Oregon

On The Coast, Oregon

Our three days with John, Gail, and my niece at their beach cottage were truly spectacular and relaxing. I can’t pick just one favorite thing. I hope we can visit them there again soon! Thanks to John and Gail and L for a lovely time!

John and Gail

Their golden retriever, Ralph, the most mellow dog ever!

Doesn’t this look like a watercolor? I loved how the light and fog and clouds played together on the beach.

Neah-kah-nie Mountain

Haystack

My niece, L, and our rat terrier, Trixie, in matching coats.

Sunset on the beach

L pretending she’s a tiger hiding in the beach grass.

I got to fly a kite!!!!

Moon child.

Good night and thanks so much for joining us on our Oregon adventures!

Bob and Debbi

Categories: beach, Oregon | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Hug Point, Oregon

Just because you have a beach house doesn’t mean you can’t visit other beaches along the coast – as John and Gail proved. They took us for a picnic at Hug Point State Park. The weather was perfect – sunny but not hot. The beach was gorgeous and not too crowded. The rocky cliffs were spectacular! Pictures show better than words in this case.

I love that my niece found a huge fresh-water puddle to play in. She was full of joy as she splashed her way up to her waist.

We scaled some mighty big rocks and were treated to a gorgeous view and a slew of sea anemone.

After a delicious lunch of sandwiches (and too many Flamin’ Hot Cheetos), my niece entertained herself with a couple of other little girls by digging in the sand while Gail and I hunted for heart-shaped rocks. It was a lovely day!

Categories: beach, Oregon | 2 Comments

Good Eats Oregon – Part 2

After a few days exploring and enjoying Portland, it was time to move on – to the coast of Oregon where John and Gail have a cute beach cottage. Before we headed off on the 2 hour drive to the coast, we had to fortify ourselves.

That’s Crave Bakeshop! Cupcakes? Oh yes! I was all over it, especially when Gail told me that owner/founder Kyra Bussanich won a big battle on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars! I drooled over the offerings.

Then, I noticed that all the offerings were gluten-free. Um. I don’t really have anything against gluten-free, but my past experience didn’t really make me a fan. I did recall reading that the owner’s motivation to create her shop was to make gluten-free delicious. I was willing to give it a try. Oh. My. God. Seriously, some of the BEST cupcakes I have ever had! There are not a lot of cupcakeries I’d go out of my way to re-visit, but I will most definitely be heading back there the next time I’m in Portland! Everything was amazing. I had a sample of the scones – delicious! But I had my eye on the cupcakes. I did break with my usual tradition of only buying cupcakes to purchase a couple of their cake bites. A small sphere of cake rolled in chocolate. I had the chocolate mint and the mocha. So moist, so flavorful. I wanted so much more than a bite each!  Then, the cupcake! What to choose? I went for the hot chocolate and it was amazing! Again, moist, but not so moist that it fell apart at the first bite (I hate that). Full of flavor and the right ratio of cake to frosting. The marshmellowy buttercream frosting was just the right amount of sweet. Mmmmmm! I also took a bite of my sister’s birthday cake cupcake – I tend to keep away from vanilla flavored cakes (I love chocolate) but this one was pretty delicious – I’d buy it again! If you’re lucky enough to live in Portland, I highly recommend eating your way through the menu! 🙂 It changes daily!

So the coast. Gorgeous! I’ll write more about it later. I want to talk food! The first thing we did was stop here:

where we enjoyed the view

and picked up freshly caught oysters and clams. The owner of Kelly’s (Mr, Kelly?) was a hoot – ebullient, friendly, and funny!  Bob and John made plans to return in a day for crabbing.  John prepared the oysters and grilled them. I’d never had grilled oysters before. I am a full-fledged fan of oysters on the half-shell and didn’t know what to expect from grilled oysters. WOW! Incredible! Still briny (in a good way) and just a hint of smoke – just barely cooked, it seemed. I’m a fan! Bob prepared the clams for linguine and clam sauce which was fab, as always! Gail asked him for the recipe. With the leftovers, Bob made clam chowder. Gail and I devoured the “taste” he let us have while he was finishing it up.

The following day, Bob and John headed back to Kelly’s Marina at low tide to go crabbing. Gail, her daughter, and I headed to a nearby town for shopping (and mostly salt-water taffy). We kept our fingers crossed that they’d catch enough Dungeness crab for dinner…and they did! Five!

