Seattle is the most caffeinated city in the US, but I don’t think Portland is far behind. Witness Stumptown Coffee. (Fast fact: Portland is nicknamed “Stumptown” because the first settlers cleared the land quickly and completely, leaving behind only stumps.)
In the late 90’s, the owner began traveling the world in his quest to find the finest beans in order to bring them back and roast them himself. They still roast all their own beans. On the way from Portland to Seattle, we saw dozens upon dozens of independently-owned coffee stands. Barista classes are offered at the local community college. If you, like me, are willing to go to any lengths for good food and coffee is your thing, then Seattle/Portland is a must. As for me, I don’t usually indulge in fancy coffee drinks. Now that I’m leaving the java mecca, this will be my last latte. I have passed the test. I will diminish, and go into the East, and remain Vanessa Bartal. (Name that movie.)
This morning we visited The Pearl bakery, Portland’s bakery of note. Along the way, we saw some of Portland’s famed food trucks, set up in a parking lot like a shantytown. There are also actual shantytowns. Portland seems to have a lot of homeless peoples and, I’m not making this up, they all look like hipsters. It’s as if the Occupy movement moved here and never went away. (Fast fact: Portland was once a hub of human trafficking. The tunnels, called Shanghai tunnels because of the practice of Shanghaiing, or kidnapping, are alive and able to be toured today.) All in all, Portland fascinated me. I wish we had more time. One more word about food before we move on from Portland.
What you’re looking at here is real milk. See that thing floating on the surface? That’s actual cream. Where I live, I could be arrested for buying this. In Portland, it’s perfectly legal. Low temperature pasteurization of grass-fed cows keeps all the good stuff milk provides while still killing bacteria. This is as close as you can get to raw milk unless you’re standing beside the cow with a bucket, and yet it’s illegal in most states. The color of the milk is sort of a buttery yellow. The taste is reminiscent of spring–slightly grassy. Tasting this milk for the first time makes me realize how far the brilliant white stuff in the grocery store is from the real thing. The West is leading the charge to try and make this legal for the rest of us. Godspeed, I say.
Highly caffeinated and doused with sugar, we headed west toward the coast. Turns out we would need the caffeine to stay awake. While the drive was pretty with verdant pastures and lush evergreen forests, it wasn’t exactly exciting. But at last we arrived in Newport, a town built around oysters after someone realized the ones in the bay here were especially delicious. And speaking of delicious, that brings me to supper.
Mo’s is the type of place I dream about–simple food done well.
Everything is homemade, from their bread to their clam chowder to desserts. They even use real potatoes in their mashed potatoes, which is my dad’s distinction between a good restaurant and not. And they use real butter, which is my distinction. I had the seafood sampler platter.
The oysters were from no more than a few dozen feet away, and let me tell you that they made a believer out of me. No wonder this entire town was built around oysters. They melted in my mouth. Speaking of Newport,
It has a beautiful, sparkling, sandy beach that butts up to a wild tangle of sweet pea, lupine,and evergreens. We saw a bald eagle, a jellyfish, and these guys:
Sea lions are loud. Their calls echo all through town. There’s a lighthouse here, too.
And a bridge.
But don’t worry.
No birds were harmed in the making of this blog.