Time flies when you are having fun – that for sure is true for our annual girls weekend! One week already passed when Christy, Tami, Tina and I started our 3,5 hour road trip down to the Long Beach Peninsula. Now I am sitting at my desk at home and instead of going to work out – which I just started to do this week – I’ve already found an excuse not to go – I have girlfriend withdrawal and want to indulge a little bit longer in last weekends trip.
As you can see from one of the photos below, 4 girls have to take 2 cars because of all the sh**t @#$%!!!! we are taking with us, just so that we feel comfortable…pillows, blankets, magazines, cooking utensils, candleholders, candles, an arsenal of cosmetic and shower stuff, towels, food, spices etc. You might ask yourself if the place we are going to doesn’t provide any of that? No they do, but we are special and we need it all exactly the way we want it, so we drive with 2 cars and approximately 40-50 bags, sacks, suitcases, 4 tablets, 5 phones, a couple of speaker systems, boxes of chargers and cables and just stuff – lots of girl stuff.
Of course we also had to buy more stuff, a girl never has enough cute little things so on Friday after a good night sleep and an amazing breakfast made by Tami (see the Croque Madame recipe below), we hopped in the car for a short 30 minute drive and crossed the mighty Columbia River on the very famous Astoria bridge (photo below). We spent a beautiful Friday afternoon in tax free Astoria and since shopping makes hungry we also stopped at a couple local brew houses and sampled some of the local beverages and food offerings.
Our favorite brew house in Astoria is the Fort George Brewery which is just a very short walk from downtown and sits up on a small hill, with a view on to the Columbia River and some nice outdoor seating. If you ever visit the brewery, sit in the booth area close to the door that leads to the outdoor seating and you might get waited on by Sean, who can tell you everything about homemade cabbage and anything else you would like to know about beer and Astoria. They also carry a Wasabi Ginger beverage which Tina loved a lot! Next door is a local café and bakery (Blue Scorcher Café and Bakery), stop by and take some homemade fresh bread home from there, its delicious!
The Wet Dog Café is another local brew house right at the Columbia River in the more “rustic downtown boardwalk area” and is a fun place to sit outside in summer and watch the big container ships drive by. Very close by is another nice bar and restaurant, The Baked Alaska which we really liked for Happy Hour, they serve Candied Bacon and a Dirty Burger is also on the menu – Dirty as in Fried! Can you imagine a fried Burger? The food looked really good, but we were still full from our Clam Chowder and Fish Tacos at the Fort George Brewery and stuck to some wine and a dessert drink (Gone Rogue – very yummy!).
Right around the corner from the Wet Dog Café is a little store called Farmhouse Funk which sells exactly that- cute farmhouse Funk. A couple blocks up from Farmhouse Funk on Commercial street is a nice shop that sells art, home and garden stuff (Forsythea). There are lots of stores and consignment shops on Commercial Street that can keep you busy for a full day.
We received a few more restaurant recommendations but didn’t had a chance to experience them first hand, I guess we have to come back so that we can write a decent restaurant report. Recommended were “Clemente” for fine Seafood dining, Albatross (225 14th St) for some stiff drinks and Astoria coffeehouse and Bistro for the best Sandwiches in town.
Around 5:00 p.m. it was time to drive back to Long Beach and have dinner at the Pickled Fish in Long Beach – an AMAZING place to hang out, eat, drink and listen to live music. Very hip! We enjoyed the most amazing beet arugula salad, Pork Belly Mac & Cheese and a couple artisan handcrafted pizzas (the Fennel Sausage pizza can be highly recommended). After that back to our Beach Town House – The Lighthouse Resort – I think the Best place to stay at in Long Beach, you can bring your dog, its clean, super close to the beach, has a pool and hot tub and (fancy) coffee in the morning
Then it was time for a new phantasy drink (Passion Fruit Vodka with Grapefruit Juice, Elderflower liquor and champagne) and getting our game on for our dice game: 10,000 (our furry girl friend Lola played with us and was having way too much fun).
On Saturday we cruised a little bit through town, picked up some goodies at Niva Green which sells local artsy and handcrafted gifts and got Lola a new harness across the street at Dennis a local hardware store that carrys everything from clothes, to gardening and fishing tools to pet supplies.
