Darrell Berkheimer: How to savor each trip
The emphasis on tasty items that come with Thanksgiving reminded me of my reporting to friends after a trip earlier this year — because a couple of those friends enjoy teasing me about my penchant for eating my way through a trip.
We were heading off to see friends in Montana before touring parts of Idaho, Washington, and the Oregon coast on the way home.
Our first overnight stop was Elko, Nevada, where I greatly enjoy eating at the Coffee Mug restaurant in the old downtown. I know I’ve eaten there during at least a half-dozen trips. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food has always been good.
In the evening, I’ve had delicious prime ribs on two occasions, and seven huge baked prawns on a third.
From Elko, we spent the next night at Stanley, Idaho, in the Sawtooth Mountains — a favorite scenic area for Mary as a U.S. Forest Service retiree. But it’s also the location of the little Stanley Baking Co., known for its fresh cinnamon buns each morning. If you don’t get there by 9 a.m., they may all be gone.
We ate two cinnamon buns there and took two more with us for our friends at Darby, in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.
We spent the next five nights with friend Trish Hatfield at her Victor Bed & Breakfast, only about a half-hour north of Darby. Trish makes such good gourmet breakfasts, we feel we saved more than $100 on lunches the next five days — because we older folks just don’t eat as much anymore. But we did have milkshakes one mid-day.
We even had light evening meals three of those days. The exceptions were the ribs dinner Trish made for us and our Darby friends, and the meatloaf meal at their Darby home.
From the Bitterroot, we spent two nights at Elliston, west of Helena. We were visiting another friend who was selling her 55-acre ranchette located along the Little Blackfoot River and adjacent to Helena National Forest. She was moving back to Pennsylvania.
During that time we had evening and breakfast meals at the little Avon Café, nine miles west of Elliston. Helena residents drive nearly an hour over MacDonald Pass to eat at that little restaurant, operated by the same lady for nearly 30 years. But she was planning on selling it.
From there, we headed north to Sandpoint, Idaho, for a first-time visit to Lake Pend Orielle (pronounced ponderay) country. We spent two nights at the Cedar Street Hotel and Suites — only one short block west of Connie’s Café.
Our first night there we ate at a saloon-restaurant by mistake — because we didn’t discover Connie’s until the next morning.
So we ate at Connie’s that evening and again the next morning before heading west into Washington state. And we got to shake hands with the bachelor-owner of the place — a very tall, thin and good-looking fellow who claimed he was “married” to Connie’s because of all the hours he spends there.
The meals were no more than average going through Washington. But at Hillsboro, Oregon, where we visited with my brother’s widow, we had two excellent evening meals at the Copper River, a slightly upscale restaurant.
I had ribs and meatloaf there. Only I think the meatloaf would have been better without their dark brown mushroom-gravy topping — because I have an aversion to mushrooms. (I had ribs again during a brief visit two weeks ago.)
I suspect, too, that many Portlanders make the 12-mile drive west to eat at Copper River.
On the return to Grass Valley, Mary prefers going down the Oregon coast — partly because she looks forward to eating at The Chalet restaurant at the north end of Newport. With a big smile, she coos the praises of the clam chowder there. And I’m partial to their puffy, 3-inch-high cinnamon buns.
She had her chowder and I enjoyed the chili — both in The Chalet’s sourdough bread bowls. Mary topped her meal with a piece of marionberry pie. “It had the best, flakiest pie crust I’ve ever eaten,” she said.
Farther south, at Eureka, we had visited with a friend of Mary’s from many years earlier when they worked for Six Rivers National Forest. They both cited the savory fare of Eureka’s Sea Grill, where we ate in the evening before heading home to Grass Valley the next day.
So, OK, yeah, I do enjoy seeking savory food during a trip. And I’ll head for the same places when I travel through those areas again.
Don’t we all like to revisit and repeat those tasty memories? Isn’t that another reason why we look forward to sharing Thanksgiving?
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He has eight books available through Amazon. His sixth, “Essays from The Golden Throne,” includes 60 columns published by The Union, plus a dozen western travel and photo essays. Contact him at email@example.com
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