Posts tagged Oregon

Kalypsso Eclectic Latin Cuisine

Long, long ago in a land far, far away land…well more like a few years ago in Grants Pass, Oregon, a sweet and adorable grandmother opened a restaurant. It was a different sort of place. Most Grants Passians were not used to this style of food. See, grandma’s approach to traditional authentic Mexican cuisine comes straight from Mexico City. Simple, flavorful and spicy. Although grandma, also known as Tita, is shy and speaks little English, she is a pistol in the kitchen. At her side is her son Alan, a perfect complement to his mom. Alan and his mother are two of my favorite people in our small city and their restaurant is placed in my top three places to dine in Grants Pass.

“Tacos, Burritos and More” was the name of the first location. It was a very small place with only five or six tables. I believe I started out with tamales on my first trip in. One of my favorite dishes. The first thing I noticed was the heat. I don’t mean the indoor temperature, I mean the heat of the sauce. WOW! When you dine in an Americanized Mexican restaurant, nothing is spicy unless you ask for extra jalapenos or hope that the chef is hording some ultra secret habanero sauce in the back. Tita does not mess around. Her food is spicy, however you still leave with your taste buds intact.

I was also impressed with the beans. More of a whole bean refried bean always topped with a smattering of Cotija cheese. The rice is great as well. Also, nothing fancy which I love. I really tire of the standard mix of frozen veggies (including lima beans for God’s sake) folded into boring Mexican style rice. Sorry, I don’t like corn and green beans and the like mixed in my rice. And lastly noted was the absence of the standard chips and salsa. At first I thought this odd, but soon forgot about. One could order chips and salsa, however there is a small, small charge. Better than that, you can order chips smothered in a spicy green or mole sauce sprinkled with Cotija. Our personal favorite is the chips and guacamole. The guac is made to order with hot or mild depending your tastes. Yum!

Other delicious items I consumed over the first couple years were the fish tacos. Oh yeah. I love a good fish taco. These tacos are small but flavorful. You get two corn tortillas topped with house marinated and breaded fish, cabbage and a house dressing. Heaven! You can also have the same ingredients in a large burrito served wet or dry. I like mine wet with the spicy sauce. One of my standard orders is the chili rellenos. Oh my! A nice large chili stuffed with cheese, very lightly breaded and fried, topped with a spicy, almost broth like sauce. I have never had better. My next all time favorite is the huevos rancheros. These not only the best huevos I have ever eaten, but it’ll cure most hangovers in a heartbeat. These huevos are topped with that marvelous spicy green sauce. A perfectly fried eggs peaks from beneath the sauce. The tortilla is crisped to perfection. If you really need a boost you can order it with either bacon, ham or chorizo. I kid you not, these are the best huevos ever!

And let’s talk about her specials! Pork chops and potatoes braised in a creamy green sauce that are so tender you do not need a knife. Stews and soups so thick a spoon could stand on its own. Most of the specials I can not and will not attempt to spell or pronounce.

After some time passed, Grandma’s place really started catching on and the business outgrew the building. Fortunately, Alan being a savvy business man, procured the building directly across the street. The building got a new kitchen and some bright splashes of paint. Also, a new name, “Mi Ciudad Tita’s Mexican Restaurant.” Same menu with additions – even more choices – and the same fantastic food.

But wait, there’s more! To quote Alan, “The time has come to move on. There are at least 18 Mexican Restaurants in Grants Pass. Now, the good news, Tita can cook a wide variety of dishes some of you can never guess, so we are transforming the restaurant.” And voila, the “Kalypsso Eclectic Latin Cuisine” restaurant was born. Fortunately all the items from the old menu remained. VERY fortunately, the menu is much bigger and loaded with new items such as Saltados from Peru, Ropa Vieja Cuban sandwiches, Empanadas, Pupusas from El Salvador and much more. Oh joy!

If I thought I couldn’t like this place anymore then I did, I really fall in love with Kalypsso’s around late November of last year. A week before Thanksgiving, Dimples and I took the plunge into vegetarianism. We fretted over places to dine as we live in conservative-ville. Strictly your meat and potatoes sorta town. We love to dine out and knew we would have a hard time finding a place to suit our new needs. Tita did not fail us. At first we feasted on a couple of the regular menus items that were already vegetarian like the Vegetarian Sopes, thick corn tortillas topped with beans, lettuce, tomato, Cotija cheese, Mexican sour cream served with both a spicy guacamole sauce and a red hot sauce. We were not unhappy. After one or two trips in, we ended up discussing our new diet with Alan. He pointed out so many more dishes to try. Tita makes a tamale with cheese and jalapenos served wet or dry. Alan’s favorite way to eat these is after they are steamed, thrown on the griddle to crisp up and then top with either the spicy green or red sauce.

One time we offered them free advertising on a web site of ours. In return, Tita invited us to a vegetarian feast. I looked forward to this night all week long. We started with Alan’s handmade, hand-shaken margaritas over ice. First came a special dish grandma made just for the occasion. A Mexican squash filled with a thick slice of Cotija cheese and prepared like a chili relleno topped with a spicy light, broth like sauce. I simply could not believe this new taste sensation. As Cotija does not melt but softens, the texture was rich and smooth. I hummed the entire time. Second came a small plate of, well, a pile of stuff. Alan explained that though it sounded terrible, it was really good. It consisted of sautéed potato peels, onions and jalapenos melted with cheese. Alan seemed embarrassed to serve us potato peels, but we were delighted to eat it. We stuffed small corn tortillas with this wonderful odd mixture of deliciousness. Next came enchilada two ways. One with was stuffed with a jack cheese and topped with the green sauce, the other stuffed with crumbled Cotija and topped with a spicy mole sauce. After that and one more margarita, we shared a bean and cheese burrito. Doesn’t sound too special, but it was. Tita’s rice is cooked to perfection and not gooey like some rice can be. One bite into that burrito and the texture reminded me of ground beef. It was very hearty. If I am craving beef, I know I can get over that by having one of these fantastic burritos. Let’s see, after that, well we had one more margarita. I do not recall a dining expedition where I was so elated at the entire experience. After dinner, Dimples asked Tita if he could give her a hug. She accepted graciously.

