The real Portlandia, featuring surf and turf.

Only three days left in Portland, and I’m scrambling to do (and eat, duh) as much as I can. Last weekend was absolutely crammed with activity, starting off with a trip to the rugged Oregon coast.

Oregon beaches aren’t usually the most vibrant of places, but they have a curious stark beauty. I almost never see the sun whenever I go. I bring sweatshirts and rain jackets to the coast, not a swimsuit. It’s COLD. And true to my prediction, there were periodical drizzles and downpours throughout the day. The sky was a constant dull gray. But there was something wonderfully sentimental and serene as I stood on the beach and let the frigid Pacific ocean water cascade over my numb toes.

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Any trip to the beach also requires a stop for Pacific Northwest seafood. It’s become a tradition to stop at Bell Buoy Restaurant in Seaside, OR to gobble down some fish and chips.

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Soft, flaky halibut fish meat was deep fried in a light batter, which gave a satisfying crunch with each bite. The ratio of batter to fish was exquisite, and I’ve never tasted such fresh, fresh seafood. The clam chowder we ordered had a deliciously creamy taste with bits of tender clams and taters mixed in.

And regardless of the cold, I craved ice cream after frolicking on the beach and spied Sea Star Gelato, a newly opened biz in the midst of Seaside’s touristy town.

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I ordered stracciatella and Northwest marionberry for my two scoops, a fusion of two completely different flavors that still married beautifully. Stracciatella makes vanilla chocolate chip look tame–it’s a more sophisticated version that involves drizzling melted chocolate into the depths of churning ice cream rather than just tossing pieces of chocolate in. So you get this lovely swirling of melted chocolate shards that infuse more into the vanilla. The marionberry had a sweet yet tart taste of blackberry indulgence, featuring real bits of the seeds.

A response on the survey requested that I try barbecue, so that evening I headed over to Podnah’s Pit Barbecue to see whether PDX’s chops could measure up to Texas’. I chose Podnah’s because it was featured on an illustrious episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. If Guy Fieri likes it, I expect greatness.

Still, after my experience at Podnah’s, I realized how much I miss Houston’s Rudy’s Barbecue. Podnah’s uses a more sour barbecue sauce that carries a salty rather than sweet flavor, so dousing my lean brisket (smoked for 10 hours, folks) in the sauce didn’t impress me as much as I’d hoped. Rudy’s has a deliciously sweet and thick sauce that is chock full of spice, so based on my limited experience of eating barbecue, I declare that the sauce is what truly sways my heart.

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The Pitboss was a colossal assortment of pulled pork, brisket, sausage, and ribs with sides of cornbread, collard greens, and barbecue beans. All the meat showcased bold, smoky flavors but lacked enough seasoning. The brisket in particular tasted a little stringy. However, both the pulled pork and the ribs won over me with wonderfully tender, melt-in-your-mouth textures. I also converted to a cornbread lover after tasting Podnah’s version–a gritty, savory wedge of comfort food sweetened up with a dollop of honey.

So do I admit? Yes–Texas has better barbecue than Portland. (But I’m not going to say it again.)


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