After this morning’s delicious breakfast of locally produced buckwheat pancakes, fresh fruit and Silverton-roasted coffee at the Silverton Grange’s biennial 50-Mile Breakfast, I took the back way to return to Stayton on Water Street along Highway 214, also known as Silver Falls Drive.

This is by far one of my favorite country drives in the East Valley.

Downtown Silverton’s Water Street turns into Highway 214 as it winds past the Silverton Reservoir and becomes curvier on the way out of town. You’ll pass gorgeous scenery and meander through the many stopping-off points of Silver Falls State Park.

In winter, it can get treacherous driving past Silver Falls State Park as it can get icy and snowy with the higher elevation even when Silverton is not. Summer is the best season to explore.

I think this drive is one of the best ways to appreciate a good glimpse of Oregon’s multi-million dollar worldwide Christmas tree industry. This is Christmas-tree farm central and that also makes it very scenic with the rolling hills of green and gold. You’ll pass by Reinhart Tree Farm, Cascade West Trees, DeSantis Farm, and so many more off roads intersecting with Highway 214.

The curves become easier to navigate farther along the drive and you’ll see more grass-seed farms closer to Sublimity. It’s a colorful drive with changing terrain.

You will intersect with Cascade Highway to end the drive. At that point you can follow the signs pointing the way to Sublimity and Stayton, and onward to Salem if that’s where you’re headed.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | August 27, 2010

50-Mile Breakfast on Saturday in Silverton, Oregon

If you support local food and sustainable agriculture, head over to the 50-mile Breakfast hosted by the Silverton Grange from 8 to 11 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 28) at the grange hall, 201 Division St., Silverton, off South Water Street. There is a $7 suggested donation.

The breakfast is made from scratch from items grown or produced within 50 miles of Silverton.

Information and resources will also be at the event regarding local food and products.

“Produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches our supermarkets,” April Brenden-Locke, Silverton Grange member, said in a blog entry and press release. “Buying more local food decreases our dependency on foreign oil and supports local family farms.”

As a supporter of “slow foods” and local food systems, I hope to be there!

Posted by: santiamtocoast | August 17, 2010

Gathering Together Farm – Philomath, Oregon




gatheringtogetherfarm

Originally uploaded by druttan

I pulled into the parking area of Gathering Together Farm off a country drive and next door to this family farm’s cafe and farm stand was a view of the vegetables they grow for meals and wholesale accounts at restaurants throughout the state.

As you take your seat at the cafe, it feels as if it’s farm to table right before your eyes.

I tried their Saturday breakfast menu; my choice was a delicious omelette with goat cheese and smoked salmon, with home-fried potatoes to the side. Plenty of dark-wood tables were laid out around a lovely outdoor dining area; indoor seating is also available. It’s particularly neat to be seated next to the gorgeous earth oven, hiding behind greenery and decor. Their coffee is delicious and they also offer fresh-squeezed pulpy orange juice.

For breakfast they also offer oat pancakes, duck omelette with confit, a variety of omelettes and huevos rancheros. The menu is not the same the whole season.

This farm is a pretty diverse operation, offering CSA food boxes, wholesale accounts for restaurants, direct-selling at farmers’ markets, organic seeds for sale and other well-established side gigs. What they don’t make themselves, they try to procure locally.

It started in 1987 as a family business and a project in certified organic vegetable and fruit production. They sell over 40 different types of vegetables of over 100 different varieties through various direct-marketing methods.

In short, this farm is the ultimate success in defining a “community food system.” They’ve got it nailed down and it shows from farm to table. And their food is creative, unique and delicious as well.

Gathering Together Farm was a real treat and highly recommended.

MORE INFORMATION
The cafe is open seasonally, summers only. Breakfast only is served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Dinner is served 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Lunch is offered 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays. The farm stand is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The farm is located just outside Philomath along Mary’s River. From Highway 20, turn left at the second stop light onto Thirteenth Street. Turn right on Grange Hall Road. Drive for a quarter-mile, then turn right at the Gathering Together Farm sign. The address is 25159 Grange Hall Rd.

