The lure of the harbor town.
It's low tide on Yaquina Bay, Oregon, on the afternoon before the annual blessing of the fleet. Great blue herons fish the shallow channels that flow through the mudflats, where clam diggers in knee-high rubber boots poke at the liquid earth. An osprey wheels overhead as a fishing boat glides under the 1936 Yaquina Bay Bridge, passes an 1871 lighthouse, and heads out into the open ocean trailed by the low moan of a foghorn. * Down the waterfront, crews scrub down decks and mend nets on a fleet of boats with names straight out of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row: Anona Kay, Miss Yvonne, and Pacific Hooker. Sea lions haul out beneath the Abbey Street Pier; crab traps, still redolent of the depths where they were deployed, sit in head-high stacks in front of a mural depicting Moby Dick wreaking mayhem on a whaling boat. * Watching all the activity are Newport's s tourists, who, after gazing their fill at the harbor, window-shop along Bay Boulevard, then make a lunchtime stop at Mo's, famous for its clam chowder. The se visitors are part of a tourist tradition that dates back to the 19th century. But the coverall-clad fishermen grabbing a late cup of coffee or picking up supplies at marine supply stores are a reminder that, above all else, this is a working community, forever connected to the sea. * Newport is one of the West's classic harbor towns. These are places where life plays Out according to a set of rhythms dictated by the tides, the seasons, and the ebb and flow of commerce. In Newport and in such other Pacific harbor towns as Port Angeles, Washington, and Trinidad, California, the heart-stopping beauty of the coast and the grittier realities of industry coexist. Salmon, halibut, and Dungeness crabs still are caught by local boats, but many harbor towns are places in transition. The depletion of the bounty on which they have long depended along with more stringent regulations have forced sometimes difficult economic and social changes.
In Port Angeles, on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, the Victoria ferry emerges from the mists like some modern-day ghost ship, then fires off a couple blasts of its horn as it eases into the harbor after making the passage across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Down the waterfront at High Tide Seafoods, workers busily assemble 1,000 boxes and scrub down floors and tables in anticipation of the arrival of several tons of halibut.
The company is now the last fish processing facility in town. Strict limits on commercial fishing takes combined with low prices for salmon decimated the local fleet and its support businesses. While there's still plenty of sportfishing, most of Port Angeles's commercial fishing boats are gone, and the longtime annual Salmon Derby festival tradition has gone with them. And yet some Port Angeles residents refuse to give up.
"Salmon hit rock bottom in 1995-96. But I guess I was just too stubborn to quit," says High Tide's co-owner Jim Shefler, who works with Native American commercial fishers. "When I started in the mid-1970s, wild coho went for $1 a pound. But with farmed salmon, the price is now 25 cents a pound, so we have had to diversify with crab and black cod. If we tried to do what we did 15 years ago, we would have gone out of business."
Port Angeles has always depended on its harbor. Ediz Hook, a curving 2 1/2-mile-long sand spit where logging trucks once lined up almost bumper-to-bumper, creates the deepest natural harbor on the West Coast. During the Civil War, the harbor was considered such an important national resource that in 1862 President Abraham Lincoln established a military and naval reserve on the site. High hopes for a grand future led city fathers to base the town's original layout on that of Cincinnati.
But the grandest ambitions of Port Angeles never came to pass. With major shifts in timber and commercial fishing, the city of 19,000 is turning its waterfront into a recreational asset. The Port Angeles Waterfront Trail includes a path for walking and bicycling that passes restored wetlands areas and an observation tower with views of the city's incomparable Olympic Mountains backdrop. Eventually it will become part of the planned Olympic Discovery Trail, which will allow visitors to bicycle from Port Townsend to the Pacific Ocean.
"The waterfront is becoming our front door, rather than the place where people work," says community development director Brad Collins. "But people can come here and still see the old working harbor town. With the exception of one mill, everything that was here is still here. It's hardly changed. This will be one of the last bastions of what the Pacific Northwest used to be."
At Trinidad on the Northern California coast, a boat out of Fortuna ties up to the pier, where a crew unloads a stack of crab traps. It's been a bad year for Dungeness, and everyone is hoping that things will pick up once the salmon run begins.
The town's tiny fishing fleet rolls in languid swells that lap up against the tree-topped sea stacks along its shore. Trinidad feels peacefully timeless: a town of 300 or so residents with a barely-there commercial district, its nearby redwood forests and empty, driftwood-strewn beaches like something out of another century.
