Kat and I love Gulf seafood. What we have found from the Pacific has been nearly as good – those big Pacific oysters (the most common variety, and the species canned for refrigerator cases in most of the USA) are too metallic for my taste, fried or raw. Baked with a sauce they are acceptable, especially if you can score some smalls or mediums. Rockfish is nothing special, but fresh cod makes the best fish ‘n chips, and somehow the calamari is never rubbery up here. Pacific shrimp are what you know as “salad shrimp” – tiny; if you come across jumbo shrimp in Oregon they actually come from Texas or Louisiana. And some delicacies are just gone. Forty years back I enjoyed an incredible abalone steak at Tadich’s Grill in San Francisco. I had high hopes of finding some up here, fresh or prepared. But we have fished that poor sea snail nearly to extinction; this year California and Oregon closed their abalone sport fishing seasons.
We seek out eateries recommended by Jane and Michael Stern of Road Food fame. Thus far we have added two in Oregon, The Chowder Bowl in Newport and Fish Peddler in Bay City. Chowder Bowl earned its name for its clam chowder and shrimp Louis, and we’re here to tell you the fame is fully deserved. The chowder has no bacon, but lots of clams, folded into a silky smooth cream sauce. Kat’s shrimp Louis uses tiny Pacific shrimp but the salad itself is huge. We had dinner from what she couldn’t finish at lunch, and a wonderful dinner it was.
Fish Peddler is on the water in Bay City, OR, in the same building with Pacific Seafood, a big oyster cannery. In our two visits thus far we have sampled wonderful baked oysters, a perfectly fried seafood plate, and a combination salad, a “shrimp & crab Louis”. This Louis, thanks to the crab, might be even better than at The Chowder House, but they didn’t serve enough to make it lunch and dinner. The oysters came in a new recipe – baked on the half-shell with a topping of pesto, Tabasco, and Parmesan cheese.
On our own we discovered a food truck featuring Hawaiian food in downtown Tillamook: Nani Papa’a. I gnawed superb Korean short ribs with garlic-ginger gravy over rice, garnished with shredded cabbages and carrots (pictured below). Kat’s Vietnamese shrimp and veggie roll in cellophane pasta was so good she didn’t offer me a taste. I wanna go back!
The Tillamook Cheese visitors center serves seven kinds of grilled cheese and 50 kinds of ice cream. This is the same cheese you can sometimes find at WalMart, but you won’t find their exceptionally rich ice cream. Ah, it’s so good.
Yes, I still cook. The Nevør oyster farm is but two miles from our campsite on Netarts Bay. You have to shuck your own, but when you do, you know they’re fresh, and along with Pacifics in four sizes, Nevør offers Netarts and Tørkes oysters, small, non-metallics that we have baked in Bearnaise sauce, with garlic butter, Panko, and Parmesan, and did a fine knock-off of Fish Peddler’s bake with pesto, hot sauce, and Parmesan.
If you are wondering what the ø means, it is a Danish diacritical mark requiring one to pronounce the o while making the sound of much air leaving a small opening. The English word for ø is “streg”. There, you learned something.