Culinary Tourism...a "nosh" tour in the Willamette Valley!

Oh my, where do I begin?

I was born in SoCal on a warm dry day in 1961. Ok...skipping ahead a few years.... I watched as my grandmother pounded the heck out of a steak. She was a tiny thing but man could she pound the heck out of that beef. And, she was one of those kinds of women that could pull a few items out of her pantry and prepare a feast. Now my Jewish grandmother on my mom's side, another important influence in the kitchen, she told a totally different story. Couldn't understand a word of it sometimes, but I got the picture cause when she was mad or wanted me to behave, she spoke "Yiddish" and yes...then I behaved. So, when the word, "nosh" came up for this tour, how more fitting could it be?!

NOSH: A Yiddish word meaning to snack, eat a light meal, a small bite, nibble or munch!

Between my grandmothers', my mother's innate ability to improvise and improve on any recipe she tried, my firefighting awesome cook of a husband and my yearning desire for "really good" food, I have only learned from the best how to cook and now I am learning where to find the best food in Oregon. My personal journey, my quest, my "foodie" exploration and just like Albany, I love to share!

Thus...the Albany Nosh Tour! Bursting at the seams and wanting to run down First Ave. screaming..."do any of you know what you have here in this sweet town???" I didn't want to be known as "debbie...that crazy lady that runs down First Ave. screaming," so...with the help of some of my AVA buddies, we created the "Albany Nosh Tour!" And, like most of us here in Oregon, perhaps a motto of sorts...we came up with..."Albany...we love to share!" And, we did just that yesterday!

Beginning with our ride over to Novak's for our first stop, we were overwhelmed by the most delicious Hungarian chicken dish and a plethora of pastries. The Novak family made us feel like family and even brought in Joseph and Matilda to make us feel even more at home. After enjoying what I considered a "meal," we loaded up the trolley and headed to our 2nd stop...Calapooia Brewing Co. Burger's, ruben's, fries, tots and three or four paddles of their beer in the garden and we could have stayed all evening! A great quick tour of their brewery of which they brew beer and send out to five different cities in Oregon, puts Albany on the map of one of the best places to brew beer! Told ya we like to share!

Ah...Taste of Italy at Pizza King! A quick cooking lesson with fresh garlic, lemon zest, peppers and parmegano reggiano mixed in "orchetta" pasta and yummm! Ruby you are the best and that authentic "bellini" with the fresh berries, the peaches, the Prosecco and there life after you have had the best Italian food? And this time we are beginning to get really full but we don't want to be done yet! So, we board the trolley again and head to P'Shaws and enjoy a quick bite of local jams, sweets and a nice browse of Pam's shop of handmade, homemade and all regional goodies!

The last trolley stop took us to Sybaris! From here we walked the rest of the tour. Believe me when I say...we really needed it. But, not till we have had Matt's most delectable dish! Thank you Matt and Janel for helping put Albany on many maps and for drawing visitor's from all over the world as they come to enjoy our sweet town and your most divine Pacific Northwest cuisine! What a treat and gorgeous as always!

Rolling almost literally down the "avenue," we entered Vault 244 and were lead through Lane's very trendy, very cool and very inviting bistro. Hauled in to the new banquet room at the rear of the restaurant, we were awestruck at our "taste!" Almost too pretty to eat and drink, Lane gave us a quick run down on the new renovations and the much anticipated outdoor seating options. That is set to be open this week by the way. Thanks to Lane, his head chef and mixologist (that's my name for the guy that makes the cool drinks) for a very unforgettable taste!

Moving on to Clemenza's again owned my Matt and Janel and at no surprise another perfect taste of Prosciutto wrapped fruit in a balsamic glaze and oh my...yum doesn't even begin to describe this taste. In awe, in amazement and in for another treat, we then headed to First Burger where couldn't possibly "taste" another bite...but man...that Frito chili pie was soooo good! But, we needed our cupcakes! Well...I did anyways and knowing that Jessica's Rocket Queen Cupcakes were waiting for us at Boccherini's along with a nice iced latte', we shook a leg and rubbed our bellies and headed on in for the perfect ending of very perfect taste!

And that it was!

Thanks to all our restaurateurs, our chef's, our owner's of these delish dining digs in Albany! We are here because you are here and have helped make our town a destination location for travelers, trekkers, writers, photographers and local folks that just plain love "really good" food!

And...if you are visiting Oregon this season, join us for our next "nosh" in Albany, OR on July 31st!  For info: call the Albany Visitor's Assn. at 541-928-0831!  And...if you are looking for that most awesome Oregon B & B to perfectly round out your perfect Oregon visit, check out The Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild at!  

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