Updated 10/28/2009 We hear that Todd has opened a small, rice ball-selling storefront around NE 28th and Alberta. Congrats, Todd!
As a farmer’s market addict, I often find myself eating a fresh piece of fruit or picking from pint of berries while walking around. The samples will only satisfy one’s hunger so much. While the fresh produce at the market is wonderful, so are the vegan-friendly food vendors. The locally crafted food is a reason to go in itself, with vendors like Dave’s Killer Bread, Tastebud Pita, Sweetpea Baking Company, Hoda’s, and the newest addition of Todbott’s Triangles.
The triangles, which are really rice balls, have been sold wholesale to the People’s and Alberta Co-ops for a while now, but Todd has recently started tabling at the People’s and Eastbank markets. He wanted to show people how appetizing the fresh ones were that he prepares for each order. As a food vendor, Todd is one of the friendliest I’ve come across. The preparation itself takes less than a couple of minutes, and before you know it you’re walking away with a rice ball. I mean, triangle.
It was the cheap price of $2 that first caught my eye. This was followed by the quick realization that this was something cheap and vegan! There is usually one vegan variety available, if not two. There is a vegetarian ball with honey, but the filling is premixed so it cannot be prepared sans honey. He also makes a ball with salmon that will be sold at the Eastbank market, but not People’s.
Depending on how you eat them, the balls can be on messy side. You can pick it up and bite into it, carefully keeping the wrapper in each bite, or get yourself a fork if you must. Traditionally called o-nigiri, the balls consist of a salty filling encased in lightly seasoned blend of organic white and brown sushi rice, all seated in a piece of dried nori. Todd’s signs describe them as both balls and triangles, so think what you will. I’ve heard them sweetly called heart shaped as well.
I’ve tried three flavors now, and each has satisfied every craving for salt that my mouth could possibly have. The dulse, soy sauce, and sweet sesame is a pleasant combination of sweet vs. salty. It’s like when you pour just enough soy sauce on your rice and didn’t over do it. The tempeh, local shiitake, miso, and tahini has a more rounded out salty vibe, with textured tempeh and tender shiitakes making for a substantial filling. There is another tempeh filled, with mustard, with an excellent amount of spice upon reaching the middle. As with all of them, make sure to eat some rice and filling at the same time to even out the bite. No need for soy sauce or wasabi with these gems, they are perfectly flavored. They all stand on their own as fantastically yet appropriately salty experiences.
The unfamiliar may assume these balls are too simple and boring and overlook them. If you are a fan of sushi at all, or just a fan of salty flavors, stop by a farmer’s market, pick up your produce and try this snack. You could make a small meal out of two of them, but I think it’s best to eat one. Recently I bought two, and even though it was dinner time, I was full with half of each and saved the rest for another small meal. There’s no need to fuss over the same old veggies in your boring vegan sushi anymore. Now that I’ve had the fresh and the refrigerated, I have to agree that the fresh are far better.
Todbott’s rice balls are a welcome, vegan-friendly addition to the farmer’s market food vendors.
Definitely unique. Definitely tasty.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Markets: People’s Coop Farmer’s Market
Wednesdays Year-Round 3pm-7pm
3029 SE 21st Avenue
Portland, OR 97202
Eastbank Farmer’s Market
Thursdays 5/15/2008 – 9/25/2008 3:30pm-7:30pm
Hinson Church, SE Salmon and 20th