Friday, December 23, 2016

Vegetable and Fruit Bread Stuffing
1-1/2 lb. country-style whole grain bread, cut into ¼-inch cubes (about
  10 cups)
1–1/2sticks unsalted butter
1 lb. yellow onions, peeled and copped
2C celery, chopped
1 medium leek (white part only), washed and thinly sliced
1 lb. Granny Smith or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into medium
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1-1/2C walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
4 oz. dried tart cherries or cranberries
4 oz. dried plums or apricots, diced
1/4C Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/4C sage leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 – 3C chicken stock

Put the bread on a cookie sheet and toast in a 275F oven, turning occasionally, until crisp, 15 to 30 minutes.  Place in a large bowl.  Increase oven temperature to 350F.  Heat olive oil in a sauté pan, add the mushrooms and cook until crisp and tender.  Add to the bread.   Melt one stick butter in the same pan.  Add the onions, celery, leek, and garlic and until beginning to color. Add apples, salt and pepper to taste and sauté until tender, adding more butter as needed.  Toss into the bread mixture along with 1-1/2 cups of the stock, dried fruits, walnuts and fresh herbs, tossing until the liquid is absorbed, adding more as necessary.  Transfer to a buttered baking dish and bake until hot.  Dot with the remaining butter and bake until top is crisp, about 10 minutes.
MAKES:  10 – 12 servings

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Grilled New Potatoes and broccoli with Greek garlic sauce
1-1/2 lb. tiny red- or white-skinned potatoes, cooked until tender
1 lb. broccoli rabe, trimmed
1/3C olive oil missed with 1 tsp. spice rub of choice
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

Greek garlic sauce
1 medium red-skinned potatoes, cooked, peeled and chopped
1C day old crustless bread
1/2C blanched almonds
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/3C olive oil
2 Tbsp. Italian parsley
1/3C kalamata olives, chopped

In a food processor, combine the potato, bread, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons of water.  Process until fairly smooth.  Add more water if necessary.  With the machine running, gradually add the oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in Italian parsley and olives.

Divide the potatoes among 5 or 6 flat metal skewers and brush with ½ of the olive oil/spice mixture.  Grill, turning occasionally, until the potatoes are crisp and brown on all sides, about 12 minutes.  Toss the broccoli rabe with remaining olive oil/spice mixture.  Grill until tender, turning occasionally.  Spoon the garlic sauce into the center of a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil.  Slide the potatoes from the skewers and arrange them around the sauce along with the broccoli rabe and olives.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with Italian parsley.
MAKES:  6 servings

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fregola with charred onions, snap peas and fresh corn
2C fregola (or orzo), cooked al dente, drained
3 ears corn
1C snap peas, blanched
2 red onions, thickly sliced, peel left on
1/3C toasted pine nuts
1C arugula
1/2C basil leaves
1/3C olive oil mixed with 1 tsp. spice rub

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. raspberry vinegar
2 tsp. honey mustard
6 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Shake the vinaigrette ingredients together in a jar and set aside.  Brush the corn, red onions and snap peas with olive oil mixture and grill until charred.  Cut the kernels from the cobs, remove peels and chop the onions and cut the snap peas in half lengthwise.

Mix the fregola and vegetable with vinaigrette to coat.  Add the pine nuts, basil and arugula, salt and pepper to taste.
MAKES:  6 servings

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Santiago de Compostela to Barcelona – September, 2016
After spending a couple days in Santiago it was time to move on.  It’s a great old city and I hope to return someday…Caught the 10:06 a.m. train to San Sebastian which arrived at 9:00 p.m.  I had plenty of time to think about my trip so far and enjoy seeing more of Spain as it passed by my window.  Picked up my roller bag at Hotel Parma and walked to my airbnb on Francisco about 15 minutes away.  Met Ana who was delightful.  She showed me my room, gave me the keys and off I went to Casa Urola in old town for my 10 p.m. dinner reservation!!!

Tapas bar is downstairs and the more elegant restaurant is upstairs.  Restaurant was pretty full as the Spanish eat late.  Ordered tuna with red and green peppers with caramelized onions in a light broth which was delicious followed by a chocolate hazelnut coolant, warm with a soft center.  Got back to Ana’s about 11:30 p.m.

Got up rather late in the morning and had a delicious pastry and coffee at Arstigan bakery across the bridge.  Wandered around the market which is below ground and then around the old town, in and out of beautiful churches, along old streets and to Placa Buen Pastor to visit the famous church.  As it was a Monday most of the restaurants were closed so I had a cream tart and delicious coffee at a little outside café and later a chocolate gelato.  Saw where the San Telmo museum was and will visit it tomorrow.  It was raining on and off but wasn’t cold so later in the evening I walked along the beach as the night was lovely.  Delicious 3 course dinner at La Fabrica which included a glass as wine, i.e. mushroom ravioli with foie gras cream sauce, grilled tuna with green pepper puree and roasted tiny green peppers and chocolate three ways for dessert.

In the morning I left my roller bag in old town at Hotel Parma, had a pastry and coffee at Arstigan, sitting outside as the weather had cleared.  Went into the market downstairs to pick up some cheese/ham and fruit for the train ride to Barcelona later that day but actually was too full after lunch to eat!  Took a lovely walk along the water and then spent almost three hours in the San Telmo Museum which was very interesting.  It showed how the Basques lived, i.e. tools they used, houses they lived in and even videos of older people who had lived in a time before telephones, running water, etc. 