But in the mid-1800s, Trinidad was a bustling port town. During the Gold Rush on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers, Trinidad's population swelled with eager gold-seekers who had made the trip by boat from San Francisco. Then, with the decline in mining and whaling, Trinidad was quickly overshadowed by the nearby lumber center of Eureka. Destiny had passed Trinidad by.
The kind of economic shifts occurring in Port Angeles happened here long ago. Yet even with all the changes, there are locals who still count on Trinidad's most basic elements--a safe harbor and a steady food supply from the sea--just as the Tsurai Indians did for hundreds of years before the arrival of Spanish explorers, Russian fur traders, and, finally, American miners. In harbor towns, some things change and some things don't.
The romance of harbor-town life is balanced by not only the economic realities but also the inherent danger of small vessels heading out into the Pacific. Almost every harbor town has its indelibly poignant memorial, a marker to its sons and daughters who have died at sea.
In Newport, the Fishermen's Memorial Sanctuary is an octagonal structure on a bluff in Yaquina Bay State Park. A black granite podium shows a fishing boat heading out to a sunset sea. Inscribed into the stone are the names of locals who went out into the Pacific and never returned.
On this afternoon, the top of the podium is crowded with offerings: bouquets of flowers, a 24-ounce can of malt liquor, a candle wrapped with a photo of a smiling young bearded man, and a card offering wishes to one fisherman on what would have been his 22nd birthday.
As an outsider it's difficult to fully appreciate the risks of living here--but equally difficult to understand the rewards. For many people in Newport, this is a life they could never give up. Over the last years, the city has worked very hard to ensure that it remains both a visitor destination and a working port.
Says Newport poet and businessman John Baker, "I like seeing the lumber ships come in. And whenever I drive over the bridge, I always look out to see how many fishing boats are coming in or going out. The town has a life of its own, and the life around it supports the community."
The next afternoon, the boats line up on Newport's Yaquina Bay: trollers and crabbers, long-liners and shrimpers, draggers, charters, and pleasure craft. From a staging area off Idaho Point, they sail toward the bridge, where they receive blessings from ministers standing on a coast guard lifeboat. In this way the Newport fleet connects to an ancient maritime tradition of asking for safe passage and a bountiful catch. A glass float by local artist Toni Kuchar is then dropped into the ocean to drift with the flow, its tricolored swirls symbolizing the currents of this day: black for mourning, green for life, and blue for the sea itself.
RELATED ARTICLE: PORT OF CALL PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON
WHERE: About 2 1/2 hours west of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula.
ON THE WATERFRONT: The Port Angeles Waterfront Trail runs about 5 miles from near the city center to the end of Ediz Hook and passes a variety of waterfront businesses. The Arthur D. Feiro Marine Life Center on the city pier offers a good introduction to local marine life. (360) 417-6254.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS: Port Angeles is the gateway to Olympic National Park and the embarkation point for the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia. East of Port Angeles, Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge has great beach hiking to a historic lighthouse.
DINING: Bella Italia. Locally grown organic produce, a huge wine selection, and an inventive menu in the heart of town. 118 E. First St.; (360) 457-5442.
C'est Si Ban. Owners Michele and Norbert Juhasz have created a unique French country dining experience. Closed Mon. 23 Cedar Park Dr.; (360) 452-8888.
LODGING: Red Lion Hotel Port Angeles. Offers waterfront lodging and dining. 186 rooms from $89.221 N. Lincoln St.; (360) 452-9215.
CONTACT: Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce: (360) 452-2363 or www.portangeles.org.
A TASTE OF PORT ANGELES: C'EST SI BON
Paupiette de Saumon au Crabe
With wit and good will, Michele and Norbert Juhasz of C'est Si Ban bring French country classics, like chicken in mustard sauce and salmon in parchment, to diners in Port Angeles. But in keeping with the fluctuations of the local wild salmon catch and the need to diversify, they offer this truly local pairing: wild salmon stuffed with Dungeness crab. Whim in the kitchen dictates the nature of the sauce on any given day; it might be spiked with Scotch and flambeed. But this version is an evergreen favorite--poached in vermouth with leeks.
PREP AND COOK TIME: 35 to 40 minutes
NOTES: To save time, you can have the salmon thinly sliced off the skin at your seafood market. Serve the stuffed rolls with simple parsleyed potatoes to share the flavorful sauce.
