Countdown to the Coast…   Leave a comment

For the first time, my parents-in-law are coming to the northwest, and as part of their week here we are taking them to the Oregon Coast. I actually haven't been to the coast for years- the first couple times I visited here, I usually got at least a day trip, but when it actually came time to investigate moving here and now having lived here, I never went.

The last time I went, we drove with friends from Seattle and stopped at Camp 18. I still remember how crunchy and perfectly executed in a non-greasy fashion the fried halibut sandwich with sharp Tillamook cheddar and super crisp steak fries were. Every single steak fry was extra crispy crunchy, not a soggy one in the bunch.

We are doing a very similar drive this time, though obviously our starting point is Portland this time. We'll be swinging past on 26 to Camp 18 for breakfast and then onward to Cannon Beach, and down the coastline, stopping at Tillamook (where I will find room for a Tillamook Grilled Cheese, and ice cream, thank you) for sure but also any other places we see fit (like Devil's Punchbowl and Mo's Clam Chowder snack at Otter Rock) and wrapping up at Newport with a visit to Rogue. We also have the Newport Aquarium in our sights but only if we get in early enough and not distracted by the coastal beauty- which really depends on the weather.

I am not sure what exactly my parents-in-laws like to eat, but as a snack to have around the house, besides lots of lemonade and a carton of OJ and lots of beer and wine, I also went to the Portland Farmer's Market (I go so often I don't even bother to post about it) and picked up some cheeses (Chipotle Cheddar and Rosemary Cheddar from Rogue Creamery and blue cheese from my usual dairy lady of Jacobs Creamery) and as another bonus, boar and apple pate and farmer's pate from my favorite meat vendor, Chop Butchery. The poor guy (Eric Finley) was just getting overwhelmed today- it's always a popular one for people coming to taste, and they always taste all of the pates he has out which can be 4-5, so he's chopping and answering questions and trying to see whose orders he needs to take. One guy kept asking him what was each pate displayed, even though ahem, there were clearly signs in front of each block of wood with the pate offering and he tried to tell the guy to just read while at the same time dealing with a woman who was asking about his sausages, wanted one he was out of then wanted to try one that he didn't have for sampling while half a dozen more people were crowding just our inner circle of 4 in front of his table.

I just tried to get in and out of there as fast as I could with my pates (ok, maybe I threw in a duck confit for myself), not wanting to be a bother. It was a bit sad because I've actually stopped here a dozen times, but he never has time to really talk anymore, unlike when he first opened the stand. Though hey dude, maybe you should consider bigger signage. The flowers I purchased just had a big blue paper where with marker was written simply "1. Pay for a ready-made bouquet or 2. Tell us your custom order and we'll build it for you now or you can pick up later" so that despite the language barrier of the little flower factory they had going on, you knew exactly what the system is. Signs are so cheap and can really help a farmer's market vendor out. I know he uses the same chalkboard thing since he started, but when you have people surrounding you 3 half-circles back you need to get people to process information and make choices faster. I do appreciate that most of his stuff is $5, making for easy cash transactions. 🙂

The Portland Farmer's Market is just not a place that you can always take the time to know your vendor anymore. They doubled the size compared to last year, and although there are some new vendors they didn't add double the vendors, they are trying to allow more spacing. Still, with the number of people who come to the market now, it is still really, really crowded, too crowded for relationships with the farmers and more just a economic market of buyers and sellers just trying to get things done, though it is a very happy family and friend time on the buyers side. Lots of families with their strollers or kids, which I appreciate seeing future generations appreciating their food coming from the land and not a shiny corporate grocery store. When I was growing up, my mom stopped at several family owned groceries and farm stands (my favorite one was one where I always wanted to get fresh apple cider).

I miss that personal part- even though I go every Saturday, I know the farmers can't possibly remember me with everyone they see in that half day- but I'm glad that so many people are supporting them, even and especially in this economy. Hopefully, this will mean even more growth next year, and continues the cycle of appreciating what food should look like and come from. I suppose if I really wanted to talk, I could get my butt up earlier in the morning too. Very early when it is just opened, or in bad weather, are my most leisurely experiences with the market. If we have a chance, it would be nice to take the inlaws to the market, but knowing that the experience will be so crowded, it's not a top priority- Saturday Market is more that browsing feel we are hoping for.

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Posted May 8, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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