Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

West Coast Roadtrip, Jul-6-2011

Wednesday was a lesson in things that we should have asked the locals.

Our big plan for the day was that I would visit the company office in Vancouver, Washington to fraternize with my coworkers and get some work done. (I wouldn't recommend this for any other tourist, but it worked for me.) Lori would go into Portland and tour around on her own. I'd formed an impression that the Portland area had great mass transit, so we thought it would be no problem for Lori to get about on her own from a hotel in Vancouver.

My day at the office was nothing to write about, but my coworkers led me off to Hula Boy Grill for lunch. This was my second experience with Hawaiian food; my first had been a very nasty experience at a low-end restaurant in Cupertino. This was vastly better.

I chose a meal to maximize the number of dishes I didn't recognize: lau lau, kalua pork, and lomi lomi salmon.
Kalua pork is traditionally cooked in a fire pit buried in the sand, and this was probably not cooked in the traditional way - but it was extremely tasty, very tender and juicy, with a mild smoky flavor.
The lau lau was explained to me as a combination of pork, pork fat, and butterfish, wrapped in taro leaves and steamed. The meaty bits were tasty, but there was a whole lot of fat in the combo, and I left most of it uneaten.
The lomi lomi salmon is a bit tough to describe. I could say that it's like a fresh salsa, but instead of adding chiles to the tomatoes and onions, substitute raw salmon. But although this description is a reasonably accurate description of the recipe, it doesn't really capture the flavor - or perhaps this is in a poorly mapped area of my personal gustatory landscape.

Unfortunately, we learned that when the Portland area was setting up mass transit, Vancouver didn't want to pay to join. So my going off to work had left Lori stranded in the hotel, and by early afternoon, she was bored and very hungry. We were willing compromise our Roadfooding standards for the sake of getting her fed quickly, but it happened that the first fast food restaurant we encountered was Burgerville, a Roadfood-listed chain with a focus on fresh, local food.

I remember little of Lori's Tillamook cheddar burger, but I do remember the massive Walla Walla onion rings, so large that an order only contained five.

After that, we went off to the International Rose Test Garden, which is first and foremost a laboratory for rose-breeders, and only secondarily a showcase of splendid roses. To be honest, it was somewhat wasted on me. I was very impressed by the climbing roses we saw first - but these aren't in the garden themselves, they're just adorning the tennis courts.

The next dozen roses added to the splendor - but I could not honestly say that the hundred beautiful roses after that added much beyond the first dozen or so. We took a whole lot of pictures, though; if you like pictures of roses, I invite you to poke around in my Flickr stream.

If I thought that Lori had any chance of forgetting, I wouldn't mention that I suggested that she walk away in the gift shop so that I could buy something with a trace of discretion. But she started vibrating with anticipation like a plucked string when she thought about me writing about the rose gardens, so I'm sure she also keenly remembers that the saleslady told her that I had excellent taste in gifts.

The Rose Test Gardens are a fabulous tourist spot, and I would certainly recommend them.

We walked up to the Japanese Garden, but decided not to go in because it charged a fee and we were closing in on dinner time. We peered over the walls, but I wasn't willing to take pictures without paying the fee. These pictures are from the walk up to the garden.

Elsewhere in the same park, we stopped briefly at the Lewis and Clark memorial for a picture of the city:

For dinner, we met my friend and coworker Bill at Widmer Brothers Gasthaus and Brewery.

Lori's double-smoked kielbasa was very nice; unfortunately, I can't say the same about my sauerbraten.

For dessert, we all shared the Oregon berry cobbler. The berries were very nice, but I didn't care for the topping.
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