Various vittles

I haven’t blogged in a while and haven’t created a restaurant review in months. I am making up for lost time with several mini reviews in a series of posts. This will focus on eateries located near Corvallis.

Breakfast

In both Columbus and Greenville we had a hard time selecting a breakfast location, but for completely different reasons. In Columbus, there were too many delicious choices and in Greenville, there were too few. With a dearth of tasty breakfast restaurants, I became quite skilled at making breakfast and while my abilities grew, so did my standards.

breakfast, yogurt, egg, fruitThis is the rushed weekday breakfast at our house. Any restaurant has to beat this, and offer excellent service, to get my breakfast business.

Corvallis has both an Elmer’s and Shari’s. These are comparable to Bob Evan’s or Cracker Barrel, well maybe not quite CB. They offer a number of options ranging from indulgent to reasonably healthy. Both can have long lines on the weekends but this is to be expected, especially in the fall.

Darrell’s used to be an option for breakfast, though we only ever took advantage of breakfast- all-day and ate there in the evening. I had cheese blintz with strawberries and home fries the last time I ate there. The food memories cause my mouth to water but alas, this is no longer an option.

Tommy’s 4th Street Bar & Grill is another local diner with a big breakfast menu.  Once again, we have only eaten there in the evening. I had the crunchy strawberry French toast. The portion was more than generous; the taste was quite satisfying though the berries weren’t fresh. Here are some photos from a visit in December when I ordered a patty melt with onion rings (delicious despite the grease) and M had a massive omelette.

tommy's patty melt corvallis, or tommy's breakfast

Tommy’s allows you to select a pancake as a “side” for your breakfast. M doesn’t like potatoes so this is a fine option for him.

Finally, Philomath brings us donuts from NutCakes. These things might as well be called “crack-cakes” since there must be an illegal substance in the batter; it is the only thing that explains the amazing flavor. I have enjoyed the maple bacon donut, a must for any good donut shop in Oregon, and the buttermilk bar. Both are delicious. The bear claw was the only disappointment since I wasn’t expecting to find chopped up apples inside.

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There are some good options here but we still eat breakfast at home most of the time. It’s a comfortable part of our routine.

Lunch and dinner

IMG_1007While it isn’t perfect, we have made Cibelli’s our go-to pizza parlor. Their flavorful pies are made with quality ingredients. This is some of the best pizza I’ve had in Oregon but it wouldn’t touch some of the good New York style shops in Greenville. The staff is friendly and the pickup estimates are always accurate. On one visit, they accidentally made a 24″ pizza for us instead of the 14″ we ordered. I took home a monstrous pizza (would only fit in the trunk) for the price of a much smaller pie.

There are a number of brewpubs and casual dining spots in Corvallis. I was not impressed with Flat Tail Brewing, the flavors and variety weren’t there. Squirrel’s Tavern is a decent option. The tots are delicious. After an undercooked burger, I will stick with the salad. Brew BBQ is really very good. If a Southerner tells you that your BBQ joint is good, that’s a big compliment. Downward Dog has phenomenal chicken fingers with an espresso stout BBQ sauce. At $4, this healthy appetizer is a steal. The chicken is so juicy and the light smoky flavor is a great balance for the tangy sauce.

Until a few weeks ago, I was a huge fan of Sky High Brewing. The oyster po’boy was my tried-and-true selection. I finally took Mr. McB a few weeks ago and found that the oysters had a strong, unpleasant flavor; I only ate about half of my sandwich because it was so noticeable. The tots arrived lukewarm which was another big disappointment. The Mister picked pizza. At first, he really liked it but as he ate a bit more, the story changed. I took a bite and immediately tasted cinnamon, making the whole pizza taste like Skyline Chili. Thanks, but no thanks.

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Two spots we really liked were Fireworks in Corvallis and The Woodsman in Philomath.
Fireworks showcases their wood fired oven with their sizable menu. Mr. McB ordered pizza. The crust was light and crispy with a zesty sauce and generous supply of peps and cheese. I had the Polynesian pulled pork. I love tangy food and this sandwich didn’t let me down. The handout fries are also made in the wood-fired oven. It’s a small place and the meals do take time so pack your patience.

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Woodsman in Philomath OregonThe Woodsman might not look like much on the outside but it is a stellar Thai restaurant. The massive portions are piled with fresh ingredients. I enjoy the pad Thai and also find the stir-fry dishes to be very flavorful. You can easily eat your fill at the restaurant and still bring home enough for a couple of lunches.

Before wrapping this up, let me cover two restaurants on Monroe near OSU. University Calzone, my tastebuds would visit weekly but my waistline won’t let me.

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Bombs Away Cafe, you gave me chips from the bottom of a bag and lukewarm queso. Your food was either bland or unappealing. For me, you are a one-and-done restaurant.

Bombs away cafe

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Take me to Tillamook

Last weekend we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and unseasonable warmth with a drive up to Tillamook. The scenic drive took us a little over two hours. We made it to the Tillamook Cheese Factory shortly after 11. I’ll share more about this fun experience in a separate post.

After lunch at cheese heaven, we started on the Three Capes Scenic Route. Our first stop was Cape Lookout. The state park was a very popular place on this gorgeous day.

