The 'Behind the Wheel Kitchen' chef and traveler is ready to serve you up a large portion of the PNW on this month’s menu. Are you hungry enough for this three week course meal of scenic landscape, snobbery and shabby eateries, hotel ghost stories, wine till you drop, cougars, eagles and bears, oh my? Most of it did end up on my plate, in a glass, or on me any way you look at it.
Some have asked me what is 'PNW', and I reply the Pacific North West like I know it all (well I had not heard that either until we arrived). Each year for the past eleven years my sweetie and I go on a trip across the country(s), and he adds a day or two along the way. I have the luxury of going and coming when I feel like it owning my own company, and he gets three weeks a year. I know, I know, I realize most of you only get a week or two, but I did not say I liked being away that long. Three weeks in a car, hotel, and 24/7 with someone you live with? I might make the poor guy walk the plank, and in this case they would have been pretty cold waters...shiver me timbers!
The last three or four years the trips have gotten longer, yes, but this time I must say...I did not want to come home! I wanted to hibernate with the bears, pick blackberries, and eat salmon all year long. He had to drag me on the plane kicking and screaming, but I calmed down in the airport lounge. Sorry for sharing. I will get to the meat of the subject now, and end with a list of places to eat, sleep, drink, and play.
We started off in
Where did we find the room for dinner next? I am not sure, but we had reservations at a place called Beast. The chef has been written up many times, and it was worth the money. She choices a six course meal for you (the menu changes according to fresh ingredients) you sit at communal tables and enjoy the weirdness. They offer a wine pairing, or you are welcome to bring your own. Most of the PNW is about local, fresh, and organic ingredients, and we are trying to catch up.
The next few days are a blur because we just drove, walked, drove, walked and slept. McMinnville was our next destination and we stayed at the Hotel Oregon. Some of the rooms come with a shared bath area. OK, this can get weird, but I swear no one was on the floor with us except an old prospector ghost (another story) who tried to get in bed with us the two nights we stayed, but I had the whole bathroom/showers all to myself otherwise, and it’s a cheaper deal. This area is where all the good vino is, like the one we all hear about, Pinot Noir of Oregon. Well it’s pretty true in my eyes, and the scenery is like being in
The road is leading us up the pacific coast by way of Washington for a scenic drive We see more beautiful landscape, vineyards, sea otters, a large variety of birds, and then we roll into Astoria. There is plenty of wine tasting, and amateur photography along the way. I will only mention one Tex-Mex place that rocked my lunch palate. Since I forgot to write the name down, just try most any in the area, I am sure now that the PNW rocks in that cuisine department since I had two good hits on my trip so far. The maritime museum in the town is a good choice to visit and very entertaining, as well as sea lion watching off the main pier to the left of the museum. The
Our next town was
All six of us swaggered into our cars, off the ferry we drove, and into beautiful
We took the hop on, hop off bus and toured most of the city the first day. You decide what you really want to see and get off and walk around. We did go visit a new eatery and hip space, Stage Wine Bar. I love to sit at the bar when possible, the bartenders are friendly and very helpful (ours had an Irish accent). They have tapas style eating, with wines by the glass and full bar. The next day I had a mission, going on a bear hunt in the
More beautiful scenic ferry rides came as we traveled over to the Islands of Washington,
Well, its time to leave and head over to the mainland via Anacortes and again, another ferry ride. We drove to
We topped off our trip at Purple Wine Bar down the steep hill from our hotel on our last night, just more good food and wine once again! After all I am the chef and my sweetie the wine guide on our many travels. Thanks for letting me share what I thought would be a long and over indulgent experience to a place that was absolutely wonderful, and we will be back, PNW. -Chef E