Wow, it’s been awhile. I hope I can even remember our trip to Oregon. Not to worry, I have a great memory – much to my husband’s chagrin. So when I last wrote Olive’s Herbs I recalled our edible adventures in Portland with my family. After a few days enjoying the city, Chris and I embarked on the rest of our vacation to Bend. Neither of us had been to this part of Oregon and it looked to be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the weather did not fully cooperate. It was cold and rainy for most of our stay in Bend. And it was a very interesting city, a lot like a rich, ski town. Tons of fancy shops and restaurants in an isolated area for well-off visitors surrounded by small Native American reservations and flat, farm land. Bend is also heralded as a place for outdoor adventurists. There are tons of activities like fly fishing, hiking, swimming, tubing and more. We just visited when the weather was not cooperating. But we did manage to get out and hike for two of the days we were in town. And our most beautiful walk was at Tumalo Falls State park. The only thing you have to pay for is $5 for parking. But bring your checkbook or cash – as you have to leave this in an envelope in a box for the USDA Forestry Service.
We also went hiking at the Upper Deschutes Trail, which is also very nice and convenient to downtown Bend. Here is a link to a few other trails in the area.
Well with all that hiking Chris and I were excited (read starved) to eat at one of Bend’s nicest restaurants – the Blacksmith. Since this was our anniversary trip we decided to splurge on a fancy meal. And after much debate we settled on Blacksmith. They have a great “Sunset Dinner” special that is a four-course meal served every day of the week from 4:30 to 5:30 for only $24. But alas, we are not early eaters so we did not partake, but this is a great option!
We started with a very simple iceberg wedge salad, which was delicious. But it’s pretty hard to mess up a wedge of lettuce topped with pancetta and bleu cheese dressing.
For our entrees we ordered a surf and turf for me and the campfire trout for Chris. And I will tell you I never get surf and turfs, but since I am not drinking wine because of the pregnancy I decided to just go for it. And I am glad I did. The dish is comprised of an organic grilled top sirloin with Dungeness crab and a scallop Newburg sauce. It was divine. The steak was perfectly cooked and the scallop sauce was delicious.
Chris also enjoyed his campfire trout, which consists of a fresh Idaho trout, pan fried in brown butter, served with beer barley risotto, cowboy caponata, grilled spinach and a honey-almond beurre blanc sauce. While I loved my selection more, Chris’s was pretty damned good as well. The trout tasted like it had been caught in the morning.
For our side we could not pass up the truffle mac and cheese. Plus it says it’s award-winning. That means you have to try it. While it was delicious, I must point out that very similarly to the salad it’s hard to mess up something with ingredients like cheese, pasta, breadcrumbs and truffle oil.
And the absolutely best part of the meal was something we belabored over a bit – the Bananas Foster prepared tableside. Once again I justified dessert by the fact that I am not drinking the wine. And once again, it was worth it. Our wonderful waiter almost lost life and limb in a blaze of flambed dark rum but it was so decadent I would do it again. The dessert consisted of dark rum caramel, poached bananas, warm banana bread, vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream all prepared at your table. If you ever end up at Blacksmith, get this dessert.
While we did eat at a few other restaurants in Bend, there were not many noteworthy experiences that we had eating out besides the Blacksmith. Our only other great dining experience was at the home of Bunny and Mark Thompson. Their son Mat and daugher-in-law CJ are friends of ours that live here in Austin. And it just so happened CJ, Mat and their adorable baby girl Maggie were visiting when we were there. So we scored an invitation for dinner. And boy did we get lucky. Mat and Mark had spent the previous day fly fishing and we got to eat the fresh fish they caught. The fish was prepared a couple of ways – baked and grilled. There was also an appetizer of smoked trout – awesome! Bunny did a great job of truly honoring the simplicity of the fish and prepared some delicious but minimal sides. There was a cucumber salad that was dressed with a herbed vinaigrette as well as a rice pilaf dish. It was one of those meals that fed you, but also made you feel a little healthier.
This is just one of the many trips Chris and I have made out the Pacific Northwest and we love it more and more every time. There is the beautiful scenery, a true commitment to locally-sourced healthy foods and wonderful people. We will definitely be back.