Picture of the Week: Steak Tartare at the Bay House

10 12 2012

On assignment in Lincoln City this last weekend I was lucky enough to enjoy appetizers and Happy Hour at the Bay House. I had the Steak Tartare and Stephanie had the mussels. It’s hard to say which plate we enjoyed the most but the Tartare photographed better, so here you go. Click on photo for larger view.



Professional Gentleman of Leisure Facebook Page

26 11 2012

I now have a Facebook page where I will be posting all sorts of pics and stories from my travel assignments and guidebook research. Click here to check it out and give it a “like” if you would be so kind.



“What’s the Soup?” Review: St Honore Boulangerie

6 11 2012

My latest write up for What’s the Soup is about the St Honore Bakery in NW Portland. There are no big cooking stoves at St Honore. Instead, soups are made from scratch, by using their one and only bread oven. First, they slow-roast or braise vegetables and meats in the oven, typically for 2 to 3 hours. This process not only makes the ingredients tender but brings out their natural sweetness and flavors, giving soups richer and more complex notes. Ingredients are then carefully mixed together and cooked in the oven, slowly. The end result is an offering of soups that contain true depth and honest richness. Read the whole article here.

Northwest Travel Magazine: Meriwether’s Restaurant

4 11 2012

I ate and drank a lot for the latest issue of Northwest Travel Magazine. Here’s a link to the Meriwether’s piece I did.

Picture of the Week: St Honore Boulangerie

22 10 2012

This pic is from a recent trip to the Saint Honore Boulangerie. I was lucky enough to be treated to a large sampling of pastries, soups, and salads as research for a write up on WhatstheSoup.Net.  This is the Roasted Red Beet Salade, and it was amazing.

Central Oregon Coast Press Trip: Day 5

25 09 2012

Day 5 began with a memorable stroll along the 804 Trail in front of the Overleaf Lodge & Spa. I ate a quick breakfast, packed up my stuff, and shed a single tear as I was being forced to check out of the Overleaf. Ah but when one door closes……

We were now off to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. This made me do an internal happy dance as there was a decent chance that I would get to go hiking. The weather was foggy and occasionally spitting, but I find those to be prime hiking conditions. The official plan was to drive to the top of the Cape for some photo ops and a bit of trail exploration. We did that and then I convinced the rest of the group to let me do some more hiking and meet up with them at a designated spot. This was one of my favorite moments from the trip. Not just because I’m the “Hiking Guy”, but because the trail and the elements were just so damn incredible. It really was a surreal walk through the woods and the mist.

Recharged and inspired I hopped back in the van and we continued down the coast to the Sea Lion Caves. If you haven’t heard of the Sea Lion Caves I’ll go ahead and save you some research time. If you’re passing through Florence, you stop at the Caves. It’s the world’s largest sea cave for crying out loud. It’s a no-brainer. The life-loving Mr. Boomer Wright, General Manager of the Sea Lion Caves, gave us a first rate tour of the facility. The cave itself is as high as a 12 story building and as long as a football field. We took the elevator down to the official cave entrance where as luck would have it, there were a bunch of sea lions strewn across the rocks of the cave. Sure there are interpretive displays and a nice gift shop, and even some viewing areas above ground. But watching sea lions be sea lions in a giant cave is really all I need. It’s just cool.

It was now time for lunch, thankfully. Because hiking and watching sea lions loaf on rocks will work up an appetite. We made our way into Old Town Florence for lunch at 1285 Restobar where we enjoyed some wonderful appetizers, artisan pizza, and conversation.

Now it was time to watch other people exercise. We visited Sand Master Park where we met owner and sandboarding innovator, Lon Beale. Now if you don’t live near sand dunes, well even if you do, there’s a chance you’re not all that familiar with the sport of sandboarding. Smirk if you like, but we mock what we do not understand. It turns out that sandboarding is in fact a relatively low cost, safe, and fun activity for just about anyone in the family. We were there on a day that had been raining off and on. But as is the case with most sports, you have specialized equipment for varying conditions. Sandboarding is no exception. The young and talented Joey Peterson came in to give us a demonstration of sandboarding on a board designed for wet sand. No kidding. We all traveled out to an agreeable looking sand dune and watched Joey do what he does. This is another one of those activities that I’m definitely bringing my daughter back with me to try out.

We went from Sand Master Park over to meet with the fine folks at ApexHeli. If you couldn’t gather from the name, ApexHeli offers helicopter rides. Yep, this was shaping up to be an eventful afternoon. Apex Helicopters offers a wide range of services and tours – North Coast, South Coast, Sunset, custom, etc. We took what was essentially a custom 15 minute helicopter tour of the dunes and the city of Florence. That might not sound like a long time, but 15 minutes in a helicopter over the Oregon Coast is a lot of living. This was my first time in a helicopter and I have to admit to some pre-flight butterflies. Once we were in the air for about 30 seconds, however, all the jitters turned to elation and school girl-like squeals of delight. Look at that picture and tell me you wouldn’t squeal too.

