Sunday, January 17, 2016

Oregon, my Oregon.

Saturday, Scot led me through a wonderful of our favorite places and things in Oregon. He's done this the last few times I've traveled away from home for a week alone. He knows I miss him, and I miss Oregon, and whatever better way to get as much of both as possible at once?

Up leisurely, we hit Turnaround Cafe for one of the best breakfast's around. The small diner was packed, and after a short weight we were seated right next to the pie case. So tempting. Ordering the chicken fried steak platter, we noted we were going to split that. Usually this results in an eyeroll, and when the food comes, a bare plate dropped onto the table. Here, not a problem! Upon delivery, the platter was indeed split, perfectly down the middle, and pleasingly arranged on two plates. At first I thought they made a mistake and brought us two -- each plate was still overflowing with food. It was perfect.

We headed down to Eugene, hitting Cabela's looking for winter season closeouts on outdoor goodies.

The next stop was Territorial Seed in Cottage Grove. Just a little glimpse of the spring to come, we were talking and working out garden plans and what to focus on this year. So exciting... but about time to start planting seedlings soon! (Another favorite resource that's local is Victory Seeds -- who say the last frost date is 5/22. So back that up 8 weeks for when to plant your tomato starts... so...  March 27th. That's still a long ways off. *sigh*)

We love the valley, so driving and talking while we look at fields, sheep, mountains, etc. And Oregon gave us an intense demo of her favorites this time of year, such as driving rain, wicked winds, spitting drizzle, sunshine, and of course rainbows.

Turning back up to Eugene (dirty, dirty Eugene), we hit Fisherman's Market. The photo most easily found online makes me laugh, because they must've been taken about five years go. They show a bright, clean, well organized shop.  What we found was not quite the same thing.

Parking across the street (in front of the old Hollywood video) is easy. Upon entering, you're hit with a stench -- I'm always wary of a fish market that smells. A well kept fish market shouldn't smell. I mean there's that natural, from the ocean, fish smell... and then there's all that gone wrong -- and that's the smell you don't want. It's true that keeping a live-well setup for crab, mussels and the like makes that tougher. But still... I've been in many a place that didn't smell like this. Half fish market, half seafood diner, you can pick your live crab, or order from a small menu. We opted for the clam strips and chips, and the "house specialty" of Cajun Crawfish Pie.

The former was some food service skinny dinky clam strips on top of waffle fries. Lame. They do have unique and flavorful slaw (two flavor combo options). They also have a variety of flavored tartar sauces. We bought some of their cocktail (tastes very bright, fresh with a great horseradish kick), and the Bombay Bomber, which frankly is a creamy majesty which will be a great dipper for fries, samosas, shrimp, anything I can think of dragging through it).

Most disappointing was the "house specialty." It was an overcooked, dry pot pie with a mushy mass of dried filling. It was NASTY. And you get the pleasure of enjoying it, again and again, until it exists the building of your digestive system. (And we like spicy food, that doesn't bother us.) It's like it is fighting to claw its way back up your esophagus, escaping your stomach because it knows it wasn't good enough to be eaten.

Anymore, if Diners, Drive Ins and Dives recommends someplace, I stay away. Because most have performed poorly. I think the reason may be that sure, they may be able to produce something good when they focus all their resources and abilities in something that they cook fresh for the tv show host. But, you simply aren't buying the same thing. I would be surprised if these things were frozen, cooked yesterday, and just reheated (and thus overcooked) before being served today.

The tables were dirty and sticky. The chairs were sticky. The floors were worn and... sticky. The silverware caddy was empty. The fish case was about half empty, and prices were a bit high. We saw a number of people come in and grab live crab and sides of salmon, cut right then and there. So yes, you can get fresh fish there, and apparently people choose to do so. But we won't bother visiting again.

Scot and I both consume a lot of media around cooking, food sources, local business, etc. We keep lists in our phones about interesting places we want to check out someday. He suggested the next few stops.

Taking some back roads home, we hit Camus Country Mill. A third generation farmer of traditional and ancient grains, they mill their own locally grown, organic grains into flours and mixes. They have a cute little store out in the middle of the wide and flat meadows where sheep graze outside of Junction City. We had a great chat with the lady manning the store. We were lucky we got there before they closed at 3pm. We picked up some flour, an apple coffee cake mix, and some organic, locally grown grain based wheat pasta. YUM.

We said our next stop was the Country Bakery. "Oh, I hope she hasn't sold out already -- she usually does!" said the woman helping us out.

We wisked away to this little piece of heaven. The shelves were ALMOST bare. But as you step inside, you smell the most wonderful, warm cinnamon scent. Yeow. We walked out with our arms full.

Snickerdoodles - let me tell you, I'm always complaining that there's no snickerdoodle worth consuming other than my own. But... I'm now wrong. Hers are BETTER. A nice little pack of a dozen reasonable sized cookies. Er, I mean about half a dozen by the time we got home.

Honey wheat bread - a little more dense than commercial breads, this is flavorful and stands up to your pb&j, turkey, whatever you're going with it.

Hand made egg noodles. Delish.

Cinnamon rolls - Oh my gosh. Amazingly delicious. Again, as good as my own. They don't skimp on the gooey filing, and the icing on top is just the right amount.

We're making sure to swing by again next time we're in the area. And early!

It was a nice, meandering day that just sort of unfolded in front of us. We were home at the end of the day, with enough time to chill and then head out to round out our grocery shopping. I found that being away for a week, and eating out left me with the raging need to cook light, flavorful recipes. The fussier the better, I was dying to carefully prep and present. So there are some good yummies planned for this week.

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