This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Aaaaaaand, We're Home!

Whew! Finally arrived home after a very long drive yesterday. Let's see, where did I leave off. Ah, yes.

We spent most of Sunday in Ashland. Drove the 15 minutes from Medford south to Ashland going along old Highway 99 instead of the I-5 freeway. It goes through the small communities of Phoenix and Talent, Oregon in route. Anyway, we arrived in Ashland, easily found a parking place and then wandered through town looking in on shops along the main drag. Most were open but we had little interest in what was being sold. Decided to have lunch at Lark's, a popular and well liked restaurant. We were both disappointed. We shared halibut and chips and a salad and smoked salmon quiche. Very uninspired lunch we could have had in any average restaurant. Glad we had canceled our reservations for dinner the night before. In all the many times we have visited Ashland, we have seldom ever had a memorable meal.

Pardon me for a bit while I step upon my soapbox. Why is it that so many restaurants that could easily do so, overlook something as simple as a garnish on a plate. With a simple garnish of fruit, fresh herb, vegetable confetti, etc. added to a chef's mise en place, a well prepared meal can take the leap to something that absolutely knocks the diner's socks off. Case in point. Lark, our lunch destination in Ashland. I am served a plate of fish and chips. It is all one color--yellow. The breaded fish is yellow. The french fries are yellow. This is a plate you could get from almost any northwest restaurant. But this is supposed to be an exceptional restaurant. So what would set this plate above the average. After all, the fries were fresh and had been twice fried which gives them a crisp outer crunch and a soft baked potato-like inner texture. The fish was fresh or flash frozen and had been dipped in an ever-so-light batter, so it was well prepared. But the monochromatic plate that sat before me gave me that "first impression" so important to anything in life, taht I should have gone to the fish and chips shop down the street where the same looking plate could have been had for a fraction of the price. Garnish people, GARNISH!

More window shopping and then a stop at Starbucks to use up some of the many Starbucks cards I received as end of the year gifts from students. They have come in pretty handy many times this summer. While standing in line, who should we see? Ed Rutschman. He was waiting for one of the shows to start and wandering around town as we were. He was there because his wife was playing in the Peter Britt Festival as she has for over 30 years. So we sat and chatted over coffee and then we all wandered over to the theater to see our first show. As You Like It was playing. It was set in the depression era United States. I am not normallly impressed with alternate settings of Shakespearen plays but this one won me over.

The play over we decided to go back to our room and rest before returning for the evening show. We ate our left-overs from the Black Bear Diner from the night before and then rested and napped. About 7:30 we left and drove back to Ashland for the evening performance. Before the show we visited the festival gift shop and there was Carla Rutschman with a friend. So we managed to see both Rutschman's.

This show was a Tom Stoppard farce called On The Razzle. It was punny, high energy and well done. I especially got into the second half of the show as the pace sped up and built to its climax. After the show we returned to our room and briefly started packing before heading off to bed.

Monday morning we rose bright and early for our drive home to Bellingham. Breakfasted at the hotel, finished packing and loading the car and then off on our drive north. We had arranged to meet friends in Vancouver, WA for lunch at Hudsons in the Heathman Lodge. We left Medford at 8:00 and needed to be in Vancouver by 12:30. Traffic flowed smoothly and we arrived only about 15 minutes behind schedule. As we drove, I worked at finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Almost finished just before we arrived so I had to wait until after lunch for the last couple of chapters. We enjoyed lunch at Hudson's and had a nice visit then headed on to our next destination. We had yet another appointment to keep before heading on home. We had purchased some Oregon goodies with which to make dinner at our daughter's house in Seattle. So we continued driving hours longer to get there. I managed to finish Harry Potter. What a great finish to a fantastic series.

Arrived at Kate's house about 5:30 and she was already home. We unpacked our goodies and had a great visit. The dinner of a salad with Oregon peaches, Rogue Creamery Bleu Cheese, red onion and a balsamic dressing accompanied by an artisan bread from a bakery in Eugene, Oregon and a delicious bottle of Oregon Pinot Gris was delicious.

We looked at our watch and realized it was 10:00 and we still had an hour and a half to get home. So we hugged our kid tight, hopped in the car and drove the final 90 miles home. We didn't even bother to unpack the car when we arrived, prefering to just climb upstairs and hop into our own comfy bed. Home at last! What a whirlwind adventure this passed week has been. Now to settle down for a couple of weeks before things get crazy again.