Posted by: santiamtocoast | May 25, 2014

This blog is inactive.

Hello there. I keep getting activity on this blog which means I did an amazing job with its SEO, so I thought I’d issue a reminder. 

I abandoned this blog in 2011 and only leave it on the Interwebs as clips for my portfolio. I no longer update it with new posts or information. 

Please follow me on my digital content marketing blog and freelance writing website instead! 

Thanks, and happy adventuring! Hopefully you can still get some use out of the content that I provided a few years ago. 


Posted by: santiamtocoast | March 29, 2011

My new project

My new project is an online magazine and blog called The Foodshift Journal, a re-envisioning of my “Shoestring Locavore” blog.

From my mission statement: “The Foodshift Journal selectively aggregates local food news from throughout the online space for easy reading of relevant, useful information for the conscious consumer and mindful eater.”

Please check us out if you are interested in local food systems and be sure to follow us on Facebook if you like what you see!

Posted by: santiamtocoast | February 19, 2011

An ending.

Just a note to remind everyone I’ve decided to abandon this blog – it was fun to explore all these places, though. There just won’t be any new posts. I have other writing and volunteering interests I’d like to pursue instead with my limited free time. But all my old posts will remain here for your enjoyment and reference. Hopefully you can discover these places too!

Denise Ruttan

Posted by: santiamtocoast | November 9, 2010

Starting a new project…

Hi everyone,

As you might have noticed, I have been updating “From Santiam To Coast” less and less frequently. I have decided to start a new blog project as my interests have changed and become more focused, and I hope my readers here might consider joining me on that journey.

The new blog is called “Locavore on a Shoestring” and it will be about my attempts to eat local on a budget. Find it at

Thanks for sharing my travels on From Santiam to Coast! I will leave this blog open in its entirety as a reference point but the information may get out of date.


Posted by: santiamtocoast | October 2, 2010

Interzone, Inc. (Coffee Shop) – Corvallis, Oregon


Originally uploaded by druttan

I tried breakfast and drip coffee at this great, funky coffee shop in Corvallis this morning and loved the whole experience.

It’s definitely a hippie-flavored cafe, with bright solid alternating colors on every wall, a big mural on another, schoolhouse chairs and worn thrift-find tables. The weekend menu featured vegetarian or vegan only options, but there were plenty of great choices.

I tried the pesto omelette for $7.35, with sundried tomato, cream cheese, portabella and crimini mushrooms, tomato and fresh basil, homefries and toast.

Their breakfast burritos also look pretty tempting — their super vegan burrito, for example, features a tofu-veggie scramble, black beans, avocado and salsa, and homefries, all for $7.50.

The Greek sandwich also looked good: sundried tomato, cream cheese, kalamata olives, spinach, tomato, cucumber and artichoke hearts on a michette roll.

Their food is fresh, healthful and delicious; their atmosphere is quirky, funky and kid-friendly. They make a point of being local and independent, and using organic ingredients and free-range, veggie-fed eggs. They host live music and support artists regularly.

They’re in walking distance to the Oregon State University main campus and they’re next door to the funky Bad Habits Smoke Shop (I don’t smoke, but that’s an awesome name).

If you think tofu is weird and you don’t understand veganism, you will probably feel uncomfortable or intimidated by this place. But if you feel at home in the kind of coffee shop that embraces new-world quirkiness, a sustainable food system and features good, healthy food, then this is the place for you.

Interzone, Inc. is located at 1563 NW Monroe Ave., Corvallis, and can be reached at (541) 754-5965. Hours are 7 a.m. to midnight Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with reduced hours during summer and school breaks.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | October 2, 2010

Marco Polo Global Restaurant – Salem, Oregon

I checked this restaurant out with my parents before I went on vacation, so this review is a bit overdue! I am catching up on a few posts.

I’ve hesitated to try this place only because of the sheer vastness of their menu — they feature a few different cuisines, three menus and tons of choices! I thought, they can only do a few things well with such a big, diverse selection.

But I think that’s part of what makes them unique.

I went for their Chinese menu, though they also have menus for European, Vegetarian and Gluten Free, as well as a lunch menu and to-go options. I enjoyed my meal — good food, prepared well.

The atmosphere struck a good balance between fine dining and casual; it was a relaxing, pleasant dinner out. Prices are affordable, in the $10-15 a plate range for dinner.

I’d go back here. It’s a great place to take friends or family on a night out in a nice setting without having to pay premium for the experience. And the restaurant has a dizzying array of food choices, with plenty of options for picky eaters or those with special dietary restrictions/needs.

