Freshly caught Dungeness crabs cook in a cauldron of boiling seawater. Fishermen fillet 35-pound halibuts. Locals snack on fish n’ chips made with wild Chinook salmon. Just another day on the relatively undiscovered Oregon Coast. Tell me again why I don’t live here?
Celebrating our first anniversary and Alejandro’s new job, we jumped in the car for a 12-hour trek up the coast to the tiny fishing village of Nehalem, Oregon. Amid sprawling ocean views, dread headed hitchhikers and a sea of lackadaisical RVs, we found pure, simple seafood. And that’s all we ate for four days straight.
Let’s start with Jetty’s Fishery. Order a crab or two and watch the fisherman cook them right on the dock. They’re served with cooked crab fat, or crab butter, overflowing from the top shell. Pair with a few steamer clams, giant oysters and Oregon’s finest local brew. This place is nothing fancy, but nothing is on the NW coast, and that’s just how I like it.
A day of wine tasting and kayaking led us to Manzanita Seafood and Chowder house for dinner. I used to think frying wild salmon was sacrilege. Taking a beautiful piece of fish and killing it with soggy batter and hot oil. Not anymore. Earnest waitresses served some of tastiest fish n’ chips I ever had. Light, flaky and tender as fish should be. They didn’t charge us a corking fee for the bottle of fruity Nehalem Bay pinot noir we brought with us, and they insisted on feeding us a piece of rich chocolate cake for our anniversary. I can own a place like this – local food, good people and a calming atmosphere.
Our last night on the coast called for even more salmon, but this time we cooked it ourselves. Our riverside cabin came equipped with a barbecue on the deck, so we grilled up some fresh corn and salmon steaks, and matched them with sauteed onions and tomatillos, plus a side of avocado sprinkled with sea salt. The meal was complete with a bottle of Gewurztraminer from Namaste Vineyards.
I am often torn between city and rural living, and trips like this always enforce the latter. Residents of these small towns live simple, modest lives and their happiness shines through their kind acts and pleasant ways. Locals excitedly gabbed about treasures found on hidden beaches at low tide, or suspension bridges tucked in nearby rain forests. All the little things that urban dwellers rarely have time to appreciate.
There is much more to the rugged coast than fresh food. Waterfalls, kayaking, crazy Oregonian hippies, perfumed water – view all this and more on our facebook album.