Saturday, May 25, 2013

Eating our way through Oregon...while singing in the rain!

My husband and I decided to take a long Memorial weekend and spend 6 days in Oregon. As we started to research the trip, we read about the hikes, the waterfalls, the hipsters, the Goonies house and then we read about the fresh seafood, trendy restaurants and blocks filled with food trucks. We couldn’t wait.
Day 1 – Hood River:

We started our trip by flying into Portland and driving out to Hood River. In the first hour of our trip, we made stops along the way to check out several huge waterfalls and did a couple little hikes. (if you're ever in the area, check out Punchbowl Falls!). Our evening ended up in Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River, where we had their special white pizza with roasted asparagus and tomatoes (and we had to add sausage!). The pizza was a thin crust with the lemony sweet flavor. They had some great beers on tap, which we tasted in their sampler.
In the morning, we checked out Nora’s Table. I had the Bombay-town fry, which consisted of curried potatoes, peas and kale hash with fried oysters, two poached eggs, red onion date chutney and naan bread. It was the most amazing naan bread I ever had, made with caraway seeds, sesame seeds, yogurt and topped with coarse sea salt. I love Indian food, but it was a little much Indian for breakfast for me.
My husband had the Louisiana eggs benedict made of house-made tasso ham, trinity of peppers, onions and celery, poached eggs, on an English muffin, Cajun hollandaise with your choice of breakfast potatoes or grits. Both of these delicious breakfast meals were only $10 each!
Day 2 – Portland:

We spent the middle of our trip in Portland. As soon as we got there, we wanted to check out the food carts in an area called Cartopia off of SE Hawthorne Blvd. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they were all closed. Fortunately, Lardo was across the street! For a “snack” we order the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had and their Dirty Fries. These thick cut fries were topped with fried pork scraps, marinated peppers, fried herbs and parmesan. Even though it was a raining day, we enjoyed sitting outside at one of their long picnic tables. The people watching kept us entertained as we pigged out on Dirty Fries. Lunch and a show for $7!

That night we enjoyed some tapas at ¡Oba! Restauranté. Delicious! We came in for the Prime Rib Coyotas, crispy beef flautas with corn salsa & lime crema, which we saw on their website, but the seared scallop special was the real winner. They were served over basil mashed potatoes and topped with a chorizo relish. Did I mention it was delicious? We also ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna, served with chervil-chive oil & mango-tomatillo salsa. The dish was very tasty, especially the tangy salsa.
After dinner, we decided to check out the Deschutes Brewery. I’m not typically an IPA fan since they tend to be too hoppy for me, but I fell in love with their Chainbreaker White IPA. We also ordered some chicken wings. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but we weren’t even hungry, so I’ll blame this one on my husband! Although we practically forced ourselves to eat them, like gluttons, these chicken wings were out of this world. They were so meaty, they were practically mini drumsticks!
Day 3 – Portland:
The next day in Portland was Saturday, so we decided to check out the Portland Saturday Market, which is located right on the water. It’s full of vendors, music and food. I went for the Salvadorian vendor and got a pupusa, a thick handmade corn tortilla filled with pork and beans, and my hubby went for the gyros. We sat near the fountain, enjoying our food while taking in all the interesting people and sights. We made up the game ‘hipster or homeless’, where you have to guess if the person walking by is, you guessed it, a hipster or homeless person. Surprisingly, the looks are very similar.

As we cruised around town, we came across two blocks of Food Trucks! We went with the Kargi Gogo, authentic street food from the country of Georgia. Since we couldn’t decide what to order, but wanted to try everything, we got the sampler, which consisted of a Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese Bread), Lobiani (Stuffed Bean & Onion Bread) and a Hinkali (Boiled, oversized hand-rolled bundles of joy filled with seasoned beef, pork, herbs & broth). The dumplings came with instructions. We were to hold the dumpling by its little “handle”, turn upside down, take a little bite, slurp out the broth and devour the rest. Not the best for sharing but we managed. I preferred the Khachapuri, while my husband preferred the Lobiana, which worked out perfect.
Here are some other fun food carts we passed:

That evening, while we were waiting to meet up with some friends for dinner, we decided to pop into Oven and Shaker for a couple drinks. I saw the fried chick peas on the menu and had to try them. They were fried with Rosemary and sprinkled with sea salt. What a great snack! Even though they were fried, you could pretend like they were healthy.
For dinner, we enjoyed more tapas at Andina, Peruvian cuisine. Everything was very good and fresh. We ordered the Palta Rellena de Cangrejo (avocado stuffed with crab, topped with a poached prawn), Picadillo Acebichado (Peruvian tartare of filet mignon with capers, olives, cilantro and quail egg) and TWO orders of the Mixta Nikkei (Yukon Gold potato, spicy tuna and crab salad, topped with crispy breaded prawn) because it was so delicious that one was not enough. The restaurant had great ambiance. We sat on their “patio” that was really their first floor as the second floor opened in the middle and had a glass ceiling. The also had live jazz that added to the whole experience.
Day 4 – Astoria:
On the way to Astoria, we stopped by a road side market advertising 60 varieties of jerky. I had to stop. They had everything else dried, too: every fruit, veggie and a whole isle of dried mushroom varieties. I picked up some dried salmon jerky for the road.

Once in Astoria, we sought out a little boat turned into a restaurant called the Bowpicker, which sold albacore tuna fish & chips, and only albacore tuna fish & chips. Cash only. When we pulled up to our destination, the line was about 40 deep and we found out they had been waiting for 1 ½+hours. We decided to go for it, and surprisingly it wasn’t raining during our time in line. The fish & chips didn’t disappoint. I was pleasantly surprised to bite into a beer battered filet of tuna, rather than the standard cod. There were only about 2 or 3 picnic tables around this boat in a dirt parking lot, so we enjoyed our meal in the car, just as it started to rain. Perfect timing.

Since we arrived in Astoria on a Sunday afternoon, pretty much everything was closed, so we ended up at the Fort George brewery and got a beer sampler. Not too impressive, but my taste buds were amused by the Spruce Budd Ale, which was made from spruce tips, and the homemade wasabi ginger ale.
Day 5 – Cannon Beach/Tillamook:
Next on the stop was Cannon Beach, which was supposed to be one of the beach parts of the trip, but it was also the worst weather part of the trip. This little town had street lined with a lot of fun shops, restaurants, candy shops and wine shops to keep you entertained, and allowing you to duck in and out of the rain.
We had lunch at Ecola Seafoods. It was the best clam chowder I’ve ever had, and I would consider myself a connoisseur in the world of clam chowders. Creamy and chunky with a potato and clam in every bite. We accompanied our clam chowder with garlic toast topped with crab and melted cheddar. I wish we would have stayed for dinner because I wanted to eat there again. Their fish market looked amazing with beautiful salmon filets and clams, as well as their fresh shrimp and crab cocktails available in their display case. Unfortunately, the trip had to move on. The cheese in Tillamook was calling us.
We arrive in Tillamook just in time for dinner. The options were limited, but we found Pacific Restaurant on Yelp!, which had really good reviews, aside from the warnings about lack of atmosphere (I think it was compared to a Denny’s). As we walked in, we also questioned our choice, but the food was one of the best dinners of the trip.
We started with their roasted local beet and jicama salad tossed in a chili-lime vinaigrette, which had a beautiful presentation, like the rest of our meal.
I ordered the seafood linguini in their lemon cream sauce. It was amazing. The sauce wasn’t too rich and had a nice lemon flavor. There was an abundance of seafood that topped the pasta – fresh, local salmon pieces, tender clams and huge prawns.
My hubby ordered the short ribs over a corn polenta. The beef was tender and delicious. The perfect accompaniment for a creamy corn polenta. If I ever find myself passing through Tillamook, and I mean only passing through and not staying the night (been there, done that), I will definitely be stopping by for dinner again.
The next morning, we headed for what we came for. Cheese. We headed straight to the Tillamook cheese factory. You get a unique view of the factory from a top floor and are able to watch the cheese blocks travel down the various conveyor belts of the factory, being sliced, counted or packaged. I expected a little more from the samples. They only had about 5 different types for sample, so naturally I had to go through the line several times to get my fill. The Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar was my favorite, and the squeaky cheddar cheese curds were a fun runner up. Besides the cheese, they also have an ice cream shop with tons of creamy flavors to sample.

Day 6 - Portland:
Our last day of the trip and we’re headed back to Portland to catch our flight out, but not without one last meal at Salty’s, which overlooked the Columbia River. We were excited to get our last fill of seafood chowder, but both decided afterwards, was not worth it. Too thick and majorly lacking clams. It was more like a roux and they forgot to add the clam juice and cream,...and veggies and clams! Although the chowder was disappointing, they made up for it with their Olive Oil Poached Salmon Bruschetta. There were three large toasted slices of baguette, spread with pesto, topped with fresh from the river salmon and drizzled with an anchovy vinaigrette. My hubby had the Blackened Alaskan Halibut with roasted garlic and Chèvre whipped potatoes, charred tomato, Calabrese sausage and a pea tendril salad.
What a perfect ending for our culinary adventure in Oregon.

