Sunday, September 19, 2021

Back to the Pacific Northwest

From Phoenix I headed to Seattle where I was planning to visit places in Washington and Oregon.  I bought a ticket on Alaska Airlines as they had a good price and the most flights to Seattle.  A neat side note on the flight was I got to fly on Alaska's special livery dedicated to our men and women serving our country in the military, the livery is called "To Those Who Serve"

After arriving I got the rental car and then headed south for the 2 hour drive to the Portland area.  My first stop was at a hotel in Vancouver, WA just north of Portland.  The drive was very scenic, especially as I-5 runs along the Columbia River.  After settling into my room (it was much cheaper to stay in Washington than Oregon, but I'm real sure why) I headed into Portland to start trying more Triple D places. First up was "Matt's BBQ", food truck in an area it shares with about 10 other food trucks.  You can find just about any cuisine here.  Matt's has a nice menu and the prices were very reasonable. I chose the Pork Belly Burnt Ends, and they were really good, meaty with a lot of flavor. It came with a side of BBQ juice along with marinated onions and pickles, which were tangy but tasty There was a choice of 4 or 5 sauces including Cherry BBQ and Peach Mustard, but the meat was so tasty no sauce was needed!  I ate at one of the common use picnic tables.

After finishing up I headed into the downtown area.  "Aviv" is a vegan restaurant that specializes in Middle Eastern and Israeli cuisine.  The restaurant is bright and airy.  I decided to try a couple of appetizers.  I chose the olives and the Labneh spread.  Labneh is like hummus but is made up with cashews, cheese and herbs and came with a big piece of pita bread.  The Labneh was tasty, it had a sharper taste than hummus, I really enjoyed it and the olives were great!  I got a very surprised crew member to sign my book before I left.

From Aviv I headed back uptown to another food truck park.  This area a bit smaller than the area where Matt's is and had all the usual types of trucks. "Viking Soul Food" specializes on a type of food I didn't even know existed, Scandinavian street food!  It is, by far, the most unique truck in the park and maybe  anywhere! I decided to try an appetizer called, Troll Snack which is Roasted Garlic and Jarlsberg Cheese spread on crispy Rye crackers topped with shallots.  This had a really sharp taste and the shallots helped mellow the taste.  I also decided to try the classic Norse dessert, Lefse, a potato based flatbread that looks like a large flour tortilla and mine had butter and raw honey.  It was delicious and sweet with a mild flavor.  I got the owner to sign my book before I headed out.

My last stop for my first day was just a few miles away an is a Mexican based place, "Guero" is still not fully opened  due to COVID but they had a seating area outside.  They made their front area into an order window.  My server was very friendly and really liked my book and the story of my journey. I chose there signature vegetable tostada, which is a flat blue corn tortilla topped with salsa, cream fraiche and Mexican cheese.  It was very good!  After getting my book signed I headed back to the hotel after and long and busy day.

My second day in the Portland area was an easy one, only two places to try.  I really needed so time to just relax so this was a nice treat.

"Chin's Kitchen" is in the Broadway section of Portland and was only open for takeout.  They have a very extensive menu featuring Northern China cuisine.  I chose  General Tso's Chicken lunch special.  The huge portion of chicken came with an equally huge portion of rice.  I really enjoy it and the spice was very mild at first taste, but it let you know it was there!  I took the meal back to the hotel, since COVID had closed the dining room.

My dinner stop was at a place on the south side of Portland, "Seasons and Regions" takes pride on featuring locally caught seafood, but they also have non-seafood items.  Unfortunately due to COVID they were only open for take-out, but they had a small gazebo nearby and the server who met me couldn't have been nicer, she made sure I was taken care of with a cup of ice water and allowed me to come in to use the restroom, before leaving. I chose one of the daily specials, the Parmesan encrusted Halibut, which came with mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes along with a lemon cream sauce.  The meal was delicious, the lemon cream sauce was not needed, it was that good!  I headed back to the hotel, one word on Portland traffic, they are fighting with DC for the worst traffic! 

My third day would be a busy one, I planned to drive to Eugene, about 2 hours south, to try 4 places.  My first stop was a fish shop called "Fisherman's Market".  I was there shorty after it open and they had a limited menu for the first hour, which was fine, I chose the Clam Chowder made with locally caught clams and a 1/4 lb. of salmon jerky.  The chowder was very tasty, thick soup with chunks of clams and a lot of chunky diced potatoes., the jerky was meaty and really good.

