Kicking Back on the Central Coast of Oregon

A view of the Oregon coast.

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 view outside my room at Salishan.

The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.

The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.

You'll be relaxing in no time at the spa.

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.

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Haloumi with Grapes

Pair unusual grapes with an unusual cheese with delicious results.

Pair unusual grapes with an unusual cheese with delicious results.

 

Get a load of these grapes.

I sure did when I spied Moon Drops at my neighborhood Whole Foods recently.

How can you not notice these beauties that sport such an unusual tubular shape that do give them a rather otherworldly appearance?

They are juicy, sweet and with just enough tannin from their inky purple-black skin to keep everything in balance.

Moon Drops was developed by the Grapery in Bakesfield.

Incredible, edible Moon Drops.

Incredible, edible Moon Drops.

After buying a bunch, I ate quite a few just right out of hand. But I also saved some for this recipe, “Haloumi with Grapes.”

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A Visit to Acacia House — Where You Might Never Want to Leave

Chef Chris Cosentino in the kitchen of Acacia House.

Chef Chris Cosentino in the kitchen of Acacia House.

 

How do you jump-start a long-empty 1907 mansion in St. Helena and bring it into the 21st century?

You hire San Francisco Chef Chris Cosentino to showcase his patented blend of the bold and the finessed to a glorious new restaurant there, called Acacia House. That’s just what the developers behind the new Las Alcobas Hotel did when it opened earlier this summer on Main Street.

The property, the first by the Mexico City-based luxury hotel group, blends Old World with New World in a posh setting that still somehow manages to feel grounded and unpretentious. That’s what I found when I was invited as a guest of the resort one night last month.

The restaurant is housed in the original mansion, once a private residence, then a B&B. It still has a sense of grandness with its wrap-around porch, where diners can enjoy a drink or a meal.

A historic mansion houses the restaurant.

A historic mansion houses the restaurant.

The dining room.

The dining room.

The decor.

The decor.

The big white house is still what you see from the front of the road. But venture to the back of the property, and the look becomes strikingly more modern with the hotel part done up in sleek steel, stone and wood.

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Portobello Mushroom & Celery Salad with Black Garlic Crumbs

Black garlic and portobellos are a heavenly combination.

Black garlic and portobellos are a heavenly combination.

 

Black garlic is gold.

If you haven’t yet tried this ingredient, it’s high time that you did.

Whole bulbs of garlic are cooked at a low temperature over several weeks to completely caramelize them. The result is garlic without its acrid aggressiveness. Instead, it is the flavor of dark molasses crossed with balsamic, along with the butteriness of garlic. It adds a jolt of umami to anything. The cloves turn squishy, sticky, and yes, black.

Just squeeze the cloves out of their papery skin to use them, chopped or pureed in vinaigrettes, stir-fries, spread on crostini, or rubbed on steaks, chicken or fish before cooking.

Discover the joys of black garlic.

Discover the joys of black garlic.

Black garlic is available in packages at gourmet groceries, Whole Foods, and on Amazon.

“Portobello Mushroom & Celery Salad with Black Garlic Sourdough Crumbs” is an ideal way to get your fix of black garlic goodness.

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Any Time is Right For Dumpling Time

The giant soup dumpling at Dumpling Time that's become a social media darling.

The giant soup dumpling at Dumpling Time that’s become a social media darling.

 

Since opening in May, Dumpling Time in San Francisco has been the dumpling destination.

Folks start lining up on weekends long before the restaurant opens for dinner at 5:30 p.m., jotting their name down on a clip board to snag one of the 70 seats inside or 20 on the front patio. That’s the scene I witnessed when I dined there as a guest of the restaurant a few weeks ago. Even after I demolished the contents of my last steamer basket and departed, there was still a throng of people queued up patiently at the entrance.

Who doesn’t love dumplings, right? Especially traditional ones given a contemporary flair with delicious fillings, colorful wrappers, and social media pizazz?

That’s what you’ll find at this casual, affordable South of Market Street establishment from the same restaurant group that owns the more rarefied Omakase nearby.

Dumplings made by hand, fresh, day and night.

Dumplings made by hand, fresh, day and night.

My husband and I were seated at the table on the patio directly beside a window that peeks into the restaurant’s dumpling-making room. That’s where the magic happens throughout the day and night, as a small crew meticulously stuffs and folds dumpling after dumpling at lightening speed. Chef Do Leung, who was born in Guandong, China and was most recently at Tai Wu restaurant in Millbrae, oversees the kitchen.

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