Walked into old town to Alejandro Bodegon where I had eaten 5 years ago and it was as wonderful as I remembered.  I had the tasting menu which took about 2 hours so I had plenty of time to enjoy it and still catch the 4:00 p.m. train to Barcelona.  Lunch was watermelon gazpacho, anchovy lasagna with vegetable ratatouille and gazpacho cream, soft egg with crisp mushrooms, potatoes and peppers in a light broth, tuna with roasted peppers and caramelized onions, steak with garlic cream which was so tender and delicious and chocolate lava cake with chocolate ice cream finishing with mango dice, mascarpone cream and strawberry sorbet.  Little wooden box filled with cookies and candies also appeared as I paid the check.  No wonder I wasn’t hungry later!! 

Caught the train which arrived in Barcelona about 10:30 p.m.  Took another quick train to Estacion Francia from which I walked a couple blocks to Casa Marcelo where I had stayed the last time I was in Barcelona…Great location near the old town and the metro.   I was greeted warmly and shown into my room and was happy to be back in Barcelona.

Took a walk in the morning and then had breakfast at 9:00 a.m. which was beautifully set out, i.e. whole grain bread, homemade jam, fresh figs and other fruit and strong coffee!  I booked a tour of the Hospital Sant Pau for 10:30 a.m.  It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2008 and is now a museum and cultural center.  Built between 1901 and 1930, it was designed by Lluis Domenech I Montaner who also designed the Palau del la Musica.  The buildings are covered with mosaics and the insides are beautifully crafted. 

Walked to the old town for lunch at Taller de Tapas and had grilled octopus with potatoes and arugula salad.  Took the funicular over the ocean to tibidado mountain and the mirador overlook.  Walked through Montiuic park to the jardins de laribal where I saw some beautiful fountains and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the National Museum of Art de Catalunya, an exceptional museum!!!  I especially enjoyed the modern art section and 2 hours was not enough to see everything.

Walked down to the placa de espanya and had dinner nearby at Petit Pau which was fabulous!!!  A very small little restaurant with only one very friendly server, it was relaxing to be there and the food was really good.  I had clams and cepe mushrooms in cream sauce, duck breast with orange sauce and plum crumble tart with mascarpone cream.  Took the metro back to Casa Marcelo.

My last morning in Barcelona I took a walk around the old quarter before having a leisurely breakfast.  Walked to the estacion francia where I caught the renfe to passig de gracia where I transferred easily to the train to the airport.  Took about an hour total.  Flight was delayed so my arrival in London was also late.  In my haste to catch my flight to LAX I left my roller bag on the conveyor belt after going through security!!!  Think I was so used to just having my little back pack while walking the camion for so long that I forgot that I had another bag.  By the time I realized I didn’t have my bag it was time to board my flight… I spoke with a very nice lady from British Airways who told me to go ahead and board and that she would find my bag and make sure I got it.  After many e-mails from lost property at the LHR airport, a fee of $200 and more e-mails to customs and DHL in LAX my roller bag was delivered to my door a little worse for wear and clearly very thoroughly searched.  I was happy to see it!

The highlight of my trip, of course, was walking the camino.  Perhaps I’ll walk another part of it someday…

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Camino de Santiago, September, 2016
Walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela has become very popular over the years.  One can do the whole camino by starting in St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France or wherever you like.  There are many routes ending at the same place.  In order to get your Compostela certifying that you have walked the camino, you have to have walked at least 100 km, i.e. starting in Sarria where a great many people begin.  You need a Pilgrim Passport which allows you to stay at pilgrim hostels and receive your compostela which you can obtain in your first hostel.  You will need to get at least two stamps a day in this pass in order to prove that you have walked along the camino.

The traditional pilgrim way is on foot, carrying all your “worldly goods”.  Some people have their backpacks transported to their respective hotels which might be a good idea if you are planning to walk for the 30 or so days it takes from St. Jean to Santiago.  What you take depends on how long you will be walking and what you feel you will need.  There is a wonderful book that almost everyone on the camino seems to carry with them called “Camino de Santiago” by John Brierley which outlines everything you need to know about walking the camino.

MY camino started in Piedrafia Cebreiro at As Miguinas do Cebreiro about 4 km from O Cebreiro, a little pueblo on the camino.  I had taken the 7:30 a.m. bus from San Sebastian which stopped for 1-1/2 hours in Valladolid where I walked into the center to get some lunch.  There was an open air market that day with food trucks, craft tables, etc. which was fun.  I picked up a tuna skewer and wandered around a bit before getting back on the bus.

Arrived about 7:30 p.m. and my host drove down to pick me up.  I checked in, got my pilgrim’s pass and took a taxi into O Cebreiro where there was a festival going on.  That is why it was suggested to me that I stay out of town a bit as it would be a very noisy night for me.  I wanted to visit the Santa Maria La Real Church and the cemetery and was fortunate as a service was going on as well.  The town is very old and quaint with handsome stone buildings.  I enjoyed the festival and then had a tuna empanada in a little café before returning by taxi to my hotel.  I took a hot shower, unpacked my little belongings and got a good night’s sleep, ready to begin my long walk towards Santiago in the morning…

Caught the 6:30 a.m. bus into O Cebreiro which stopped in front of a little café which was already open even though it was still dark out.  Had some toast, jam and delicious strong coffee while I waited for the sun to come up.  Checked my camino book which told me where to start my walk and followed the yellow arrows and scallop shell camino signs to Tricastela.  I walked through old villages, into churches and cemeteries, etc. stopping along the way to eat my peach, get my pilgrim’s pass stamped and use the WC.  There are many bars and cafes to stop in along the way if one gets hungry or thirsty or just needs to sit awhile. 

