Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Honeymoon: Thistle Restaurant, McMinnville OR

Before we left Virginia, Ann had booked us for the Chef's Whim tasting at Thistle in downtown McMinnville. Chef Eric Bechard, sadly, has done a lot of damage to his reputation locally and many, many of the locals were warning us off the place because of Eric's allegedly hotheaded, confrontational nature. Being a chef myself, I wasn't deterred and I am glad we went: this food is very similar to what I make and so I felt right at home. We never got to experience Eric because he is off in Portland at his newest restaurant The Kingdom of Roosevelt, so his understudy Kyle was in the tiny open kitchen, but I can say that Eric's partner Emily is quite the charming hostess, sommelier, and orchestrator of the tiny dining room that might seat 24. And of all the many wonderful meals we ate in Oregon, this was the one that pleased us the most and the one that is most on par with the food we produce at One Block West.

Cognac Crusta Cocktail
Our reservation was for 7:00 and we arrived at 6:30 to sample the much lauded drink mixing prowess of bartender Patrick. Emily immediately showed us to the bar which is a side room just off to the right of the entrance. Ann's first drink was a Cognac Crusta, a classic cocktail and progenitor of the Sidecar made from Cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Fee's old fashioned bitters poured into an old coupe rimmed with orange and sugar. For me, he mixed a Brooklyn, which is similar to a Manhattan and made from rye, vermouth, Luxardo maraschino, and Amer Picon.

The two things that I noticed were that there were no mixers on his bar, just piles of lemons, limes, and oranges. And second, I noted that that Patrick always uses a jigger for his drinks, so "if you come back in a year, you get the exact same cocktail." In between his running back and forth to the dining room to serve tables, we got to chatting about cocktails and talking about St. Germain in particular, which prompted him to make a mixture of lime juice, gin, simple syrup, St. Germaine, sparkling wine, and a shot of Fee Brothers celery bitters for Ann's second cocktail, which tasted a lot like grapefruit juice. My second cocktail was made from Dewar's and something with a clove flavor, possibly Becherovka.

Brooklyn Cocktail
Because we booked a tasting menu, we didn't need to order off the nightly menu which is written on a large chalkboard in the dining room. Depending on where you're seated you might not be able to see the chalkboard and might have to get up from your seat to go look at it, something that has caused the restaurant endless grief on TripAdvisor and Yelp. I'm just going to say this once: you people need to relax and get over yourselves or just start going to chain restaurants where everything is predictable. So you have to remove your precious behind from a chair to go look at the menu. BFD! Grow up.

We didn't order wine either, leaving ourselves in Emily's capable hands and she made great use of their extensive half-bottle selection to provide wines for our dinner. I didn't have the energy to wade through what looked like a deep, well thought out, and most reasonably priced wine list, though I could knock it for being a bit heavy on French wines where it could have been a touch heavier on local wines to go with the cuisine. But frankly, I was on vacation and didn't really want to think about the choice of wines. Besides, although I know my own list, I have no clue about other restaurants' lists and though I can make educated guesses about wines, I always ask for help in making my selections, when help is available.

For our first course, Emily brought us glasses of Blanquette de Limoux, a delightful sparkling wine from the southwest of France, typically made from the Mauzac grape. This was paired with a plate of delightful Kumamoto oysters with mignonette. I love these small oysters with the intricate shells, oysters of Japanese origin which were introduced to American Pacific waters in the last century.

Kumamoto Oysters, a Rare Treat for East Coasters

Click to See the Awesome Detail on This Shell
After clearing the oysters, Emily brought a half bottle of Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec "Clos du Bourg" 2010 that we drank with our next two courses. First up, a course of two salads: mustard greens and chard with radishes and a yogurt dressing and an arugula salad with candied hazelnuts with preserved lemon and herb vinaigrette.