The next place was in the area of the University of Oregon and I got there a few minutes before the restaurant opened so I was able to visit the university fan shop.  When "The Sandwich League" opened I was met by the owner, who I recognized from DDD.  It's a small but colorful and fun place, with the theme of Superheroes.  I decided to get the basic burger they call "The Abbey", a 1/3 lb. burger on a roll with cilantro slaw on the side.  The burger was good and the slaw was really tasty.  After talking with the owner and getting my book signed I was off to my next stop.

My next stop was one of the most unique places I have been to on this DDD journey.  "Cornbread CafĂ©" is a Vegan southern comfort food restaurant.  The entire menu is very familiar, but Vegan cuisine.  I chose the Biscuits and Gravy.  If I tried it and didn't know it was Vegan, I would have been surprised as it tasted like the real thing with sausage and sage gravy!  I could taste the spice in the gravy, it was really good.  In the end I'm still a meat eater! 

I had about a 30 minute drive to my next place, a roadhouse in Junction City, Oregon north of Eugene.  This is the kind of place that Triple D was made for! "Junkyard Extreme Burgers and Brats" could almost be described and a shack, and that's a compliment!  The places was hopping!  It's a place loved by bikers and families.  A lot of cool artwork, sculptures and a very net painting of Guy on a monster truck! I chose the Wisconsin Dog, a 1/4 lb. hot dog topped with grilled onions, Chicago neon green relish, ground mustard on a very tasty sub style roll.  This was a great hot dog, the soft roll really sent if over the top!  As I was finishing, the server saw my book and I asked her to sign it and told her about my journey, a few minutes later the manager came over and gave me a sticker and a t-shirt!  They asked me to pose with the Guy Monster Truck painting, of course!  As I was leaving I met the owner and she thanked me for coming by.  What great people, I love Junkyard Extreme and if have just one place to visit in the area, this is it!

My last Portland stop was in the western side of the city, "Yonder" is a place specializing in Southern cuisine.  The owners are from North Carolina, but have lived and worked in Portland for a number of years. The menu has a Carolina slant, they even carry Cheerwine!  I asked my server for a recommendation for either Fried Chicken or Pork and Grits, and she recommended the chicken.  They have Nashville style hot, Carolina BBQ or Dusted.  I chose the dusted and it was really good, not too greasy and very flavorful.  The meal came with a very flaky biscuit.  After meeting the chef and having him sign my book I headed back to my hotel.  

My next stops would be in Central Washington in what is know as the Tri-Cities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland.  I got up very early and headed out for the two and a half hour drive, leaving the hotel in Vancouver, WA at 415a.  The drive took me east along the border of Washington and Oregon on the Oregon side along the Columbia River, when the sun finally arose about 2 hours into the drive I can tell you that it's very scenic, one of the coolest sites along the way is the John Day Dam. 

I arrived in Pasco at "Vinny's Bakery" about 745a.  Vinny's is a classic bakery featuring doughnuts and pastries along with some savory sandwiches.  Most of the other patrons were getting either doughnuts or coffee.  I decided to try a cream horn (I'll admit, I didn't notice the doughnuts until I had already ordered).  The cream horns were really good, with a Bavarian style cream vs. the usual white cream.  They had their Guy poster and a neon Guy light prominently displayed, Vinny's is the kind of place you go to get breakfast sweets for the family or co-workers.

This day would be bakery day for me as the next stop was in the neighboring town of Kennewick and was also a bakery.  "Ethos Bakery" is more akin to the type of bakery you'd find at a Starbucks, a bit more new school with croissants, cookies and scones.  They also feature drinks tht you'd find at the popular coffee places.  I decided to get a lemon scone and took a seat next to the open kitchen where the chefs were hard at work making all the pastries.  The scone was tasty with a nice lemon flavor, not too sweet, which was nice.

The next stop was also a bakery! "Frost Me Sweet Bistro and Bakery" is a more of a modern bakery in that they do cakes, cupcakes and more upscale desserts. Its's located in the city of Richland in a neat area of cafes and restaurants. The owner came out to meet me and sign my book.  I decided to try the Snickerdoodle Cheesecake square.  It was very decadent and tasty.  Later in the day they open a bistro with sandwiches and savory snacks.

