Newport, OR. — Dungeness crab would surely be part of my last meal, if I was given a choice. Sweet, fluffy, and succulent, it beats lobster any day in my book.
Though I’ve enjoyed it countless times, I’ve never fished for it.
On a recent trip to the lovely central coast of Oregon, my fellow food writers and I, who were guests of Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, were treated to our own private excursion through Yaquina Bay aboard the family-owned Marine Discovery Tours boat.
On a picturesque 70-degree morning, we boarded and set sail. Just be forewarned that the waters can get choppy the farther out you go. But none in our party — even a few who were extremely prone to motion sickness — were done in by the effects.
The dock area in Newport.
You may be richly rewarded for braving the waters, too. We saw whales. Well, at least their blow holes, if not their tails breaking the waves. Still, it made for an unforgettable moment.
Jacobsen Zinfandel salt, made with Clif Family wine.
Netart, OR. — Would you believe the artisan salts that have taken the chef world by storm are made in this bare-bones facility?
Jacobsen Salt, the first company thought to harvest salt in the Pacific Northwest since Lewis & Clark, is beloved by such acclaimed chefs as Matthew Accarrino of SPQR in San Francisco, April Bloomfield of New York’s The Spotted Pig and The Breslin, and Chris Cosentino of Cockscomb in San Francisco, Acacia House in St. Helena, and Jackrabbit in Portland.
They love its big, light, crunchy flakes that have a clean, pureness of flavor.
The shed where the salt water from the bay is boiled.
Netarts Bay is just steps away.
Twelve employees run this operation 24-7 to produce 16,000 pounds of salt a month.
Although Jacobsen’s facility is not usually open to the public, Tom Gibson, director of coast operations for the company, was happy to give a tour to our small group of media a few weeks ago.
A view of the Oregon coast.
Gleneden Beach, OR. — If all you know about this state is its artsy, quirky city of Portland, take a drive to the central coast to see a whole ‘nother side.
That’s just what I did when I was invited with a few other food writers a few weeks ago to stay at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, following its multi-million-dollar renovation and opening of its new restaurant, Samphire.
The hotel is about two hours from Portland. Its 250 acres of forested land hug the rugged coastline that gets its share of sunshine and misty days at this time of year.
The view outside my room at Salishan.
The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.
You’ll be relaxing in no time at the spa.
The 205-room property was developed in 1965. The cozy, rustic-chic hotel is decorated with $500,000 worth of art, created by Native American, and other Oregon and Washington artists.
Enjoy soft serve and a whole lot more at Handline.
Sebastopol, CA — On a summery day in this Wine Country town, there’s no better place to plant yourself than at a table at Handline, the sunny restaurant that opened last year in an old Foster’s Freeze.
Restaurateur Lowell Sheldon and his girlfriend Chef Natalie Goble also operate the decade-old Peter Lowell’s nearby. I was invited earlier this spring to be a guest at both of the restaurants.
You’ll almost always find a crowd at this breezy restaurant, which has plenty of outdoor seating and windows that open completely to let the outdoors in. Order at the counter, then find a table, where your food will be brought to you.
The small parking lot fills up fast, so go early, if you can.
The fun interior.
It specializes in California coastal cuisine. Much of the produce at both their restaurants is sourced from their own farm, which grows everything from tomatoes to squashes to kiwis. Goble learned the art of tortilla-making from the folks at El Molina Central in Boyes Hot Springs. Like them, she also starts with masa made from scratch, which makes all the difference in bringing out the true corn flavor.
Ca’ Momi holds three certifications for authentic Italian pizza.
Veneto-born Chef-Restaurateur Valentina Guolo-Migotto proudly says that when Italians dine at her Napa restaurant, Ca’ Momi, they tell her the food is better than what’s in Italy.
That pleases her to no end.
It’s easy to agree heartily after eating there, too, as I did earlier this spring when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
This is one of those places, where you want to shout to the rafters, “Where have you been all my life?”
Because it is that glorious.
It is a touch of Italy — the real Italy — in the Napa Valley.
The fun bar, well stocked with Italian amaro.
It’s always “movie night” here.
The rustic downtown restaurant makes most everything in-house, even its own wines, beer, vodka and gin. They’re also experimenting with making amaro, the bitter Italian herbal spirit, of which they have a large selection to choose from.