Arugula, Candied Walnuts, Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Mustard, Chard, Radishes and Yogurt Dressing
One of the two standout dishes of the night was the plate of tiny radishes, split in half, and tossed in warm butter, then sprinkled with sea salt. This is a dish a chef can love. It just says "Spring is here!" in a perfect way and it takes a confident chef to let the ingredients do the talking, which is why I like this restaurant so much. It's about the ingredients more than it is about the chef, just like my restaurant is. Some people don't get that and I am sure that Thistle could take a lot of heat for this dish from customers claiming that they didn't do anything, that anyone could make this dish. Those people just don't get it and never will.

Radishes, Butter, Salt: Sublime
It was about now that Emily brought a half bottle of Chehalem Pinot Noir 2007 Reserve to the table for the next two cold courses, pork rillettes and steak tartare. The rillettes were great and as good as the ones that we serve at the restaurant. The steak tartare Ann loved better than the one we do at the restaurant. I prefer more texture in the meat, she prefers less: this was very soft. In any case, it is splitting hairs. This tartare was great.

Nice to Get an Older Vintage

Delicious Rillettes, as Good as my Own

Splendid Steak Tartare
Then it was on to two warm courses: a saffron yellow omelette filled with spinach, goat cheese, and what looked to be rapini tips, followed by a bowl of stinging nettle gnocchi. The omelette was workmanlike but not particularly memorable. On the other hand, the gnocchi were fantastic, the best dish of a stellar line up and the single best dish of our entire trip.

Omelette Stuffed with Rapini, Goat Cheese, and Spinach

Stinging Nettle Gnocchi: Best Dish of the Trip
And finally on to the hot meat courses, the first of which was pan-roasted ling cod steak on a sauté of morels, asparagus, and fiddleheads, well seasoned with super crispy skin that I stole without Ann seeing. This fish was in sharp contrast to that which we had the evening before at the Irish Table. The vegetable sauté is one that we do frequently in the spring and is a classic with fish.

Delicious and Perfectly Cooked Ling Cod
You can see from the photo of the fish that the sun is setting fast and we're just about out of light for photos, so this will be the end of the photos, even though we had two more dishes in our dinner. It was at this point on one of her forays to the ladies room that Ann picked up Tony, a 75-year old bar rat who joined us at Ann's invitation (Emily rolled her eyes at me) and regaled us with tales of his Navy days. I might have preferred to have been on a solo date with my wife, but what is a guy to do? Anns are going to be Anns. Speaking of restrooms, just to the right of the bar is a door labeled "Yes!" and when Ann asked Patrick if they had a restroom, he pointed and theatrically trilled "Yes!"

Patrick's Prop
After the fish plate was cleared away, Emily brought us each a glass of Chinon to go with the beef, our next course. I just loved her wine choices of underappreciated French appellations that most Americans don't know, wines on which I cut my proverbial wine drinking teeth. We were served a combo plate of medium rare beef hanger steak with a big chunk of spare rib as well. The hanger in particular had super flavor.

Our dessert was a lemon panna cotta with rhubarb compote, which I have gleefully stolen for my own restaurant now that rhubarb is coming out of our ears. Because it was served in an 8-ounce canning jar, they didn't have to use as much gelatin as for a panna cotta that has to stand on its own after being unmolded, so the texture was very light and silky, softer than crème brûlée.

The whole experience was relaxed, fun, and refreshingly non-pretentious. The best way for me to sum up this meal is that it was in the top five restaurant meals I have ever had and that the food could have passed for my own at my restaurant. I would be a regular at Thistle if I were in McMinnville and not cooking for a living!

Honeymoon: Chehalem Ridge Bed and Breakfast

Tuesday April 30, Newberg OR

Chehalem Ridge Bed and Breakfast

After tasting at first Elk Cove Winery and then at Willakenzie Winery, we made our way to our resting spot for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, the Chehalem Ridge Bed and Breakfast, situated on the ridgeline above and with spectacular views of Newberg. Although it was only about six or seven minutes out of downtown, it seemed miles and miles away, and that's a good thing.