Contact them at 541-929-4270 or visit http://www.gatheringtogetherfarm.com. Reservations recommended.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | August 2, 2010

Off Center Cafe – Salem, Oregon

A surprise find in a nondescript strip mall that’s quite literally off Center Street, Off Center Cafe offered wholesome food with solid, tasty flavors.
I tried the Duke’s Omelette with avocado, green onions, cream cheese and sour cream for $8.75 – the cream cheese and sour cream made a delicious combination with the eggs. Many entrees are served with potatoes and your choice of toast. The potatoes really topped off the meal for me – they were excellent.
Jim had a “green chili tortoise,” which was eggs scrambled with corn tortillas, green chilis, avocado, onion, black olives and cheese, topped with salsa, for $8. It was spicy and filling.
Many menu items had a Mexican flair. Other items that looked tempting: curried scrambled tofu and Annie’s Eggs, an Eggs Florentine-type scrambled-egg dish with spinach, onion and tomato.
The coffee is Allann Brothers, always a solid choice.
I even enjoyed the ambience, with the worn-out classic American diner feel and the nondescript entry, the old neon-colored “Coffee” sign that you saw before the name, and Van Morrison playing softly in the background as diners of all ages took booths, chairs or stools. There seemed to be plenty of seating for a fairly small place.
All in all, a great choice for a filling breakfast.

IF YOU GO
Off Center Cafe is located at 1741 Center St. NE, Salem. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, serving breakfast until 11 a.m. and lunch on weekdays; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, serving breakfast only on weekends. They are cash only, no debit/credit cards. The cafe can be reached at (503) 363-9245.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | July 31, 2010

Apizza, Stayton Oregon – A Goodbye From A Regular Customer




apizza1

Originally uploaded by druttan

It’s a sad day for Stayton: My favorite pizza place, Apizza on the corner of Third and Ida in downtown Stayton, has closed its doors for good as of Friday, July 30.
The economy, gas prices, too many pizza places serving a small community and low profits were too much for them to bear. Also a factor in a working-class community where much of the populace commutes to Salem, they weren’t open late nights or weekends.
I’ve been going there for lunch once or twice practically every week for the past year and a half, since I discovered its uniquely flavored pizza and delicious soups and garlic bread a few months after moving to town two years ago.
They were the first people I knew in town, the people I immediately felt comfortable with. It didn’t hurt that they served high-quality food, the pizza in a brick oven, a special recipe.
It was more than a great place to eat that was just around the corner from my office.
It was a place where the rural progressives of the canyon hung out and gathered and planned political campaigns and chatted about how to make a good town better. Apizza itself took a brave stand in a shaky business climate, serving as a strong proponent for downtown urban renewal when the controversial issue went to a vote. I’m sure their political activism wasn’t what did them in, though; the last two years have been rough for Stayton. Too many businesses have shut their doors. Too many people out of work.
You would often run into city hall staff or the mayor of Stayton eating there, since it was a hop and a skip away from Third Avenue city hall offices. The city’s public works director called it his “annex.” He’d go there to grab a coffee or a bite to eat nearly every day.
They did things right here. They made a good, honest pizza using high-quality, fresh ingredients. In a town with three other pizza joints, they stood out from the crowd. Unfortunately, Stayton couldn’t sustain something that wasn’t standard pizza, a Mexican restaurant or classic American food. There are enough restaurants here, and a few I’ve even made regular stops on my lunch circuit. But Apizza was different.
I knew everyone on the day staff by their first name at this neighborhood eatery. We’d swap news and talk about city politics. I’d use them as sources. They were here in town for more than just business reasons, even though Steve, one of the owners, moved to Tualatin. They were here because they wanted the best for Stayton.
When I didn’t know anyone in town, Melissa and her mom Diane helped me out by taking care of my pet birds when I was on furlough.
They created a culture that’s going to be missing from the downtown area.
Goodbye, Apizza, for now, though I hope I’ll see everyone around town. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for drawing more folks to a downtown that sometimes feels like a ghost town – on Thursday afternoon at five, the foot traffic is sparse, and you can almost see the dust motes rolling down the empty streets. But one day these streets will fill again. One day Stayton will thrive.
But for now, thank you for the pizza, and for everything else.

