Thursday, August 11, 2011

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Food Notes: On the Road to Portland: 8/12/11

1. Rule number One: When traveling, never stop at a fast food restaurant – preferably find a place named Rosie's, the Pine Tree Inn, Wolf Creek Tavern or some word-of-mouth place that you have been told “not to miss… "

2. Driving north from the Bay Area on Interstate 5 we have been known to plan our trip to be at Granzellla’s for break time – It is located well off the freeway in the sleepy rice-growing country town of Williams.

Forest park - within the city limits of Portland

Years ago, they started as an Italian deli – then slowly have expanding to offer more - they still have the deli, but have added a full restaurant, a bar (with stuffed wild animals for decoration), free tasting counter for local olives and almonds preserved in many styles. But we are drawn to their unmatchable espresso chocolate milkshakes – thick and creamy, topped with a dollop of whipped cream… it is a meal in itself…After sitting hunched over a steering wheel from Fremont, it is just right combination of caffeine, chocolate, and sugar for the fatigued driver - body and mind!

3. Another “have to stop” further north in central Oregon is a set of slight dilapidated metal buildings on the west side of the freeway half way between Eugene Oregon and Roseburg… This is the famous “Rice Hill”… Now don’t get confused with “Johnnie-come-lately” cafes and fast food places that have spring up on the east side of the freeway –

Rice Hill - Central Oregon

The orignal Rice hill is this same group of factory made buildings. They seem to be a relic from the 1950’s (complete with the neon sign) – It has been here since way before we started travelled this highway… Most of the things on the menu have either been deep fried or involve multiple scoops of ice cream – The food is good, but is it the mystique of the place that draws peoeple in… Long before there was a freeway this stretch of road was one unrelenting drive through mile after mile of forest and meadow with few signs of human habitation, from Eugene to Roseburg.

Mt. Shasta - Northern California

Rice Hill was an oasis in the middle of no-where. Everything they cook is fresh and oh so tasty! – My wife, Judy, is a great fan of their honest to goodness onion rings – and nobody does them like Rice Hill – French fried mushrooms with a hamburger are amazing… This trip I contented myself with a scoop of Mountain Blackberry Ice-cream and then to keep it company I got a scoop of something with lots of chunks of chocolate and nuts… Yum!

Rogue River - Southern Oregon

4. Portland itself has so many innovative restaurants! Nowhere have I seen so many places that specialize in gourmet breakfasts – One that we like is in an old house that have been transformed into a beautiful homey cafe… fresh flowers – local paintings - spiffed up old furniture… A typical breakfast might be a 3 egg omelets cooked with fresh vegetables and sausage , served with a crusty local bread, fruit jam, and plenty of good strong local coffee…


5. Portland is also famous for its variety of quality street food vans… (In California some of these are disparagingly called “Roach Coaches” – I suspect that this name was invented by brick and morter resteraunts that don’t like the competetion. ) In Portland the street vans offer amazing variety and quality… Both here and at home I have become a real fan of well done Tacos – A good taco is a thing of great culinary beauty – it is a vartiety of flavors and textures offered in a fresh soft taco ( forget those hard shell crust things ).

Forest Park - Portland

a good lunch for me is two tacos and a glass of Jamaica ( red drink made from dried hibiscus flowers ). Portland offers even more! I talked to a man yesterday that described to me the incredible Turkish Doner Kebab: Fresh grilled meat with fresh vegetables , slices of pickled vegetables, doused with a yogurt dill sauce wrapped in a fresh hot flat peda bread …

Portland as viewed across the Willamette River ( Will AM it)

Ah! There are also central European, Asian, North African foods… there are the foods of the world from cafĂ©’s on wheels…

There is something about the social and physical climate of Portland that encourages a coffee house culture – this is the home of good strong well roasted and blended coffees… Along with this there are wonderful tasty baked goods – breads – scones – muffins that go along with a nice quick snack… A coffee house is a good place to relax and enjoy conversation, there is good music and pleasant surroundings...

6. Our daughter in law is an exceptional cook – with innovative recipes based on healthy local products – but cooked with a wonderful knowledge of European and American cooking - She takes time to cook with good basic foods and creates culinary masterpieces!

Forest Park - Portland

7. And then if we haven’t been eating enough – My wife Judy made a German chocolate cake (like an Austrian torte) from scratch for her own birthday (“No one else makes it just the way I like it – so every once in a while I just have to make it - and it must be served with good vanilla ice cream!”

7. So after a week in Portland visiting our son and his wife we are going home well fed - But we walked, rode bikes, and swam daily - so we did not come home the least bit heavier...