I wish I could say that I took this photo and the next one, but truth be told, I ripped them off from the B&B. There were a bunch of numbskull painters working on the house when we were there and there really wasn't a time when I could get a good shot of the house, which is worth looking at. Photos just don't do the million-dollar view justice. You can't get a sense of perspective in the photos and you can't feel the breeze in your face while looking out at the valley below from hundreds and hundreds of feet up.

And when I say it was about six or seven minutes out of downtown, well, it doesn't have to be. If you ignore the directions that innkeeper Kristin Fintel sends and you follow the GPS, well, you are going to find yourself on a hugely tortuous route up past Rex Hill Winery and Artisanal Wine Cellars twisting and turning along seemingly the whole length of Chehalem Ridge, finally twenty minutes later arriving at the  B&B with its stunning views of Newberg and the valley surrounding the town. But that is only if you ignore the directions, as we did. Why would you ignore the directions, you ask? Well, if your wife might have failed to tell you that the innkeeper sent directions, you might not know any better! ;)

The Rose Garden Room
Quickly being admonished as knuckleheads by Kristin for not following her directions (I liked her already), we got the grand tour of the small but stunning house, comfortably decorated and not wanting for anything. And then Kristin took us to our bedroom called the Rose Garden room at the southwest corner of the second floor with a balcony giving out on to the scenic views you'll see below. Ann picked this room for us: the view is always important for her!

The other rooms are thematically named as well—Oregon Coast, Wine Country, and Oregon trail—and each is decorated in that theme. And a lot of the décor is hand- and home-made: one look at the headboard of our bed and it was clear that somebody went to Home Depot and scored some wooden fencing. And sure enough, glancing through the scrapbook downstairs confirmed this. But how appropriate for a room called "Rose Garden?" I'm impressed at the craftiness on display throughout the house.

Kristin, aside from being a laid back and convivial host, is a great cook and we'll get more into that with breakfast each day as I continue to write these posts. But for now, enjoy the photos of the gorgeous views from the B&B and know that if you go to Oregon wine country, you could stay in a different place, but not a better. I felt as at home in this B&B as in any I have ever stayed in and I never felt unwelcome or out of place. It was just very comfortable.

Looking West over Newberg

And Looking Northwest

You Can See How Spectacular the Weather Was

Newberg by Dark

Playing Games: Ditto with a Long Exposure and Some Wine!

Honeymoon: Elk Cove and Willakenzie Wineries

Tuesday April 30, Gaston and Yamhill OR

Ugh! Still not acclimated to Pacific Daylight Time, I woke up at 0530 after hearing squalls in the night again and sat around watching the gulls and the Mallards play in Ecola Creek, waiting for Ann to wake up. Once we packed up our stuff and loaded up the car, we headed down to the Sleepy Monk one last time for a cup of joe and another of their fabulous bacon and blue cheese scones. It was a good thing we did, for apparently I must have dropped my AMEX card on the floor the night before at the Irish Table. I was presented with my card as soon as I walked in. Thank you, thank you!

We were trying to decide where to eat for lunch and had thought about one of the restaurants in Astoria, so we drove north on 101 to the mouth of the Columbia River. We found it to be kind of a dumpy, depressing port town and kept on moving inland, upriver on highway 30 thinking to take in the river vistas and see some of the famed Columbia Gorge. Yeah, well after striking out in Astoria, US 30 proved to be a bust as well and the GPS wanted to take us into our destination, Newberg, via Portland and I-5. Not so much.

We made it as far inland as Clatskanie when we had both had enough of US 30 and so I headed up into the mountains on highway 47, knowing that it goes south into Carlton and McMinnville. The view was much more scenic, even if we were afraid of getting blown away by the logging trucks flying down the highway. Once over the mountains and down into the Willamette Valley proper, as we neared Gaston, we started seeing signs for wineries in the McMinnville AVA. But finding one open for walk-ins on a Tuesday where we could stop for lunch was a bit problematic.