Cape Lookout CrowdsWe started with the beach. Our walking sticks were in the trunk of the car and we really could have used them as we scrambled down the rocks to reach the sand. One day we’ll learn.

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After nearly breaking both my face and my camera on the walk back up the rocks, we decided to follow the north trail. The trail is constructed in a way that the climb is relatively gentle. Seeing the Pacific from a dense forest is something that I’m still not quite accustomed to. It’s glorious but still not something I expect.

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Our climb stopped when we reached this part of the trail. Without our walking sticks and my hiking shoes, this wasn’t even in the realm of possibility.

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We decided to head back to the car and head on to Cape Kiwanda. We arrived to find very little available parking. I let Mr. McB out of the car and then navigated to a little market where I could grab much-needed water and park for a few minutes. He walked over to the beach to get a few snaps of Haystack Rock.

After a short stop, we headed toward Cape Meares. The road to the park has seen better days. I am certain that these potholes have claimed a tire or two in their day.

After reaching the park, we started out in the lighthouse for the brief tour. We learned that much was expected of lighthouse keepers. In addition to the demands of their regular duties, they also had to appease the inspectors.  One keeper’s wife received a demerit because she did not finish folding laundry before she began dinner. Your house was to be pristine at all times; I am so glad that I am not a lighthouse keeper.

We enjoyed a walk after the tour.

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We also saw the Sitka spruce known as the Octopus Tree.

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Our next stop was the Girabaldi House, our home for the night. It’s a comfortable, clean hotel with niceties like an evening reception, popcorn machine and indoor pool. It’s close to the bay, which provided a gorgeous setting for our evening walk.

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The activity of the clamers added something special to this stunning sunset. It was a perfect evening.

On Sunday morning, we began at Rockaway Beach at low tide.

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This intriguing pattern covered large expanses of the beach.

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We climbed back in the car and stopped briefly to see the Three Graces before driving back to Tillamook.

DSC_0941We stopped at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company. Before noon, we owned a wheel of rich creamy brie and I learned just how quickly a goat can bite and just how much that hurts.

I was sorry to see this superb weekend end but I am thankful for its restorative powers. This little getaway gave me the calm and clarity needed to face a challenging week.

Yaquina Head Photos

I finally remembered to pick up an SD card reader so here are the photos from Yaquina Head. I have photos from the aquarium too but those need a bit more TLC. For anyone considering a visit to the House of McB, these photos were taken just about 75 minutes from our house. Yes, we can take you there. Yes, you will need a coat; no, I really don’t care what time of year it is.

 

It’s a whale. I promise.

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Yaquina Head, Oregon

Yaquina Head, Oregon

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Harbor seals sunning themselves on the rocks.

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Cobble Beach, a result of a basalt lava flow some 14 million years ago

cobble beach oregoncobble beach oregonThere is a sign that explains that many little creates live under the cobbles. It might not be the safest place in the world. The beach itself was a little tricky to navigate in flip-flops. Mr. McB is pigeon-toed and prone to twisted ankles so he’ll definitely have to sport his hiking boots when we visit Yaquina Head.

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Tastes of Oregon

On Friday, I had the opportunity to sample some delicious new flavors. The first was the coconut oatmeal cookie created by Mennonite bakers. That is a delicious flavor combo. Overall, I prefer an oatmeal scotchie but the coconut oatmeal is not as rich, making it a better choice for summer.

On Friday night, I sampled the bacon guacamole from Del Alma. I enjoy my guac with loads of lime and cilantro so I wasn’t sure about this concoction featuring bacon, chipotle peppers, and chopped hazelnuts but it turned out to be so good that my taste buds did a little dance. The hazelnuts were a perfect balance to the heat of the peppers. The bacon appeared in thick, flavorful chunks. It isn’t an everyday guac, but it is delightful!

Yesterday, I thought I would order a pizza because I had good experiences on Friday and good things come in threes, right?

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Wrong! Woodstocks delivered this pizza in a timely fashion and they use quality cheese. That ends my list of positives. The crust was burnt on the edge and soggy on the bottom. The sauce tasted like spaghetti sauce and the seasonings didn’t belong on a Hawaiian pizza or any pizza for that matter. This pizza was not great cold on day two. At least American Dream had that going for them. A good pizza is hard to find in Corvallis!

Oregon, so far

I’ve been in Corvallis for just over two weeks now. How am I feeling?

From the professional standpoint, the slow start is over. I feel like I’m handling tasks but not necessarily in the most strategic way. It’s just about getting things done and filing away notes about how to get a handle on the procedures. I hate it but it’s a necessary part of the process, at least my process. I can’t decide how a project should be handled if I don’t stumble through a few times. I feel that I’m about to make a breakthrough but I’m just not there yet.

I should say that I am very thankful to be working with such a nice group of people who are ready to assist and are very patient with my questions.

