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