I had thought to go to Patton Valley, whose wines we have carried at the restaurant for years, but they're only open Thursday through Saturday, so we ended up going to nearby Elk Cove Vineyards, one of Oregon's older wine producers. Not surprisingly for a Tuesday afternoon, we were the only visitors at the winery.

Elk Cove Pinot Noir "Mount Richmond" 2011
We tasted with a gentleman named Brad who was very good about answering our questions. One of the key things I wanted to get an appreciation for while we were in Oregon was not only the lay of the land and the relationship of the AVAs to one another, but a good handle on the recent vintages as well. At Elk Cove, we tasted through the Pinot Noir rosé, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and several Pinot Noirs including a few of the reserve single vineyard wines. Standouts for me were the rosé, estate Riesling, and a couple of the reserve Pinot Noirs.

I noticed the glassware immediately. We tasted out of big Riedel Oregon Pinot glasses with the flared lip and etched with the Elk Cove logo. Except for the really high end wineries in our area who use small but beautiful Schott glasses, everybody else uses junk glasses, glasses that cost about $1.50 with logo, horrible, heavy glasses. Drinking out of these ethereally light Riedels was quite a pleasure and though we didn't know it yet, every winery save one and every restaurant would use these same glasses. More on glassware in a few paragraphs.

After profusely thanking Brad for his patience with us and great walk-through of the Elk Cove wines, we asked him to pick one bottle for us to have with lunch which we took out on the patio facing northwest looking at the vineyards and mountains behind. For our lunch, Brad selected the 2011 Pinot Noir Mount Richmond which we thoroughly enjoyed; I really appreciated the structure of the 2011 wine and how well it went with our sausage and cheese. In retrospect now from having tasted wines from 2007 through 2012 barrel samples, I am coming to love 2011, which because it was a very cool year has produced lean, high acid wines of a subtle nature, wines that suit me very much.

Summing up from a week of tasting: 2007 and 2009 were like Virginia in 2007 and 2010, super warm and very ripe, bordering on overripe and under-acidified. 2008 was like Virginia 2006, 2008, and 2009, sleeper vintages that just get better with age. 2010 and 2012 are just great vintages from the get-go and should age pretty well.

Looking East over Riesling Vines
Elk Cove is a gorgeously scenic winery with plenty of room outdoors for picnics. The winery is surrounded by vines with a stupendous view of the mountains to the west. The tasting room, with its mounted elk head dominating the tasting counters, has spectacular views of the vineyards. The wines are delicious and worth the trip, but you will keep returning just for the sheer beauty of the location.

Due West from Elk Cove

Due North from Elk Cove Lies Patton Valley
From Elk Cove, we decided to stop by Willakenzie and taste through their line up. Even as we were driving down Laughlin Road to their driveway, I just kept saying "Wow!" because the scenery was so fantastic. You enter Willakenzie's driveway way below vineyards that are visible on the hilltops above you on both the right and the left. Only as you make the long drive up the seam between the two vine-clad hills do the tasting room and winery buildings come into view, buildings that are tucked tastefully into the hill so as not to mar the setting.

Walking from the south-facing parking lot in front of the Pinot Blanc vines to the big open square between the winery on the left and the tasting room dead ahead, the first thing you notice is the beautiful landscaping around the buildings and in the center of the partially paved piazza. The entrance to the tasting room is at the back (north) end of the piazza and down a half flight of steps.

Outstanding Landscaping in front of Willakenzie Tasting Room
It took me several minutes of taking in the phenomenal, breathtaking property before I was ready to go into the tasting room, where we met Sherry Simmons, 13-year veteran tasting room manager whose encyclopedic knowledge of the property and the wines I really appreciate. We were one of two couples doing the tasting that afternoon and after the other couple left, we tasted some other wines that are not normally part of the tasting.