After 5-1/2 – 6 hours I arrived at Albergue Complexo Xacobeo on the camino where I spent the night in a quiet little room with hot shower and comfy bed.  Had a delicious grilled salmon/salad in the restaurant next door and then walked to the church nearby dedicated to Santiago.  Took a shower and a rest before coming out later to walk through the little town and pick up an orange for the next day.  Traditional torte de Santiago for dinner at the outside restaurant next door.

I got myself on a schedule after that, i.e. up at 7:15 a.m., breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and on the road by 8:00 a.m. when the sun was up.  That morning I had toast and jam/coffee before taking the Samos road leading to the monasterio founded in the 6th century.  Took an hour tour (in Spanish) and enjoyed what I saw very much; although I didn’t understand everything that was said.   Well worth the extra hour’s walk.  Continued on until the road caught up again with the traditional camino and arrived in Sarria about 3:30 p.m., stopping, as was my schedule, about 11:00 a.m. to eat my orange/peach at an outdoor café.  Casa Baran was on the Calle Mayor on the camino so as I walked up towards the churches there it was.  A very nice hotel, perhaps a bit too expensive for a pilgrim…Had a peach and ice cream for lunch.

Sarria is the second largest city in Galicia and it is where the majority of pilgrims start the camino so it was pretty busy.  Visited some of the churches and the monastery before taking a shower and relaxing a bit.  Walked into the center for dinner at Roma Restaurant, a great bustling place packed with people having fun.  Had to wait a bit for a table but it was well worth it.  Had some delicious grilled vegetables and grilled salmon before heading back for a deep sleep…

There are many accommodation options in the cities we stop in, i.e. dormitory-style rooms with 3, 6 and 9 beds, elegant hotels and simple rooms with or without baths which is what I booked.

Croissant and coffee at a nearby café in the morning and then back on the camino up towards the Monasterio de Madalena, to the Ponte Aspera and on to Portmarin where I stayed at the Ferramenteiro Hotel.  Had booked a single room but it was too noisy so I upgraded to a double room which worked out fine.  Walked into town to have lunch on the plaza and then visited the Romanesque fortress Church of St. John and walked around the town.  It was supposed to rain the next day so I picked up a waterproof cover for my backpack.  Had dinner later that night at O Mirador next door to the hotel, i.e. platter of grilled vegetables and grilled tuna – both delicious.  I sat outside on the terrace and enjoyed the evening.

Had a croissant and coffee for breakfast in the hotel’s café and started walking in the pouring rain.  Had my waterproof jacket and luckily had bought the waterproof cover for my pack so I just ploughed along.  Stopped periodically to get in out of the rain and finally stopped in A Brea at Meson A Brea for some delicious cream of vegetable soup and torte de Santiago and café as I was getting pretty cold.  Took another 30 minutes or so to reach Palas de Rei and Complejo La Cabana where I was staying.  Really nice little “cabin” facing the green parkland and very quiet.  When the rain stopped I walked into town, stopping by the church and some monuments and also picked up a poncho for the next day “just in case”.  Dinner was included so after taking a nice hot shower and resting a bit, I enjoyed a delicious baby greens salad with white onions, tomatoes and hard cooked egg and nicely grilled salmon on the bone, finishing with a flan for dessert.  Washed out a few things which dried by morning.

Buffet breakfast was also included so had a chocolate croissant, coffee and a pear.  My longest walk, i.e. 7 hours, was from Palas de Rei to Arzua but, although it rained off and on, it wasn’t all that bad... Stopped to visit the church of Santa Maria de Melide and cemetery along the way.  Decided to take a break for lunch at Café Manuel near Ribadiso about 3 p.m. and enjoyed a delicious salad of tomatoes, lettuce, onions, hard cooked egg and nice local soft cheese plus torte de Santiago and café. 

Arrived in Arzua and checked into Casa Teodora where I stayed which was in the center of town.  Even though it was raining, I wandered around the town, finding a pastry shop for breakfast the next day and also Café Nene recommended by trip advisor just around the corner.  Made a reservation for later that evening and had a wonderful dinner.  Started with a grilled vegetable platter with eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes, followed by a half portion of grilled octopus with potato puree and finished with a warm chocolate “coolant” cake with ice cream – all fantastic!!!  Perhaps the best meal I had on the camino.
Chocolate croissant and café at the nearby pastry shop and on
to O Pedrouzo which only took about 4 hours.  Beautiful day for walking through the trees, up and down hills, etc.  Lovely…Arrived in town and stayed at 9 Avril Pension.  My room with private bath was very noisy so I opted for the room without bath across the hall which was quieter and I could open the window for some fresh air.  Walked along the main street to Galaicos which trip advisor had recommended for a salad and then walked to the church on top of the hill.  Returned to Galicas for grilled octopus and potatoes later that evening, finishing with a warm chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream, both delicious.

Chocolate croissant and café and then headed to Santiago de Compostela, my last stop on the camino…Before I reached the cathedral I found A Tafona do Peregrine, my hotel and checked in.  Later I continued walking into the old town towards the cathedral, stopping first for a delicious cream of vegetable soup and arugula salad with goat cheese, pears and walnuts at La Flor. 

