Cross-country road trip: Wish you were (eating) here

After two posts about the amazing beer (and wine) we had on our trip to the West Coast, I’ve finally gotten around to the post I promised about some of our culinary adventures. Here are a few of the highlights, in chronological order:

Montana Ale Works, Bozeman, MT:

As I said previously, we loved the array of craft beers on tap at Montana Ale Works. The food was also tasty, with quite a few grass-fed meat options on the menu, along with veggie alternatives (e.g., tofu, portabello, or grain-based veggie burgers). I hadn’t had a patty melt in a decade or two, so I pounced on the opportunity to have their bison patty melt and was glad that I did. It was a decadent, messy affair made even sloppier when I requested an extra ramekin of Thousand Island dressing.

Just about anywhere in the Willamette Valley, OR:

Blackberries are practically a weed here, so most locals look at you a little oddly if you excitedly offer them fresh-picked berries as though they were something special. But for an out-of-towner like me who’s smitten with them, there’s nothing quite like blackberries picked with your own two hands at the peak of ripeness. During our visit, I enjoyed them on their own, atop cereal, and in a homemade cobbler. Three or four days in a row, I also feasted upon my favorite new PBJ alternative: peanut butter and fresh-picked blackberry sandwiches, in this case made on a lovely organic spelt bread from Dave’s Killer Bread.

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Red Hills Market, Dundee, OR:

Before an afternoon of winery-hopping, we stopped by Red Hills Market for lunch in the heart of Oregon’s Pinot Noir country. J and I split two items. The olive tapenade sandwich with chevre, fennel and arugula on a baguette was nice, but the real star was the pizza special, which might be the best dang pizza that I have ever had in my entire life. As you can see in the photo below, their wood-fired pizza crust was topped with merguez—a North African-style sausage, made here with lamb from a local farm—padron peppers, house-made peach chutney, and arugula. The friendly, helpful fellow behind the counter highly recommended the pizza when I inquired about it, and I can’t tell you how glad I am we took him up on the suggestion. I would seriously contemplate driving another 5000+ miles for another bite of this pizza! We also picked up some nice thank-you gifts here for our friend who was our catsitter during the big road trip, including some fantastic Jacobsen sea salt.

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Morning Glory Cafe, Eugene, OR:

J and I drove through both Corvalis and Eugene on our way to California, homes to Oregon State and the University of Oregon respectively. We lunched in Eugene at Morning Glory Cafe, a cool vegetarian/vegan diner (breakfast served all day) that made us feel like we were back home in Madison’s Willy Street or Atwood neighborhood. Vegan breakfast fare tends to be only partially filling for J, so he ordered two dishes: vegan biscuits and gravy with “soysage” patties, and cornmeal waffles with fresh blueberries and maple syrup. Both were very tasty, though I favored the latter. My breakfast was a concept so ingenious that I’m shocked I haven’t seen it elsewhere: a shell of crispy hashbrown-style potatoes filled as though it were the eggs of an omelet. It comes in several versions; I opted for Little Bear’s Vegan Omelette: “Broccoli, zucchini, carrots, and onions sautéed with special spices, folded into a shredded potato shell and topped with our own herbed tofu sour cream, green onions, and diced tomatoes. Served with your choice of homemade bread.” Bread is served with the topping of your choice (organic butter, olive oil or Earth Balance vegan soy margarine), and jam is available on the table as well. The space was funky and low key, the service was friendly, and the hibiscus iced tea was flavorful and refreshing.

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Underdog, Inner Sunset neighborhood, San Francisco, CA:

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Thanks to Yelp, we discovered Underdog when we were looking for a bite to eat after a morning at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. As a summer feature in USA Today describes, “This spot serves sausages made from ethically treated animals raised on natural feeds that are not genetically modified. ‘They’re locavore dogs: humanely raised, pasture fed,” [Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America co-author Bruce] Kraig says. This is the wave of the future. They are very good.’ Underdog serves a variety of vegan dogs, too.” Lonely Planet concurs: “For cheap, organic meals on the run in a bun, Underdog is the clear winner. The roasted garlic and Italian pork sausages are USDA certified-organic, and the smoky veggie chipotle hot dog could make dedicated carnivores into fans of fake meat.”

J tried a couple different meat versions, including a chili dog, while I had a vegan Polish dog topped with a generous serving of homemade kraut from the toppings bar. I also enjoyed a side of their organic Po-tater-Tots. Extrovert J outed me as a food blogger to the proprietor when he ordered his second dog; seeing an opportunity for good press, she brought out complimentary orders of a couple sides including their vegan coleslaw (simple and delicious). She needn’t have bothered, though, as I didn’t need any buttering up to appreciate what they were up to and want to spread the word!

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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