps pouring local microbrews. (Carlton Corners is also the local gas station, by the way.)
But wait, there’s more. With the arrival of spring, and all the al fresco weather that implies, there are a couple of very casual dining options you should know about: food carts! Yes, Carlton has joined the food cart nation with two diverse movable feasts. Well, technically moveable – actually they pretty much stay put, right on Main Street, and only a stone’s throw from one another.
“Running a food cart is the hardest work I’ve ever done,” Chef Joseph Zumpano told us. “And the most satisfying. And fun. I’ve held every position there is in the restaurant business, and this is all of them at once.” He says the notion of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant comes up from time to time, but for now he’s sticking with the food cart approach.
Zumpano first fell in love with Carlton in 2008 when he was hunting for Oregon vino to add to the wine lists of the four (four!) restaurants he was managing in the Washington, D.C. area. Named for his grandfather, and serving up some family secrets brought to life with a little help from Carlton Farms meats and Carlton Bakery breads, Henry’s Diner offers breakfasts and lunch items to die for – emphasis on the breakfasts. Set in the middle of a little greenspace where Highway 47 meets Main Street, Henry’s Diner has a handful of picnic tables under cover, where you can have a seat and gaze at a postcard worthy view of Carlton’s iconic old granary, or you can order and go.
Her nickname Mayla rolls off of Western tongues much easier than her given name: Phaijit Phrommala. After a few years as chef at a Thai restaurant in Beaverton, Mayla ventured into the heart of wine country by way of a festive pink food cart that resides next to the American Legion Hall on Main Street, just half a block down from Henry’s. There Mayla serves up curries, stir fries, Pad Thai Noodles, of course, and fresh, crispy and minty salad rolls. And business is booming, she tells us: “Especially on weekends.”
Have we mentioned how spectacularly Noble Pig Pinot Blancs pair with Thai cuisine? Now, Carlton isn’t quite New Orleans, so al fresco imbibing isn’t allowed on the streets and sidewalks, but how’s this for a plan: after a little wine tasting, order some take-home Thai goodies from Mayla’s, and also bring home a bottle of Noble Pig Pinot Blanc. We’ll get it chilling for you.