It’s what Salem needs more of, actually. I am constantly looking for good dinner places that are not chain restaurants (Applebee’s, Red Robin and the Lancaster Drive scene are all fine, but when I can find good places I prefer my dollars to support independent, local, quirky, unique, and fresh) and under $15 a plate. The $15-20 range seems to be the norm for a decent independent dinner out in Salem.

There’s plenty of weekday lunch bistro options and a few bakeries when it comes to independent restaurants, but… if you have any suggestions for a good, affordable dinner out in the Salem/Keizer area that meets my preferences, I’d love to hear them! Comment to this post or send me an email (

Marco Polo Global Restaurant is located at 300 Liberty St. SE, Salem. They can be reached at (503) 364-4833.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | October 2, 2010

The Chocolate Box – Silverton, Oregon


Originally uploaded by druttan

I went here for my birthday (Sept. 3) and went a little crazy with this tempting display, treated by my very generous brother and sister-in-law (Thanks, Greg and Keika!).

The Chocolate Box in Silverton, Oregon features a stunning variety of handcrafted chocolates and confectionaries from throughout Oregon. The selection rotates regularly.

The chocolates are decadent and lovely, an excellent treat. She has a good selection of the very rich to the sweet but not overwhelmingly so. But, I do have some advice: if you get a whole bagful (it’s awfully tempting looking at that exquisite display) don’t eat them all in one day, as I did!

The Chocolate Box is worth a sweet stop on a visit to Silverton.

The Chocolate Box is located at 202 N. Water St., Silverton. They can be reached at (503) 873-3225.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | October 2, 2010

Out of the Region: My British Columbia Roadtrip


Originally uploaded by druttan

About two weeks ago, Jim and I got back from an amazing week-and-a-half road trip to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. We drove from Waldport to Bellingham, then to Vancouver, where we spent a day and a night before boarding the ferry (BC Ferries were beautiful, and I’m told nicer than the American ferries) the next morning to Victoria.

We spent a few days in Victoria walking around Inner Harbour, checking out the Royal BC Museum and doing a little shopping, sight-seeing and movie watching. I really liked Victoria; it’s a charming urban center with a small-town character and a unique British flair. The marina setting is really picturesque.

From there we were rained out of our intention to see Butchart Gardens so we continued on up to Nanaimo, birthplace of Diana Krall and a sprawling, suburban example of retirement’s effect on the island (a writer once said of Victoria but it’s true of the rest of the island, “Victoria is where old people go to visit their parents…), and spent the night in Parksville. Then we were on to the West Coast and the Pacific Rim National Park and Reserve.

We stayed in Ucluelet for two nights, where lodging is cheaper than in neighboring and more upscale Tofino. We enjoyed hiking rainforest trails in Pacific Rim, taking walks around the ports of both towns, shopping (browsing, actually) in Tofino, watching the whale-watching cruises and seaplane and kayak tours depart from the docks. Tofino’s location is breathtaking — a little bit of town and expansive views of the bay.

It’s gorgeous up there — remote, rugged and beautiful. The boardwalk hikes through the rainforest are very unique — I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like that before. The West Coast reminded me quite a bit of the Oregon Coast, but to the power of 10!

On the way back, we checked out Butchart Gardens, which is Disneyland for flower lovers and filled with the kinds of photographers who take nothing but close-up photos of flowers … but very impressive. I especially liked the Japanese and Italian gardens. We also took in “low tea” at Murchie’s — a pot of tea and a lemon tart — cheaper than high tea at Fairmont Empress and without the enforced “resort casual” dress code!

Overall, it was a fun trip, a great escape and Vancouver Island is a place of wild beauty. We had a good mix of urban and rural and paced ourselves well. We enjoyed eating local as much as we could, picking up BC-produced artisan cheeses at grocery stores for picnic lunches, for example. We also loved British Columbia beer. There are some truly excellent brewpubs in BC. I definitely hope to be back one day to catch a few things we didn’t get to see this time, like Saltspring Island and other hikes.

Here’s a few highlights of the trip:


Lift: Bar, View, Grill – Amazing upscale dining experience with a beautiful marina view. The presentation of the food was excellent and everything

Vancouver Aquarium – It’s not off the beaten track, but it’s an excellent aquarium with beluga whales, dolphin shows, sea lions and sea otters and a variety of other marine life.
Stanley Park – Expansive city park with 1,000 acres in the heart of Vancouver. Plenty of views of the city, picnic spots and urban walking and bicycling trails.
Gastown Steam-powered Clock – It’s a tourist trap but it’s a fun, unique stop that is free to see. Personally, I prefer tourist traps like this to say, wax museums. The Victorian-looking clock chimes on the hour and whistles every 15 minutes with a gush of steam.


Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub – 308 Catherine St., Victoria – a Victoria staple, Spinnakers was one of North America’s first true brewpubs and microbreweries, so it’s been doing it right for a long time. Excellent craft beers and farm-fresh fare.
Milestones Grill and Bar – 812 Wharf Street – There are several Milestones restaurants in Canada; the one in Victoria is at a great location within the Inner Harbour area with a fantastic view. I particularly enjoyed my appetizer, a baked goat cheese and slow-roasted garlic flatbread plate, served with warm naan bread and crisp Ciabatta toasts.

Royal BC Museum – Fantastic museum that’s been its this kind of thing right before it was popular in the rest of the museum world. I especially enjoyed the First Nations history/culture section, particularly the emphasis on art. The life-size dioramas of BC history were also well done.


Common Loaf Bake Shop – 180 First St., Tofino, BC – Quirky, independent coffee shop with excellent hand-made bread and good coffee.

Pacific Rim National Park and Reserve – I hiked Schooner’s Cove Trail (breathtaking rainforest boardwalk leading into quiet beach); Rainforest Trail (great example of boardwalk rainforest hiking); Bog Trail (it’s like another world, stepping into this mystical peat bog on a foggy day); and enjoyed Wickaninnish Beach (though since it is near an upscale resort of the same name, you mostly see well-dressed visitors stopping briefly to take photos here).

Mermaid Tales Bookshop – It looks like a touristy place from the outside, but step inside to a quality bookstore with a selection of tasteful kites and gifts. The book selection is small but high-quality and literary. The kind of place where I could walk out with armfuls of books if I didn’t exercise restraint!

Here’s my photo gallery.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | September 7, 2010

Organically Grown in Oregon Week

It’s Organically Grown In Oregon Week this month and there’s a couple fun things going on in the Mid-Valley region. Most activities are in Ashland and Portland; for those activities, please see the press release.

Visit the tasting rooms at Sokol Blosser (Dayton), Cooper Mountain (Beaverton) and King Estate (Eugene) from Sept. 17-19, and mention Organically Grown in Oregon Week for a free sample of some of their featured tastings of wine from certified organically grown grapes.

Tour Gathering Together Farm (Philomath) and Evesham Wood Winery with Food Front NW (a Portland co-op grocery) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18. Take two guided tours, enjoy lunch on the farm and wine samplings, learn about organic farming. Price: $39 per person. Reservations required; call 503.222.5658 ext. 133.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | August 28, 2010

Piluso Vineyard & Winery – Shaw, Oregon

I went wine-tasting today at a charming family-owned and run vineyard near Aumsville, located in the same microclimate as some of the wineries recently profiled by the Oregonian.

The vineyard is right off Highway 22 and very easy to find – but still feels off the beaten path and remarkably intimate. I pulled in past the vineyard’s four acres of vines and found the tasting room, where I was greeted by a woman who turned out to be the winemaker herself, Sandee Piluso.

I’d met her once before when I’d featured her vineyard in a story a year ago, and I’d always meant to try her wines.

I was her only customer that morning, although I dropped by about a half-hour after they opened for the day. I got to taste at least five or six wines and purchased two bottles for a little over $30. Many of her wines have a dry finish balanced with fruit or floral flavors. I particularly enjoyed her spicy, fragrant pinots and her only white that day, an excellent dry muller thurgau, a Riesling Sylvaner hybrid. I’m not typically a fan of dessert wines, but I enjoyed the green apple flavors of her bianco dolce.

Sandee Piluso introduced each wine with an unpretentious but accurate description of its flavors, and chatted about how the vineyard was doing given the late spring and her story (every winemaker has a story).

Before she bought the vineyard of her dreams in 2000, she had been a single mom living in Beaverton working odd jobs, trying to make ends meet. Then she’d been one of the first graduates of Chemeketa Community College’s now popular vineyard management/winemaking program and found the farm for sale in the Shaw/Aumsville area.

Now Sandee and her husband, Pinky, and their family run the vineyard just east of Salem, and she says business is growing. They cooperate with nearby Pudding River Wine Cellars to produce the wines and she takes a sustainable approach with her grapes.

About 90 percent of their production is sold out of their tasting room, but they also have retail locations at wine shops and restaurants throughout Oregon, including the Wine Place in Yachats. Her website lists where you can find the wines.

Piluso Vineyard and Winery’s tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April to December. It’s part of the East Valley Wine Tour and located at 6654 Shaw Highway SE, Aumsville. For more information, go to their website at, call them at 503-749-4125 or email them at

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