In particular, when I inquired about the Gamay (which they call Gamay Noir, which is itself short for Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc) that I saw in the display along the wall, Sherry kindly opened a bottle for us. Although I am not surprised that they grow Gamay, I never really connected the dots with Oregon and Gamay, though I had heard of Brick House's bottling even back in Virginia. It turns out that Gamay is very rare in Oregon. Willakenzie's Gamay is spot on, bright purple, oozing with fruit, and displaying that distinctive Gamay nose.

Ann asked about the Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir glasses that we were tasting from and wondered aloud if the glass made any real difference to the wine. Without missing a beat, Sherry went back in the kitchen behind the tasting counter and grabbed two Bordeaux glasses and poured us each a taste in a Bordeaux glass and in a Pinot glass. Suffice it to say that Ann is now a believer. The difference is not subtle: the Pinot we tasted was very dumb and closed when drunk from the Bordeaux glass and very fresh, light, and lively when drunk from the Pinot glass.

Willakenzie had always made great wine but we don't get to taste too many bottlings of it back east, the vast majority of the wines from the smaller parcels being sold to their club and at their tasting counter. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to taste and compare the wines from the different parcels around the property. My favorite wine of the day was the Triple Black Slopes, from the steepest blocks on the estate. It had super-concentrated fruit with the biggest structure.

Gamay Just Beyond Us

After tasting at Willakenzie, it was time to find our B&B near Newberg and get ready for dinner over in McMinnville, so we headed into Newberg and then followed the GPS on a hugely tortuous route along seemingly the whole length of Chehalem Ridge, finally arriving at the Chehalem Ridge B&B with its stunning views of Newberg and the valley surrounding the town. More on that later.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Honeymoon: Irish Table, Cannon Beach OR

Monday April 29, Cannon Beach OR

The Irish Table is the restaurant that the Sleepy Monk coffeehouse becomes after the coffee crew goes home at 4pm. Or is it the other way around? And on a Monday night, is one of the few restaurants open in Cannon Beach. They don't take reservations, but we called ahead and were told that a table would likely be open at 7:30. It seemed to be an early crowd; the place was rocking when we arrived, but was all done by about 8:30, still, not a bad crowd for a Monday night.

I like the place; I liked it in the morning as a coffee house and I liked it in the evening as a restaurant. What I most liked about it aside from the rustic décor that I have already described in the Sleepy Monk post are the people. Crystal and Sean Corbin and Sean's brothers run the place and they are extremely warm and friendly people. Crystal is the chef and everyone else pitches in. And they seem to be having fun, which is something that you have to do to make a long run in this crazy business.

We Started with Delicious Soda Bread and Butter
If you're a wino, the wine list is extremely limited, but after all, the place is an Irish gastropub of sorts, so no big surprise there. The menu is also extremely limited with 5-6 appetizers and 5-6 entrées. I'm OK with that. As long as what you do is first rate, I can be OK with a menu that consists of a single item.

Domain Serene: Overpriced
Sean's brother Luke was our affable server and he brought us a couple of nice Riedel glasses without our having to ask when we ordered the Domaine Serene Evenstad 2008. Ann noted that not everyone was drinking from decent glassware. I enjoyed this juicy and highly ranked Pinot, but there is no bang for the buck. I've tasted scores of wines that I like better at a fraction of the price.

We started with Curried Mussels, which proved to be big plump Penn Cove mussels in a very tasty broth with shallots and cream. Crystal used a deft hand with the curry that other chefs have used to destroy dishes. Alas, the mussels were just slightly undercooked (another 60 seconds on the heat and they would have been perfect) and the tasty broth was too acidic for even a huge acid fiend like me. It was too dark inside the candlelit restaurant for the photo of the mussels to work.

We also had the roasted beet salad with greens, pickled onions, Cashel blue cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and a citrus vinaigrette on the sweet side with honey. The presentation surprised me: each of the ingredients was composed on top of the greens; I was expecting it all to be tossed together. Funny how we start to picture a dish before it is served! I loved this salad except for the beets. They were a bit woody and undercooked.

