Road Trip Along the West Coast

Roughly four years ago I made several posts about my trip to California when we took my oldest brother, Strack, to Chapman University his freshmen year. So four years have come and gone, and well, he graduated!
As a little celebratory graduation trip, my whole family (parents, both brothers, and myself) went on a trip along the west coast. I don't even think the trip was my brother's idea, but I'm sure he enjoyed it, anyway. The plan was to originally start in northern California and make our way up to Washington, but since Strack has lived in California for a while he said he wanted to spend more time in Oregon and Washington. 

My parents, middle brother-- Adrian, and I met Strack in Portland and we spent a day there basically just eating and shopping. Mostly eating. 

Our first stop was lunch/brunch. We had woken up at 2 in the morning to get to our flight and it was only 12 in the afternoon when we finally landed in Portland because of the time change.
After scoping out some places, we finally decided on Mother's Bistro & Bar.

It has a gorgeous kind of old-school French vibe on the inside. The menu was a cross between classic French and new American.
For an appetizer, we ordered queso with chorizo (okay I guess this isn't really French...) Anyway, I'm normally not a queso person, but if it's the kind that's basically melted cheese and chorizo... I'm all in.
I ordered a salmon hash with fried eggs and a latte (of course). We don't even want to talk about how much coffee I consumed on this trip. 


Queso + Chorizo


Salmon/Potato Hash
Fried Eggs
Toast

After, we shopped for a while until it was time for dinner. We ended up going to a place called Clyde Common-- I HIGHLY recommend this place if you're in Portland. Everything was amazing, from atmosphere inside, to the super innovative menu, to the abundant cheese board, to the main courses... 

I got two appetizers for my main course, which honestly both could have been main courses they were such hefty portions. I ordered the Garbanzo beans + Artichoke + Spicy Greens + Olive Puree + Parm + Chili and the Dungeness crab + Chermoula + Sunflower Butter + Seed Crisp + Pea Tendrils. Besides coffee, I've also eaten a ridiculous amount of Dungeness crab while on this trip, and I'm not complaining about it.
Also, quick side note... I love the weather here. It's summer and 60º outside, which is heaven, compared to the near 100º and humid weather back home.

Back to this food though... I swear I've never had something as flavorful as the chickpea dish (even though it looks so bleh) and as genius as the crab. I mean I love nut butter of all type, but I've never thought about using it in a savory dish (besides pad thai). I will definitely be trying some things out with that soon.


A very elaborate cheese board.


Dungeness crab + sunflower seed butter + seed brittle



Chickpeas + artichoke + spicy greens


For dessert this night, we walked over to VooDoo donuts, a place I've always wanted to go after seeing several extremely tempting posts of it on Instagram. We got a (very random) box of goodies and took them back to our hotel to devour on the bed. I tried the Portland Cream and the Memphis Mafia (obviously, I had to get the most chocolatey ones I could find), and both were DIVINE.


                    

For brunch the next morning, we wanted to go to a place called Tasty n Alder, but it was jam-packed, so we stumbled across Agnes Bistro, instead. And I'm really glad we did, too. It's a new French bistro in Portland and it didn't disappoint.

We had black pepper gougères (little fluffy clouds of cheesy-biscuit-y heaven) and escargot for appetizers. 
I ordered the asparagus + mushrooms + poached eggs + béarnaise sauce, but the French Toast was also calling my name....
So naturally, we got an order for the table to share.



I always want to get French Toast when I go places, but I've had a few bad experiences with plates of dry bread in the past and never want to risk it. 
But this French Toast was the real deal. By far the best French Toast I've ever put in my mouth. Actually, I think it trumps all pancakes and waffles and sweet breakfast foods I've ever had. It was that amazing.
Swimming in a pool of strawberry-rhubarb syrup and the excess custard that was fried up with it (such a good idea by the way)... We didn't even use the maple chantilly cream on the side of it because it was so perfectly sweet. Definitely get this French Toast if you ever get the chance. 



