Oregon----My trip on the Culinary Oregon Trail

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2010/10/29 21:57:54 (permalink)

Oregon----My trip on the Culinary Oregon Trail

For the better part of October I took a trip through Oregon. I found some great food, met (and re-met) some RF'ers and saw some beautiful scenery. Here's what I found.
I spent most of my time in Oregon around the Corvallis-Albany area, also visiting Portland, Seaside,Gearhart, Astoria and Newport. While it does not have a great variety of restaurants, I did find several that were noteworthy and a few that deserved a second (and even third) visit.
One Saturday night, I met RF'ers Mr. Chips and Trudy at one of our favorite places, Novak's Hungarian in Albany. I had met them there on my last visit to Oregon two years previously and it was top of the list to re-visit. Novak's is virtually the only Hungarian restaurant in Oregon. Even though they moved to a larger location several years ago, they are still owned by the same family who take an active role in the restaurant. We started off with their Langos, which seems to be a Chips family favorite. It is a type of fried bread and comes with three dips-----apricot and strawberry preserves and a garlic dip too.

Dinners were somewhat easy to order. While they have a large menu, all of us seemed to have our favorites in mind before we ordered. Jim ordered the Gulyas Soup, Trudy ordered the Becsi Sezlet, a beef version of a schnitzel/cutlet. I ordered the Parizsi Sezlet, pork tenderloin breaded and fried. Thinking ahead, Jim decided to only have the soup so he would have room for the dessert.
Soup and salad came. The soups were full of beef, carrots and potatoes.

There was a minor mixup when they brought the dinners. Our waiter brought the wrong thing for Trudy. This did, however give me a chance to snap a pic of it before the Beef Porkolt, a dish of sirloin tips in gravy over noodles was returned and the right dish brought to the table.
Trudy received her beef cutlet promptly accompanied by noodles and broccoli.

My dish also came. Surprisingly, the pork cutlet was more of a chunk of pork tenderloin rather than a thin-sliced tenderloin. It was moist and flavorful, and came with delicious mashed potatoes.

Jim had ordered the Dobos Torta to share for us for dessert. It's multiple layers of cake, chocolate cream and almonds.

Everyone had a few bites of it, but we were all so full that he took it home. Hope you enjoyed it the next day too, Jim!
On my way back to California I had arranged to meet Bill Voss for lunch. He suggested a small Mexican lunch counter in a Mexican market as the place to meet. Before that, I had eaten at three Mexican places in Corvallis, none of them anywhere close to the food I regularly get in Southern California. Bill had given me directions to La Tapatia and I was hopeful when I pulled up and saw the sign.

It looked a lot more like the places I was used to eating in. I looked at the menu on the wall to figure out what I wanted. Bill came in soon. Shortly after that, as we talked, it seemed like we had known each other for years. He ordered two tacos and a Bohemia Beer.

I ordered the same tacos, al pastor (pork) and chorizo, plus a chili relleno with salad, rice and beans.

I also got the real Mexican Coca Cola, still made with real sugar instead of corn syrup and in a glass bottle. We went to their condiment bar to get salsa, radishes and the pickled carrots and onions which are the sign of a real Mexican cafe to me.

Bill warned me that one of the sauces was the real thing and very hot. It was, but the perfect thing to go with the fresh tortillas that we got. I was very pleased with the food, the meat having excellent flavor. The chunks of pork had the crisp outside that I like a lot and the chorizo was much better then I usually have, helped no doubt by the fact that as you enter, you pass my a large meat counter with fresh meats, chicken and seafood. The chili relleno was nicely done, not heavily battered so the flavor and the texture of the poblano chili could shine through. I'd finally satisfied my Mexican food craving for the last month, thanks to Bill Voss. By the time I was stuffed, I still had enough tortillas, salad and veggies to provide me with dinner on the long drive back to SoCal.
One of the places I had on my "must do" list was a trip to the oceanfrom town of Newport and Nye Beach. I had my list of places from the Roadfood list to try. Unfortunately, I only had enough time that day since my brother who had joined me for the drive had to be back by 5:00. We walked the town and I looked for the places suggested here. At the top was Shark's Seafood Bar and Steamer Company. Unfortunately, they were closed for lunch, only being open for dinner. The last time I was in the area I'd had some delicious fried food at the South Beach Fish Market, so when we walked by, I decided to try Mo's Chowder. After a quick decision to try the Original Mo's rather than Mo's Annex (apparently only the original can do fried food, the annex is mainly sandwiches and soup) we walked into Mo's, getting a nice table next to an open area blending into the sidewalk. I found out that this was actually a large garage door they opened daily---the spot where someone had once crashed a car into the then closed wall. They had fresh local oysters (Newport is on Yaquina Bay, home of the oyster of the same nam. First I ordered an oyster shot. It was delicious, with a nice tangy cocktail sauce.

My brother started with a shrimp salad while I had a bowl of the clam chowder.

He enjoyed his salad. I thought the chowder was good, although overly thick and much more potatoes than clams.

I had problems making up my mind for the entree. I wanted more oysters but also wanted a few other things too. The cioppino looked good, but I decided on the combo plate, finding it interesting that the oysters were grilled and not fried. The plate also included sauteed green beans, fried Alaskan Cod and fried calamari.

My brother ordered their clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.

The chowder was the same that I had, except in a hollowed out loaf of sourdough. I had mixed feelings about my lunch. The beans were good. The oysters were fried instead of grilled.The flavor was good but it was not what I expected. The fish was a few small pieces and somewhat overcooked. The calamari was fine but lacked distinction. I enjoyed my lunch, but with a big asterisk next to it. I've found out over the years many places that lost what made them famous. They fell victims to the hype, and I think it may have happened here. I've been to many places reviewed by RF'ers over the years as well as a lot of the places written up by the Sterns and I felt that it didn't seem like the same place I had read so much about here. The meal was okay, but not something I would order again---or even return to again.
We headed back to Corvallis, taking the "back road" along Yaquina Bay. On the way, we stopped at the Oregon Oyster Farms, a place that I had enjoyed so much on a previous visit that I had it on my "must visit again" list. On another thread, I couldn't even wait to write about it until I returned home, so I devoted an evening to writing about it on Roadfood.
There were plenty of other interesting places I found in the 4 weeks that I  was in Oregon. I'll continue this thread shortly with some of the other places I visited in Oregon.
post edited by EdSails - 2010/10/30 01:57:29

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