Beet Salad: Nice Presentation, Vast Quantity
And oh by the way, the portions are vast. One appetizer would have been plenty.

Ling Cod on Potatoes

For one entrée, we ordered roasted ling cod with roasted fingerlings, grape tomatoes, some kind of shredded green (I couldn't see in the dark), and a very light creamy lemon sauce that Luke referred to as an aïoli. The ling cod was beautifully cooked, but wasn't seasoned, enough or at all it would seem. Moreover, I really didn't get the whole presentation of fish atop a pile of roasted potatoes with some grape tomatoes strewn about. Roasted potatoes and mild white fish just don't work in my culinary lexicon.

When I see roasted fingerlings on a menu like this, I think cop out. It seems the kind of dish you would throw on as a special at the last second because you need something to fill out the menu and that is all you have left in the cooler. It seems just the idea that I would have rejected out of hand in a menu meeting if one of the line cooks had brought it up. Now maybe take that lemon idea and do a lemon thyme-infused potato tart topped with greens and fish, maybe, maybe that's something to work with.

Irish Stew on Colcannon
It was a chilly evening and the Irish stew on colcannon sounded just about perfect for the weather. It turned out to be our least favorite dish of the meal, being too heavy on the sticky sauce which was somewhere between a glace and a demiglace. The sauce wanted to be lifted with some acidity to help offset the mouth-coating nature of the super-reduction. Sadly, I couldn't taste the lamb for the sauce.

After dinner, we spent a good while chatting with Crystal (and Sean) and swapping war stories and then took our leave into the chilly darkness to go back to the motel. All in all, we had a good meal despite the technical issues. We would go back, but more for the people than the food.

Honeymoon: Ecola State Park

Monday April 29, Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach OR

After our lunch at Wanda's in Nehalem, we were looking for a bottle of wine for our happy hour which we planned to take in Ecola State Park just north of Cannon Beach. We asked in Wanda's about finding a wine shop nearby, but that seemed to be a non-starter. As we started back north on the 101, I saw an IGA on the left and we popped in to grab a bottle of wine. They had at least 30 Willamette Pinots on the shelf, so we grabbed one we never heard of before and took a leisurely drive back up the 101 north into Cannon Beach.

Before heading up into the state park, we decided to walk down on the beach in front of Haystack Rock. Pictures don't do this rock any justice because you can't get a true sense of scale. The big chunk of basalt covered in sea birds rises about 235 feet out of the water; imagine standing at the base of a 24-storey building!

With our frame of reference being mid-Atlantic beaches, one thing that we really noticed about the flat beaches in Oregon is that they are gorgeous, but aren't littered with seashells and aren't teeming with birds. Imagine being on a Virginia beach and not stepping on a shell or having to wade through a gazillion sandpipers!

On the beach at Haystack Rock, we had a nice chat with couple from McMinville, grape growers who sell to Ken Wright Cellars. While Ann played with their Australian Shepherd puppy named Red, I chatted about Virginia grapes and the issues we face trying to grow Pinot Noir here (we can't really).

Ann's New Friend Red

Haystack Rock, 24 Stories Tall

After leaving the beach, we drove through downtown Cannon Beach and wound our way into Ecola State Park. Just the drive in through the magnificent trees and ferns and hanging mosses was fantastic and nearly worth the entire trip.

More Sunny Weather!

Happy Hour!
We brought along a couple of glasses from the motel and the bottle of Winter's Hill 2008 Dundee Hills that we picked up in the Manzanita IGA. It was a pleasant enough wine to sip and contemplate the view below.

Looking South From Ecola Head; Haystack Rock in Background
Looking south from this point in 1806, Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition described the view as the "grandest and most pleasing prospect" he had ever surveyed. It is pretty special and spectacular! We sure don't have vistas like this back home in Virginia!