MAKES: 4 servings
1 leek (about 6 oz.) 3 tablespoons butter 6 ounces shelled cooked crab (3/4 cup) 1 pound boned salmon fillet with skin (7 to 8 in. wide) 2 cups dry vermouth 1/2 cup whipping cream Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives (optional) Lemon wedges (optional)
1. Trim and discard stem end and tough green top from leek; cut leek in half lengthwise and hold each half under cold running water, separating layers to rinse well, then thinly slice. In a 10- to 12-inch ovenproof nonstick frying pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add leek and stir often until limp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Sort through crab and discard any bits of shell. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pan; when melted, add crab and stir often just until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Push to one side of pan.
3. Meanwhile, rinse salmon and pat dry. Holding a sharp knife at a 45[degrees] angle, cut flesh crosswise off the skin into 1/8- to 1/4- inch-thick slices; you should have about 12 (see notes). One at a time, lay slices flat and spoon about 1 tablespoon warm crab onto wide end. Starting at that end, roll salmon tightly around crab and place, seam down, in frying pan. Pour vermouth around rolls.
4. Transfer pan with salmon rolls to a 450[degrees] regular or convection oven and bake until fish is opaque but still moist-looking in center of thickest part (cut to test), 12 to 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer salmon rolls to plates, cover loosely with foil or plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place.
5. Add cream and reserved leek to pan and boil over high heat until liquid is slightly thickened and reduced to about 1 1/3 cups, 8 to 9 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce equally around salmon rolls and garnish with chives and lemon wedges if desired.
Per serving: 426 cal., 63% (270 cal.) from fat; 30 g protein; 30 g fat (13 g sat.); 8.4 g carbo (0.2 g fiber); 291 mg sodium; 159 mg chol.
PORT OF CALL
WHERE: About six hours north of San Francisco.
ON THE WATERFRONT: Trinidad's waterfront is more natural than working, although there is a pier with fishing boats. You can do the short hike to the top of Trinidad Head to see a replica of a cross left by Spanish explorers. There is plenty of beach exploring near town at Luffenholtz County Park and Trinidad State Beach.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS: Patrick's Point State Park just north of town has an excellent blufftop trail and a driftwood-filled beach. Redwood National Park is about 20 minutes away.
DINING: Katy's Smokehouse. Some of the best smoked fish you'll ever eat. 740 Edwards St.; (707) 677-0151. Larrupin Cafe. Filled with weavings and art, the restaurant has a soulful atmosphere that complements beautifully prepared local seafood and grilled it items. 1658 Patrick's Point Dr.; (707) 677-0230. Seascape Restaurant. Casual waterfront dining at the base of Trinidad Pier. (707) 677-3762.
LODGING: Lost Whale Bed & Breakfast Inn. A child-friendly spot with a New England ambience, it sits high above a rocky cove north of Trinidad. From $170. 3452 Patrick's Point; (800) 677-7859 or www.lostwhaleinn.com. Turtle Rocks Oceanfront Inn. Private decks and panoramic views from each of its spacious rooms. From $165.3392 Patrick's Point; (707) 677-3707 or www.turtlerocksinn.com.
CONTACT: Trinidad Chamber of Commerce: (707) 677-1610 or www.trinidadcalifchamber.org.
A TASTE OF TRINIDAD: LARRUPIN CAFE
Larrupin Cornish Hens with Orange-Brandy Glaze
Trinidad's whimsical Larrupin Cafe is the 19-year-old creation of Dixie Gorrell, inspired by memories of her aunt's ultimate praise: "That's larrupin' good food, honey!" Diners lured in for dinner more than one night running (a common phenomenon) have "larrupin'" options for changing the pace from seafood--ribs, the local favorite, and these hearty hens among them. The birds are marinated in a brew of beer, soy sauce, and brown sugar, then finished with an orange-brandy glaze.
PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours, plus at least 4 hours to marinate
NOTES: You can make the glaze (step 2) up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill.
MAKES: 4 servings
4 Carnish hens (about 1 lb. each) 4 1/2 cups beer such as pale ale (three 12-oz. bottles) 2 cups soy sauce 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/4 cup molasses 2 tablespoons minced garlic 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 1 tablespoon dry mustard 1 tablespoon black pepper 3/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate (half of a 1 2-oz. container) 1/2 cup brandy 1/2 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth 1/2 cup whipping cream Orange slices (optional)
1. Remove necks and giblets from hens; reserve for another use or discard. Rinse hens. In a large bowl, whisk beer, soy sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar, molasses, garlic, ginger, dry mustard, and black pepper until well blended. Immerse hens in marinade; cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 1 day, turning hens occasionally and submerging in liquid.
2. Meanwhile, in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart pan, combine orange juice concentrate, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, and the brandy. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and stir until sugar is dissolved, 2 to 4 minutes. Use warm or cool.
