Travel, Food, and Slices of Life

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Some Best Places to Eat

We are foodies, no bones about it. I’m a pretty good cook but Graham is so much better and while I can make some good chow, he can serve a dinner that many homestyle restaurants can’t. So when we travel, we enjoy discovering places that offer well prepared meals.

I thought I would present a few here that we have experienced, so if you are in those areas, you can share in our delight.

The Brooklyn Seafood, Steak and Oyster House, located at 1212 2nd Avenue in Seattle, Washington was recommended by the concierge at Graham’s hotel when I joined him for one of his professional conferences. Located in downtown Seattle, it provides one of the widest selection of oysters in a seafood rich city and has been recognized by the locals in the areas as one of the premiere restaurants in the city. Flights of small samples of 3,4 or 5 different items are offered for red wine, white wine, white wine with oyster pairings, micro-brews, beers and oyster pairings, vodka, vodka and oysters with caviar, scotch, vodka, tequila, port, and dessert wines. They are strong on Washington wine offerings. Menu options are broad and well prepared.

On a trip to Newport, Oregon a couple of years ago I had searched the internet and thought I had found a great option for fresh seafood, but a chatty gentlemen at our bed & breakfast asked where we planned to eat and quickly persuaded us to change our plan. I had not found the place he suggested because it was not listed as a restaurant, but as a fish market.  Local Ocean Seafood is located at 213 SE Bay Boulevard, Newport, OR at the harbor where the fishing fleet is docked. Fish in the display case for purchase to take home indicate not only what the fish is, but whose boat and how it was caught. The market has a small open concept kitchen and tables for about 20 people. To say we ate fresh seafood is to simply say grass is green, the sky is blue. But you know that day when the sky was such a beautiful shade of blue you always compare to it now? And the beginning of spring when you notice the grass is different? It’s that kind of fresh.

Heading across country we can highly recommend Cafe Cimino in the tiny town of Sutton, West Virginia to be on your own foodie magnet radar. I’ve written about this wonderful world class restaurant and bed and breakfast in my custom trip planning blog before and it is well worth it to press the point again. Chef Tim Urbanik uses the freshest and most local ingredients he can find to prepare menus that tease your snobbery down to real eating. We have gotten to  know Tim and Melody and Tim’s son Eli well and I assure you that together they will provide an escape from the routine. 

Located in beautiful Lancaster County in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, Lily’s on Main has captured the concept well. Designed with an art deco theme to coordinate with the reclaimed and renovated theater next door, the restaurant at 124 East Main Street offers a wide variety of well prepared seasonal dishes.

One place that ended up a great surprise was a small corner bistro in the Bolton Hill neighborhood in Baltimore located at 1501 Bolton Street. We asked the woman at our b&b where to eat and she said “Oh, the place down the block is pretty good.”  Well, B is a gem! It was a beautiful summer evening and we sat outside. Service was warm and friendly, the food was flavorful. Using local ingredients from their own farm source and preparing all recipes from scratch makes  a difference few people experience. And the people in Baltimore who have been there agree and have awarded it prize after prize.

One thing that all these restaurants have in common  is that they use local  ingredients as much as possible. Not only are local ingredients fresher and higher in nutritional content that anything that has to be shipped hundreds and thousands of miles, a kitchen that takes the time to use high quality foods to prepare dishes will provide a taste to the diner that few ever experience. Go…eat…enjoy!


Healthy Sourced Fast Food

Can fast food, with the typical burger and fries menu, ever be considered to be healthy? Since the 1960s we Americans have been eating more and more at places like McDonalds. In fact, many of the people who eat daily at fast food places no longer cook at home and believe they eat more cheaply than purchasing the whole food and preparing it.  bv_giftcards_beige

When I mentioned I was driving to Vancouver, Washington to pick up Graham from his conference, one of my new local friends told me that Burgerville is a place to consider stopping for lunch as we drive through Newberg on the way back to McMinnville. I checked their website and was surprised to find that the sources for their food – their beef for their burgers, their chicken for the chicken dishes, the pork served as bacon and sausage, and more – are almost all local!

If healthy, quick food seems like an oxymoron, you haven’t been to Burgerville, a chain of 39 Pacific Northwest quick-service restaurants. Burgers here are made from pastured vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free beef. The eggs on the breakfast biscuits are from cage-free hens that have never been treated with antibiotics. Salads offer mixed greens topped with smoked salmon and Oregon hazelnuts. Even desserts and sides rely on seasonal, local ingredients – blackberry milkshakes are only available in season, as are the hand-prepared buttermilk-battered onion rings made from Walla Walla sweet onions grown in Washington and Oregon.

Burgerville purchases wind power credits equal to 100 percent of their electricity use, recycles used canola oil into biodiesel, and offers its hourly employees an affordable $30-a-month health-care plan.   As their sales increased, it is clear that conducting business sustainably is good business.

Because of the timing of the trip, I grabbed a breakfast “basket” instead of stopping for lunch. The sausage came from a farm that raises its animals without antibiotics and hormones in a humane environment.  Orange juice from California. Buns baked in Portland. Potatoes from Washington. And more. The effort is to use local as much as possible and where the distance is needed, like the orange juice, the concept is to keep it as minimal as possible.brgrvl brk

I support the company’s effort to support local farmers. Although I have made an effort over the past few years to eat less fast food because of how it is prepared,  if I find myself on the road and need some food, at least now I have a option where I know I am getting real food and not pink slime.Last_Burgerville


Perched on the Edge

DSC_0261Twin Falls, Idaho is one of those places, in a movie, where the hero is riding his horse being chased and comes to the edge of a canyon. The canyon there has been carved by the Snake River and perched at the edge, 486 feet above the water, is the restaurant we lucked into: Elevation 486.DSC_0253

Located on the ground floor of an office tower with a terrace providing outdoor seating (we arrived just before a magnificent thunder storm), the restaurant offers an American menu, prepared well. This was the best meal we have enjoyed on our road trip, and although there were only a few items on the menu that were local, we were happy with the selection.

We started with calamari even though it is not a local food, as it is a quick test of the chef’s skill. It was lightly breaded and had the proper texture and was served with a spicy chili-lime-sriracha vinaigrette.

DSC_0255Graham ordered a spinach salad and I had the Tomato-Basil Bisque before our entrees arrived.  Graham enjoyed the special of two grilled quail in a bourbon-honey glaze with rosemary vinaigrette and I had the pork tenderloin with  apricot-Jalepeno-mint sauce.  Both entrees were local offerings.DSC_0256

We managed to share one dessert, an apple-berry crisp with vanilla ice cream, also from local ingredients.

Our waiter was friendly and attentive and even as the restaurant filled (on a Wednesday night!) the service was impeccable.

We can heartily recommend this to anyone driving along I-84 in southern Idaho…just about 15 minutes from the Interstate.  And the view is awesome.DSC_0004