Just returned from a September foodie trip down the Oregon coast. With memories of my last trip of 50 years ago, I was very disappointed on how the quality of Oregon's available specialties have changed, especially with that pertaining to seafood. Here is what I have found . . .
Apples - Oregon used to have a fabulous fall apple crop. Crisp, fresh apples available in local markets everywhere, but no more. Washington State, namely the Yakima Valley, is now the major exporter of apples to the Western states. Yakima apples are now stored for a mandatory 60 days of cold storage to meet the agriculture pest law's of importing states that used to grow, but now do not grow, apples as a major crop. Major apple consuming states such as California have turned most of their domestic apple orchards into vineyards, and no longer need the 60 day import law, but this law exists non-the-less. Since California is a major apple importer, and Washington is a major apple exporter, little Oregon now goes along for the ride and receives these same 60 day old apples. (Please note the brown stems of your supermarket apples - a sure sign that they were sealed in a 60 day cold storage vault).
Seafood - Many "fresh" fish and chip shops down the Oregon Coast use frozen Cod imported from Alaska. I can easily get frozen Alaska Cod at home. Although Oregon Halibut is available, at $19 /lb, local halibut is seldom used, nor is it affordable. Local Salmon is also priced high in most Oregon fish markets. With the marvels of modern next day shipping, my supermarket frequently offer the same freshly caught wild Salmon - at the same price, in my own neighborhood store (Southern Ca).
Chowder - Oregon Clam Chowder is offered everywhere on the coast. Most of the chowder offered is thickened with flour to the point that your spoon will stand straight upright, with hardly a speck of clam in it. Very bland of flavor, most advertise that their clam chowder has won "best chowder" awards . . . however it is a mystery to me as to how Oregonians tolerate it.
Dungeness Crab - Although Oregon's open water commercial Dungeness Crab season had officially ended on August 30, (this being late September) many local fish markets were offering defrosted crabs to the tourists at a whopping $12/lb. Some fish markets even had a crab pot steaming with boiling water outside to simulate that they were still boiling live caught crabs!
I had found however, that Oregon is an oyster lovers dream. Oyster farms are ubiquitous there, and they also sell their fresh oysters at a good value. I had even found a restaurant (near Tillimook), that offered all the Pacific Oysters you can eat for a bargain of $12. That experience alone was almost worth the trip.
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