By Erin Zimmer, managing editor for Serious Eats
Serious Eats’ Erin Zimmer has roots in the West (though she lives in Brooklyn now, aka Berkeley East). When she’s not running the website, she’s probably trying to find a ripe avocado. Originally from a beach town in Orange County, she likes to see the Pacific waves as much as possible. Recently it was from the Oregon coast where she was road-tripping, hunting for tasty local treasures.
1. Salmon and Chips from Ecola Seafoods (Cannon Beach, OR)
I expected to eat a lot of salmon in Oregon. Grilled, raw, smoked, jerky’d, all of it. But fried? Salmon is a fry-able option when you order fish and chips at the coastal seafood shacks. After some sizzling in the fryer, the salmon comes out golden-fried with ridiculously moist and flaky innards. The salmon variety depends on the season, but recently it was wild chinook.
2. Salmon Collar from Belly Buoy (Seaside, OR)
At Bell Buoy I learned that I don’t pay enough attention to the salmon’s clavicle. It’s time to change that. The collar cut is the oiliest part of the fish, right behind the gills, which means it’s extra high in those omega-3s and extra high in those luscious oils (yay). Peel back the fatty skin to unlock the dark, smoky meat. You forget for a second that it’s even salmon. The chunk under the fin was my favorite morsel.
3. Wood-Smoked Chocolate from Cacao (Portland, OR)
Fancy chocolate isn’t always good chocolate. But I found some of the most unique chocolates I’ve ever tasted (that were also GOOD) at this chocolate wonderland in Portland called Cacao. The owner Aubrey Lindley is a sweetheart, and will let you sample anything you want. There was one bar he handed me—I haven’t forgotten it. Made by a local guy Sebastian Cisneros, this chocolate is infused with Palo Santo (“holy wood” in Spanish). Aubrey told me that “woman in villages in Ecuador smell like this holy wood.” It’s delicately smoky and mentally transported me to an Ecuadorian village for a few seconds.
4. Liquid Nitrogen-Frozen Ice Cream from What’s the Scoop (Portland, OR)
When I saw the liquid nitrogen tanks behind the scooping counter, I was intrigued. What’s going on back there? They employ a rapid-freezing system—four times faster than traditional methods, and way more fun to watch. It’s churned in giant Hobart mixers with the supercool (literally) liquid nitrogen. This technique yields smaller ice crystals which gives the ice cream a smooth, spoon-gliding texture. I really liked the Cortadito flavor made with brown butter and Bustelo coffee.
5. Blowtorched Creme Brûlée Donuts from Donut-o-Rama (Portland, OR)
I’m a sucker for pyrotechnics. And pyrotechnics in a donut cart? Yes please. Donut-o-Rama puts on a pyrotechnics show, torching custard-filled beignets until they develop a crisp burnt-sugar shell on top.