From the personal side, I am getting over those early days when the newness of a place is almost more than you can handle. If you haven’t ever moved, trust me when I say that the first week or two in a new place is just a struggle. Everything takes longer. Everything takes effort. Even if you find a grocery store, the layout and some of the products are new to you. Oh and don’t forget your reusable shopping bags if you think you might make a stop at any kind of store. There is no mindless supermarket run or stop for takeout on the way home from work. Menus are different; traffic flow is unfamiliar.  It’s silly just how exhausting everyday life can be when adjusting to a new place.

I left temporary housing behind on Thursday morning and am in our new home. It feels good to be in my own space and I can see Mr. McB and I settling in nicely, even if his arrival is still months away. Things are pretty organized now. Both our new bed and Mr. McB’s new chair will arrive this week. It’s my job to break both in before he arrives in September so sleeping in the middle of the bed and mindless TV viewing are in my future.

photo 1(1)This Saturday, I did make it to the Saturday market where I found a load of fresh produce. My haul is below.

photo 3(3)Dinosaur kale, white zucchini, normal zucchini, and yellow zucchini along The yellow tomatoes were a supermarket find.
These ingredients were combined with crushed tomatoes and cannellini to make a delicious Tuscan kale soup.

photo 4(1)Cherry plums and Marionberries, an Oregon speciality
Ninety percent of the world’s Marionberries are grown near Salem. They taste like sweet blackberries.

On Saturday evening, I discovered the walking trails near our home. They stretch for miles and are wide enough for cyclists and walkers. One stretch of the path leads to Philomath and passes by fields on the way. Since the grasses were just cut back, there was plenty of animal activity. There were birds of prey flying high above and little rabbits scurrying to safety.

photo 2(1) photo 3(1) photo 4I might still rely on Siri to get to the post office and church, but I’m learning a little more each day. All in all, I’d say it’s a pretty good start.

 

 

 

 

 

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Oregon Trail Days Five and Six

I’m just getting back to rounding out the trip.

Day Five
Instead of taking in more of Boise, I decided to get an oil change on my way out of town.

I had decided to spend the night in Redmond near Bend so that meant getting off the interstate and taking route 20 through Oregon. The landscape is pretty interesting. There were hills and mountains. At one point, I felt like I was weaving around giant anthills. This is also a very lonely stretch of road. It is a place where a single gas pump is worth noting and the FM stations fade out.

I don’t have any photos because there really aren’t many places to stop and I wanted to keep moving.

I was in Redmond by early afternoon. I settled in at the lodge where I was staying.

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I wanted to go on a long walk but it was chilly and fatigue was taking over. I passed out pretty early.

Day Six
I was eager to reach Corvallis which meant getting up and out early. The road was an interesting one. I was driving on a wet, foggy morning which made the sunken grade and switchbacks just a bit more challenging. I know a few people, including Mr. McB who are too prone to motion sickness to enjoy this stretch of road.

I was in Corvallis before 9:30. Below are a few pictures that I took on my first day. The images are from my temporary housing. I look forward to exploring and learning more.

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And now for something completely different

The blog has gone dormant over the last few weeks. This was not caused by neglect but instead by a need for radio silence. Thankfully, I can finally share our big news.  We’re moving…to Oregon.

Yes, you read that right. After more than a decade in the Midwest, I finally get back to the South and stay for just two years before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Surprised? I can hardly believe it either. This might seem crazy but I assure you, it was not impulsive. After lots of prayer and countless conversations with Mr. McB, I knew it was the right thing to do.

photo(4)I am  moving to Corvallis, Oregon to become the marketing associate director for the Oregon State University Alumni Association. I am awed to have been chosen for this job. While everything about Oregon is unfamiliar, the same is not true for the job itself. I am moving back to the world of alumni relations and my roots in communications and marketing. I am also honored to be working for an amazing professional and someone I consider to be a mentor. The team at the association has been very welcoming thus far. It’s not every day that you find your inbox full of sweet, welcoming messages from people you hardly know. It’s big and scary but I am also going into this with loads of support.

To my amazing husband, thank you for uprooting your life for me. Thank you for believing in me when I lost faith in myself. Thank you for talking me down from the ledge and showing me this is all possible. You made me see that I have earned this chance.

To my parents, thank you for your support and never trying to dissuade me from this decision even though it puts me thousands of miles away. You have always said we should do what is right for us; thank you for never making me feel guilty for doing just that.

To my sweet friends who have kept this secret, thank you. You know about the fears, anxiety, and, tears that lead to this decision. Thanks to you, I have been able to keep my head up.

To the students I work with, you are the best part of my job. I will miss you. You have brought laughter into my life daily. You don’t realize it but you have also given me the strength to make this decision. I see that many of you have left your homes and came to a country you have never visited before to make your dream come true. If you can do that, surely I can make it in Oregon with my loving, supportive husband by my side.

It’s times like this that I realize just how blessed I am to have a life filled with so many wonderful people.

There is a lot to be done in a short time and once again, I will be separated from my love for a few months. If you see me and I look like I need a hug, I probably do. I give you permission to go for it. If you see that I’ve been crying, understand that I don’t regret my decision it’s just a lot and I get overwhelmed sometimes. Even as I type these last sentences, I feel a peace coming over me. There is a relief in sharing this with the world.

I’m closing with some random photos of Corvallis and the surrounding area. You can expect many more in the weeks to come.

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