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Monday, November 24, 2014

Restaurant Review: Cousin's Restaurant in The Dalles Oregon

Cousin's Restaurant in The Dalles, Oregon is a restaurant on a property with a motel (also owned by the same company).  They also have a location in Pasco, Washington.

Cousins has unique country decor with some over-sized farm animals and farm equipment outside and a model train that runs around the upper perimeter of the restaurant/bar/motel lobby.

For us, it is a really nice stopping point going to or from Portland.  The food is a bit above cafe quality and the menu has plentiful options.  The place always seems busy and it has a family friendly atmosphere.  They greet you at the door by addressing everyone as "cousin".

And if you want, you can take a silly photo like this outside!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Movie Review: Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious

Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious" (1946), starring Carey Grant and Ingrid Bergman is a spy thriller.

We first meet Ingrid's character, Alicia Huberman, at her father's trial where he is sentenced for treason.  Carey Grant's character, T.R. Devlin, is a government agent.  He approaches her about a job working for the American government to catch more spies and foil more anti-American plots.

Within the first...oh...24 hours or so, even though she feels he has manipulated her into the job, they fall in "love".  He doesn't like the things the government is asking of her in her role, and she will do anything they tell her to hoping he will stand up and claim her.  Which of course he doesn't do...until it is nearly too late.

The film is well acted, even for the corniness common to the acting of that time period and the story is complex enough to be quite interesting.  And of course I always love trying to find Alfred Hitchcock's cameo (which appears as he takes a drink of champagne at a party).  I inwardly groan when an unlikely romance develops between two people who just met.  Attraction yes.  "Love", no.  And I outwardly groan when a woman falls madly for someone who isn't treating her all that well to begin with. la vi.  It is what it is.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Restaurant Review: Gravy Daves in Union Oregon

Gravy Daves (don't ya love that name?) is a small cafe on the Main street of Union, Oregon; right across the street from the historic Union Hotel.  It is small-town, greasy-spoon, cafe style food and setting.

I live in La Grande, which is about 20 minutes from Union.  La Grande doesn't have a lot of restaurants to choose from and if you've lived here all your life, you get a little weary of them.  So once in a while, we just go to a neighboring town to try out what they have to offer...just for something different and a change of pace, different faces, different places.

I've now been to Gravy Daves twice.  Once for lunch and once for dinner.  I need to try them for breakfast too.  Both times I had burger, fries and a milkshake.  They have quite a variety of milkshake flavors.  I'm not very adventuresome in that department...I go for chocolate or chocolate.

The first time I went I had a regular cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate malt shake.  Even though the burgers say they are lean, they are a tad on the fatty side for what I'm used to, but still not bad.  The milkshake was thick and creamy and pretty darn good.  The second time I came I was with hubby and I had a bacon cheeseburger and a chocolate peanut butter shake.  Hubby actually preferred the burger to the shake, when I was telling him he would likely prefer the shake to the burger.  Go figure.  What I didn't like about my shake was that they used chunky peanut butter (which I hate) and the bits of peanut kept getting stuck in the straw.

The place is surface clean, but like most restaurants could use a deep cleaning.  There was black greasy dust hanging out of the air vents above the tables.  The interior is old and small.  If they are busy, be prepared to take your order to go.

You get a bit of local flavor when you visit.  The staff is friendly and attentive, and seem to get along well with each other.  You can hear them chattering away and laughing in the back.  Many folks who live in Union eat here and stop in to chat.  It's a town where everybody knows everybody...except they don't know me...which is fine.  Next I'll try the breakfast food...they better have good bacon!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Movie Review: Still Mine

Still Mine (2013) is a love story starring James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold.  A couple in their 80's faces the complications of dementia and the husband struggles to provide for the changing needs of his wife.

The clock is ticking on her home safety as he endeavors to build her a new, more accessible home.  He's unaware of all of the bureaucratic red tape involved and finds himself in legal hot water.

Based on a true story, this was a very touching love story.  It truly warms the heart.  Well, not so much where bureaucracy is concerned, but where enduring love is concerned.  The movie can be a bit slow at times, but overall, I enjoyed it.

It is rated PG-13, for some brief nudity, a few swear words, and some sensuality. Watch the trailer below or via this link.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Restaurant Review: Salt and Straw Ice Cream in Portland Oregon

Yesterday I wrote about our visit to VooDoo Doughnuts in Portland, and today I'll write about visiting Salt & Straw Ice Cream, also in downtown Portland.  These two businesses are standing room only, getting lots of hype and pulling in the dollars hand over fist.  I set out to see if they live up to their hype.

Salt & Straw has a few locations.  We visited the location at 838 NW 23rd in Portland Oregon.  Like VooDoo doughnuts...the line and the wait was LONG.  I've seen people reviewing that they waited in line an hour or more.  I don't know how long our wait was.  Way longer than I want to wait for anything.  But since I was planning to review it, and we were checking out the hype, I figured it was all part of an adventure.  I saw it more like a destination attraction vs an actual place I would frequent.  For both of these hyped up places, once was enough.  Both are fine, but don't live up to the hype.  Average.

