Red Lobsters newest advertising campaign ends each commercial with the phrase “We sea food differently”. After spending 3 weeks in Oregon this summer “We sea food differently.” Red Lobster will never be the same, never quite as satisfying and they can’t match that fresh caught taste.
Our first sampling of seafood was in Pendleton, Oregon, 1444 miles closer to the ocean than Fort Worth,Tx. Pendleton is the home of the Pendleton Round-up, the Pendleton Woolen Mill, and 17,515 citizens. After taking a walking tour of the downtown area.we stopped in the Prodigal Son Brewery for ale-battered fish and chips and a refreshing pint of Golden Ale. The fresh cod was moist on the inside with a light crispy batter, the chips plentiful, well seasoned, and crisp. A pretty good start to our sea food adventure.
Our next sampling would be at the Schooner Restaurant on Netarts Bay. Sitting on the patio with a full view of the bay and boats, we sampled Rock fish, bouillabaisse, and my new love clam chowder. Oh my, this rich, creamy, flavorful chowder is to die for. During our 10 day stay on the bay we bought clam chowder at the fish market and again at the Schooner. It takes a lot of beach walking and bicycling to burn the calories from one cup of clam chowder and we won’t talk about the cholesterol.
We treated ourselves to fried oysters at the Pacific House in Tillamook, and gave them a thumbs up. The next day we decided we should try our hand at cooking oysters. A visit to the fish market provided us with a dozen oysters in the shell. We were pretty sure we knew how to clean them but not too sure about cooking them. A quick trip to the office provided me with several experts theories on grilling or frying and with a simple “Google” I had a recipe. So with clean oysters, we dried them off, dipped them in egg and seasoned bread crumbs, allowed them to dry a few minutes, and then fried them. Served with spinach salad, corn on the cob, and Blueberry Buckle they were equal or better than the restaurants.
On the way back to the RV we shopped at the farmers market for produce and the fish market for a nice piece of fresh tuna. Grilled tuna, fresh carrots, cucumbers, radishes, beat greens, and a wedge salad were a perfect ending to the day.
A day trip took us north on Highway 101 to Garibaldi, Seaside, and Astoria. After taking in all the sites and visiting the Maritime Museum we had lunch at the Bowpickers Fish & Chips. The fish was Albacore tuna with a light beer batter, fried to perfection and served with steak fries. Deciding if you want a 1/2 order or a whole order is the only decision required because fish and chips is all they serve and they do it very well, it was outstanding.
Traveling south highway 101 we found a RV park in Newport, Oregon approx 3 blocks from the beach. Newport is known as the Dungeness Crab Capitol of the world, and is home to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. We spent the afternoon strolling along the historic Bayfront which is a working fishing port full of unique shops and eateries. We stopped in at Mo’s for a bowl of their “world-famous clam chowder” and halibut fish and chips. The clam chowder lived up to its reputation and we left full and satisfied. The following day we bought a half pound of Dungeness Crab and made our own crab salad with onion, celery, and Old Bay Seasoning. Canned crab doesn’t come close to fresh crab and artificial crab is just that. Artificial!
Our last day in Newport we visited the aquarium and drove to Depoe Bay, the whale watching capital of the coast, Evidently the whales didn’t understand they were due in Depoe Bay that day, The only whales we saw were in the pictures at the information center. Nothing improves ones mood after being stood up by the whales than a large bowl of clam chowder, a Pacific Shrimp salad, and fried oysters. Gracie’s Sea Hag restaurant provided the food along with a hometown atmosphere. The Sea Hag’s fried oysters were by far the best and the clam chowder topped the list for the best flavor of all.
Leaving Newport we traveled west to the city of Bend and stayed two days. On the recommendation of the couple that owned the RV park we ate Mexican food at a little Mom & Pop place close to the park. First of all Oregonians don’t know what “good” Mexican food is, and secondly, being Texans, we should have known better. Lesson learned and it won’t happen again.
Our last stop in Oregon was 25 miles north of Burns, Oregon in the high desert country. Crystal Crane Hot Springs RV park is a small park off a lonely highway.
While relaxing in the hot springs you can take in the view of the wide open country, at night by moon light you watch the bats swooping after bugs and listen to the coyotes in the distance. No restaurants to be found so it was time to get back in the routine of cooking. Grilled pork chops, stuffed pablano peppers, grilled steaks, a variety of fresh produce, and apricot pineapple cake were served in between dips in the hot springs and exploring Harney county.
We left Oregon with great memories of beautiful country and shared adventures. We also left a little heavier and with a new appreciation for sea food and the art of preparation. I’m not sure we will ever grow tired of talking about Oregon’s clam chowder and fried oysters.