Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In Memoriam: Ashley Rutledge, Owner of Vic's Ice Cream

Family, friends and generations of customers mourned the death of Ashley Rutledge, who co-founded Sacramento landmark, Vic's Ice Cream Parlor. Mr. Rutledge passed away at the age of 90.

Vic's Ice Cream has been a tradition in our family since my father attended McClatchy High in Sacramento 60 years ago. It has now become a Thursday afternoon tradition with our children as we visit Vic's every week to get a taste of their wonderful concoctions. This past week was no exception as we took a trip to our beloved ice cream shop. As we stepped inside we saw saw the huge outpouring of love and support for the Rutledge family with countless floral arrangements that filled the shop.

Mr. Rutledge will truly be missed, but his legacy will surely live on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Original | Portland, OR

A Voodoo Donut Burger served with poutine (fries mixed with gravy and cheese curds) served up at The Original in Portland, OR.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Breadboard Restaurant | Ashland, OR

EAT WELL ... We all strive to do this whether it's in the way we prepare our food, knowing where our ingredients are coming from, or how much we feed our bodies. There is no doubt that putting these two simple words together carry a great deal of meaning, especially since food is universal to all of us. Food gives us nourishment and energy to think better and go farther, and it brings people together as a community: family, friends, colleagues, or neighbors. Simply put, eating well relates to one's personal growth, health, and happiness.

Given this, we were certainly glad to have found The Breadboard, a breakfast and lunch establishment located just north of downtown Ashland. Family owned and operated since 1983, it was easy to notice that the restaurant amassed quite a following among the locals who live in the community and tourists who call the town home for a few days in between Shakespearean plays.

"If you can believe it, this used to be a popular roadside gas station before we turned it into a restaurant,” notes Sarah Foster, who, along with her husband, Pete, has been running the show at The Breadboard for the last fourteen years.

But what's not to believe, especially since the restaurant is located on Oregon's historic Highway 99. You see, this highway was once known as the state’s main thoroughfare, stretching between Oregon's southern border and Portland. That is, until Interstate 5 took over that distinguished title.

But I’m digressing. Those who stop into The Breadboard probably could care less about its historical origins, but rather the thought is more about what’s on the menu. Be warned, it is quite extensive. Even before I was able to peruse the selections on my own, I overheard a neighboring customer describe it as, "Eye-candy for my stomach. There's just one belt-busting temptation after another."

No kidding. The folks at The Breadboard certainly don't mess around. They seemingly have everything under the sun including scrambles and omelets, traditional country breakfasts, pancakes and waffles, french toast, and a host of other special twists to old favorites. Nothing is held back or compromised, and if you don’t see it, just ask for it. This is one place that encourages substitutions.

Oh, by the way, every item on the menu is made from scratch, meaning that everything is made-to-order with ingredients provided by local farmers and artisans. So, what you’re getting is not only good, but it’s good for you no matter if it's choosing something simple such as a bowl of hot oatmeal with seasonal fruit or something more hearty like the Mountain Man, which features two hefty buttermilk biscuits split and topped with sausage patties, eggs any style, cheddar cheese, and homemade country gravy. And, lest not forget, most of the dishes are served with homers, i.e. their own unique spin on hash browns.

The Breadboard is open seven days a week, but only from 7:00a to 2:30p. Getting there early certainly allows for less wait time, but even if you did find yourself chatting with others outside before being summoned inside, the wait is never very long.

So, to this I say, EAT WELL. This is not only a moniker they believe in at The Breadboard, but it is a promise … After all, the very words are emblazoned on the back of their souvenir t-shirts!

Breadboard Restaurant
744 N Main St
Ashland, OR 97520

Breadboard Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bogle Family Vineyards | Clarksburg, CA

On a recent trip to Oregon to celebrate my uncle’s 70th birthday, my wife and I were at a loss to find the perfect gift to say thank you for all that he has done not for just his own immediate family, but for ours as well. I mean, what do you get a person who seemingly has everything and has done just about anything, including traveling to the four corners of the world?

After knocking around a few ideas, we chose to keep things simple. We decided to appeal to his love and enjoyment of good, quality wines. But rather than go with the obvious places in the Napa Valley, we elected to keep things closer to home. We turned, instead, to the Sacramento Delta and paid a visit to our friends at the Bogle Family Vineyards.

The Bogle family got their start as farmers in the region during the mid-1800s. Best known then for their seasonal harvests of various fruits and vegetables, their efforts later helped cultivate growth and development in the surrounding communities, including Clarksburg, Freeport, and Hood.

But as long as the Bogles’ have been contributing to the local agriculture, their foray in wine making is fairly recent in comparison to their rich family history. Truth be known, they didn't begin growing grapes until 1968. That was when vineyard founders, Warren and Cris Bogle, planted the family's first wine grapes over a 26 acre plot near the town of Clarksburg.

At that time, there was no guarantee that they would be successful, but given the fertile landscape, warm daylight weather, and cool evening breezes, the conditions were ideal. The father and son team had nothing to lose.

Forty years later, the family’s vineyards spread across 1200 acres, and they have become known as one of the more well-respected producers of wine in the area (if not nationally). They have also become an industry leader by incorporating new techniques into their wine making production. For example, they export fruit from other well-known vineyards in the state to create unique blends that can excite not only your palate, but also a few other senses as well.

Exclusive varietals include award-winning chardonnays, merlots, petit sirahs, and cabernets. Additionally, they produce an old vine zinfandel that features grapes taken from vineyards as old as the winery itself.