Escargot Almondine

Rhubarb + Strawberry French Toast
aka HEAVEN

Asparagus + Oyster Mushrooms + Eggs

Black Pepper gougères + house pickles/olives

Then we were on the road to our next stop: Astoria, Oregon.
It quickly became apparent to my family that this quaint fisherman’s town is one of my dad’s favorite cities. Every single small landmark (I’m talking water and rocks) my dad neglected his driving duties to yell and point “LOOK AT THE…. LOOK HOW AMAZING THEY ARE.” And he wouldn’t shut up. Even when we looked at the extremely dis-enthusing pile of rocks. Sure, they were pretty, but nothing to yell so aggressively with that amount of passion for. We tried to give him grief for this, but the blank stonewall that went on for miles made him so happy, it was funnier than it was annoying.

I can’t argue with him, Astoria is a really cute town. And with only 10,000 people you would think it would be a ghost town. But the town was FLOODED with people. Young and old. They were everywhere. Sunday happens to be the biggest day for shoppers there with the Sunday Market, so we got to experience that. And if you know me, you know I love Farmer’s Markets. (Link)

The main reason Astoria was a stop on our road trip is that my dad and I had a “gig” there. Basically, I was asked to send in some recipes to Chef Chris Holand of Baked Alaska (He’s a friend of my dad’s and owner/chef of the amazing restaurant). We turned my recipes into small bites for an event supporting the Regatta organization there in Astoria, and my dad played a few songs at it. It was such a fun experience, and I’m so thankful for Chef Chris for giving me this opportunity. His restaurant his amazing, and he even let my parents and I come in early one morning to check out the kitchen and learn how to make fish stock for his fish stew. It was a really cool process. I’m ready to test out some fish stock of my own! Boullibaise is one of my favorite dishes so I can’t wait to try my hand at it.


Making Fish Stock

We ate at his restaurant, Baked Alaska, our first night there. I forgot to take pictures, but we ate some of the freshest fish I’ve ever had. I honestly can’t eat seafood again after this trip, knowing what the good stuff tastes like. I had sous vide salmon, which was really exciting to try since I got a sous vide for Christmas.

The next morning, we woke up, went to watch the whole fish stock making process, and then explored the Sunday Market for a while, before catching a bite at a little brunch café. I had a veggie-red potato hash with poached eggs and lox, along with a matcha latte. We also shared a vegan cinnamon roll for a little treat.


Vegan Rum Raisin Cinnamon Roll

Veggie Hash + Poached Eggs + Lox

That night was the event, and everything went really well! Of course, there were some minor issues with the food, but I was proud of the end result.
Since the food we made was only small bites, my family grabbed some pizza at Baked Alaska before going back to our hotel. If there’s one thing I don’t like about this town, it’s that everything closes at 9 PM!! Pizza was our only option left, but it was a good one for sure.

We woke up bright and early, grabbed some coffee, and headed out of town. Our next stop was Seattle—It was my first time going! We have family there, so it was so nice to see them there. My dad had a real concert at the Triple Door there, so it all worked out perfectly.
We got there just in time for lunch and went to a place called Ivar’s Salmon Grill. It was right on the water and had A TON of fresh seafood. I devoured some more Dungeness crab in the Crab + Watermelon salad, and of course a side of sweet potato waffle fries (aka the best).

For dinner, my uncle and aunt grilled some salmon for dinner, and also made some yummy appetizers like my aunt’s smoked salmon dip (to die for) and fresh caught boiled shrimp… which we were all convinced were mini lobsters they were so sweet and meaty. I definitely can’t eat Kroger Shrimp ever again after eating those gems.

Tuesday, we wandered around the Seattle Market, saw the original Starbucks, and ate Dim Sum for the first time! I’m pretty sure Dim Sum was made for me because I can never decide on one dish. Sampling food (especially dumplings, buns, and potstickers) is my favorite way to get a meal in.

For dinner, we ate during my dad’s concert provided by Wild Ginger. I wasn’t that hungry (Dim Sum definitely fills you up), so I just had some salmon poke.
Oh, and then we went to Dick’s (a burger place) for late night burgers, fries, and shakes.

Wednesday, we got up and headed back home to hot, humid weather and rubbery seafood from Kroger, sadly.

An Azar family road trip wouldn't be complete without a concerning amount of coffee stops, lots of aggravation from my middle brother for taking too long to take pictures of our food, donuts of some sort, and my mom trying to get one good selfie in.
And this trip didn't lack in any of those departments.

Until our next adventure…

XOXO
Cecilia A.

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