Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

IMG_7708  I’ve reviewed hundreds of bed-and-breakfast inns for guidebooks, and by now it takes me maybe two minutes to tell if I’ve found a good one. As I walk in the door of The White House Bed and Breakfast, in Medford, Oregon, I know immediately it rates high on the list. kathy rulonKathy Rulon greets weary travelers with a smile, shows us to our spacious upstairs room, explains how things work, and points out a box of cards with breakfast menu choices (nice idea!). Then she leaves us alone in our haven of quiet, saying “I’ll be in the kitchen or garden if you need me.” Kathy is a former flight attendant, and she knows how to take care of people without any annoying hovering. Her relaxed, friendly style makes guests feel immediately at home, and this, plus nice accommodations with thoughtful touches, are to me the ingredients of a perfect bed-and-breakfast inn.  Reasonable rates help, too.

The White House B&B is a two-story, columned home on a residential hillside lane in East Medford. It’s white, of course, and has a veranda complete with inviting rocker. Our room is lounge area Whiite house suite actually a suite stretching across the   house front to back, with windows  overlooking the tree-shaded street and large garden.  The queen-sized bed is comfortable and the light-filled bathroom spotless. And there’s plenty of space to put our stuff, which inevitably gets scattered around. Down the hall is another bedroom that sleeps two, but it’s used only if a group is traveling together, so we have the entire floor to ourselves.

Asked for a dinner recommendation, our hostess is happy to oblige. We choose Porters, a century-old train station restored as a patio, porterspopular restaurant.  It has both  historic charm and an excellent menu of American classic dishes, emphasizing local foods: wild mushrooms, herbs, cheeses, Northwest seafood and wines, Oregon poultry and lamb. We dine at an outdoor patio table, with train tracks on the other side of the vine-covered fence, and couldn’t be more content.

In the morning, Kathie has breakfast on the table at the time requested. We have the granola/fruit/yogurt parfait and a IMG_7620spinach-mushroom omelet, only part of a small feast that includes whole cooked pears, fresh coffee cake and preserves, juice, coffee and teas. It’s all delicious. (Kathy’s secret to a perfect  non-rubbery omelet: cook it more slowly than you think you should.) Her most requested dish is the Dutch Baby, a baked pancake cooked at high heat in a heavy cast iron pan so it crawls up the sides. Kathy fills it with blueberries and gives it a sprinkle of powdered sugar. IMG_7705

Search as I might, I can’t find a thing to complain about, so I’ll end with the recipe that made Kathy a finalist in a Best Breakfast contest by BedandBreakfast.com. It’s easy to prepare if you roast the sweet potatoes and yams the night before, which I did.  Also, I skipped the eggs and it was uniquely tasty anyway, a good, hearty brunch dish.

Sweet Potato Hash on Beet Greens with Bacon Brittle (serves 4)

2 sweet potatoes

2 yams

1 onion

4 scallions

1 bunch beet greens

4 strips bacon

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

8 eggs

Roast sweet potatoes and yams.  Cool, peel, and cube.

Sliver onion and sauté with potatoes and yam in olive oil.

Cut stems from beet greens; sauté greens lightly in olive oil.

Fry bacon, drain off most of fat, and add syrup and brown sugar. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. (Pinch of cayenne pepper here is optional.) Spread onto baking sheet to cool; then break into pieces.

Poach eggs.

Lay a bed of  the beet greens on each plate. Place a spoonful of potato/yam/scallion mixture on top. Sprinkle with bacon/sugar brittle and top with 2 poached eggs. Garnish with a scallion.



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Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OregonCannon Beach, on the northern Oregon coast, is tourist heaven.  Happily, this sweet town has a lot more than souvenir and ice cream shops. Who wouldn’t love the wide, sandy beach, with Haystack Rock rising 235 feet just offshore? At low tide I walk the wet sand to this seabird sanctuary and look for the sea stars and anemones that live in the tidepools. (Keeping an eye on the tide, of course–don’t want to get stuck on Haystack with waves rushing in around me.)

Some people build sandcastles, fly kites or go surfing or boogy boarding (brrr, that Pacific water is cold). I prefer hiking the woodsy trails of Ecola State Park, on the north end of town, with the roar of the rolling surf never far away. Then I window-shop with everyone else. The last time I counted, Cannon Beach had some 60 shops and galleries: gifts, cards, candy, fine art, photography, wines, handblown glass, you name it.  It has an active theater and at least 30 places to eat, from pizza parlors to high cuisine restaurants. Good bakeries, too. All this in a town with a population under 2,000.