Spent a couple hours in the cathedral in all its glory.  Walked up to the high altar to ascend the stairs and hugged the Apostle, who presides over the main nave, thanking him for a safe camino, as tradition requires.  Beneath the altar, in a silver reliquary, which you pass as well, lie the relics of the saint.  Wandered the streets of the old town, enjoying its uniqueness.  Went to the 7:30 p.m. pilgrims mass at the cathedral and saw the famous swinging of the giant incense burner and heard the words from the priests from around the world.  It was very moving.  Had dinner at a tafona restaurant which was a bit “out there” but the chef was well acclaimed so perhaps I just didn’t appreciate her cuisine…

Breakfast in the hotel wasn’t particularly exciting, i.e. peasant toast and fruit but the coffee was delicious.  Walked to the Pilgrim office to get my Compostela, i.e. a certificate proving that I walked at least 100 km of the camino.  Walked back to the big market housed in and outside of an enormous building across from my hotel and enjoyed seeing all the fruits, vegetables, cheeses, etc. on display.  Picked up some cheese and jamon for the train trip the next day and then walked to the train station to see how long it would take me…

Went to the 12 p.m. pilgrim’s mass at the cathedral and then had a wonderful “celebration” lunch at Casa Marcella, where I had eaten about 5 years ago and it was just as wonderful as before!!!  It is now more casual and all seating is at the counter or a communal table but the food is remarkable.  I had bonito skewers with marinated olives and peppers, maki roll with spicy tuna, duck with pear chutney and finished with coffee and a “tiramisu” shaped like a little ball filled with mascarpone cheese – too good to believe!!!  Wandered some of the main streets, i.e. o franco, novi, villar, etc. and then went back to rest up for the evening.

About 7 p.m. I went back into town to enjoy the evening’s wander.  Stopped at La Flor again on my way back for the delicious arugula salad with goat cheese, etc. and a chocolate dessert.  A really cute little restaurant where I sat by the window and enjoyed being there.

Took a nice walk in the morning around the old town, passed by the cathedral and then back for breakfast.  Walked to the train station, arriving in plenty of time to board the train which departed for San Sebastian at 10:06 a.m.  Won’t arrive until late that night so had plenty of time to reflect upon my camion and savor the experience…

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Spain – September, 2016
This was the year of walking part of the camino de Santiago de compostela.  I have wanted to do this for awhile so I planned well and it was wonderful.  I started my trip in Barcelona, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.  Stayed a couple nights at Barcelona BB, very centrally located near a lot of the Gaudi buildings, including la sagrada familia, the construction of which commenced in 1882 with Gaudi getting involved in 1883.  It is something that has to be seen in person as it is impossible to describe. 

My first stop was lunch at Cal Pep, a little tapas place in the old part of town I had remembered being wonderful.  I sat at the counter and had clams and some fried artichokes, which weren’t as fabulous as I remember so I stopped at Taberna de Tapas to have my favorite arugula salad with goat cheese, quince cubes and toasted almonds to make me feel better!  Walked around the old city, into the Cathedral and around the Church of St. Maria, along las ramblas and into the big market and up to the fountains of Catalunya.  Such a wonderful city.  Had dinner at Napa, owned by a cute little gal from Bakersfield!  Little place with very creative small plates.  I had tuna taco with sushi rice and guacamole topped with mango, breast of duck with caramelized shallots and a yummy lava cake served with ice cream.  A good start.

Toast, coffee and fruit, an unimaginative breakfast included at Barcelona BB and then walked to Casa Barllo, Gaudi’s 1904 – 06 renovation of a once-nondescript house.  Today it resembles a sea monster glittering with colorful tiles and is called house of bones.  Walked on down to the Palau de la Musica Catalana, built between 1905 and 1908 and designed by Luis Domenech i Montaner.  The design is typical of Catalan modernism in that curves predominate over straight lines and it is filled with beautiful mosaics, marble staircases, a grand concert hall, etc.  Breathtakingly beautiful.  Had another wonderful arugula salad for lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon at Palau Guell, a Gaudi designed mansion where he got his start.  It is one of my favorite of Gaudi’s designs.  I stopped by to see the progress on la sagrada familia.  Years ago I had taken the lift up to the top for an overview but nowadays there are sooo many people visiting.  Dinner at Acces about a 20 minute walk away was shake fish with red pepper puree, eggplant caviar and roasted shallots and another delicious lava cake with ice cream.  Weather was quite warm even in the evening and the Spanish eat really late.  I made all my dinner reservations for 9 p.m. and that was almost too early…

In the morning I got to the Barcelona Sant train station only to discover that my ticket to San Sebasbian had left at 7:30 a.m. on AUGUST 8 instead of September 8 – I had bought the wrong ticket!!!  Train was full so had to buy another ticket for the 3:30 p.m. train which would arrive at 9:30 p.m.  Took the metro back to Barcelona BB, had a coffee and an orange, left my luggage and went to visit Pedrera (Casa Mila), a unique building designed by Gaudi.  One of the most significant parts is the roof, crowned with skylights and chimneys, all of which are coated with limestone, broken marble and glass.  In the attic is a museum about Gaudi’s life and design ideas which was fascinating as was he.

Took a walk to the Park Miro, had lunch at Palmero, i.e. arugula salad with tomatoes, olives and mozzarella and grilled fish.  Picked up some pastries for the evening and the morning and caught the 3:30 p.m. train to San Sebastian.  I arrived about 9:30 p.m. and took the bus to my airbnb, arriving about 10 p.m.  We talked a few minutes and I asked her if I could leave my roller bag there while I walked the camino (assuming she would say fine) and she said absolutely not!  So, I had to find another place to stay at 10 p.m. at night which would let me leave my luggage.  Luckily, Hotel Parma had a reasonable rate since it was so late and agreed to store my luggage while I was gone.  Took a taxi to hotel and they were veryyy nice!!!  Suggested I go around the corner on 31 agosto to Gandarias for tapas which I did.  Bustling, lively place with great food.  Had a brie/sundried tomato tapa with honey and pistachios, beef and green chili tapa and a shrimp tapa with bacon salsa.  Walked to the train station to see how long it would take me, packed the little pack I would carry on the camino and went to bed about 1:30 a.m….

