Hi, there. You may have noticed things look different around here. This blog is ushering in a new era. I’m not really ready to define this new era yet, but it will hopefully be better than it was. I won’t necessarily be writing more regularly here, but I’ll be thinking about things a lot more. I admit to being a tiny bit tired of eating out and of endlessly traveling around, although, I’m still a fiend for a great roadside diner. I do love good home cooking, but my skills are limited and not worthy of an entire blog. I’m still very interested in seeking out interesting food finds, and hearing about what other regular folks are making and eating and doing. I love people, places, and food. So welcome to a period of delicious questioning and transition. I’m embracing the questions. It’s an evolution. This period begins with a trip from my current home base in Chicago to my heart home of New England. More on that later.
So for now, I’m not saying I will not be blogging about road food and breakfast gems, but hopefully I push myself farther. Thanks.
The population of Edison, WA is 133. But we decided to take the northern route 20 heading east across Washington because we wanted to stop in Edison for breakfast. We met friends who drove down from Bellingham and explored town: a couple galleries, a bakery, a handmade furniture maker, a local artist wares shop, and Tweet, said breakfast place. Tweet looks to be in an old garage and it now peddles veggies, coffee, and scrumptious meals to locals and visitors. I’d venture to say it’s a two hour detour worthy place. We ate our last extravagant northwest breakfast there before reluctantly turning the car eastward toward Chicago.
My friend Chaela has influenced many delicious habits of mine (tahini on toast, molasses on granola and yogurt), but I am now taking also taking inspiration from her parents. We got to visit with them in Chaela’s home state of Washington, and now, I’m determined to replicate their rhubarb sauce and red lentil hummus. Her parents also bake awesome pies (I feel I owe the success of the Paonia Peach Pie to them). Her mom, Tamie, has honed her kitchen skills for over 30 years at the charming Antique Sandwich Co. in Tacoma, WA. Check out some of the photos Chaela took of the place last summer. Her mom’s cafe was an absolute must-see of our NW road trip this summer, and it was certainly a highlight. At this point in the trip I was beginning to have eating out overload, so I didn’t plan to order this milkshake, but it looked too darling to pass up. No regrets. Espresso + Chocolate + NY Times crossword.
I think Mallard’s ice cream in Bellingham, WA makes my top three all time favorite ice cream joints. It even beats Jeni’s in Columbus, OH. Last time I was here I ate a very memorable cardamom ice cream. I was disappointed to not see it on the flavor list this time, but that allowed me to branch outside my indian spices and try basil. It was sweeter than I expected, but it was perfect. I will have dreams about this ice cream. The chocolate earl grey wasn’t bad either. But, oh man, the basil.
ricotta cakes on heirloom tomatoes with eggplant canape drizzled w/ basil oil
Indian eggplant soup
Pizza: taleggio, caramelized onions, morel mushrooms, thyme, scapes
The after dinner view
Our first stop on Orcas Island was for lunch at The Kitchen, a mostly outdoor cafe of Asian inspired deliciousness. We all ordered variations of rice and veggies with tofu or tempeh or salmon. I had tofu with sesame rice cakes and peanut sauce. We ate in the sun.
Some people head up the Oregon coast for the rocky beaches, tide pools, and breathtaking Ocean views. I wanted to go to Tillamook cheese factory.
Oh, what a tasty and educational stop it was. I learned that their medium cheddar ages for 2 months, sharp for 9 months and extra sharp for 15 months. The “Vingage White Extra Sharp Cheddar” (ah, the je ne se quoi) ages 2 years. Also, it takes 10 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of cheese and they make 167,000 lbs of cheese a day! Of course I tried as many cheeses as I could. But I also had to try their very northwesty ice creams: huckleberry, marionberry, black cherry, and peach. A scrumptious stop along the Oregon Coast.
Remember those Japanese hibachi restaurants where they samurai your vegetables and cook them on your table? Well, this place (Slappy Cakes) in Portland uses a similar griddle/table and lets you MAKE YOUR OWN PANCAKES. Ok, yeah, I know it’s kinda gimmicky, but I was able to put aside my pancake snobiness and totally enjoy this place with the eyes of a sugar syrup-loving 5-year-old. Our pancake creations were inspired and totally awesome. We ordered zucchini pancake batter and made goat cheese, scallion, and mushroom pancakes first, followed by buttermilk pancakes with hazelnut, blueberry, and applesauce. I would HATE to work here (syrup and batter everywhere), but it was a bonafide breakfast experience.
I was called for a few days’ work on the Warm Springs reservation two hours southeast of Portland, OR. Just east of the Cascades, it is arid and hot. When I visited, it was 100 degrees, and it was just after 4th of July, which I was told meant wildfire season. I haven’t had much experience with wildfires, and in my limited knowledge of them, they’re best avoided. So, when I watched a line of fire descend the ridge, cover the welcoming Warm Springs sign, and approach me and the Airstream, I didn’t really feel like sticking around. People in town were going about their business at the store and the post office, only stopping to watch with amusement as the fire came closer. Pleading ignorance to the ways of eastern Oregon, I asked a firefighter for advice. He subtly and casually suggested leaving town. When he said the highway out of town might close down, I made the final decision to stop everything and leave quickly While all worked out well in the end, evacuating from a wildfire certainly enhanced the adventure during my time in Warm Springs. The equivalent culinary adventure was definitely the $6 Indian Taco made of frybread, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream, sold at a roadside stand by the woman who won awards for best and biggest frybread. If the picture doesn’t do it justice, it is bigger than your face.