Beachside Waterfall

Surf; Haystack Rock

Tillamook Rock Light aka Terrible Tilly
From Tillamook Head, there is a good view of Terrible Tilly, the now defunct lighthouse that when built in the early 1880s, was the most expensive lighthouse to be built in the US. Several people died in the attempt to build it and standing on the Head looking out at the pounding surf, it is not easy to imagine how anyone landed on the rock, which is now accessible only by helicopter.

White Crowned Sparrow

Fields of Miniature Daisies

Bonsai in the Large
On our way back out of the park, we startled a cow Roosevelt elk that was just getting ready to cross the road in front of us. Neither of us has ever seen an elk in the wild before!

Honeymoon: Wanda's Café, Nehalem OR

Monday April 29, Nehalem OR

For our first meal in Oregon and on the recommendation of the ladies from the Sleepy Monk, we stopped at Wanda's Café just on the 101 in Nehalem. It's a tiny one-story house with gray-green siding and an extended front porch just on the side of the road across from the vast (I mean, don't blink, you'll miss it) Nehalem Post Office.

Inside, it becomes immediately apparent that funky retro is the décor theme here. On separate walls are toaster and radio collections from '50s and '60s on loan from a local vintage store. And the restaurant's tables and chairs are vintage dinette furniture.

Retro Toasters at Wanda's Café

And Radios
Wanda's claims to fame are that they serve breakfast all day (awesome!), bake their own goods on site, and feature Sleepy Monk coffee. Ann ordered a roast beef and spinach sandwich on ciabatta with blue cheese mayo. As you can see in the photo, it looks like a really good, fresh sandwich. I went with the breakfast-all-day concept and ordered a longtime favorite, huevos rancheros. My twin fried eggs over tortillas and black beans were decent but I wanted more flavor in the ranchera sauce. While the pico de gallo served on the side was miserable from want of ripe tomatoes, seasoning, and some fresh cilantro, the eggs were well executed.

Roast Beef and Spinach

Huevos Rancheros
Sleepy Monk coffee or not, we were coffeed out by lunch time and we were on vacation, so it was time to drink something stronger. In what looked to me like a decidedly beer joint, Ann ordered and received a jelly jar of some random undrinkable red wine which our server was kind enough not to charge us for, when he saw that Ann didn't touch it. I understand why she tried the wine: she doesn't really like beer. With my huevos, I ordered Session lager from Full Sail Brewery up on the river east of Portland; I have this thing for lager with Mexican food. I ended up giving it to Ann because all she drinks are light, lightly hopped, low malt beers and ordered a Bridgeport IPA for myself.

When in Oregon...

...Drink the Local Beer
Bridgeport is the beer that I drank when I used to frequent Portland and is the brewpub that I most often used to visit. The beer is still really, really good and this IPA is no exception. I would taste several other of their beers at the brewpub in NW Portland later in the week.

I liked the place and its personality and character. We found the food OK here and if we were locals, we might drop by from time to time.

Honeymoon: Manzanita Beach

Monday April 29, Manzanita OR

On the advice of the sweet ladies at The Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters in Cannon Beach, we drove south on 101 to Nehalem for lunch, stopping at each vista along the way. The morning shifted from rainy to delightfully sunny, but breezy, by the time we hit the road. Here are a few of the dozens and dozens of photos we took before lunch.

Lots of Rocks Along This Part of the Coast

Western Gull Helping with the Photos

Looking North: Haystack Rock with Ecola State Park Behind

Neahkahnie Mountain Looking Down Along the Beach at Manzanita

The Wide Sandy Beach at Manzanita

Looking Back at the Shoulder of Neahkahnie Mountain; Creek in Foreground

Rocks in the Creek

The Wind Whipping up One of the Creek Puddles

Linguini with Clam Sauce

It felt good to get back in the kitchen yesterday, if only for a few minutes to make a late afternoon lunch of linguini with white clam sauc...