Caught the 7:30 a.m. bus to Perdrafia Cebreiro to start to camino.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Chilean Squash and Bean Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. spices of choice
1/4C oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
14-oz. can navy or cannellini beans, well rinsed and drained
3 – 4C chicken stock
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¾-inch chunks
kernels from 2 ears of corn
1C wild arugula leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pan; add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened.  Add paprika, spices and half the oregano and stir in.  Add the squash, bay leaf, tomato paste and 2 cups of the stock.  Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until tender.  Add the navy beans and corn and simmer until tender, adding more stock as necessary.  Stir in the arugula until wilted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in remaining oregano.
MAKES:  6 servings

Monday, August 29, 2016

Oregon – July/August, 2016
Having heard so much about this beautiful state I decided to spend a few weeks seeing it for myself.  Orange County to Portland was a quick 2 hour flight, MAX tram into the city and a nice walk up to my airbnb in the pearl district on Northrup Street.  Was able to leave my luggage and set out to see Portland. 

First stop, Café Haydn for a delicious Schaffen Berger Torte and then wandered the city, i.e. walked across the steel bridge, along the Willamette River, stopped by the Powell Bookstore and wandered down 23rd Street.  Dinner at Ned Ludd on MLK Drive was very nice.  Cozy little restaurant with lots of atmosphere, my squid/potato dish was spicy and delicious.  Weather pretty warm, i.e. about 95 degrees…

Took a walk down 21st Street and found Sterling Coffee Roasters where I had a flaky peach hand pie and strong coffee.  Walked to the waterfront park, across the Tillikum pedestrian bridge to the Division area filled with little boutique shops, restaurants, etc.  Stopped at Bakery t for a cheese croissant sandwich and molasses cookie and took the bus back to town.  Visited the Portland Art Museum which had a great exposition on Native American fashions designed by Navajo, Hopi, etc. designers.  Also visited the Native American art permanent collection which was excellent as well. 

Listened to the concert in the park at 6 p.m. and then dinner at Nomad PDX on Broadway.  Chef was really nice and the tasting menu was very ecletic.  Some of the dishes were a bit “out there” for me but I enjoyed the experience very much.

In the morning I walked to Washington Park and will do it justice when I return in August.  Almond croissant at Sterling and then took the bus to pick up my little Ford Fiesta at Avis Car Rentals on Lincoln.  Headed out 84E, stopping in Troutdale to have a look, on to the Women’s Forum for a view of the Columbia Valley, House at Crown Vista Point for another nice view and parked near Wahkeena Falls.  Walked first to Multnomab Falls, cascading in a long drop of 620 feet and back up to Wahkeena Falls before driving on to Cascade locks where I crossed the Bridge of the Gods to the Washington side and back just to drive over the bridge!!!  Stopped in Hood River to have a look but plan to return the next day to spend more time there.  Checked in a Timberline Lodge, a wonderful lodge near Mt. Hood.  Had a nice little room where I stayed two nights.  Decided to have dinner in Welches nearby at Rendez vous.  Really enjoyed sitting outside on the patio and dining on a grilled salmon salad followed by a delicious chocolate tart.  A great start to my trip.

Enormous cinnamon donut for breakfast at Huckleberry Inn in the government camp before setting my GPS to Washington and heading to The Dalles where I crossed over the bridge into Washington and drove along the Columbia River which was beautiful.  Spent a couple hours in the outstanding Maryhill Museum, built by Sam Hill as well as all the paved roads along the river.  Great Native American arts exhibit and some furniture from Romania donated by Alma Speckles.  Also a nice selection of Rodin prints.  My very favorite was the theatre de la mode which was “wire dolls” wearing designer fashions on stage which reminded me of the Calder circus at the Whitney Museum in NYC.

Crossed back into Oregon and stopped in Hood River for lunch at Doppia, i.e. ½ tuna sandwich/peanut butter cookie before walking down to the river where people were flying enormous kites.  Back to Timberland and watched a video about the building of the lodge by the WPA.  Dinner at the lodge’s Cascade Restaurant, i.e. proveta cheese heated in a skillet with heirloom tomatoes served with grilled bread and a yummy chocolate pot of cream with berries for dessert.

In the morning, I walked a bit of the Pacific Crest Trail which comes into Mt. Hood and then had breakfast on the patio overlooking the mountain.  People were headed up to the ski slopes on the lift where there is snow on Mt. hood.  Drove to Bend where I met up with a very dear friend who works and designs glass pieces for the Red Chair Gallery in town.    Had lunch at Zydeco, i.e. spicy shrimp with grits cakes and flourless chocolate cake.  Wandered the town and into Drake park along the river before dining at Drake, i.e. grilled kale salad with crisp quinoa, apples, roasted sweet potatoes and blue cheese, finishing with a very delicious French toast crème brulee later that evening.  Stayed at a very nice airbnb nearby just a few minutes from the center.

Took a nice walk around the lake in the morning and then had a delicious chocolate croissant at Sparrow bakery, an adorable little café.  Spent a couple hours in the wonderful High Desert Museum, visiting the Native American arts exhibits, watching a video about the Native American Indians and wandering around the Henry Miller farm outside.  Even saw some sea otters!!  Drove to Sisters, a sweet little town nearby and then on through the McKenzie pass scenic drive from highway 126 to highway 242 through the Willamette national forest.  Stopped to view the lava fields and the Dee Wright observatory, a tower-like lava structure constructed in the early 1930’s – veryyy interesting.

On my way back to Bend I stopped at the Koosah and Sabalie falls for a short walk to visit each.  Dinner at Ariana on Galvaston was very nice, i.e. red and yellow beets salad with phyllo “sachet” filled with goat cheese, hot smoked salmon tartar and chocolate soufflé cake.  I sat outside on the patio which was very pleasant…

The next morning I stopped at Sparrow for an almond croissant before driving through Eugene to Cottage Grove where I visited some covered bridges.  Drove through Goodpasture bridge coming into Cottage Grove and then visited Currin bridge, Dorena bridge, Stewart bridge and Mosby creek bridge.

