In celebration of our Summer Bounty, here are a few picks of the Best Tillamook County offers:
Fresh Dungeness Crab from local waters takes time and effort to retrieve from the briny bay or ocean. Cooking and cleaning crab is a bit of a chore requiring patience and discipline, so as not to eat each delicious morsel along the way. Whether used in crab cakes, pasta, with cocktail sauce or by itself, it is a delicacy found only in our cold Pacific and a much different specimen than crab found in Atlantic waters. Visit Kelly’s Brighton Marina or Jetty Marina in Garibaldi, to sign up for a crabbing excursion with other like-minded funsters! The joy of spending a day on the water crabbing is hard to beat. After setting your baited crab rings in various places, you boat back and forth checking them periodically to see if the crabs liked what you left for them. Then when they pull themselves into the trap with their big meaty claws, you hoist them out and measure with a crab guide to be sure they are big enough to legally take. If not, you toss them back. After all, you want a crab that is big and full of meat. When you finish pulling in all that your limit allows, you motor back toward the shore as your mouth waters, anticipating the deliciousness that is Dungeness.
If you like Fresh Clams and especially if you like to dig for them, Tillamook County has a wonderful variety for you to choose from. There are Cockels, Quahogs (pronounced cohogs), Butter Clams, Blues, and of course the elusive Razors. All have slightly different qualities, methods of cleaning and digging. Chowders, fried clams, stuffing and pastas benefit from the sweet succulence of their flesh. So go to your nearest sporting goods store and purchase a shellfish license first! Ask for a free tide book, as you need to go in the lowest tides for the safest conditions and best luck. All clams have a limit of how many you can take home. You must each dig and carry your own limit, and have your shellfish license and ID on you at all times. You will need a bag or bucket as well as a clam rake or razor clam gun, and a bit of information on what each clam looks like and where to find them. You’ll get wet, sandy, possibly frustrated and you’ll be delighted with the adventure! Keep the clams cold and wet until you clean them, and don’t put that off! This is not the time to procrastinate. You need a special clam knife for safely opening shells, a hose to rinse and clean the clam and remove it, and a cold bowl to drop them into. Save any of the clam nectar that settles in the bottom of the bowl and pour that off into a separate container to use for flavoring. Now it’s time to plan your meal. However you prepare them, be sure not to overcook clams or they will become rubbery. Just a few minutes is all they need. You can safely freeze your clams and the nectar before cooking if you want to, and they will be perfectly usable later! For more information on clamming in Tillamook, visit the ODFW website.
Nothing on the grill says Pacific Northwest quite as much as Fresh Salmon! This coral colored fish is full of Omega 3 fatty acids (the good kind), and rich flavor. Salmon is a prize to catch and a prize to eat! It’s delicious with all kinds of seasonings such as soy, ginger, garlic, Dijon mustard, marjoram and dill! Try grilling it on a cedar plank soaked in water, to create the flavor associated with Native American preparations. If you would like a professional to take you on a guided fishing tour, check in with Pro Fish Guide or Bayside Guided Adventures to get an expert’s help landing that big one. They can take you to the places salmon are known to bite, and they provide the gear you need too. Just be sure to bring your fishing license, sunglasses, hat, rain gear if needed, and camera! Lunches are even provided on some trips and fish can be cleaned and prepared for transport too. For those who don’t have their own boat and trailer, fishing gear or life jackets, this is the perfect solution. It’s educational, recreational and practical! After all, you’re going to be bringing home dinner tonight!
If you’re in the mood to catch some Fresh Tuna for canning, sign up for one of the Garibaldi Charters excursions. The season for tuna is short, so when the tuna are in, it’s time to head to the docks! You’ll head out to sea 20 – 50 miles offshore for these bad boys. Fresh tuna on the grill is wonderful as its oily flesh doesn’t dry out easily, but home-canned or smoked tuna is simply amazing! If you’d like to know how to prepare your own, a good place to learn is from the OSU Extension Service. They have the instruction to be sure you prepare your fish safely. Try some tuna in a wonderful Nicoise Salad, a classic use of this wonderful saltwater treat. You can line those pantry shelves with beautiful jars of fish you caught and canned yourself, making your tuna fish sandwiches taste better than they ever did before! Best of all, you’ll have wonderful memories of being out at sea, enjoying the view, feeling the salt air on your skin and having the time of your life.
Properly prepared Fresh Mussels, are usually cooked and served in a steaming broth with garlic, white wine and fresh parsley. The outer shell attaches itself to rocks in the ocean, where they’re harvested at low tide. The wiry beard that grows between the shell halves, must be removed to eat them. Inside the tender meat gleams when the shells open, and the broth is soaked up with big chunks of bread. Check the ODFW website for areas safe to harvest mussels, and be sure to have your shellfish license and ID on your person when harvesting. As of August 3, areas including and south of Cape Meares are currently off limits, although areas north of that location are fine. Anytime you choose to harvest shellfish during the warm months of summer, it’s important to know current conditions, because they can change quickly with warm currents and air temperatures. More Info
Could anything taste more like Oregon than Fresh Berries in the summer? Pick them yourself locally and enjoy blueberries from Blueberries and Blooms, 13555 Ekroth Road in Bay City. You can call 503-322-0291 for more information or email. If you want to buy berries without having to pick them yourself, try visiting Brickyard Farms, 4949 Brickyard Road in Tillamook, south of town. Blueberries, strawberries, marionberries and raspberries just sing a summer song in your mouth. The flavors will remind you of Grandma’s garden, stained fingers and aprons, jams, jellies and delicious desserts, with a dollop of whipped cream or a biscuity shortcake. Ahh….brings back the love!