High on life and adrenaline, it was time to check into our quarters for the evening. We stayed at the Best Western Plus Pier Point Inn, which offered evening-making views of the Florence bay front and the Siuslaw River. And also cookies! We freshened up/napped and then loaded into the van and drove back across the river for dinner at Spice. This was certainly one of the epicurean highlights of the trip. We sipped on a variety of specialty cocktails, nibbled on an array of mouthwatering appetizers, dined on inspired entrees, and savored every morsel of house made desserts. Many thanks and compliments go to Executive Chef and Manager, Kathy Costalanga.

Now I was buzzing from everything: hiking, sandboarding, helicopter flying, eating, and imbibing. It was now time to go to my room, watch a sunset, drink a glass (or two) of wine and sleep. Check out the next morning was at 8:45am.

Central Oregon Coast Press Trip: Day 4

19 09 2012

We checked out of the Elizabeth Street Inn in Newport and made our way up the Yaquina Bay Road towards Toledo. Thanks to the prodding of an as of yet only marginally caffeinated Roy, we stopped at the Oregon Oyster Farms for an unplanned and unannounced visit. And owner Xin Liu (call him Lou) couldn’t have been happier to see us. He gave us a tour of the facility and we witnessed some Olympic level oyster shucking. He even sent us on our way with a tub of smoked oysters for our trouble. If the opportunity ever presents itself, I recommend traveling the Oregon Coast with Lucy Gibson sometime and see what kind of doors swing open.

We got back on the road and made our way to what was the official first stop of the day at SolaLuna Studios, an art gallery in Toledo. We were met by owners and artists, Sarah Gayle and Wayne Plourde. We were also met by a group of local artists whose work was currently on display in the gallery. This was a real treat. Not only were we allowed to browse the gallery and chat with the actual artists, they made us a pot luck style brunch to enjoy while we perused some of the finest art the Central Coast has to offer. I don’t know who was responsible for it, but if art doesn’t work out for whoever made than green chile breakfast bake, keep your mind open to a café of some sort. We spent a good amount of time here as the art and the hospitality were very conducive to a relaxed and enjoyable visit. Plus Wayne’s visiting daughter was enchanting (sorry Wayne).

We eventually said our goodbyes and were lead to the Yaquina Pacific Railroad Historical Society. We were greeted by a mix of staff and volunteers that where as passionate as they where knowledgeable about the history of the railroad. One volunteer in particular, Leonard, looked as though he was born to disseminate tales of the trains. The YPRHS is housed in a couple of old train cars and was remarkably interesting and informative. The interpretive displays contained historic artifacts and photos that were only complimented by the factoids and stories provided by the staff. It’s places like this that fascinate me. They constantly struggle for funding despite their historical, educational, and cultural importance. I would encourage you to visit.

Now it was time for lunch. And based on the mood of the group, Lucy once again called an audible. We were treated to BBQ and Micro Brew at Pig Feathers. I had a flight of their own Twisted Snout Brewery beers and some epic pulled pork. Toledo, Oregon is doing something right. It’s small and charming with exponentially better food, beer, and culture than a place of its size would normally lend itself to. That’s called best of both worlds and they are killing it.

After lunch our time in Toledo had come to an end. We headed down the coast again to the small town of Yachats. This is where things get luxurious. We checked into the Overleaf Lodge and Spa. Sounds like a place you would want to stay, right? Well it is! Click on that hyperlink and take a look. Missed it the first time? Here it is again. The Lodge was beautiful, adorned with magnificent, one of a kind pieces of art. The Spa was as soothing and peaceful as any I have had the privilege of stepping into. But the stretch of beach that the Overleaf cozies up against is quite literally breathtaking. When we got there, the weather wasn’t exactly lending itself to photography, so what I got was painful considering just how good it was. And there are hiking paths! The historic 804 Trail runs right between the property and the beach. And my room had a whirlpool tub! And it was right on the beach, well they all are as it turns out, but I was in one of them!

I actually didn’t want to leave, but eventually it was dinner time and in hindsight I’m glad I made the trek. We went to the Drift Inn Family Restaurant and Pub. The place had great live music that was at the perfect volume level to still have dinner conversation. We chose entrees from one of the furthest reaching, eclectic menus I can recall having placed in front of me. Normally when a place does that I’m scared. But they pulled it off. We all had very different meals and all of them turned out great. How do I know? I sampled from everybody’s plate. This was day 4 and we were family now. The Drift Inn also boasts one of the most charismatic, camera aware barkeeps alive. Check her out. I was lining up a shot at the bar and I swear she was going about her business and not paying me a lick of attention. Then a split second before the shutter clicks – there she is. Head perfectly tilted with a killer smile. Well played Madame. We left the Drift Inn stuffed to the gills and retired to our rooms at the Overleaf. It was time for some wine and whirlpool tub action for yours truly. Check out the next day would be at 8:30.