MORE PHOTOS
My Flickr set




P1020952

Originally uploaded by druttan

This unnamed and unmarked park with a historic railroad bridge crossing a majestic river couldn’t be a more scenic welcome to a downtown that shows the wear-and-tear signs of having struggled in the declines first of the logging industry and then of the general economy.

Mill City is farther east along Highway 22 and it’s a great access point for the north canyon’s many recreational jewels.

The park makes a pleasant picnicking spot on a long road trip or an up-canyon detour if you’re coming from Stayton.

The railroad bridge, which has been turned into a walking trail, has some interesting history. The website Oregoncities.us has this report of its story:

    Just west of the highway bridge across North Santiam River is the old railroad bridge. This interesting structure is largely made of wrought iron, although some steel’ reinforcement was added in 1919 when it was relocated to its present position. It was made by Phoenix Bridge Company in 1888 for the crossing of Gienega Creek south of San Jose, California, on the Southern Pacific Company Coast Line. The compression members are segmented wrought iron sections riveted together to form tubes. These sections are similar to the iron framework of the Washington Monument and the columns used to support the first elevated railways in New York City. When the Southern Pacific Company abandoned the Mill City branch, they gave the bridge to the city. It is now decked over for a footpath.

This gem, though obvious to Mill City residents, is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy this scenic river. There are public restrooms, BBQ grills and picnic tables. This is more of a scenic stopping point than a place to take a hike.

To get there, follow the signs for Mill City’s downtown area off Highway 22 East. It’s the first thing you’ll see before you pull into the center of town.

MORE PHOTOS
Check out my Flickr set for more images.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | June 16, 2010

Trexler Farm Cafe – Stayton, Oregon

When you think of “country” and Trexler Farm Cafe on Ferry Road in the Stayton area, think farm-fresh and flavorful — not country diner.

I checked out this little cafe that’s a short distance away from Stayton proper on Highway 22 last week. The cafe and bakery is on a farm that’s home to the old Mehama Fish Hatchery.

I tried the Greek Isle Wrap featuring chicken breast, baby greens, marinated red onion, cucumber, tomato and feta cheese in a whole-wheat wrap for $7.95. I also had some delicious hot tea with unique herbs, perfect for a cool, rainy day like we’ve been having this summer so far in Oregon.

Other tempting items from the menu: Tribal Moose (local sauce company in Sublimity) BBQ Tri-Tip Beef sandwich served on a sourdough roll with pepper jack cheese, tomato and mayo; Peggy’s Artichoke Wrap featuring hummus, artichoke hearts, shredded carrot, cucumber, tomato and baby greens; or how about Sharlene’s Veggie Salad, with baby greens, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, shredded carrot, cucumber, marinated red onion and bred and butter pickles?

It all sounds pretty delicious.

The cafe is a very small eatery with a welcome-home feel and a cozy, mellow ambience. The cafe and the farm are also open for rentals for larger groups, parties or meetings. You can also find custom woodworking and a selection of locally-made products. This is the kind of place that celebrates the best of local.

Hours are fairly limited now – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday – but I am told they will be expanding to summer hours any day now. Call to confirm their hours when you go at (503) 859-4488 or email trexlerfarm@wvi.com. You can also make an appointment.

The photo here was taken with my cell phone, so apologies in advance for the image quality!

IF YOU GO
Head east on Highway 22 past Stayton to get to Trexler Farm Cafe. Keep an eye out for the Farm Cafe sign off the highway, because Ferry Road comes up fast. The cafe is just over a bridge at the beginning of the road on 20146 Ferry Rd. SE, Stayton. You can also visit their website.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | June 9, 2010

Sybaris Restaurant – Albany, Oregon

For elegant fine dining that hearkens back to a bygone age, check out Sybaris Restaurant in charming downtown Albany for your next special night out.

