Tuesday, January 5, 2010

  The rainbow over the Tillamook Cheese Factory - Notice I am enjoying my milkshake...

Well, we're just back from a delicious stint in sunny, yes I said sunny, Seattle. Every time I get to go up there I get so excited because Seattle has really come into its own as of late in the realm of all things culinary. Luckily, my brother is as much a foodie as I am and plans each meal of our stay.

The tastiness did not wait for Seattle to start however, and we made sure to savor local flavors the whole way up the California, Oregon and Washington coasts. Our first stop was the town of Medocino, famed for gorgeous countryside, quaint village life and good things, including food, beer, wine and certain "medicinal" herbs.

 Avenue of the Giants - California Redwood Forest

We ate dinner at the local pub, Patterson's, which, being Saturday, was packed. Rarely do you find such gourmet food as Kobe beef burgers in a local pub, but we were in Mendocino after all. We ordered the burger and a pint each of local beers and they were both scrumptious! The burger, which was cooked to our liking, was so tasty and the beer washed it down nicely.

 The next morning we came back into town for breakfast and tried the Mendocino Bakery, which looked pretty underwhelming from the outside. However, once inside, our minds were changed and the pastries were delicious. I got a "breakfast pouch" which was a pouch made with pizza dough filled with scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese and housemade sausage. This was a grand idea in my opinion and a great way to contain the staples of breakfast into a contained, easy to handle treat.

Depoe Bay Oregon - famous for savage coastlines and every flavor of taffy

On our way through Humboldt County, we saw an "Adopt-a-Highway" sign that read "Eel River Brewery, the first organic brewery." Less than five minutes later we found ourselves on barstools in front of a vast selection of hand crafted beers. Having never heard of Eel River beers before, we opted for the sampler. We got to try 8 different beers from light to dark, including an Acai Berry Wheat, that was very tasty. We ended up buying several varieties to take with us to share with folks over the holidays.

Eel River Brewing Sampler

For dinner, we ended up stopping, on a whim, in a town called Gold Beach at a steakhouse called "Spinner's Seafood and Chop House." At first we were worried that the prices were going to be a little steep and that our road-weary outfits and faces would not be accepted, but this was not the case. The hostess happily seated us and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the menu was really rather affordable.

Luckily for us, our trip coincided with the launch of crab season and so there was no way I was going to pass up on the Dungeness Crab Mac N' Cheese. We also got the lamb shoulder which was braised in red wine with mushrooms and root veggies. Both dishes were very, very good. There was so much food (each entree came with a choice of salad - and there were 5 varieties or soup) that we ended up taking half of our meals with us, to be enjoyed for dinner the following day.

We were extremely surprised when we checked out the dessert menu at the variety and appeal of the desserts. We ended up selecting a marionberry cheesecake, that was the perfect finish to this great meal.

Our last day on the road enjoyed the cherry on top of all meals on this particular road trip. Our friend Clark, owner of Full of Life Flatbread, highly recommended a place in Newport, OR aptly named Local Ocean Seafood. When we first walked into this place I was a little confused, I mean Clark LOVES good food as much as I do and this place looked like a fish and chip shack warmed over. However, I sat chastened once the food graced our table and our mouths.

I immediately asked the chef what he recommended and he came over, sat at our table and went through each item - apologizing profusely that the crab actually came in yesterday...it turns out this gentleman was the restaurant's owner and each dish he recommended hit the bull's eye.

Roasted Garlic and Crab Soup

We started out with Dungeness crab and roasted garlic soup, followed by pan roasted oysters. The crowning moment was the 2 pound whole crab, which was easily shared by the two of us. We washed this seafood feast down with two bottles of Rogue Brewing beer, one of my faves from Oregon.

Our friend, Mr. Crab, was super meaty

The remainder of the trip wasn't marked with any particularly tantilizing foods, until, that is, we reached the Tillamook Creamery. This haven of cheese and ice cream was a feast for the eyes. This, my friends is where some serious cheddar magic happens. We were able to sample several cheeses and were delighted by the ice cream selection (38 flavors) in all (the mud slide makes a phenomenal milk shake!). It seemed like the perfect way to end this first part of our culinary journey.

Where the magic happens, yes - those are giant blocks of ages cheddar!

Stay tuned as a fill you in on all of the eating we did IN seattle - it was no small feat, but somebody had to do it...

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