3. Lift hens from marinade (discard marinade) and set breast up in a 10- by 15-inch pan. Brush generously with orange-brandy glaze. 4. Bake in a 4000 regular or convection oven, brushing every 10 minutes with glaze, until hens are richly browned and meat at breast and thigh bones is no longer pink (cut to test), 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer hens to a platter or plates and let stand in a warm place.
5. Meanwhile, skim and discard fat from pan juices. Add broth, cream, and remaining orange-brandy glaze to pan and stir often over medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits, until liquid is slightly thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Pour into a small pitcher or bowl. Garnish hens with orange slices, if desired, and serve with pan juices.
Per serving: 716 cal., 55% (396 cal.) from fat; 46 g protein; 44 g fat (15 g satI; 31 g carbo 10.5 g fiber); 1,177 mg sodium; 283 mg chol.
PORT OF CALL NEWPORT, OREGON
WHERE: About 2 1/2 hours southwest of Portland.
ON THE WATERFRONT: The Oregon Coast Aquarium is one of the best in the West. 10-5 daily; $10.75. 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd.; (541) 867-3474. Newport's historic waterfront blends a still-active fishing industry and an assortment of shops and attractions.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS: There are two 19th-century lighthouses in the area, at Yaquina Bay and at Yaquina Head north of town.
DINING: Blackfish Cafe. Worth the 30-minute drive north of town to Lincoln City: Well-executed flavors, from a Vietnamese salad to steamed clams in an herby wine broth. Closed Tue. 2733 N.W. U.S. 101, Lincoln City; (541) 996-1007.
Canyon Way Restaurant & Bookstore. The best of beach funk--in a 1910 building. Crispy fried oysters and cornmeal-coated local fish with peel-on fries. 1216 S.W. Canyon Way; (541) 265-8319. Kam Meng Chinese Restaurant. Tiny restaurant offers great crab and clay pot specialties. Closed Wed. 837 S.W. Bay Blvd.; (541) 574-9450. Mo's Restaurant. A seafood institution. 622 S.W. Bay; (541) 265-2979. Whale's Tale. Excellent local seafood in a circa 1976 spot. 452 S.W. Bay; (541) 265-8660.
LODGING: Elizabeth Street Inn. All rooms have ocean views and fireplaces. From $109. 232 S.W. Elizabeth St.; (877) 265-9400 or www.elizabetthestreetinn.com.
Sylvia Beach Hotel. A literary-themed inn, with rooms named for writers from Herman Melville to Dr. Seuss. From $83. 267 N.W. Cliff St.; (888) 795-8422, (541) 265-5428 or www.sylviabeachhotel.com
CONTACT: Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce: (800) 262-7844 or www.newportchamber.org.
A TASTE OF NEWPORT: MO'S RESTAURANT
Mo's Oyster Stew
Mohava Niemi--erstwhile innkeeper, radio announcer, and generous, chain-smoking host--is the stuff of legend in Newport. Mo once installed a garage door in the front of her cafe so a woman who had inadvertently put her car into drive instead of reverse and crashed through the front wall could "drive in anytime" she wanted. Mo's clam chowder, now served in the restaurant's six locations, might have put the institution on the map, but its oyster stew connects it concretely to the place--the oyster beds just around the point inside Yaquina Bay Bridge, in one of the cleanest estuaries on the coast. According to Cindy McEntee, Mo's granddaughter and caretaker of the legend (to say nothing of the business), only medium Pacifics from these beds go into the stew.
PREP AND COOK TIME: 12 to 14 minutes
NOTES: Mo's uses whole milk in this stew, which makes the wonderful, briny flavor of the oysters stand out. For a richer texture but milder oyster flavor, you can substitute half-and-half (light cream) for 1 to 2 cups of the milk. Serve the stew with dense, fresh sourdough bread.
MAKES: 5 1/2 cups; 4 servings
1 quart whole milk (see notes) 1 pound shucked oysters in their liquor Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons butter
1. In a 2 1/2 to 3-quart pan over medium heat, stir milk often just until steaming, about 6 minutes; do not boil.
2. Meanwhile, drain oysters (reserve liquor) and cut into bite-size pieces. Add oysters and liquor to milk and occasionally stir gently just until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Ladle stew evenly into four wide, shallow bowls and top each with 1/2 tablespoon butter.
Per serving: 278 cal., 55% (153 cal.) from fat; 16 g protein; 17 g fat (9.4 g sat.); 16 g carbo (0 g fiber); 305 mg sodium; 112 mg chol.
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|Date:||Sep 1, 2002|
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