Kelly’s cleaned and cooked them, and we all enjoyed the most delicious Dungeness (my favorite) crab I’ve ever had in my life. In fact, I’m worried that I’m spoiled now and won’t be able to enjoy crab as much now that I’ve had such freshly caught ones. (Bob? You may have to take up crabbing….!) I’m drooling now just remembering that meal.

There were nightly campfires – that included hot dogs, S’mores, roasted oysters, and amazing sausage sandwiches. Those three days at the beach house were blissful, relaxing, fun, and delicious!

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Forest Park, Portland OR

Forest Park is located right within the city limits of Portland, Oregon. Encompassing 5,100 wooded acres, it claims to be the largest forested natural area within city limits. It is astounding, how insulated we felt as we hiked the trails within. It was hard to remember there was a city out there.

The morning was cool but not too chilly as Bob, Trixie (our rat terrier), I joined Bob’s son, Jason, and his pooch, Sasha, on a hike through the forest. The web site for the park claims an abundance of wildlife. While we saw and heard signs of wildlife, we only encountered a woodpecker (too far away for me to identify) and this outrageous creature:

He wasn’t the only slug we saw either. Slugs in Oregon are ginormous! I even saw one of this size in my sister’s front garden! I’m not overly squeamish when it comes to wildlife but slugs? *shiver* My niece doesn’t feel the same, however:

This was taken on another day, not in the park on a hike, but at the beach house. This is L’s friend Sluggo. Yes, she named him. Yes, she brought him in the house. Yes, Gail and I screamed. 😉  Back to the hike —

I think we walked for a couple of hours at least. I lost my sense of time as we hiked (mostly uphill it seemed). It was peaceful and serene and very lovely. We had a great time!

This is a short series about our recent trip to Oregon. If you want to see previous posts, click here. There’s a couple more posts still to come!

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Good Eats – Portland, OR

One of our favorite things to do when visiting a city is to eat! We love all kinds of food from the dive to the finest restaurant – as long as the food is good! (And a clean environment is key too – sadly, there have been good restaurants we stopped going to because of visible grime.)  We’ve always loved eating in Portland and this trip was no exception – YUM!  Here are some of our favorite stops from our recent visit.

1. Queen of Sheba – Ethiopian restaurant

This place started off in the 1990s as an Ethiopian market and became a restaurant in 1996. Since then it’s received rave reviews. This is one of my favorite spots in Portland, ever since John and Gail (my brother-in-law and sister) took me there years ago. This was Bob’s first time there. The night we went, the service was unusually slow – I suspect someone must have called in sick because usually service is friendly and brisk. This did not detract from our experience, however. The food, as always, was superb. Ethiopian food is served family style on a tray of special bread (injera) and menu items are placed in dollops around the tray. You tear off pieces of the spongy bread and scoop up whatever item you want and place it all in your mouth. Fabulous! Some of my favorite items to order are Kik Wet – Split pea stew with warm spices, Misr Wet – Lentil stew with warm spices, Tibs Siga – Spicy sizzling beef in a hot berbere sauce, and Yedero Wet – Lemon washed chicken legs stewed in a spicy sauce topped with a hard-boiled egg. All the food is amazing and I always, always eat too much! For vegetarians, there are options for no meat meals.
2. The Cheese Plate – food cart

I can’t recall exactly, but I think Portland was where I first heard of food carts. Now they are prolific and everywhere! Surprise surprise, I had yet to eat at one! Gail indulged me one evening and took me to The Cheese Plate at 2231 NE Alberta Street.

We arrived early enough that there were no lines and we were able to secure a picnic table for the three of us (my 4-1/2 year old niece joined us). It was hard not to just order everything on the menu, but we did manage to narrow it down some. We ordered kale chips, soft boiled eggs with caviar, hazelnut and popcorn party mix, olives, the cheese plate, and fried cheese. Everything was fresh and delicious but my favorite was the fried goat cheese which was wrapped up in philo dough (I think).

And of course we had to get dessert. Now THAT was something to write home about for sure! If you are ever in the area, it’s worth a visit to this cart just for their fudge brownie with blue cheese topped by a port wine drizzle! The combination of chocolate and blue cheese sounds weird, but they are perfect together! Slightly tart but not overwhelming. My niece practically devoured it on her own! I may have to try playing with a recipe to see if I can make something like that at home.

