Food from around the Puget Sound. It is about good sources, great eating and unusual foods.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

On the Road to California

Just a quick drive to the Bay area and fly back out. My youngest and I took the "green machine" Aka van who has seen many states and about to see more, down to the start of a wonderful road trip to the East Coast. Unfortunately it was so quick that we did not have a lot of time to pursue the usual try and eat everything you can possibly find on the way to where you are going. We did manage to find some interesting things and have a wonderful two day drive down talking, laughing and enjoying the beautiful sights.

On 5 leaving Seattle on a Summer day? Ominous clouds and drizzle helped push us out of the Emerald City, no hope of any sunshine soon. Better off moving south as fast as possible. Guess that is why it's so green?

This has not been a great summer weather wise, although this is the first one I've experienced in Seattle. I know that there must be something better? Of course I've been told last summer was epic, I always seem ahead or behind the curve; and there might be a chance of a Good September? I'll get back to you on that one.

Crossing the bridge into Portland Oregon, looks like sunshine breaking through the clouds? Nope, didn't happen, we didn't make a stop in the Food Cart Capitol. We were on a roll and it just made sense to keep on rolling, we hoped to get 10 hours of driving in today and make it to Redding CA tonight.

Finally some sunshine and lunch at Cow Creek rest area just outside of Glendale, not California. Just north of Grants Pass we decide to eat at this great little rest stop where the trees and picnic tables were inviting. Notice all that sun, it was also hot, in the 80's but with a nice breeze to accompany our left over tri-tip that we made into sandwiches with some very sharp cheddar cheese. Next time I come through, I will do the Cow Creek loop, about 21 miles they say.

For those of you that have followed me through Oregon before, we passed on Grants Pass to make time, Aja doesn't open for lunch anyway. Coming up on Ashland, we took the scenic route (some advice, don't take the first off ramp to a town that has multiple options.) and  after seeing most of the north end of town and it's neighborhoods. We stumbled onto this great market that is a part of a 7 store family owned chain based in Oregon called Market of Choice. The food was wonderfully displayed, with fresh local produce, wonderfully smelling deli, great selection and really good prices. Of course this is in comparison to Washington, but it was considerably lower in everything I looked at. 

Then it was off to the Oregon/California border, the miles clicked by and soon we were seeing Mount Shasta, in awe of how pretty it is with it's majestic location with views that rival Rainier's. Once through the mountains we proceeded into the flats of Redding, don't miss checking out architect Santiago Calatrava's Sundial Bridge and the Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

Just south of Redding in Anderson we spent the night at a cool little place that we can recommend called Gaia Hotel & Spa Shasta, eco-friendly and very new, it is pet friendly also. We checked in and dashed off to the Woodside Grill which is part of the Hotel and from what we were told might be the only place eat that you don't have to drive to. The food was ok but the service warm and friendly, we did see their organic heirloom tomatoes and panko encrusted eggplant with buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil from our herb garden appetizer that made us wish we had ordered. The tomato slices were thick and look juicy and fresh. I think if you stuck to the down home selections you couldn't go wrong for an affordable dinner in a nice location.

The next morning we checked out fired up and ready to go, I think we were the last ones out on the road, but better late than never right? We decided to put some miles on before breakfast and made it only 20 miles before we decided it was time to look for food. So we headed off 5 at Redbluff not knowing what to look for, we found the usual suspects Mexican, fast order coffee and a couple of dive bars that were probably good in the evening but closed for breakfast. We stumbled on to Tremont Cafe & Creamery on Main Street, looked clean and crowded and sure enough we had our basic breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns and choice of bread. Well done and good ingredients, my Hot Cakes were great. It brought up the question about why are they are called Hot Cakes not Pan Cakes? And I am sure there are other names out there for the same thing?

After missing the 505 cut off to San Francisco, we cruised through Sacramento and got gas in Davis, right next door was an In-N-Out, we were officially in California. As we ran into unbelievable traffic our goal of making SF Chinatown for lunch seemed to be fading as the miles creeped by. But as we got into stop and go traffic just before the toll booth for the bridge, we found the HOV lane wide open and took the loop to the left up and over all the traffic that made up for a lot of time. 

Once in the city we had food and things we needed to buy, no stop in SF  Chinatown is complete without a stop to buy Golden Gate Fortune cookies. The best I have every had, biased sure, wrong not! If you ever get there, I buy the broken small bulk bags, $3.50 ea. you can get the others also and usually if the old man is there he always gives you samples of some hot ones if the machines are running. Open late hours, well worth stopping for and they have been there since I was a kid.

Now it was time for some serious food, my cousin had said that she and her family go into town and enjoyed Hing Lung Restaurant on Broadway, last time I was in SF I had one of my best Chinese meals in a long time. Hard decision, what swayed me was an article my other cousin sent me about their Lobster Congee (Jook), I was determined to try it. So off we went, as it turned out I have eaten there in the past, we get there well after lunch and it still has a crowd and during the course of the meal a steady stream of take out customers. We over ordered, starting with pot stickers, chicken wings in cola sauce, fried noodles and of course my bowl of lobster jook. 

For the most part the first items were pretty generic, portions large the most important thing was the jook. It had a whole lobster broken down in this bowl, it was very good sweet and tender, the rice creamy with texture and well worth the $9.95. If you go, all the types of Congee looked good, it seemed that was what most of the take out customers were walking with, that and a vegetable dish would be the way to go.

San Jose Airport
Well it was short but sweet, stayed over night and said good bye to my youngest, heading east for a road trip through 11 states and me back to hopefully a sunny BBQ in Seattle. That's next.

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