Since our annual girls weekend tradition includes a cheese fondue we did not stop at any of the Long Beach restaurants but I can highly recommend the below 3 restaurants (and the aforementioned Pickled Fish), depending on your mood and food you are looking for.
- The Lost Roo: offers traditional American as well as some more eclectic food in a casual atmosphere.
- 42nd street café: A little bit more upscale breakfast/lunch/dinner. I love their Beignets for breakfast!
- The Shelburne Inn: is a historic Boutique Hotel which also houses a very well known more upscale restaurant serving Northwest cuisine
After picking up some old fashion candy, a new collar for Lola and some little trinkets at Niva we went back home, browsed through 50 magazines, built our own terrariums (Tina’s girls weekend surprise for all of us), moved on to our “pretty party” where we exchange all kinds of goodies that each of us cherished at one time but now wants to pass on – kind of like traveling pants, just that we have traveling everything – and last but not least on to enjoying our very tasty cheese fondue followed by more mighty a** whopping beating the girls in 10,000 with my highest roll ever of 5400 points (and winning the purse of $6 in 0.25 cent coins)!
The dredged departing Sunday arrived and on to packing our 40-50 bags, loading them into our cars and back home to our loved ones who were very exited to see us after being gone for 4 days.
If we would have had one more time we would have made the drive down to Ocean Park (just 20 minutes from Long Beach) and visited the local art gallery, Jacks another interesting countrystore and then on to Oysterville to get fresh Oysters and crab, but that also has to wait for another time.
Now that you are all up to date on Long Beach and Astoria, here the recipe for the dish I promised in the title: The Best Croque Madame on Arugula Salad, our Francophile friend Tami prepared for us for breakfast:
- 4 thick slices of Brioche bread
- Butter for the brioche bread
- 4 thick slices of gruyere cheese
- 4 slices of prosciutto
- 3 cups of Arugula salad
- 4 eggs
- salt & pepper
- Poach the eggs according to the below instructions.
- Butter the brioche and toast in the oven until brown (watch the broiler as it can turn very fast from toasted to burned)
- When the brioche is toasted to your liking, top each slice with the gruyere cheese and place it back into the warm oven (350 degrees) and let the cheese melt (2-3 minutes)
- Take out the brioche slices, top it with the Arugula salad, then a slice of prosciutto and the poached egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Note: If you poach the eggs for only 3 minutes you will have “sauce” for the Arugula when you break the egg yolk, if you don’t like your egg runny but want some dressing for the Arugula, toss the salad with a little bit of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper prior to putting it onto the brioche.
How to poach an egg:
- Select a suitable pan for poaching. The pan should be shallow and wide, as the trick to poaching well, without an egg poacher is to gently slip the egg into a wide, shallow pan filled with simmering water. The pan should be able to take about 5 cups of water.
- Add the water. Fill the pan about two-thirds or a bit more with water and bring to a gentle boil
- If you’d like to help the eggs to set, add 1-2 teaspoons of white vinegar to the water. It’s not essential but it improves the egg’s appearance because the vinegar coagulates the egg white.
- For the best results, only poach one egg at a time. More than one egg risks merging into other eggs when cooking. You can set the ready poached egg into a bowl with ice water and reheat all the poached eggs at the same time in warm water.
Crack an egg into a ramekin, small bowl or soup ladle. Do this gently so that you don’t break the yolk when cracking the egg.
- Turn down the gently boiling water to a simmer. The water should be barely simmering and the temperature about 160-180ºF
- Spin the simmering water to cool down the water before you drop in the single egg. Carefully drop the egg into the center of the barely simmering whirlpool. To help maintain the shape of the egg, swirl around it in a circular motion until set (20 seconds)
- Wait 3-5 minutes until cooked. You will know that the egg is cooked when the whites are set and the yolks begin to thicken.
- Remove the poached egg with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl of ice water and start poaching the next one. To refresh the egg dip all the eggs into simmering, salted water for 30 seconds and place them on a dry tea towel to dry for a couple seconds.
- If the edge isn’t neat enough, trim with kitchen shears––the cook’s secret.