So the second part of our vacation was a trip to Oregon to visit my in-laws. Again, I found myself wondering why - why - did I ever leave...until Adam reminded me - again - how much I loathe the constant gray. Nevertheless, here are a few of the things we did:
- Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine at Los Dos Hermanos in Keizer. I haven't had a lot of Salvadoran* food, but I do credit myself with knowing good food when I taste it...and this is gooooood. I am a HUGE fan of their pupusas (here is a recipe that I've used to try to imitate them), and we went through two pitchers of their margaritas. Good times, good times. It's a great local family-run joint and, even though I can't imagine you'd ever be there, I can't recommend it highly enough the next time you're in Keizer.
- I drank a ridiculous amount of local wines: Cubanisimo 2006 Pinot Noir (major spice), King Estate Pinot Gris, King Estate 2007 "Next" Pinot Noir (light and fruity, perfect summer red), and Firesteed Pinot Noir. And that was only the local wines...there were others...
- As usual, we stocked up on all our local produce at EZ Orchards. The photo below is a meal mostly bought from them: local Willamette Valley Cheese Co. cheeses, caramelized local Walla Walla onions, local raspberries and marionberries, Great Harvest bread, and non-local salami bought at Whole Foods. To top it off, this lovely lunch was eaten while fishing along the Santiam River.
- And no trip to Oregon is complete without a trip to McMenamins. The BEST tater tots, great burgers, and fantastic local beers: I splurged and drank TWO pints of their Wheat beer. I love the atmosphere too - dark wood, jukebox, mismatched tables and chairs. Not to mention that the servers will let you sit forever, if you want. It's about the closest thing we have to pubs in the U.S.
- We also went to Great Harvest Bread Co. and bought one of the biggest ice cream sandwiches EVER. Also bought some fresh bread to go with all our meals.
- The Ram is a microbrewery across the street from my alma mater, and I drank waaaaay too many Long Island Ice Teas there in my youth (they were only $2!!!). I made up for it this time by drinking an excellent microbrew: Big Horn Blonde. You don't need to know that it was a 24 ouncer...see, I can still put 'em away!
- Last but not least, we scored a tour at the "we don't give tours to the public" Kettle Chips processing plant. I'll be writing an entire post dedicated to the tour, but let me tell you now that it was truly a pinnacle for me. Absolutely fascinating.
The food scene in Oregon is everything it is rumored to be: focus on fresh, local ingredients with a natural, relaxed, laid-back vibe. I ate well, my friends, and it was wonderful.
Eat, drink, and cheers to the West Coast, my homeland.
* So Los Dos Hermanos spells it "Salvadoran" but I keep reading it "Salvadorian" other places. I can't tell definitively which it is.