Do you like Fresh Cured Meats? We have several great companies in Tillamook that can set you up with a host of choices. They include Debbie D’s Sausage on Hwy. 101, specializing in sausages and jerky, using recipes her grandfather, great grandfather and great uncle relied upon. She even has smoked salmon and salmon jerky to offer customers. The local hunters and fishermen still rely on this time-tested local business to preserve their bounty during hunting and fishing seasons. She can ship to go for gifts or for travelers too. Her products are made in small batches, which maintains high quality, and she uses very low sodium in her recipes, making products easy to enjoy in health-conscious diets. Werner Gourmet Meat Snacks specializes in products that are free of MSG, Nitrates and Nitrites. They make jerky and steak snacks as well as pepperoni and teriyaki sticks. They also have a line of nuts, seeds and candy for every snacking occasion. Tillamook Country Smoker has smokehouse specials, and the variety of items they offer include jerky, steak bites, meat nuggets and sausage. They are located on Hwy. 101 in Bay City, so as you drive by, you’ll likely smell their tasty meats and seasonings wafting in the breeze as you pass.
If your mouth waters at the mere thought of Fresh Oysters raw, steamed, baked, fried or made into soup or sandwiches, you really need to treat yourself to some of our local specimens. Netarts is famous for the oysters specifically grown in this area. Netarts Oyster is a company with a special market and a special product. A great deal of care is taken to raise the young oysters from the larvae stage to the harvest stage. Oysters require a lot of handling as they grow. Frequent moving of oysters against one another breaks off the soft edges of their shells, promoting thicker shell growth, eventually forming an oyster with a deep cup for the young mollusk to develop. Oysters that are not handled as frequently tend to grow longer, thinner shells. They are fresh and delicate, tasting like the sea without being briny. Pacific Oyster is based in Bay City right along the waterfront. Stop here to watch oyster shuckers in action using the same method that has been used for many years to harvest. You can even have them ship for you, so that your oysters make it safely to their destination with the best packing method possible.
If anyone has Fresh Dairy, Tillamook County does! Sign up with Tillamook Eco-Adventures for a 2-hour tour to visit some of the area farms. If you’ve never seen cows being milked or fed, this is your opportunity to get up close and personal with who really makes your milk! Cows are as curious about you as you are about them. A visit to a working farm is a fun, educational way to learn more about what the farming life entails. It will certainly make you appreciate the dairy products you enjoy, all the more. Visit Bennett Family Farm for a look at how a good old-fashioned idea has been transformed into a thoroughly modern concept. They even deliver milk right to your door within 24 hours of bottling and pasteurization. Or visit the viewing area of the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a look at what happens to the milk as it’s made into cheese, and sample some of their award-winning ice cream. If you want to check out another ice cream maker, there is Buttercup Ice Creams and Chowders in Nehalem. Theirs is a small operation with unique flavor combinations, nestled along the waterfront.
During the summer months, it’s wonderful to have access to Fresh Local Produce from farm stands and gardens. Enjoy the outing and shop locally when you can. Consider Farmer’s Markets and informational websites like Food Roots for information on how to find fresh healthy food that is sourced close to home. Take a drive in the country with a map from their website and discover the windy roads that lead to picture perfect fields of produce, or garden stands displaying rustic color and leafy sunshine along with handwritten signs and buckets of flowers. It’s a lovely ritual that puts you more in touch with where your food really comes from. Coyote Moon has options for your summer dining table too. They have a membership program and prepare a box full of veggies for you periodically depending on what is fresh and ready to harvest. Lettuces are just as beautiful mixed with flowers in the garden as they are in your salad bowl. Add edible nasturtium or pansy blossoms to your salad for a bit of surprise. Just make sure they are pesticide free! And how did anyone ever think to boil, then peel off the tough pointed leaves of artichokes? Beneath those layers lies a tender heart protected by a crown of bristly fibers that must be scraped away. Local artichokes from Denoble Farms reward the endeavor with a subtle and unique flavor made all the more lovely with melted butter, or mayonnaise and capers to use for dipping tender portions. Food without flavor just fills our stomach. Food full of flavor fills our soul. That’s why they call it soul food, after all! One of the best ways to add lots of flavor and have fun is to experiment with combinations of fresh herbs. Most are relatively easy to grow and give flavor dividends for many months. Just like the song…’parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme’ are especially good to use all year round. Brickyard Farms on Brickyard Road in Tillamook is an all-organic farm specializing in raising garden herbs. There are options to source local eggs, honey, fresh meats and more. Instead of making shopping a chore, make it fun this summer and eat better than ever!