Drove into Cottage Grove, parked and walked to the tiny Centennial bridge, the Wwing bridge and finally to Chamber bridge where trains used to pass through.  Really fantastic to see all those bridges.  Stopped for a few minutes in Eugene near the marketplace and will return later when I get to Florence.  Dinner later that evening at 5 Fusion was really good.  Chef is French and combines Asian and French ideas for delicious dishes.  I had duck steamed buns, scallops with chimichurri and bacon, tuna poke salad with tiny tortilla chips, seawood, edamme, etc. and 3 crème brulees for dessert.

Drove to Old Mill area in the morning for a nice walk along the river, chocolate croissant at Sparrow and then drove to the Lava River Cave.  I rented a lantern to walk the 90 minute, mile long lava tube which was fascinating and very dark!  To Paulina and East lakes which were once craters and took a path to the obsidian fields and stopped by the lake for a cookie from Sparrow and an orange for lunch. 

Drove through Crater Lake to Fort Klamath where I stayed at the fabulous Crater Lake b&b where I had a nice big room and Janet, the owner, was delightful!  Drove to El Rodeo for a Mexican dinner, i.e. chicken soft taco and chile relleno.  Place was jumping and food was nice.

Took a nice walk in the morning and Janet fixed a delicious breakfast, especially the coffeecake.  Drove into Crater Lake, first stopping at Crater Lake Lodge to book a ticket for the boat the following day.  Drove the rim route, i.e. 3.3 miles, starting on the west side, i.e. stopping to see the phantom ship overlook, the pumice castle, etc.  Drove to the pinnacles overlook, i.e. unearthly spirals of eroded ash which resemble the peaks of fairy tale castles.  Stopped for lunch at the Crater Lake Lodge and had a table overlooking the lake.  Delicious spinach salad with poppy seed dressing, almonds, feta and strawberries and a chocolate torte for dessert.  Walked the discovery trail and visited the visitor’s center for more information on the formation of crater lake.  Returned to Fort Klamath for a couple hours and then back to Crater Lake Lodge for dinner, i.e. polenta cakes topped with sautéed mushrooms and crème brulee.

Up early and had some fruit before taking a chocolate scone and heading to the Cheetwood trail to catch the boat tour.  An easy mile walk downhill which wasn’t so easy going back up.  The boat held about 16 people which was perfect and it was a lovely day to enjoy the lake from below and see how clear the water is.  Spent 3 hours on Wizard Island, walking up to the summit and down into the caldera – really incredible.  Boat trip continued for another hour with our guide explaining all about the crater – a wonderful trip.  Very long hike up to the top and then I stopped at Crater Lake Lodge for a spinach salad which had tasted so good yesterday.  Got some gas and returned to Fort Klamath to do laundry and regroup.  Another nice dinner at Crater Lodge later that evening, i.e. grilled salmon on spinach salad with blue cheese, hazelnuts and apples and the chocolate torte.  Really nice atmosphere, good service and delicious fresh food.

After a nice walk and another delicious breakfast I drove to Ashland, almost running out of gas!  Glad most of the drive was downhill…Checked into a little studio behind the big house which was nice and quiet and close to town.  Walked around the main street filled with shops and stopped for a delicious tuna sandwich at Greenleaf, sitting outside by the creek.  Walked by the theater to see where I would go the following evening and just generally got familiar with Ashland.  Went to the Green Stage at 6:45 p.m. to hear some music and then walked over to Coquina on A street for a wonderful dinner, i.e. rainbow carrot salad with pea sprouts, carrot puree and feta, figs with brie and candied hazelnuts and chocolate torte with pomegranate sauce.  One of the best meals so far.

Drove to Grant’s Pass in the morning, stopped for breakfast and then took the  Hellgate Rafting trip at 8:45 a.m. which was really fun and scenic.  Stopped in Jacksonville, a cute little town, on the way back to Ashland and visited the cemetery which my guide book said was a “must see”.  Took a nice walk in the park in Ashland and then had dinner at Amuse, close to the theater.  I had shrimp with romesco sauce, fingerling potatoes and greens/sweetbreads with bacon, pickled cherries and corn puree and chocolate truffle cake w/coffee ice cream.  Walked back to the theater to catch a little of the Green Stage which was a Chinese performance of unusual instruments and dancing.  I saw the Shakespeare play “Winter’s Tale” in the outside Elizabethan theater and it was excellent.

Took a nice walk in the park, had a pecan roll at Mix bakery on main street and then drove to Gold Beach, stopping at Brookings to see the flora nursery where lots of fresh flowers are grown and sent out all over the world.  Stayed at the Roque Riverlodge in a very cute little cabin close to the river.  I had called Tu Tu Tun Lodge to make a reservation for dinner and it was wonderful!  Only about 10 minute drive from the lodge as well.

Appetizers at 6:15 p.m. on the patio where people could mingle, i.e. hush puppies, duck/apricot skewers and avocado tempura.  I was probably the only one not staying at the lodge!  Sat at a table for 7 and enjoyed all the guests, some from England, South America, etc.  Dinner was served on a lazy susan.  First course was artichoke tomato cream soup with cheese scones, followed by a plated salad with feta, tomatoes, olives, etc.  Main course was smoked pork chops with blueberry sauce/four cheese macaroni and cheese/popovers and blueberry goat cheese almond cake for dessert. 