My last stop was just down the street in Richland and was NOT a bakery!  "Porter's Real Barbecue" is just as advertised, not real fancy or decorative, they serve the real deal barbecue! Most items are served by weight and come with a roll, they also serve sandwiches and huge baked potatoes stuffed with the meat of your choice.  I chose the 1/2 lb. Prime Brisket, which is one of the items Guy had on his visit.  On the menu board there is a Guy profile by the items Guy tried.  The brisket was meaty with a real nice pepper based bark, it was really good and I washed it down with sweet tea, the first I've seen since I left DC!  I got the manager to sign my book.  I then headed out for the 90 minute drive to Ellensburg for the night before heading back to the Seattle area.

My next place was totally unexpected when I arrived a few days earlier.  I use two different sites that list the different Triple D places and I checked them out while I was in Portland and one of the new places Guy visited was in Centralia, WA about 60 miles south of Seattle, I knew I had to try and get there!

I visited "Northwest Sausage and Deli" on the day their episode of Triple was to premiere! I arrived when they opened in the morning.  The restaurant (they also have their own micro brewery) looks almost like a log cabin and has a small seating area and a huge kitchen area where they make all their sausages and cure their meat.  I took a seat in one of the booths and decided to try the BLT.  Thick cut bacon on toasted sourdough bread with mayo, lettuce and tomato. I really liked the sandwich and of course the star was the bacon, very tasty!  I met the owner and she signed my book and they took a picture of me as the first Triple D based fan to visit their restaurant.  She told me about the other two places they filmed at but I was unable to get to them, oh well, I guess I need to get back here!

I left for the hour drive to my hotel in the small industrial town of Fife, WA. I had plans to meet and have dinner with my nephew August Keith and his wife Michele.  They live nearby in Federal Way in a beautiful home on Puget Sound near the Port of Tacoma.  We hadn't made exact plans but when we got talking about my trip and the different Triple D places in the Seattle area, they suggested we go to a place I had yet to visit.  This was a nice surprise and we headed out to West Seattle.  "Pizzeria Credo" is in an area with numerous restaurants and eclectic shops.  The three of us were seated at a table next to the open kitchen, so we got to watch the cooks and the chef at work! The brick oven is prominent in the center of the kitchen. The walls of the restaurant have numerous quotes and sayings, which was pretty cool.  We ordered a salad that had fresh mozzarella, Parma ham, microgreens and paper thin apple slices.  It was really tasty especially when you added the Credo Olive Oil.  We also tried the Al Sasa Pizza, which is half margherita pizza and half sausage Stromboli; a Mushroom white pizza and Pesto Pasta with gnocchi.  All were delicious and the Stromboli-pizza combo was really unique, you can't beat the taste of brick oven pizza crust.   Before we left we got to meet with the owner and chef, who ironically is from Northern Virginia!  This was a great place, and I highly recommend it!  We headed out after a unexpectedly wonderful time!

I had just one more day and one more place to try.  After a rough morning for me and settling into a hotel near the Seattle Airport, I headed out to my last restaurant on this trip.  "Sister's and Brother's" is just north of the center of Seattle, the drive took me past the famous Pike Market and wharf area.  This is a very unique place, dark with a number of smaller dining areas.  I was seated in a small bar area.  They specialize in Fried Chicken and Southern cuisine.  I chose the chicken and waffle.  A large Belgian style waffle with two huge chicken tenders, with whiskey butter and maple syrup on the side.  The tenders were moist and meaty, the breading was ok, it had a bit of a spice bite.  The waffle was really good and the butter and maple syrup was a nice touch.  My server who was also the bartender really liked the journey I was taking and signed my book adding a cartoon chicken leg.  I headed back to the hotel to get ready for the flight home. 


This had been a fun but very tiring two weeks in Arizona and the Pacific Northwest.  I had been fortunate to have had a lot of great meals and see family and friends along the way.  The scenery in both places, while being very different, were very beautiful.  It had been a long time since I had hit the Triple D road and I might take another short break before continuing.  I still feel so fortunate to be able to do this and as I headed home my Triple D count stood at 857!