The dining room is filled with little touches from the big band swing era, from the music playing in the background to the decor. This refurbished space with the lone brick wall and wooden flooring is classic. I ordered iced tea for my drink and was served sugar cubes in a small glass bowl with a tiny spoon.

This would make a great night out for cocktails or a glass of wine and a dessert; they offer a wine and beer list as well as a full bar and use local producers whenever possible.

I tried the vegetarian risotto primavera with vella dry jack cheese and a sicilian olive oil for $15 on the menu that changes regularly. It was delicious – rich in diverse flavors and lots of vegetables. Their desserts and appetizers looked quite tempting as well – swiss style smoked chinook salmon with potato rosti and chive sour cream for an example of an appetizer.

Other items on the menu this month: roasted chinook salmon with a warm 3 bean salad, marcona almonds and arugula pesto for $26, grilled pheasant sausage with a bearnaise reduction (shallot, red wine vinegar and tarragon) on a grilled bread and spring vegetable salad for $19.

I felt nostalgia for that golden age of Hollywood. Names like Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart came to mind as I relaxed in the graceful setting, which seems to try to walk the line between modern and nostalgic.

I could imagine this as the perfect place for a Prom night gathering, a family celebration of a milestone like a graduation, or just a special night out with friends.

MORE INFORMATION
Be sure to check out their menu online (they change the selections monthly) before you dine here so you know what’s coming up if you plan to get a main entree. The website has all the details. They are located at 442 1st Avenue NW, at the corner of First and Washington in downtown Albany, Oregon. Their hours are set by dinner seatings from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations would be a good idea for larger parties. Call them for more information at (541) 928-8157.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | June 9, 2010

Bayscapes Gallery & Coffeehouse – Newport, Oregon

This small coffee house and art gallery/gift shop tucked away in the busy, touristy stretch of Newport’s Historic Bayfront is a pleasant oasis to relax a moment and view the docks.

There’s not much in baked goods here, so don’t expect a lunch or breakfast; they offer a full range of blended drinks hot and cold, espresso-based beverages, smoothies and ice cream. It’s a great coffee break.

What’s special about this little place to me is the glass-covered deck where you can sit and sip your coffee, and watch the sea lions congregate or working fishermen get off the docks from a trip at sea. Best of all it only costs the few dollars for the coffee.

MORE INFORMATION
Bayscapes Gallery and Coffee House is located at 333 SW Bay Boulevard, Newport. Call for hours and more information at (541) 265-4017. The shop isn’t well marked, so keep an eye out for stairs leading up to the coffee shop to the side of a gallery and a sign for “Espresso.” It’s next to the office for Marine Discovery Tours.

Posted by: santiamtocoast | May 22, 2010

1285 Restobar Bar & Grill – Florence, Oregon

I don’t often make it down to Florence these days, but I lived there for almost three years before I moved to Stayton in 2008. This restaurant is new since I last lived there and it looked unique and foodie-friendly, so we decided to check it out last week when we happened to be in town.

We found a welcome addition to Florence’s restaurant scene. Prices were reasonable for food that would have had higher dollar marks in a comparable restaurant in a city like Portland. Entrees ran around $7-14.

I tried the wild salmon palermo and it was delicious, full of unique flavors. The cilantro aioli to the side was remarkably tasty. They have a lot of pizza but are light on vegetarian selections in their menu. Other menu items that look good for a sample of their flavors: Pesto Burger with Misty Isle organic ground beef, provolone, pesto, onions and peppers; chicken fresca marinated in olive oil, Spanish sherry and herbs, grilled and topped with salsa fresca. The cuisine is a nod to the Italian sidewalk wine bar/cafe with a taste of seafood.

They had a well-stocked wine bar and served microbrews. Seating was a bit limited in the small space and tables were almost too close together, but it had a cosmopolitan yet laid-back atmosphere.

If I make it this way down the coast again, I’ll be coming back.

MORE INFORMATION
1285 Restobar can be reached at (541) 902-8338 and is located at 1285 Bay St., Florence, Oregon.

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