I always head for two places. First, Cannon Beach Book Company, a 30-year-old bookstore with great reading choices. I browse for hours and invariably find something I’ve got to read. This time it’s The Mine, by Daniel Cobb, an Oregon science and technology writer. His thriller is the story of a young biologist who discovers fraud, corruption and murder in a mining company, and the disaster that follows. It’s a page-turner and a must-read for anyone concerned about the environment.

My other favorite is a restaurant, Newmans at 988, restaurant, Cannon BeachNewmans at 988. Dinner is expensive, and it’s worth it. I’m not going out on a limb here; almost everyone is wowed by Chef John Newman’s fantastic way with French-Italian food. A few have complained about the service, but I find it just right, attentive but not hovering. Newmans is small, in an unassuming yellow house on Hemlock Street. Its carpeting and low ceiling keep the noise level at a pleasant hum, and the background music (Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett–old standards, but stil the best) goes well with white linens and candlelight.

The seared scallops appetizer is melt-in-the-mouth wonderful. It’s served with sweetseared scallops, Newmans at 988, Cannon Beach, Oregon corn, mushrooms, and a parsley/carrot reduction, with a touch of truffle oil to add a light smokiness.  Delicious. The duck trio entree has duck in 3 ways: delicate liver in a light crust along with slices of dark and light meat and served with perfectly cooked polenta and vegetables. There’s a balanced wine list, with a number of Pacific Northwest wines, and delectable desserts created by pastry chef Nancy Williams.

Chef John has won a number of awards and will be a part of the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction, Nov. 10, 2010. These auctions, held in about 200 U.S. cities, have raised more that $132 million for the March of Dimes effort to save babies. The Portland auction will be held at the Marriott Portland Downtown Waterfront hotel.

The final touch, after my excellent dinner, is a stroll around Cannon Beach with the festive crowd. With maybe just a taste of chocolate and a sip of espresso to end a fine day at the beach.  See you at the tidepools.

For more of the world’s interesting beaches, try Flightster and Travel Channel Beaches. 

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When it rains day after day in western Oregon, everybody complains. We’re not fish, we’re tired of living in an aquarium. Then you take a trip to Silver Falls State Park, where all that water has made the falls even more dramatic, and all you can do is South Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregongaze in wonder and forgive the rain gods for their deluges.

If the Trail of Ten Falls were anywhere except Oregon, where gorgeous scenery is taken for granted, it would be high on the list of world-famed must-sees. Silver Creek Canyon and its waterfalls, lush greenery, and tall firs and cedars, is spectacular. I know I’m gushing as much as the falls are, but this is a place worth gushing over. I’m not the only one; it can get crowded here in summer.

The sun is shining, for a change, when we arrive at Oregon’s largest state park, a 1.5 hour’s drive south from Portland. We pay an entrance fee, park the car, and hike the trail down into the canyon, where we’re immediately mesmerized by South Falls, thundering 184 feet over the cliff to Silver Creek. Then we walk behind the falls, where the trail widens, and look out through the cascade at the wavery forest.

The park’s foundation began 15 million years ago with lava flows that hardened into basalt. That was topped by 1500 feet of volcanic ash and debris, and water did the rest, gradually eating away soil and rock and creating a steep canyon and stream with waterfalls.

waterfall, Silver FAlls State Park, OregonThe trail continues from South Falls on to Lower South Falls, Double Falls, Drake, Middle North, and Winter Falls, every one of them a roaring plunge into the stream. It’s a loop trip that takes about 3 hours, with stops to dabble our fingers in the cold water and picnic beside a log bridge. We could take the full loop that goes to Twin, North, and Upper North Falls, but that’s almost 7 miles, more than we have time for, so we cut back on the trail through the forest and ferns to the South Falls parking area.

The Civilian Conservation Corps built the foot trail, part of it stairs and bridges, in the South Falls Lodge, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon1930s. In the ’40s they constructed a stone and wood lodge. There are picnic tables and benches scattered throughout the grassy upper level, and clean restrooms and camping areas. Also a nice little gift shop in a log cabin that looks like a movie version of a pioneer homestead.  No bikes and no dogs are allowed on the trail.

If you’ve been to Silver Falls, what part do you like the most? Don’t you think it’s one of the marvels of the Pacific Northwest?

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