3. Voodoo Donuts

Need I say more? This doughnut shop has been featured on numerous food and travel shows and in magazines for their wild doughnuts, like voodoo doll, maple bacon bar, and dirt (oreo cookies) doughtnut, along with some more slightly risque choices. 😉 It may seem like a gimmick, but those doughnuts taste amazing! The flavors are fabulous and the doughnuts supremely fresh. Truly the best doughnuts! There’s a reason why there’s a long line out the door! Ah, but we have an in….

That’s my stepson (Bob’s son) Jason who is a manager at Voodoo! WOOHOO! We stopped by for a boxful and skipped the line (thanks Jason)! YUMMMMM! (Good thing I don’t live there because I’d be a billion pounds from eating my way through their menu!)

4. Whiskey Soda Lounge

My brother-in-law, John, is a bit of a beer connoisseur, so when he learned that the Whiskey Soda Lounge served jelly beer (bia wun), he had to visit and we wanted to, too! What is bia wun?  It’s basically slushy beer. Now, I am not a beer drinker and typically don’t like beer, but this beer? Delicious! Bottles of Singha beer (which are pretty light as beers go) are placed in a special machine that churns and cools the beer until it’s slushy. The waitress gives a quick pound of bottle to floor, pops off the top, throws in a straw (!) and hands it to you to make sure the foam doesn’t overflow – and after a time, it stops foaming and you can enjoy this amazingly refreshing drink! We also ordered appetizers and my favorite was a special – fresh corn fritters with chili oil dipping sauce. So fresh and delicious! Those of you in the foodie know have undoubtedly heard of Portland’s best Thai joint Pok Pok. The Whiskey Soda Lounge is owned by Pok Pok’s owner so expect the same outstanding food without waiting in a long line. Or at least wait there until your number is called (since it’s right across the street).
5. Thai Peacock

A great find! Jason, Bob’s son, recommended this place while the three of us were looking for lunch after visiting the Japanese Tea Garden. The food was delicious – some of the best Thai food I’ve had in a while. Plus Jason introduced me to a great dish I’d never had before: pad se-ew – kind of like pad thai but with wide noodles (think chow fun over chow mein). I hope to order it the next time I find myself at a Thai restaurant. Oh and big plus for the restaurant? It’s located just across from one of my all time favorite bookstores ever – Powell’s Books! And yes, we went there, and yes I bought books! Lots!

— debbi

Categories: Good Eats, Oregon | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Hiking Silver Falls

After driving 12 plus hours from our home in the Peninsula/Bay Area of California, we arrived late at my sister’s home in Portland, OR. Not so late that my 4-1/2 year old niece couldn’t properly and enthusiastically greet us, however! Our first full day there, Bob went white water rafting on a class 4 river (his first time) with John, my brother-in-law and John’s 18 year old son. They had a blast – and Bob saw bald eagles, osprey, and river otters. (I opted for the less adventurous but just as fun outing to the outets to go shopping with my sister and niece.)

The following day, at John’s suggestion, Bob and I drove 1-1/2 hours to Silver Falls State Park where we hiked most of the 8.7 mile Trail of Ten Falls. Because we parked at the North entrance, we were able to see most of the falls on our four hour hike (we stopped a lot to gawk at the waterfalls and to take photos). The landscape of Oregon is visibly different than Northern CA – more rocky and very green with amazing rivers.

Hiking here was like being lost in time.

Upper North Falls – 65 ft

North Falls – 136 ft  We were able to hike behind the falls. Amazing!

Us in shadow on a bridge.

The river views were soothing.

Double Falls – 178 ft, the largest in the park. I had fun scrambling around on the rocks below (and proudly did NOT slip and fall)!

We saw a lot of butterflies and birds too far away for me to identify. A small garter snake crossed the path right in front of me, and we saw a lizard skitter in the bushes. It was an invigorating, fabulous hike – one of my favorites, ever!