Took a walk in the morning and then drove to Rachel’s Coffee house for bran muffin and great coffee.  On to Cape Sebastian and walked down to the coast which was a lovely, windy road.  Very windy when I got to the ocean and the sand made it very hard to walk so I just went back up to the top.  Lunch at Tu Tu Tun Lodge out on the patio – so pleasant!!  Had a falafel sandwich with yogurt sauce in pita brad and a cookie and then walked along the river.  A beautiful area.  Casual dinner at Port Hole on the harbor, i.e. blackened cod and warm blackberry crunch pie with ice cream which they are famous for.

Rachel’s for a pecan roll for breakfast and then headed towards Florence, stopping at Cape Blanco to visit the lighthouse, climbing the winding stairway up to the top to stand beside its spectacular Fresnel lens and Hughes house, a dairy farm,  where James Hughes was born and served 37 years at the lighthouse. Stopped in Banden to see the historical center and had lunch at the sourdough bakery near Coos bay.  Checked in at the Blue Heron B&B where I would be staying the night and drove on into Eugene to meet one of my daughter’s friends.  Wandered the city and then stopped at the market place to listen to a celtic young man play an electric violin which was amazing! 

There was an enormous block party on third/van buren when I arrived at Grit Kitchen for dinner.  Must have been 10,000 people partying the night away!  Great little restaurant with a short menu because of the party which was rather sad.  I did enjoy the corn/jalapeno fritters w/honey dipping sauce and the delicious peach/arugula salad with prosciutto and blue cheese but would have loved an interesting dessert to finish…Wandered a few minutes through the block party to see all the food trucks, music, etc. before heading back to Florence for the night.

Nice walk along the river in the morning.  Breakfast at 9 a.m. in the dining room was nice.  Delicious fruit with a sprinkling of coconut, goat cheese soufflé and some toast and jam.  First drove south to see the Oregon dunes so close to the ocean.  Back to Florence to wander around the cute little town before having marionberry pie a la mode for lunch.  Stopped to visit the Haceta Lighthouse perched up high and restored and on to Depoe Bay where I stayed at Inn at Arch Rock with an ocean view.  Relaxed for a bit to enjoy the view before driving to Restaurant Beck in the Whale Cove Inn for dinner.  Sat by the window and had hamachi w/puffed rice and fennel/foie gras with blueberries/rockfish with green beans/steak infused with anchovy butter and chocolate cremeux dessert.  Supposedly during the summer their menu is a bit subdued and it wasn’t as exciting as I would have expected but good nonetheless.

Walked into Depoe Bay in the morning along the ocean, stopped at Pirates Coffee House for a scone and coffee and then to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse a few miles south.  Also stopped in Nye Beach in Newport and then drove on the otter trail to see and walk down to devil’s punch bowl, i.e. a big crater filled with water, which was awesome!

Stopped for lunch at Lincoln city and enjoyed a ½ tuna sandwich and ice cream cone at a cute little café before heading to Newberg where I stayed at the best airbnb ever.  It was a ranch/farm a bit away from town but so beautiful, private and peaceful that I was glad to have booked two nights there.  Drove into town later to dine at Jory Restaurant in the Allison Inn and sat by the window and had grilled romaine with proscuitto pieces, marinated strawberries, goat cheese and spicy macona almonds/salmon with corn puree, corn bread pudding, green pequine peppers and a chocolate trio for dessert – realllly delicious!

Took a nice walk in the morning and then drove into Newberg for a sticky bun at the Newberg Bakery.  On to Silver Falls State park where there are many trails to choose from.  I took the trail to the north waterfall and saw 4 of the 10 waterfalls along the way.  It was a beautiful trail and I especially liked walking underneath the north waterfall – sooo lovely.  Stopped in Mcminnville for lunch at La Rambla, i.e. spinach salad with feta cheese, toasted pecans, roasted asparagus w/romesco dressing/beef and winter squash empanadas with honey dipping sauce and chocolate torte with pinot noir sauce.  Wandered around the town before stopping in Newberg to see what it was like as well.  Relaxed a bit at the “ranch” and then drove back into town later for dinner at Ruddick/Wood where I had grilled beets w/ricotta cheese and arugula, grilled octopus with grapefruit and greens and caramel pudding.  A local place with good food but rather slow service, so slow actually that they gave me the dessert on the house!!!

Walk in the morning, sticky bun at Newberg Bakery and then off to Pacific City to start the three cape route, an enchanting 35 mile byway to Tillamook.  First stopped at Cape Kiwanda to see the 327 foot high haystack rock which juts out into the pacific ocean, on to Cape Lookout where I walked about a half hour through the giant spruce and red cedar trees and finally to at Cape Meares to visit the restored lighthouse built in 1890.  Picked up the road to Tillamook where I visited the Blue Heron Cheese Factory and then the enormous Tillamook Factory to take a self-guided tour to see how they make and ship their famous cheese.

Arrived in Astoria about 4 p.m. and loved the city which reminded me of a mini San Francisco.  My “suite” was perfect, quiet and close to town.  Walked down the hill to see what Astoria was about and then drove to the harbor for dinner at Bridgefront Bistro.  Sat at a table overlooking the water and had a delicious arugula salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese, apples, crisp prosciutto and perfectly grilled salmon on top.  Flourless chocolate cake was just okay…

Walked the riverwalk in the morning, almond roll at Blue Scorcher Bakery and then up to the 125 foot tall Astoria Column climbing its spiral staircase of 164 steps to the top.  The column has 14 friezes of historical events in the early history of Oregon.  Drove to Washington over the 4.1 mile Astoria-Megler bridge up to Cape Disappointment where I took a couple trails to see the lighthouses.  Stopped in Long Beach to walk the little streets and visited the kite museum with kites from Japan, China, Indonesia, etc.  Back over the bridge to Blue Scorcher for lunch, i.e. ½ egg salad sandwich and a chocolate ginger cookie.

