Category Archives: Chews, Brews & Spirits

Cannon Beach – Our Favorite Place on Earth

Cannon Beach Sunset

My wife and I have been going to Cannon Beach, OR since 1989 when my company that I was working for at the time moved us out here.   While that job didn’t pan out, it did get us to the Seattle area where we’ve lived since then.

Cannon Beach holds a special place for us.  It’s where we made the decision while walking on the beach that we would pull up stakes from Michigan and it was also the place we decided that rather accept a position to move to Cleveland, OH, we took a buyout and stayed.  A decision that neither of us has ever regretted.

Our latest excursion to Cannon Beach was over my birthday weekend.  We stayed at the Tolovana Inn which in my mind, is one of the best places in Cannon Beach to stay.  If you are thinking of going, I suggest requesting either building three or four.  Building three gives you the best view of the fantastic sunsets and it’s our favorite.

As for the town of Cannon Beach, we can tell that it has worked very hard to stay a small beach town.  That being said, there are a lot of cool, funky shops as well as some great art galleries and of course, one amazing jewelry store, The Golden Whale in the heart of downtown.  Both my wife and I have purchased some amazing pieces of jewelry.  In fact, we purchased a gold wedding band for me (my third) as the first one I had broke beyond repair and the second one is somewhere in the walls of my home after some renovation was done.

We always stop at the Cannon Beach Book Company where we always find great reads.  I am currently reading a science fiction novel called “The Three-Body Problem” written by Cixin Liu, one of China’s most beloved science fiction authors.  Where else but in a book store would you find something like this?  Would you find it doing a search on the Internet?  Doubtful which tells me bookstores are still a wonderful place to find books to take you on a journey to anywhere you wish.

There are any number of restaurants you can choose from, depending on what you feel like having.  From The Bistro Restaurant and Bar that evokes a French country inn to Bill’s Tavern and Brewhouse that makes their own beer.  One of my favorites is the 2×4 stout.  They sell growlers so be sure to grab some to take home.  And if you are staying at the Tolovana Inn, you can walk to the Warren House Pub which serves Bill’s brews and has some tasty food as well.

The real find of our last few trips to Cannon Beach is the Cannon Beach Distillery.  Established in 2012, owner Mike Selberg has distilled  some of the best tasting dark rums and agave (which tequila is made from) that I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

Also distilled are gins and single-release whiskeys.  I am not a fan of gin but the tasting I had of their Lost Buoy gin was excellent.

As for the whiskeys, while I have not yet had the pleasure of tasting them, from what I understand, when they do these single-releases, they have people line up prior to opening to purchase.  One of these days, we’ll get down there when they do have a release and find out just how good these whiskeys are.  They release these whiskeys about every 2-4 months.

One of our all-time favorite wine shops is Laurel’s Cannon Beach Wine Shop.  Laurel makes all her own wines and runs the shop.  She is very knowledgeable and loves to discuss just about anything with you.  And let me tell you, she has never steered us wrong on what wines to pair with what foods we have.  If you can, pick up a bottle of her Pinot Noir.  It’s one of the best on the planet as far as we are concerned.

And of course the best attraction of all is Cannon Beach itself.  It’s a place you can spend a day walking up and down and see all kinds of wildlife from puffins on Haystack Rock along with various small sea life to sandpipers flitting with the waves or flying just above the sand at some amazing speeds.  If your lucky, you can see some gray whales off the shore during migrating season.  For all the years we’ve been going there, we’ve only seen one small pod come thru.

Cannon Beach Dog

Or you can people watch or what we like to do, dog watch.  We have seen many breeds of dogs and all have one thing in common:  They are overjoyed being at the beach…well, with the exception of one English bull dog.  My wife put his expression in the perfect light when she interpreted it while he (or she) was looking at the water:  “Yeah, it’s the ocean…makes me want to pee.  Can we go now?”   We must have laughed a good 15 minutes watching that bull dog.

The town of Cannon Beach is very-dog friendly.  In fact, many shop owners have bowls of water for thirsty dogs and if your dog thrives on pets, many people (including ourselves) love to have a moment of fur therapy with your member of the family.

And of course, at night, you can build a bonfire on the beach, bring a bottle of wine from Laurel’s or some agave from the Cannon Beach Distillery and watch the sun go down and see the stars come up.

Cannon Beach Fire

For us, the Cannon Beach area is a place of peace, a place that recharges our soul and allows us to reflect on the past and look toward the future.

If you go, we can only hope it does the same for you.

I Have Looked Into The Abyss and Survived!

The Abyss

For those who don’t know me, I love a good dark beer.  My “go-to” beer is Deschutes Black Butte Porter that I was turned onto by my good friend Rick Howe.

Back in 2005, Deschutes introduced a bold new imperial stout named The Abyss.  It is a very limited release beer with an 11% alcohol content.  When I first caught wind of this beer, I was on a mission to have some.

