Monday, May 31, 2010

Back to South of the James Market

After a two week hiatus (because of vacation) we returned to the SOJ Market on Saturday. Lots of yummy stuff, including cherries from Agriberry and fresh whole chickens from Faith Farms. The chicken was roasted that very night. It was the cleanest, most beautiful chicken that I have seen in quite some time. Rinse, pat dry, attempt to truss and roast using the high heat method that is all the rage these days. So good!

Below are some photos. Please support your local farmers and if you have any photos from local farmers markets, please consider posting them here.

Hood River Oregon

We flew into Portland by way of Dallas. During our layover in Dallas we had Dickey's BBQ (beef brisket).
I have since learned that they are a chain with a couple of outlets in VA (none around here). Decent for airport food. And then we happened upon a wine bar and sampled some Texas wine.

Not bad. We liked Becker Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon the best.

As we flew into Portland we had an upclose look at Mt. Hood. Sure enough, topped with SNOW. Very cool to be flying by it. When we landed in Portland we made a beeline to Hood River along the Columbia River. The freeway was the prettiest highway ever. I'm not sure how my hubby got us to our B & B in one piece. I would have run us off the road gawking at the river, the mountains, the rocks, and waterfalls.

We lodged at the Inn at the Gorge. We had a two room suite with a kitchenette. It was spacious and comfy. And the innkeepers served enough breakfast that we did not need lunch.

Eating Highlights - Every place was good and offered a different experience.

Nora's Table - Simple interior with a focus on local fare. The best trout (from Idaho) we've ever tasted. The place is also passionate about pork in multiple forms. The rillettes with the farm fresh egg was very yummy. And we discovered that Columbia Gorge wines were delightful, including the Jacob Williams Merlot that was recommended to us.

Stonehedge Gardens - Just out of town, so we needed to drive. Recommeded by our innkeeper. The food was very good, but not exceptional. The setting was phenomenal. It had been a lovely sunny day and we ate outside in the garden patio. Frogs serenaded us as we admired the lush canopy of trees. Because it was a weeknight and the real tourist season had not started, we had the garden to ourselves. Duck, flaming bread pudding, and a Rogue Valley Anthony Dell wine were part of our meal. Definitely, a magical setting.

3 Rivers Grill - Once again we dined outside and had a nice view of the town and the mountains in the background. Mirabelle Brut Rose, albeit from California, was at a very nice price and paired well with shrimp and chicken with orange cream sauce and hazelnuts.

Celilo - This place reminded me more of restaurants around here. Nice bar, a bit trendy. The Fidelitas wine was a red blend from Washington state. The amazing part of the evening was my appetizer of sauteed morel mushrooms from Mosier - just a few miles east of Hood River. I'm generally not a mushroom fan, but I have liked morels in the past and since they were local and I was on vacation, I gave them a shot. Very nice, especially with the fromage blanc. Hangar steak was good, too.

Wine Highlights - We really did not realize that this area produced wines. But we were happy to give them a try.

Gorge White House - Old restored house with spectacular views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. Features about 12 wines from both Oregon and Washington state for tasting (offerings change up on a regular basis) and many others for purchase.

Marchesi Vineyards - Tiny operation with the Italian winemaker pouring his offerings. Great Sangiovese.

Maryhill Winery - Located on the Washington state side. Large, well-run, impressive operation. Great views of the river and Mt. Hood. Newly built amphitheater for concerts. Wonderful Cabernet Franc.

Cascade Cliffs - Also on the Washington state side. Small, casual, rustic atmosphere. Make sure to try the Nebbiolo. A bit pricey, but delicious. The Goat Head Red was very tasty and a better price point.

Area Highlights

Old Highway 30 between Hood River and Troutdale running west is a must drive. Be prepared to make lots of stops along the way for hiking and viewing waterfalls and panoramas of the Gorge. Multnomah Falls is a must-see and has options for viewing and hiking a steep but paved path all the way to the top. Vista House offers incredible 360 degree views of the area.

Timberline Lodge allowed us to park and get up close to Mt. Hood. Skiing and snowboarding were still in full swing. We were able to buy a footsie pass to ride the chair lift. Spectacular! SNOW! We then made our way down the mountain to Lost Lake with nice views of the mountain.

About 20 miles east of Hood River and the Cascades we experienced drier, prairie-like conditions. We crossed the river and drove along the Washington state side. Maryhill Museum of Art was established by Sam Hill in the early part of the 20th century and basically sits in the middle of nowhere. They have some Rodin pieces and a variety of other items. Most unusual was the collection of royal furniture from Queen Marie of Romania. We also enjoyed the sculpture garden and the peacocks strolling about. On the way back to Hood River we stopped by Horsethief Lake and took in the petroglyphs on display.