Among our favorites is the 2008 Pinot Noir, which combines all the characteristics and bold flavors from the Russian River Valley, the Central Coast, and of course, the surrounding areas of Clarksburg. We also recommend their 2008 Reisling. Harvested from the winery's estate vineyards along the delta and in Monterey County, this unique vintage starts off with a sweetness often found in ripe pears and aromatic peaches and finishes with the spiciness of cloves and cinnamon.

Now, after paying a visit to the Bogle Family Vineyards, be sure to reserve a little bit of time to open up one of those newly bought bottles of wine in your carrier. Share it with your friends at any of sitting areas along the back porch or at the picnic benches on the lawn. In other words, don't be in such a hurry to get back to "civilization.” Rather, just take in the calm serene that is the Sacramento Delta.

Oh, in case you were wondering, my uncle was all smiles when he learned of his gift from the Bogle Family Vineyards. He had never visited them, heard much about them, and was eager to begin pouring. Cheers!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pop Culture | Vancouver, WA

How many of you remember sipping from classic soda pop varieties such as Hire’s Root Beer, Royal Crown Cola, Bubble Up, Ne-Hi Grape, Nesbitt’s Orange, or Kickapoo’s Joy Juice? Or when was the last time you downed a Coke, Pepsi, or 7-Up from a glass bottle? If it’s been a while like it has been for us, then planning a trip to Vancouver, Washington, and stopping into Pop Culture may just be the cure to bring back what was once lost.

Originally known as Moxie’s on Main, Pop Culture offers a place for folks young and old to come in, enjoy a snack, and “pop” open a bottle of soda or two to wash away their worries and celebrate the moment.

“The idea behind Pop Culture is to provide a fun and relaxing place to hang out,” notes owner Dan Wyatt. “I also want the place to be current and on the cutting edge.”

Mission accomplished as Pop Culture has become quite the hot spot to find something new and exciting. For example, on certain evenings of the week, it’s quite common to find local – and not so local – music acts playing on its raised stage. They also play host to stand-up comedy routines, movie nights, open mic nights, special parties and events, and on occasion, fashion shows.

But it wasn’t always that easy. At least, not from the beginning. According to Wyatt, he tried for a while to keep the name Moxie’s on Main, especially since the name itself was synonymous with Vancouver. There’s a lot of tradition inside these walls, and Wyatt didn’t want to change that.

“But I was new management and I wasn’t Moxie’s on Main,” recalls Wyatt. “And this kept people from coming in when I first took over the business.”

So, after a little bit of cosmetic surgery, which included a revamped food menu featuring gourmet hot dogs to compliment an already large selection of vintage and specialty glass bottled sodas, a new attitude and identity was brought into the fold. Pop Culture was born, and they’ve not looked back since.

“I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out here,” Wyatt says. And as we collected our bottles of sodas to leave, he was quick to add, “Thanks for stopping by. I hope you come back soon.”

We certainly will the next time we’re in town. And thank you for sharing Pop Culture’s story with us.

Pop Culture
1929 Main St
Vancouver, WA 98660

Out of the Kitchen Portland restaurants

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wayne's Chicago Red Hots | Portland, OR

I once heard it somewhere, someplace that a person can never experience a great hot dog until he/she has had a Chicago hot dog ... Or, as those in the know would say, a Chicago red hot. Whether that's true or not is debatable, but seeing that we won't be in the Windy City anytime soon, we're glad to have a place like Wayne's Chicago Red Hots to visit when in Portland, Oregon.

Now, as far as I can tell, Wayne's Chicago Red Hots opened their dine-in location on the Northeast side of the city roughly three years ago. Before that, they generated a loyal fan following via a converted bread truck that was based primarily in St. Helens. Regardless of their history, it's become no secret that they've been serving heaven on a bun for some time. Just take a look at what "the people" have been saying:

"... Could easily be found in the shadow of Wrigley Field." - The Oregonian

"Best dog in town!' - Willamette Week

"With a Red Hot in one fist and an Old Style in the other, the distance between Portland and Chicago can be crossed, just like 'dat.' Wayne's Chicago Red Hots have it all, plus huge flavor ..." - Portland Mercury

After walking into the place, two things immediately hit us square in the face: the distinctive aroma of all beef franks being made to order and the wall-to-ceiling decor of sports paraphernalia. White Sox, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and most notably, the Cubs are all represented in pictures, uniform jerseys, clipped articles, cards, spent tickets, and any thing else seemingly under the sun. It's enough to leave any Chicagoan proud.

But it's their menu that leaves you in awe with no less than thirteen different red hot varieties, each brandishing a colorful name such as the Five Holy Martyrs, the Al Capone, the Barack Obeef, the Little Leaguer, the Pulaski Polish, and the Chicago Firedog. All of their selections feature franks, polish sausage, or brats from Vienna Beef, and each order includes a hefty helping of their famous fries.

The kids each put down a Lil' Willy Chili Dog, which included an all beef frank, a slathering of beanless chili, a helping of cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of crisp onions. It's recommended that you eat this one with a fork, but the kids threw that out the window and just chowed down. As the guys behind the counter noted, "If something ain't gettin' dirty, like your face, it ain't worth eating."

For us, we elected to go with their signature dog, the Chicago Red Hot, which featured an all beef frank that was "dragged thru da garden with yellow mustard, onions, neon green relish, tomato wedges, sport peppers, a dill pickle, and served on a steamed poppy seed bun." In a word, yummmmmmm!

And if that wasn't enough incentive for you, I understand that in the month of September, they close the street alongside of the storefront to play host to what they call the Chi-Town Chowdown, an all-day fest that features live music, prize giveaways, tons of food, and fun for the whole family.

So, what are you waiting for? Train, plane, car, bike, or bus ... The PDX and Wayne's Chicago Red Hots are dialin' you in!

Wayne's Chicago Red Hots
3901 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97212

Out of the Kitchen Portland restaurants