Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trippin' (to Oregon): the Food

We started out early on that long, awaited Friday morning, planning a stop to see my parents on the way.  (My mom is tired, but doing well after her brain surgery.  The week we left on our trip, she'd gotten the pathology report on the tumor, which indicated it was a carcinoma, which means it metastasized from elsewhere in her body, but they can't find where.  This makes treatment decisions more difficult.  It's no fun to be a medical mystery. She now awaits further consultation with more experts.)  I felt badly about running off to have fun while they (and my sister) had so much on their plate.  The truth is, my staying home would've changed or helped nothing, and I had a commitment to my family.  Not that I forgot them for a second.

Back on topic:  From Mom and Dad's we took the Pacific Coast Highway through Washington and into Oregon at Astoria.  My parents had often taken day trips to Astoria to enjoy clam chowder for lunch.  Before we left, I'd researched restaurants along our route and near our destination.  One focus was clam chowder... Who would have the best?  At home I read UrbanSpoon and Yelp reviews to help choose the restaurants.  In Astoria, we ate lunch at Charlie's Chowder House.

Charlie's was a small cafe attached to a Tiki bar. ...?... A member of the staff was out of town, so the bartender was also the waitress, and the only other person there that day was the chef.  The place was full and busy when we arrived, so we had a bit of a wait.  But the waitress/bartender was full of life and personality, and we could see the bar TV, which was tuned to the Little League World Series with the Washington team playing, so we were adequately entertained.

 The food got mixed reviews.  The older boys were happy with their BLTs, although Prince Go-for-It wasn't sold on the home fries, recommended by our waitress.  

Princess Eager and Prince CuddleBunny both had fish tacos, each with a different type of fish.  Eager's had a name I can't remember, but sounded Hawaiian to me.  CuddleBunny tried swordfish.  Both liked their meals.  

Princess Artiste was not as content with her chicken-artichoke salad.  She thought the chicken tasted odd.  I had a bowl of chowder, and Hubby had a cup of chowder with half of a BLT.  The chowder was chunky, tasty, and had shrimp as well as clams.  Pretty good.  The prices were average, and the service was wonderful, as in quirky, energetic, and friendly.  

A summer, Friday afternoon was not a good time to try to find our way out of Astoria to proceed south on 101.  

We'd decided to eat out for one meal each day of the trip.  The first night, after the lunch out in Astoria, we stayed in and made nachos.  
Princes Stoic and Inventive both make amazing
guacamole.  This time it was Inventive's turn, because
Stoic hadn't arrived yet.

Saturday we had sandwiches for lunch, after yogurt and cereal for breakfast.  That night, however, since Prince Stoic had joined us late the previous night, we wanted to have a family dinner out.  We rarely do that, as with a family the size of ours, it gets very expensive quickly.  But, besides renting the house at all, we decided this would be our big splurge.

The manager and the owner of the house had both recommended 2 places for dinner, so the kids looked them up on-line.  They were unimpressed with the condition and atmosphere of one, and the menu of the other was too heavy and formal.  They chose, instead, a cafe that had been recommended for coffee and/or breakfast or lunch, Brewin' in the Wind.  Their dinner menu included some featured seafood dinners, as well as meal-salads, sandwiches, and fish and chips sort of fare.

I called to make reservations in the mid-afternoon.  When we walked in at the appointed time, our table was awaiting us.

Hubby and Princess Artiste had salads with pecan-encrusted cod, and Artiste said it was delicious, and much better than the salad she'd forced down the day before.  Princess Eager liked her halibut sandwich, and the rest of us had fish and chips or prawns and chips.  Prince Go-for-It and I shared, so we could have a taste of each.  I ordered the fish and preferred the gorgeous, big prawns, and he ordered the prawns, but preferred the fish!  The fries were about as soggy and greasy as they come, but we still ate them.  ;-)  We were all together, talking and laughing, so the food was secondary.  
Brewin' in the Wind, Oceanside, OR (street level)

I forgot to mention that the cod salads came with clam chowder, so we could add it to the comparison.  It was OK, but not as good as Charlie's.  Dinner for 8 at Brewin' in the Wind, including 20% tip, was $140.  The service was wonderful.

On Sunday, I thought we might get take-out sandwiches at a highly rated spot in Netarts, called Sugarfoot's.  But we started the day with a big, homemade breakfast of bacon, hashbrowns, and eggs.  (I dumped most of the potatoes onto the oven door, when I was trying to scoop them from the frying pan onto a baking sheet to keep warm.  Here would've been a good place for a photo of that if I'd put more priority on the blog and less on scooping them hurriedly back onto the pan... But everyone was hungry!)  Our planned lunch out was replaced by leftovers and quickly-made sandwiches, so as much time could be spent on the beach as possible.  That night, Hubby barbecued hamburgers on the supplied gas grill... The kids' number one requested meal for our trip.

You could say we made up for the lack of meal out on Sunday by stopping for food twice on our way home on Monday.  Starting with dessert first, we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, where not only do they package and offer samples of cheeses, but they sell their own ice cream, offered in about 25 flavors.  
We also took the self-guided tour of the cheese factory.
This photo is from Tillamook.com

Tillamook Espresso Mocha
Although warned our lunch stop was only about 20 minutes up the road, the kids chose waffle cones with 2 full-sized scoops of ice cream...except Prince Inventive who went for the triple scooper.  Hubby and I were more conservative, choosing the triple sampler bowl, which had 3 small scoops, each of a different kind.  I chose Grandma's Cake Batter, Espresso Mocha, and Oregon Black Cherry.  The cake batter one looked like Funfetti cake mix, with lots of sprinkles in varying colors, but was too sweet.  The other two were big winners.

The cheese factory also has 2 really nice gift shops... Reasonable prices and unique things, from cheeses, to clothing, to crafts, to kitchen items.  We wandered through those, letting our ice cream digest before leaving for lunch.  I bought a laminated map showing illustrated details of the Pacific NW, especially the coastline, 2 cheese slicers (one for us and one for the couple who stayed home and missed out), and a soft and fluffy, stuffed cow for their little prince.

Our lunch stop was in Bay City, Oregon, at the Pacific Oyster processing and canning plant, which also has a small restaurant on site, called the Fish Peddler.  You pretty much have to know it's there, because it's not too visible from the exterior, and, especially not from the road.  But that didn't stop it from being full and busy at 2:00 in the afternoon!  (Note:  All 3 of these photos were posted by Pui S. on Yelp.)

Princess Artiste had an unfortunately lackluster 'house salad with shrimp,' while most of the rest of us ordered fried oysters and chips or clam strips and chips.  Again, Prince Go-for-It and I did some swapping, so

we could have half-orders of each.  Clam strips can sometimes be the size and texture of rubber bands, with roughly the same taste.  But these, and the oysters, were delicious. -And the French fries were very crisp and not too greasy.  

Hubby ordered a big bowl of clam chowder.  The pieces of vegetable and clams had a much finer dice than the chunky soup at Charlie's, but it was creamier, and Hubby and I would both say, took the top spot of the 3 contenders for taste.  We had a waiter this time, and he was also full of personality.  He made a mistake on the order and forgot Prince Inventive's lunch.  He made sure it got out quickly, and didn't charge us for it, because of the error.  

Because of the food, of the 3 restaurants, this is the one I look forward most to visiting again, and would make a special trip just to do so.  My parents would love it, and I wish we could swoop them up one day, and take them down for lunch.

After eating we wandered to the viewing area, where we could watch lightning-fast shuckers prep oysters for canning.  Wow, they can move!

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