Categories: hiking, Oregon | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Feast at The Beast

Bob and I celebrated our 14th anniversary a few days early by dining at Beast in Portland, Oregon. I first heard of Beast when Chef Naomi Pomeroy competed on Iron Chef America (and if I remember correctly, just narrowly lost). She was recognized in Food and Wine Magazine as one of ten best new chefs in 2009. Her restaurant has also received numerous accolades. If the name of the restaurant doesn’t already make it obvious, the web site states that vegetarians would find eating there a challenge. There are no substitutions as the kitchen is small (and in view of the diners which makes for great entertainment).

The kitchen at work, preparing our first course.

Imagine being invited to a large dinner party. That’s what it’s like at Beast. Community seating (two large tables) and a set menu give the meal an air of being invited to someone’s home for dinner. Dinners are only served Wednesday through Saturday twice with seatings at 6 and 8:45 PM. The 6-course menu changes weekly. Bob and I were wowed for sure by every single course! I’m still thinking about the dishes and wishing I could revisit them all. There’s great attention to detail for flavor, freshness, and plating.

I didn’t take photos of every course, I was too focused on just relishing every bite. The first course was a carrot veloute with fried pickled ramps and parsley oil. The soup was sweet but not overly so, and the fried ramps and parsley oil were fabulous accompaniments. I wanted to be able to drink an entire bowl of this fabulous soup!

Course two was a highlight for me. A charcuterie plate of amazing flavors!  My two favorite bites off the above plate was the steak tartare with quail egg and the foie gras bon bon. YUM!

The main course featured duck breast with cherry-pinot noir duck jus and new potato salad with summer herbs and bacon. Probably some of the best duck breast I’ve ever had – perfectly seared with a crisp skin on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Not at all chewy. The potato salad was slightly tart and delicious. I overheard the young man to my left say to his date, “I don’t like potato salad, but I really like this!”

Course four was a salad of mixed greens, albacore tuna toasts, with Sungold tomato vinaigrette. To me, the proof of the genius of Chef Pomeroy was in the salad. I mean, it’s salad! Green stuff with dressing. But….this was the most amazing salad I’ve had in my life! It was fresh and not overdressed. I could taste every element of the salad including leaves of chiso (I don’t know the American word for this crisp sour leaf often used in Japanese cooking for wrapping sushi and pickling umeboshi). In fact, since returning home, Bob and I have started adding chiso (from our garden) to our salads. Love it!

The fifth course was a cheese plate with Angelino plums, candied hazelnuts, anise shortbread, and wild flower honey. I can’t recall the names of the cheeses, but they were all spectacular (I happen to love love love cheese)!

Oh! I’m drooling right now just looking at this picture of our final course – dessert! It was a chilled vanilla créme with apricot granite, and thyme tuille. As with all the other dishes, every element was perfect – delicious, flavorful, and working in perfect harmony with one another. I will reveal here that I have a bit of a strange allergy to dairy. I can eat cheeses, sour cream and butter (in small quantities) without any adverse affects. I can eat foods with dairy cooked into them in small amounts. However, I am unable to eat ice cream, cream cheese, or drink milk. Sigh. So when I saw this amazing dessert, I nearly wept knowing I couldn’t do more than take a little taste. Um…except after a nibble, I couldn’t stop eating it. The texture was that of thick custard, and the vanilla flavor fresh and sweet. I ate almost all of it and then worried about the negative after effects — which, miraculously, never happened! I’m deeming Chef Pomeroy a magician!

While we were feasting on our last couple of courses, the kitchen staff started preparing for the second seating. They worked like a well-oiled machine despite being on the quiet side. It was fun watching the action, but the best part was definitely eating the outstanding meal! Bravo Beast!

BEAST

5425 NE 30th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97211

503.841.6968

Reservations are a must!

Categories: Good Eats, Oregon | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Oregon Trail

Okay, so we didn’t really follow the Oregon Trail, but we are just back from a fabulous week in Oregon! We’ll be sharing our adventures here this week, after I get caught up! (Why isn’t coming home from a trip as relaxing and fun as being on one?)

Teasers:

Mt Shasta just before we cross from California to Oregon. (Yes, we drove – 12 hours, but worth the scenery and being able to bring along our rat terrier, Trixie.)

Food carts in Portland! YUM!

Amazing scenic hikes!

Delicious meals at fabulous restaurants!

Fabulous views on the coast!

Sunsets and campfires on the beach!

Photos of Trixie!

Photos of family!

Adventure and food (always food)!

I promise more details very soon!

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