Food travels.

My mate and I recently returned from a summer vacation to the Oregon Coast. The Coast, aside from the beautiful views, is home to such great food it’s almost unbelievable sometimes. I often feel this way about places that are so naturally fertile that produce, animals, cheeses, wines all grow up big, strong, and tasty.

For the majority of the trip, we camped and tried out seafood as much as we could so that we could get our fill. In Portland and Seattle, we were much better equipped (with a hotel room and cabs and servers) to eat. Below is a list of finds and somewhat reviews.

Tillamook Cheese
I had heard about Tillamook via interweb and word of mouth so I was quite excited to visit the famous cheese factory there. It didn’t disappoint. I grew up in Ontario so I am used to the dairy farm thing, but I never tire of good cheese.

If you get a chance to go, it’s a free tour and it’s pretty cool to watch the machines (if you like big machines, like I do). Also, the sheer volume of cheeses passing through is extraordinary.

-Tillamook Smoked Pepper Cheese
-Tillamook Medium Cheddar (which recently won the best worldwide)
-Vintage White Extra Sharp

Also – we grabbed some steamed crabs and ate them in our campsite – but needed butter obviously. We bought some Tillamook Sweet Cream Unsalted Butter and I melted it over our camp stove. Not kidding – the best butter I have ever had. Sorry, Stirling Creamery. Especially if you can brown it – it’s almost like caramelized pecans.

Sea Dog Bakery in Waldport
We stopped in Waldport near the end of our trip, with the last of the campsites being just down the 101. Waldport itself is tiny and cute, but this place had a great breakfast menu and really fun old people customers. I had a croissant breakfast sandwich and it was really solid. I wish I had tried the French toast, which was made with “crumpet bread”, something that is baked in house by the owner’s wife.

Whiskey Creek BBQ
This place was a find. It’s located along the Three Capes Scenic Route, off the 101. We stopped on our way to Cape Lookout State Park. There was a sign on the side of the road for Hot, Fresh BBQ and I am a sucker for all of those things.

It was opened by a South Carolinian and featured a great waitress from Texas who seemed out of place on the Oregon coast. Everything was made in house and let me tell you – you can tell. 12 hour smoked brisket, pulled pork, chicken, ribs. We got the BBQ sampler to start and then we both ordered BBQ sandwiches. Mine was the Carolina, with coleslaw and pulled pork, with fries on the side. Mate ordered the chicken, with avocado. They were legitimate sandwiches, with the history behind it. We ordered way too much and ended up sleeping in a food induced coma in the too-small tent after, but it was worth it. Honestly, if you find yourself on that road, pull in and give it a go.

We stopped in a lot of towns, but to be honest, a lot of them have the same food. If you are looking for seafood, we have learned our lesson to simply go to a crab shack and buy fresh, steamed crabs and save ourselves a lot of money and gain in quality. We tried places like Mo’s in Newport, but it was just okay. A lot of the towns, like Seaside and Newport have such a carny feeling of fake boardwalks and fried food that it was hard to get a sense of the actual town. Tillamook was great, Waldport was sleepy but real.

Seattle is a town where you can rarely go wrong. I will just list the restaurants that we hit up. We went on a Tom Douglas kick, so be aware.

-Lola’s – dry martini and the grilled octopus. The octopus was so good that I just about died. Really.
-Etta’s – 1lb of steamed mussels and fries, crab cakes. Delicious and worth it.
-The Confectionary – yum. These aren’t the BEST cheesecakes I have ever had (see previous cheesecake post) but they are one serving sized and really good nonetheless.
-Serious Pie – our go-to place that we have to visit in Seattle. Buffalo mozza and the fennel sausage. Damn. It’s even good cold, which we discovered after walking 1 mile from the car rental to the motel.

Portland. So many things to say. First of all, it’s like an American Montreal. In so many ways. Secondly, the FOOD.

We timed our trip with July 4th and the Beer Month of Oregon. Like dancers, we are.

-Le Pigeon
Lamb tongue with truffels, sweetbreads and spaghetti meatballs, trio of creme brulees. Pork belly, salmon with savoury crepe, foie gras ice cream profiteroles with foie gras powdered sugar and foie gras caramel. I don’t think I need to say anything more. Just go.

-Deschutes Brewery
Really great beer, burger, welcome to Portland situation. Loved it.

-Hotel DeLuxe
Had a great stay here, especially after 7 days of camping. Blerg. Really good little bar in the place called the Driftwood Lounge. Attempted to eat at their restaurant, Gracies but missed the closing hour by a few minutes.

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