As we finally made our way up to the first 10 or so in line, very friendly, upbeat servers came around to ask us if they could bring us samples.  We could try as many as we wanted.  They serve them on tiny little silver spoons.  We made our choices.  This was in August...and I'm way behind in my posting from vacation and I honest to Pete don't remember what we ordered.  I think I had a scoop of the Sumptown Coffee, and a Basil flavor.  The flavors change as they come up with new ones and seasonal ones, so the menu didn't really help me remember.  I should have taken better notes.

Let's start with atmosphere.  As stated in yesterday's post, I am NOT a city girl, I don't like lots of people, and waiting in line just seems like a waste of time to me...especially to eat something when there are plenty of things to eat in plenty of places that don't have lines.  Like the grocery store.  Where I could by two quarts of pretty darn good ice cream, like Tillimook for the price of a couple of scoops of this.  The line snaked around the building and it was slow.  The chit chat and hum of city noise overwhelmed me.  I'm from "ruralville USA".  We don't like a lot of noise, people, lines or paying top dollar for everyday things.  We're simple folk that way.  We like a lot of bang for our buck.

They DO make their ice cream fresh.  They DO push the envelope when it comes to unique flavors that you would never otherwise have an opportunity to try.  Which made it hard to decide because really?  I wanted a half scoop or so of everything to property analyze it.  But we didn't have that much money, nor was there any space to sit down.

It is average tasting ice cream.  Good, but I couldn't tell it from any other brand except for the special flavors they offer.  For me and my hubby, it was decent ice cream, but we won't return.  It was an event, not a regular trend in our lives.  We prefer to get a bunch of ice cream sorta cheap and eat it quietly at home.  Fun to try once as an adventure.  And if they want to offer me a quiet sit-down with a half a scoop of everything on the menu, I will assess it flavor by flavor for you.  That's the kind of friend I am.  I'll take one for the team like that.

So, once again I say, Emperor's New Clothes (look up that analogy...I got it from my mother...based on an old fairy tale).  A lot of splash and hype for average stuff.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Restaurant Review: Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland Oregon

I'd heard a lot of buzz about this doughnut place in Portland, Oregon, and in August, we were in Portland so we put it on our list to give it a try.

True confession.  I can take doughnuts or leave them.  They contain sugar, so therefor, are on my list of things I will eat if they are placed before me, but I wouldn't typically go looking for them.  So I'm not the word's best judge.  Now you know.

Located at 22 SW Third Avenue in downtown Portland (not but a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the "Keep Portland Weird" sign), it is a surprisingly tiny place with long lines.  The lines move fairly slowly.

I'm not a city girl.  I'm a rural girl.  We don't wait in long lines for trendy food...we drive-thru and get on with it.  In addition, you can add that I'm not accustomed to life in the big city, so while waiting in line, I found it unsettling to have mentally ill or addicted folk panhandle, or preach, or rant while I'm around.  The police even came to deal with one of them.  I'm not judging...I'm just saying that because it isn't in my experience repertoire, it makes me feel really uncomfortable...even a little unsafe.

The interiors are eclectic and funky, and fun.  The doughnuts are creative, and unique and have funny names and funny toppings.  Check out the menu on their website.  They are a cash only debit, credit or have your greenbacks ready.  The doughnuts are pricier than I would typically pay for, say, a regular doughnut at Safeway or something, but we figured it was more of an event than a doughnut and we would likely only come here once.  When in Rome...break out the money.

I got a Voodoo Doll Doughnut...which is a glazed doughnut, frosted and decorated to look like their trademark voodoo doll, and interestingly, where the pretzel "pin" is inserted, there is raspberry filling, so if you remove the pin, it oozes "blood"...sorta funny.  I also got a "Double Chocolate Penetration" wrong can you go with that?  Hubby got a bacon maple bar doughnut, and an Old Fashioned with chocolate icing.

Hubby really liked his.  I thought mine were...just fancy-dress doughnuts.  More about the experience, the location, the interior, the creative names and toppings.  They are still, underneat, just cake or glazed doughnuts...not better or no worse than any others, and not worth the price or the wait in line.  Fun to try, and yes...since I was there, and did that...I bought a t-shirt.

I would love a little history on the has some mojo...and I caught orbs in some of my photos.  So it's Voodoo with some WooWoo.

Here's a video about VooDoo Doughnuts.  Watch below or via this link.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Restaurant Review: The Mark in Beaverton Oregon at the Shilo Inn

The morning of August 16th 20014, we ate a complimentary breakfast buffet at The Mark in Beaverton, Oregon which is attached to the Shilo Inn.

You can read my review of the Shilo Inn in yesterday's post.  In much the same way, The Mark shows it's age and need for updated decor.  Despite having a large bank of windows, it is relatively dark and dismal inside and very 70's/80's decor.  Think, old smokey lounge (although it wasn't smokey).

There were very few people there when we arrived and we were seated reasonably quickly (although nobody really seemed to be paying much attention to new arrivals).  We sat in a large half-moon booth facing the windows.  The deal was, you could partake of the breakfast buffet, or have $3 off any breakfast meal from the menu.  We chose the buffet. 

It had a surprising amount to choose from:  scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast, sweet rolls, cereals, biscuits and gravy, fruit salad etc.  I wouldn't call the quality of the food top-notch by any means, but it was adequate, certainly filling, had some protein options and was really a large step ahead of most "complimentary" breakfasts that seem to focus on juice, cereal, toast and past the freshness date fruit.

Nothing to rave about, but certainly more than you'll get in most places.