Spent an hour in the Columbia Maritime Museum learning about the fishermen as well as the pilots who hop on the boats coming through the “bar” where the pacific ocean meets the Columbia river and is a very treacherous 17 mile stretch.  Wandered the little city and then returned to my little suite for a rest.  Walked down to Clemente’s on the water for a wonderful dinner later in the evening.  I had tuna poke with cucumber dice which was fresh and delicious following by a mixed berry cake with ice cream, also excellent.

Walked the riverwalk again in the morning, this time I walked a bit farther to see the sea otters.  Almond roll at Blue Scorcher and then drove to Westport to take the Wahkiakum County car ferry to Puget Island which takes about 15 minutes.  Wandered down to the harbor and around the town for a bit and then took the ferry back.  Stopped nearby at Berry Patch for a piece of their famous pie and ice cream before driving to Vernonia where I spent the night.  Rather nondescript little town but charming in its own way.  Had dinner at Blue House Café, a middle eastern restaurant owned by two Armenian brothers and it was surprisingly good, i.e. hummus, warm pita, chicken strips with yogurt sauce, couscous with pistachios and raisins and a salad with tomatoes, feta and olives.

Took a walk to the lake in the morning and then had breakfast on the veranda.  Drove to Portland, returned the car, took the tram to “Sugar” where I had stayed before and left my luggage.  Since it was Saturday, I stopped at the Farmer’s market to pick up some peaches and berries and then walked to the Saturday market where lots of handicrafts, etc. are sold in waterfront park.  Stopped at Ben & Jerry’s for an ice cream cone before walking to the walled Lan Su Chinese Gardens in Chinatown.  It is the largest Suzhou-style garden outside China with a large lake, bridges, covered walkways, etc.  Most of the plants featured in the garden are indigenous to China.  I had some black rose tea and some almond cookies at the tea house while a young Chinese lady played a traditional string instrument. 

Dinner was close by at Paley’s Place on 21st Street.  I had a half portion of the salmon with carrot/fennel salad and blackberry sauce finished by a rich chocolate torte with pomegranate sauce.

In the morning I took a walk to Washington park, had a peach hand pie at Sterling and then spent most of the day walking through to rose gardens, Japanese gardens and the Hoyt Arboretum, wandering through the spruce and fir trees.  Stopped at Café Haydn where I had a schaffen Berger chocolate torte just like on my first day in Portland.  Walked to the waterfront park and to the “Bites of Oregon” festival with its many food stands and entertainment.  Stopped again at Powell bookstore where you never tire of browsing and then later that evening took a bus to Coquine restaurant in the Belmont area about 45 minutes away.

Cute little place with very good food.  I started with a crisp socca pancake, followed by oil cured tuna (very tender and flaky) with sesame seeds, dragon and filet beans and ended with a lemon panna cotta with pine nut crunch and blackberries.

My final morning I took a walk into the park, had my peach hand pie and then wandered up through 23rd – 36th streets where the nice mansions are, back along 23rd north where I hadn’t been, stopping in some of the cute little shops.  Lunch at Imperial, a pretty casual restaurant where I had a rockfish sandwich with homemade pickle relish and greens and a ricotta cheesecake with raspberry pinto noir sauce.  MAX to the airport and I was home in a couple hours.  A very enjoyable trip to be sure.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Grilled Fish Tacos
1/2C fresh orange juice
1/4C fresh lime juice
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp. poblano chile, minced
1-1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 or 2 ripe mangos, cut into medium dice (about 1 cup)

¼ tsp. cumin seeds
10 black peppercorns
4 allspice berries
4 tsp. annatto seeds
½ tsp. dried Mexican oregano
pinch cayenne pepper
1 medium garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil (plus more for grilling the fish)
1-1/2 lb. mahimahi fillets or swordfish steaks (about 1 inch thick)
2 avocados, sliced
12 corn tortillas, heated

For the salsa:  Combine all ingredients except mango together in a bowl, cover and refrigerate about 2 hours.  Stir in the mango.

For the fish:  Toast the seeds, peppercorns and berries in a dry pan until toasted.  Transfer to a spice grinder.  Add the annatto seeds, oregano and cayenne and grind to a powder.  Mash the garlic with ½ tsp. salt to a paste and add the spices along with the orange and lime juices and one tablespoon olive oil.  Stir until well combined.  Rub all over the fish.  Transfer to a plate and chill, covered, for 30 minutes.

Brush both sides of the fish with olive oil and grill, turning once or twice, 8 to 12 minutes total.  Coarsely shred the fish with two forks.  Serve with warm tortillas, avocados and salsa.
MAKES:  6 servings

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Grilled Shrimp with watermelon wedges
18 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tsp. spice rub of choice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 slices watermelon wedges, about 1-1/2-inch thick
5 oz. feta cheese, cut into small cubes

tomato relish
1/2C seeded, diced red tomato
1/2C seeded, diced yellow tomato
1/2C mini heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
1/4C Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp. peeled and minced shallots
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey mustard
6 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the relish:  Shake vinegars, mustard, shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste in a jar and set aside.  Toss the tomatoes, mint and olives together.  Pour vinaigrette over tomatoes, stir to combine.

Toss the shrimp with olive oil and spice rub and thread on flat metal skewers.  Grill until tender.  Grill the melon wedges until marked on both sides.  Remove from the grill.

Place a watermelon wedge on each of 6 plates. Top each with 3 shrimp, tomato relish and feta cubes.
MAKES:  6 servings