Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Travels with Chili: Heading East

We'd just bought a new tent and were bound and determined to get it out and use it. That was last summer, and we made just one trip with it. This summer we swore we'd do better and, when Dave's vacation came up, we decided to head East. No, not East East…we did that earlier this spring…but as far East as you can get and still be in Oregon.

Chili enjoys the view.

As might be expected, there were brewpubs involved in the decision making (everyone who knows us is saying, "Oh, reaaaaaaaaaaally?"), and of course the setting had to be gorgeous. We'd been to the Wallowa mountains many years ago, car camping in a fairly primitive campground in the Lostine River canyon. There was much lounging in the sun next to the pristine river, and a couple of crazy hikes up steep trails to high mountain lakes with huge granite boulders to climb on.

But we were hankering for something new and even further out, eventually deciding on a campground outside of the tiny hamlet of Joseph (video from just outside Joseph, top), home to Kari Gerdingen's Mutiny Brewing. (See? Told ya!) Stretched alongside the Imnaha River in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and at the end of an hour-long drive from Joseph, its 14 campsites were fairly private but featured a potable water pump, a must-have in our book.

Prodigal Son's Reuben and a pint of Veloci-Rapture.

On the way there we decided to stop in Pendleton for lunch and discovered a brand new brewpub, Prodigal Son, had just opened in May. With a flavorful, full-bodied amber brew they called Veloci-Rapture for me and a porter that Dave deemed an excellent example of the style, we ordered what turned out to be a terrific Reuben and fish'n'chips that I would be happy to have here in Portland.

The pub's name came from the three founders, local guys who'd left and wanted to return to their hometown to start a business. Brewer Brian Harder worked at Rogue and also brewed in Europe, and his experience shows in the quality of the beers we sampled. Making everything on the menu in-house and keeping it as local as possible is the goal of Chef Matthew Barnes, and if my sandwich made from local brisket that had been brined and smoked in-house was any example, you can expect good things from this place.

Read part two, Travels with Chili: On the Wild Imnaha.

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