Saturday, September 03, 2011

Birthday Vacation Trip - The Food

Readers are already commenting on what a wonderful trip I had, but I haven't told you the half of it yet. Since some of the food on the trip was birthday related, it seemed logical to talk about it next. Above is the somewhat inauspicious start - my birthday eve dinner before boarding the train later that night. My brother, Bruce, and I have fond memories of our Dad taking us to Paul Bunyan in Coeur d'Alene for burgers back in the 1960's. The original drive-in is still there, plus a few new locations have cropped up. Sandpoint got its own about two years ago, and I was curious if the burgers were as good as I remembered from my childhood. So here it is, a deluxe burger, onion rings and a huckleberry malt. I don't think huckleberry malts were on the menu back then, but heck, it's my birthday so how could I pass up the seasonal treat? Let me just say, you can't go home again, and the malt was the best part of the meal.

It wasn't until I moved to the Midwest that I realized how fortunate I'd been to have access to really fresh seafood so many places I'd lived along the West Coast. It wasn't until I moved back to the Pacific Northwest that I realized how much I'd missed that fresh seafood. Imagine my delight to discover that my birthday dinner would be king salmon caught that day and barbecued over alder. That's my friend Donna cutting up the catch of the day, her son Chris in the background stoking the fire. Donna also made crab/artichoke dip from dungeness crab she'd caught herself and strawberry shortcake in lieu of birthday cake. I should mention that she and her husband had also taken me for a Thai birthday lunch at Lele's. The next day she took me crabbing and the leftover salmon and dip came along for an afternoon snack. You can never get enough salmon and crab, I thought - yum.

Later that day, Donna handed me off to art quilter friend, Sherrie, who had made these goat cheese stuffed pepper hors d'oeuvres. "Sherrie Loves Color" is the name of her blog, and that sentiment is in evidence all around her house, as you can see from the bright plate and sunflower napkin ring.

Sherrie's husband, Dave, had snagged this beer for us. Who knew there was a beer made just for us quilters? Well, not exactly. According to Iron Horse Brewery website this is actually named after the man who originally developed this brew:
"The beer was originally developed by Jim Quilter then assistant brewmaster at Sierra Nevada as a 13.5% barleywine. Jim later moved on to Butte Creek, Mad River and Winthrop Brewery (now Old Schoolhouse) before opening Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg. Jim later sold Iron Horse and was working for the Bighorn Brewing (Ram) chain in Seattle when he passed away in 2009. Kudos to the present Iron Horse owners to give much deserved credit to Jim Quilter to this present fine beer. Raise a glass of this fine brew to Jim Quilter." Well, you can't blame us quilters for wanting to claim it as our own. Dave also barbecued up fresh salmon to go with Sherrie's pasta salad and fresh green salad. Save room for the fresh glazed peach pie. Oh, I am wishing I thought to take a picture of that glorious pie, but as my niece says, the little piggy in us dived in before thinking to capture the moment. Was I disappointed to find salmon on the menu for the third meal in a row? Hardly!

The next day I got a bit of a tour of Gig Harbor, including lunch at the popular Tides Tavern. Again, no pics of the food, too busy slurping up some of the best clam chowder I've ever had, but Sherrie did point out the photo op from the ladies' restroom which gives you some idea of our view while we ate on the deck. Dinner that night was...wait for it...leftover salmon, pasta salad and peach pie!

Sunday we were taking in the Pacific West Quilt Show in Tacoma, unhappily lunching on overpriced pre-packaged convention food. But that night, Sherrie and Dave took me to dinner at another popular Gig Harbor restaurant, El Pueblito. Dave was impressed that I scarfed up nearly all of the ample portions of my meal, but hey, I'm on vacation and no way was I not going to finish off that excellent chimichanga! Again, no food pics, but we did think this wall of kids drawings in the waiting area so much fun we had to have our picture taken in front of it.

Monday saw us taking the ferry to Seattle where we roamed the shops in Pike Street Market. Suddenly we realized it was almost 2:00 p.m. and we'd not had lunch. Not wanting to spend too much time looking for a spot, we ended up at Maximilien, a french restaurant with french waiters and an outdoor patio with view of the waterfront. How nice it was to sit down at a table with linen tablecloth and napkins, and be fawned over by our waiter whose accent was so thick I could hardly understand him. Sherrie tried out her french, but apparently she too had a too thick accent. ;-)

Of the many tempting menu items, I found I could not resist taking advantage of the fresh seafood offering of the Pacific Northwest salad. This delightful salad features Dungeness crab and sea bass topping a mound of arugula draped with delicate slices of smoked salmon. I remembered to take a picture just in time before little piggy took too many bites.

Not that we needed it, but we opted to add dessert. For Sherrie, it was
Profiteroles au chocolat: Olympic Mountain Vanilla Ice Cream-filled cream puffs, topped with chocolate sauce. For me it was Mochaccino Mousse: Chocolate and coffee mousse, topped with white chocolate crème with Sablé breton (shown above as pictured on the restaurant's website).

Here's a shot of Sherrie's ice tea. Nothing french or fancy but we both thought it might make an interesting shot, what with the condensation and light passing through. When we got home that night, we found that Dave had taken dinner planning into his own hands. He barbecued the best steak, mushrooms, corn on the cob, and...more salmon! Yes, I definitely was in salmon heaven for the bulk of the trip.

Tuesday it was time to go home, but not before meeting a cousin for lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma. I haven't eaten at one in ages, and did not have my favorite spaghetti with myzithra sauce but an excellent chicken panini, half of which I saved to eat later on the train trip home. I should mention that while breakfasts were whatever I wanted to grab from the frig or cupboard, some of that fare included freshly picked blackberries whipped up into muffins by Donna, and a too yummy vegan chocolate chip zucchini bread baked for us by Sherrie's daughter. And let's not forget the stops at Starbucks for calorie laden beverages. Wow, I ate so well on this trip...and now it's time to diet.


June said...

Heck, just re ading this made me go on a diet. I don't think I've ever had as much seafood as you crammed in -- you sure do have good friends and good taste:-) And a huckleberry milkshake -- well, I won't be able to eat for a week, just writing that down.

Sherrie Spangler said...

Excellent post! I'm going to print it out for my journal, because you covered it so well. I'll alert Dave to the origins of Quilter's Irish Death.

The Idaho Beauty said...

I failed to mention that the King Salmon was caught by Donna's son, and that it had to be wrestled away from a sea lion!