Sunday, October 17, 2010

An ode to delicious Oregon

Here are some tasting notes from our Oregon road trip.

Ashland was our first north-of-the-border destination, and once we checked into hotel, Chris and I walked into town for some late lunch at Standing Stone Brewery. I had the India Pale Ale and Chris opted for the Double IPA, and both brews packed a hoppy punch, and we split a blackened salmon sandwich (topped with coleslaw on sourdough baguette). At $14, this sandy was a little spendy, but it was quite tasty after the drive. After a bit of walking and a couple beers on the back patio at Caldera Tap House, we checked out Martino’s for dinner upon the recommendation of friend Colleen, a Southern Oregon University alumna. We split the Rigatoni al Pezzetto, a bowl packed with pasta, Italian sausage, onions, olives, red peppers and feta, and used bread to scoop up the pomodoro sauce. Yum.

The next morning we both went for a run — I spotted 12 deer in the span of nine miles! — packed up the car and then hit Morning Glory for breakfast. Morning Glory is a charming spot located across the street from the college. Hot coffee, huge mimosas and warm blueberry muffins got us off to a good start. The menu was jammed with tempting options, but I finally settled on rock shrimp cakes topped with poached eggs and perfectly sweet/smoky/tangy tomato chutney. I couldn’t stop eating, it was so good. Chris went for an omelet that featured artichokes and a little too much crab, served with white-cheddar polenta. Favorite spot in Ashland for sure.

Our first night of camping was at Crater Lake, and we woke up pre-dawn to the sound of raindrops coming down on our tent. We hastily packed up camp in the chilly rain and had breakfast at the Crater Lake Lodge before hitting the road in search of drier, warmer conditions (no joke, we got some snow on our drive out of the park). It felt good to hover over mugs of hot coffee in the lodge. Breakfast wasn’t mind-blowing — my bison hash was a little oily, but the meat had a good flavor — but anything was better than sitting in the rain at that point, and we both enjoyed the lodge’s historical digs.

Our original plan was to camp at Silver Falls State Park that night, but due to continued gray skies, we opted instead for a cheap, dry night at the La Quinta in Salem. On our way we made a couple stops to check out the gorgeous Salt Creek Falls (see soggy photo, below) and the Lowell Covered Bridge. We grabbed lunch in Eugene at McMenamins High Street Brewery, where a quarter-pound happy hour cheeseburger goes for $4 and you can get some crunchy Cajun tots for $2 and McMenamins pints for $3.25.

We found some great spots in Portland that still haunt me today. Dinner at Laurelhurst Market was truly a to-die-for affair. Bon Appetit recently named Laurelhurst one of the top 10 best new restaurants for 2010, and we could see and taste why.

Chris had the Grilled Niman Prime Ribeye topped with blue cheese butter and fried sweet onion rings, while I enjoyed the Thundering Hooves Grass Fed Flat Iron and sautéed chard.

Making the meal even more rich was a perfectly browned, gooey side of macaroni and cheese topped with a Tim’s Potato Chips crust.

The day we left Portland was a double-breakfast morning.

First stop was Voodoo Doughnut, where, even on a Thursday morning, the line for doughnuts with names like “Old Dirty Bastard” and “Maple Blazer Blunt” stretched out the door.

Breakfast part deux went down at Pine State Biscuits, otherwise known (by me at least) as “heaven.” Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love for biscuits and gravy, and this place takes it to a whole new level.

Imagine a sandwich that starts with a big ol’ fluffy biscuit, stacked with fried chicken, country gravy, cheddar cheese and bacon. That’s The Reggie, and it’s what Chris and I each ordered (mine without bacon).

Absolutely divine on its own, but The Reggie was even better paired with an icy jar of sweet tea and enjoyed while listening to some good tunes — our soundtrack that morning included some New Order (who doesn’t love some “Bizarre Love Triangle” with their breakfast?) and Dee Lite’s “World Clique.”

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