Another delayed posting…
Sadly, I have yet to locate which box my scanner is in, so you will all need to continue to wait before you can read the magazine article in which I was quoted.
So in lieu of that post, I will regale you with tales of our weekend last.
July 13th is our wedding anniversary, as many of you no doubt read in Jean’s journal. Since we both had to work on Friday, we opted to really celebrate on Saturday. This, however, doesn’t mean we can’t go out at all, so dinner it was.
First I will apologize for the poor HTML and the fact that my next to paragraphs were hidden from view for the majority of the day. It is all fixed 🙂
Now, I must digress for a moment… You see, for some unknown reason, I have had a hankering for Benihana. I don’t know why. The food isn’t particularly good, it is always too warm, and you leave smelling like the restaurant. But damn it, it is fun. And being the mid-30’s ironic hipster that I am, I wanted to go, and convinced Jean to go with me.
So dinner at Benihana’s it was. And it was, of course, everything I expected. The good news is: that is an itch I won’t need to scratch for another 5 years or so. My take on the place was also solidified by one of our table mates who proudly noted that “next to the Olive Garden, THIS is my FAVOURTIE restaurant!”. (Capitalization was theirs, not mine. She really was that enthusiastic.)
Our main plan for celebrating our Anniversary was to head out to Astoria, Or. for a nice day trip and a GOOD dinner.
Jean had picked out a few places to visit, so Saturday morning we got up and got out of town to try and beat the heat. Astoria is only about an hour and a half drive from our house in Beaverton, so we were at the coast in no time flat.
First on our docket was to grab some lunch, so we headed straight to Gunnerson’s Cannery Café, where we had stopped on our trip here in October before we had moved up. The Cannery does some great non-traditional dishes such as a lamb burger on a pita with feta and kalamata olives, and a bison burger, both of which are outstanding!
From there, it was off to the Flavel House Museum… yes, this is where Mikey’s Father in the movie “The Goonies” worked, next to the county jail, also featured in the movie. We’re geeks. So what?
From there it was off to find the Astoria Column. Now, many of you know I discovered a few years back that I have a fear of heights. With this in mind, I wasn’t sure how I would do climbing the column to the observation deck at the top, some 164 steps up. Being out of shape didn’t really help either. The good news is that I was able to climb it and take pictures from a 360 degree perspective… I stitched together a panorama of all the shots here (click the link for the FULL sized image, but I am warning you, it is big!):
The image starts from the West/SouthWest facing portion of the column and moves to the right in a clock wise direction.
As for that fear of heights… I was ok for the most part. I just didn’t look down while I was taking pictures. Which is also one of the reasons I took so many; I really WANTED to look down, but I didn’t want to get vertigo and then have to climb DOWN the stairs! Either way, it allowed me to get some nice pictures, like this one of Jean and me:
Next on our list was a jaunt through Fort Steven’s Military Museum and Battery. We ran around the old battery for a while and came across this sign:
This has to be the BEST sign ever. They weren’t kidding. NOTHING around this Fort was retrofitted with any safety items. THAT is the way it should be. Any visitor needed to take their OWN safety into their own hands. The sign was the ONLY warning you got. Damn I love Oregon!
After tiring ourselves running around the fort and checking out the Indian long-house (2 photos in the gallery, go check em out), we headed out to see the cemetery connected to the installation.
This cemetery struck me as quite odd. It was moved from its original location around 1905, and is less than an acre large. Yet for being so old (one of the countries oldest prior to the move) and so small it was only about 25% utilized. That is a rarity I have found in our travels to grave sites, as even the large old and new ones alike seem to be running at 50% capacity or more.
By this time we were getting close to diner time, so we headed back to Astoria to find the restaurant Jean had chosen for us, Baked Alaska.
When we were seated, we immediately noted that they serve a Chef’s “Fixed Price” dinner, more commonly known as a “prix fixe” or Chef’s Tasting menu. Well, anyone who knows us even a little bit knows that will be our choice for dinner, regardless of anything else on the menu!
So we ordered dinner and asked the waitress to consult the chef for any wine recommendations. She returned with a bottle of Viognier and a Pinot Noir both for the southern Oregon Willamette Valley region. After a quick taste, we opted for a glass of the viognier for the first two courses, and a glass of the pinot for the final 3; a choice that worked out quite well for the main course salmon! (Jean will have to clarify the menu as I can’t quite remember it all. I do know the “amuse bouche” was a wonderful halibut ceviche. mmmmm)
The service was outstanding, and I even ended up making friends with the General Manager (John would be so proud!) as it seems they don’t yet have espresso or cappuccino on their menus. I even think they may start offering a wine pairing option with their prix fixe menu after I recommended it; I was honestly a bit surprised it wasn’t there already and that I had to request the waitress to ask for the Chef’s wine recommendations.
Over the course of dinner Jean and I had a wonderful time, and found the restaurant to be quite pleasant with some great views and an amazingly wonderful staff. I couldn’t have asked for a better night out… well, ok I could have. You see halfway through dinner, I hear our waitress explaining the specials to some of the other tables. It turns out, I missed my perfect dinner. One of the specials was “braised rabbit”! I never even knew they had it because Jean and I were immediately sold on the tasting menu, that the waitress didn’t even need to go into all the specials.
Well, not to be disappointed by my lack of foresight, I asked the waitress to again check with the Chef to see how the rabbit would hold up if taken home and reheated the next day. To my delight, the chef indicated that it would be outstanding tomorrow! So we ordered our second dinner of the night, and the chef was even thoughtful enough to prep the dinners just enough to allow for finishing once we got it home and began reheating.
We left the restaurant that night as pleased as we have ever been with any dining experience. Truly a joy to eat at Baked Alaska!
Sunday was spent doing nothing really, just some lounging and a few minor errands and chores. Dinner time snuck up on us, so we didn’t end up eating until 8pm. I was delighted again to find that braised rabbit from Baked Alaska is WONDERFUL the next day; especially with a nice peppery Cellar 8 Zinfandel to compliment it!
What a wonderful way to end our anniversary weekend!
Thanks to all who wished us well on Friday. Eleven years isn’t easy, but you know it isn’t THAT difficult either. Jean and I have now been together as a couple for 16 years, and in that time we have both learned and grown as individuals and as a couple in ways we’d have never imagined back in 1991 when we first began dating. Such a strange and wondrous trip it has been. I can only hope the next 11 plus years are as exciting and challenging and wonderful as the first sixteen have been 🙂