Now I’m home and it’s time to DIET! Hope you enjoyed our culinary adventure.






Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Roasted Herb Chicken with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Herb stuffing:
A combination of the following minced fresh herbs:
Zest from one lemon
2 large chicken breasts with ribs and skin
5 small red skinned potatoes, quartered
6 large Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and halved
4 large garlic cloves, halved
3-4 extra Rosemary sprigs
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Using your fingers, gently separate the chicken skin from the breast, creating pockets to stuff the herb and lemon zest mixture in. Pat chicken skin dry. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a 9”x 13” casserole dish. 
Surround with potatoes, Brussels sprouts, garlic and Rosemary. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees and skin is browned and crispy.
Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with veggies and top Brussels sprouts with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional…but delicious!). 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spicy Green Curry Shrimp over Coconut Lime Rice

Coconut Lime Rice:
1 cup white long grained balsamic rice
2 cups coconut water
½ Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp salt
2 green onion sprigs, sliced
Juice from one lime

Spicy Green Curry Shrimp:
½ yellow onion, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 lb raw shrimp, deveined and peeled
1 can coconut milk
2 Tbsp green curry paste
In a rice cooker, combine rice, coconut water, coconut oil and salt. Cook until ready. Stir in green onions and lime juice. Set aside and keep warm.

In a medium pan over medium high heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, jalapenos and garlic in EVOO until soft. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside. Stir in coconut milk and curry paste; let thicken. Season with salt, to taste. Before serving, add shrimp back to dish to heat through. Don’t over cook.

Serve Spicy Green Curry Shrimp over Coconut Lime Rice in a shallow bowl. Garnish with minced fresh cilantro and enjoy.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ice Cream Cake

1 pound cake, cut into thirds
8 oz chocolate ice cream, soften
8 oz strawberry ice cream, soften
Cool Whip, or whipped topping, defrosted
Strawberries, sliced
Place bottom layer of cake on a long plate. Spread layer of chocolate ice cream. Top with middle layer of cake. Spread with strawberry ice cream. Frost cake with whipped topping. Decorate edges and top with strawberry slices. Place cake back in freezer until it hardens. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Crock Pot Carnitas with Corn Salad

Pork Carnitas:
2 lb pork shoulder
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
¼ cup minced cilantro
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp salt
Broth, enough to cover half way up the pork

Corn Salad (my version of Esquites – Mexican Corn Salad):
Fresh corn for 2 ears of corn (boiled or roasted)
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
Juice from one lime
2 Tbsp Cotija cheese
Chile con Lime (Chili with Lemon) Seasoning, to taste

Combine pork with seasoning and broth. Add to crock pot and cook for 8+ hours. Drain fat and juices, save about ¾ cup of juice. Shred pork and mix with extra juices. Leave in crock pot to keep warm until ready to eat.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the corn salad.
Serve carnitas in warm flour tortillas and serve with corn salad, guacamole and black beans.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Grilled Mahi Mahi over Coconut Lime Cilantro Rice with Mango Avocado Salsa

It was raining on this Cinco de Mayo so we decided to add a little sunshine to our meal with this tropical dish.

Coconut Lime Cilantro Rice:
3/4 cup white long grained basmati rice
1 1/2 cups coconut water or juice
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp minced cilantro
1 green onion sprig, minced
Zest and juice from 1 small lime

Grilled Mahi Mahi:
2-8 oz Mahi Mahi filets
Chile con Limon (Chili with Lemon) seasoning

Mango Avocado Salsa:
½ mango, diced
1 small avocado, diced
1 green onion sprig, diced
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
½ Tbsp minced cilantro
Juice from 1 small lime
Salt to taste

Start with the rice, by adding rice, coconut water, EVOO and salt to a rice cooker. Once rice is cooked, stir in cilantro, green onions, lime zest and juice. Set aside until ready to serve.

Season Mahi Mahi filets with seasoning and grill each side over medium high heat for about 8 minutes per side, or until it easily flakes.

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the salsa. Season with salt to taste.

Serve grilled fish over a bed of rice and top with mango avocado salsa.