In this journey, I came upon several road blocks.  The beer wasn’t readily available to me in my usual haunts and when asking for it, I was either too early or they had just run out of their allotment and wouldn’t be getting any until the next release.

In 2009 (or thereabouts) we had an opportunity to use a friends timeshare in Bend, OR over St. Patrick’s day.  With our 2 friends Tim & Denyse, we drove there.  Seeing how Deschutes Brewery was based in Bend, Or, I was sure my journey to the promised land was going to end.

So we go to the Brew Pub on St. Patrick’s day and in anticipation of finally tasting this beer, the server asked what we all wanted to drink.  She finally got to me and I ordered in my most pleasant voice “I’ll have the Abyss please.”

She looked at me with sad eyes (point to be made here, she barely looked at me with any emotion but it makes the story better, right?) and said “I’m sorry, it isn’t available now.”

I was shocked…to travel all the way to Bend on one of the most beloved Irish holidays and I can’t have the beer that I have been salivating for?

Fast forward to a rather sad occasion, my friend Tim’s father, Frank, passed away and we felt it was important to attend his services in Spokane, WA.  Frank was a typical grumpy old Irishman but always had a twinkle in his eye and loved a good whiskey.

Nancy and I traveled with Rick and his wife Bonnie and we went to a restaurant called Hay J’s Bistro (check the website) .  It was right next door to the hotel where we were staying.  On the outside, the place is nothing much to look at.  It’s located in a strip mall and is adjacent to a gas station.  I wasn’t expecting much…imagine my surprise when we entered the place.  We were pretty much blown away by the food, service and of course, the fact they had The Abyss available.

We were handed menus and naturally we went to the drink section first.  Again, we were blown away by the selection with the varying varieties of  whiskey.  I turned the page and looked to the beer section…

A moment of pause here….did you ever have time stop?  I glanced down the beer selection and the words The Abyss seemed to float off the page and head toward my eyes…teasing me with selections from four different years.

Not wanting to be disappointed, I called our waiter over and asked if it was really available.  “Oh yes, in fact, I’ll go get our expert over so that he can explain the differences in each year.”

Rick and I were pretty amped up.  He hadn’t had it either.  After the expert went over the qualities of each year (2011-2014), we each ordered one 22 ounce of the 2013 Abyss.  We requested that we have it served with our meals which was perfect because they needed time to chill.

I am not going to bore you with how much we enjoyed the beer.  It was immaculate…smooth with a light molasses taste and a great finish.  It went well with the steak medallions I ordered (which by the way were some of the best I’ve ever had) and, truth be told, one was all I needed to have a nice glow.

To make it even more perfect, Rick and I discovered that we could purchase The Abyss to take home with us…in fact, the expert made us such a deal that we couldn’t pass it up.  $80.00 for four bottles, from the 2011 to the 2014 vintage years.  We made the purchase without hesitation and are now proud owners of this amazing beer.

If you want to check out on The Abyss and other fine beers from Deschutes Brewery,  visit their website at dechutesbrewery.com.

Take care and enjoy!

 

Detroit’s Food Scene

My wife Nancy and I have traveled back home to Detroit to see my Mom who is 91 years young.

During our time here, we always have to hit a couple of our favorite places to eat.  On this trip, we were able to get our Mexican Village fix as well as our square pizza fix from the Cloverleaf.

I just had a thought….if we could put together Detroit’s food and Seattle’s craft beers, it could be considered  a sensory overload for the taste buds!

Detroit has some of the best Mexican food that you could ever taste.  We normally go to the Mexican Village restaurant out in Utica but Nancy cut my teeth on Mexican food when she took me to the original Mexican Village in Downtown Detroit.

I have also had the pleasure of eating at Xochimilco on Bagley Avenue in Downtown Detroit which is even better than Mexican Village.  But not by much!

Granted, the only thing I get at both places is the chicken enchiladas.  I have ventured in to other parts but man, when you have perfection sitting in front of you, why go to anything else?

The other staple in Detroit is square pizza.  Has a kid growing up, we often had Cal’s deep dish pizza.  Cal’s had a couple of places if I remember correctly.  On Warren Avenue between Bedford and Devonshire and then again on Harper Avenue near the Old Harper Sporting Goods store.

Both places have closed but I understand that the Cal’s recipe has found a home at Gee Willies in St. Clair Shores.

But what is perhaps the best deep dish pizza in the area comes from the Cloverleaf Bar and Restaurant in East Pointe.  The crust is nice and crispy with a flavor that really can’t be described.  You need to experience it because if I have to tell you what it taste like, you aren’t going to get it.

It’s been nice being back here and watching the Lions win against the Vikings…and I know that they will win again this Sunday against the Bears.  But alas, we will be back in Seattle with our great beer but perhaps not so great Pizza.  Nancy makes tremendous Mexican food so it won’t be too much of a withdrawal.

Take care everyone!