The Northwest Vibe

Ed note: This was written in 2011, and now in 2019 is still rings true.

Okay, before I start hearing choruses of “We’ve heard this” “It’s not always about Nirvana” and other comments, let me just say this: this ain’t your Entertainment Tonight version of the vibe. Shall we continue?

I’ll be the first one to admit it, when we first moved out here and I could wear my flannel and vests and not feel like an outcast, I was one happy camper. I felt at home here. For one thing, people looked like me! Longish hair, beards, jeans and flannel shirts. Christ, this was me going back to grade school! And yeah, I had a beard in 3rd grade. Sue me. Bottom line, I felt like I belonged, and I was one happy flannel covered camper.

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Game Day Breakfast Pizza

Beth and I love going downtown to the Sport Restaurant and Bar on football Saturdays. Number one reason is that it’s home to the Seattle Buckeye Alumni Club, and watching the Bucks in a bar full of OSU fans is a total rush. Number two reason is the food; great garlic fries, dips and pizzas. This past Saturday, however, Beth woke up feeling like crap and it was a crappy day to match, so we decided to hunker down and stay in. OSU was on national TV, so we were good to go there, but what to do about food?

I was going to just make us some scrambled eggs, but then I saw we still had some smoked salmon left and the wheels started turning. Capers? Check. Cream Cheese? Check. Pizza dough? Surprisingly enough, check! I had picked up a tube of the ready to go pizza dough a couple of days earlier. I was going to make a “Faux Beef Wellington”, but dammit, this was football man! And just like that, Gregor’s Pub Breakfast Pizza went on the menu.

I’m certainly not going to claim this as an original. I’ve had similar versions many times. In fact, the Sport Bar used to make one. This is just the way I threw it together, using what I had. The real key to this, is to make sure none of the toppings overpower the others.

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Old Men, Stories and Beer

We gather daily in the dark cave like bats returning from a night of foraging. As we settle into our roosts and eyes adjust to the familiar murkiness, beers appear and pleasantries are exchanged. “Good to see you, John.” “Good to be seen Mike!” “How are you feeling today Bob?” “With my fingers as usual!” Laughter rises to join the nicotine stains on the ceiling. Old retired men, some by choice, others forced into it by a world that favors the “New and Improved” over the “Tried and True.” We gather here to dull the floundering of our lives with beer and bourbon. Souls gone wandering, but not yet lost, using each other as anchor lines to sanity.

Joe shows off his missing front tooth, proudly explaining how he yanked it out himself using pliers. “Ain’t got no insurance so…POP! Done!” I cringe a little but offer up the strongest “Right on!” I can muster.

Burl shows up with 2 baggies of freshly smoked salmon. “Caught these last week, aint any fresher!” He passes the bags around then grabs a beer. Damn good fish! Damn good! The salty tang going perfectly with the IPA. Better than store bought, that’s for sure.

Talk around the bar settles into a low drone as the old men discuss the salmon, where the best places are, how much better the fishing was 40 years ago, what the best bait is. Karl starts talking about his days as a crabber while eyes roll. Karl has told this story so many times we all could recite it, but it’s okay. Karl is old, he’s entitled here. This cave lost too many bats over the past year. Cancer, age, accidents. Karl is close and we all know it. Better to hear his old stories today.

I glance up at the TV to watch the noiseless words flow from the talking heads. Old men, their stories, and a beer. I smile a little and go back to listening to Karl, nodding along with the others, and adjusting the anchor line.

Gregor

Old Men, Stories and Beer Pt II

La Conner WA – Day Trip

After our wonderful day in the mountains on Saturday, a trip to the coast was in order for Sunday so we decided to head up to La Conner. Sitting on the Swinomish channel, across from the Swinomish Reservation, La Conner is a typical coastal town, full of tourist type shops, antique stores and restaurants. During the summer months it can be hard to find a place to park in town, so go early. If you want to go during the Tulip Festival in the spring, my best advice is to book a room at one of the little inns in La Conner at least a year in advance. I’m not kidding. During the festival, this little town can quadruple the number of people it normally handles. Little tidbit of history on the town; When it was first settled in the 1860’s it’s name was Swinomish. A couple of years after settlement, a Mr Conner bought the trading post (and thus the town) and changed the name of the town to La Conner. Ah, Mr Conner must have been of French descent you say. Non! Turns out Mr Conners’ wife’s name was Louisa Ann Conner. Yup, he named it after her, and the La is just her initials. Feel informed and excited now, don’t you?

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Salmon “Stroganoff”

Okay, I know. Salmon Stroganoff? Has Gregor lost his ever loving mind?? What manner of nonsense is this? Stay with me on this one, I promise you, you will love it.

I came up with this one while trying to figure out some new way to prepare salmon. As I’ve said before, one of the many wonderful aspects of living in the Pacific Northwest is the seafood, and in particular, salmon. We are so spoiled here that we actually have our favorite types of salmon. For me, it’s Copper River salmon. Wonderful flavor, firm texture, just utterly fantastic. Anywho… Bottom line is we eat a lot of salmon, so finding new ways of preparing it is a challenge. This one came about after I had made some Crab Bisque, and had left over seafood stock. Now, when I say I came up with it, I’m not laying claim to be the only one that has made this. For all I know it’s a favorite dish of many. All I’m saying is that this isn’t based on any recipe I read. Okay, on with the show as they say.

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