I have had so many unbelievable dishes here. Green bean pancakes. Stuffed cauliflower prepared in the same fashion as a relleno. Rolled tacos filled with fried potatoes and jalapenos. Chilaquiles Caribenos which consists of corn chips covered in a red morita spicy sauce, sour cream, Cotija cheese and cilantro with black beans. Add carne asada to this or order it the way we do with two fried eggs on top. The cool yolk helps temper the heat.

Kalypsso may not be the fanciest joint in town and it may not have that “truck farm” feel to it as one of their local competitors have. If you like your hot sauce served to you by a guy in a hard hat with lights and buzzers holding the sauce in a bottle with a pair of tongs and some rubber gloves, then this is not the place for you. Kalypsso is not your average taco joint. If you want your food authentic and cooked with real flavor and spice, then please try it. If you know me, you know that I am a truly picky eater. I am a food snob and proud of it. I rarely boast about a restaurant with such shamelessness. Am I embarrassed that I’m gushing? Just a tad, but I am sincere. Let me just say that in all honesty for me, Tita’s food is cooked with such care and tenderness my tummy smiles with pleasure.

Gracias Tita and Alan!


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My dearest friend and I went to celebrate something or other, at Gogi’s. First time for both of us. This is quaint 15-table restaurant just below the Britt gardens and is one of the most wonderful well rounded restaurants I have been to in Southern Oregon. For starters that evening; Dungeness Crab Cakes with Scallion Coulis on a bed Organic Greens with herbed Alioli. We chose a light, flowery Pinot Gris at the suggestion of our waiter. Then a second course of a nice, lightly dressed salad of field greens and warm sourdough bread.

For my main course I chose a Grilled Marinated Buffalo Skirt steak with thinly sliced truffles (the buffalo was unbelievably tender and mild, you could cut it with a spoon), a fried potato cake and oven roasted root vegetables. My friend had Coriander Lime Glazed Halibut with Stir Fry Asian Vegetables, Ginger and Soy. We chose a full bodied 2000 Pinot Noir-Hamacher Label from Willamette Valley.

Even though we were sufficiently stuffed and belly happy, for dessert we shared the most wonderful cheesecake with a ginger caramel sauce. The Pinot was an excellent complement to both dinner and dessert. We finished the evening with a rich cup of espresso.

Gogi’s menu has everything from Tuna Carpaccio to Fennel Rubbed Pork Tenderloins. They offer daily specials along with an extensive wine list and cocktail menu. They serve Brunch on Sunday’s too!

I’m kind of a food snob and have worked as a cook and sous chef in my younger life. This place is at the top of my list! The owners have the “whole package” going on. The atmosphere, wait staff, food and wine selection. The prices…a little on the high side, but worth every last bite!

Gogi’s Restaurant
235 W. Main St.
Jacksonville, OR 97530
541- 899-8699
Open Wed-Sun, 9 to 5pm
Brunch Sunday’s 10-2

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All American Macaroni Salad

Picnic Season is here! I love a good picnic with family and friends. I don’t picnic as often as I like, but this summer have a couple planned already.

This weekend marks the Josephine County Relay for Life event in Grants Pass, Oregon. My husbands team raised over $10,000.00. The team brought a huge potluck, picnic dinner together to eat at the track. Hamburgers, chicken, hot dogs and salads. Hubby made my All American Macaroni Salad.

1 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 c grated or diced cheddar cheese
3 hard boiled eggs chopped small
1/2 small red onion , diced small
2 large stalks celery , diced small
3 TB Sweet Relish
3 TB yellow mustard
1/4 c minced parsley
2 TB Dill
2 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 TB lemon juice
2 c mayo
2 TB milk – to thin
Salt and pepper

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and macaroni and cook until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water until cool. Chill macaroni in refrigerator until cold.

Mix onion, celery, relish, mustard, parsley, dill, celery seed cayenne, lemon juice and let sit until flavors are absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add mayo and milk. Fold mayo mixture over chilled macaroni, eggs and cheese.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8-10

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Magnolia Grill

On a lovely drive the Applegate Valley to taste some local wine, husband and I had heard from friends about a great little restaurant in Ruch and decided to give it a try. The place: Magnolia Grill, owned and operated by Michael Wurster.

What a great little place. For lunch I had a delicious Cobb salad, loaded with grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, hard boiled egg and crumbled Rogue Creamery Bleu Cheese. I topped that off with a glass of crisp Griffin Creek Viognier. Husband had the “Special” a turkey and Cappicola sandwich in an herbed roll with steak fries and Iced Tea. Knowing we were way too full to have dinner later, we thought we should a least make ourselves even more miserable and try a homemade dessert. We had a Banana Spring Roll. This was a banana rolled in brown sugar, wrapped in a won ton skin, deep fried and covered with a drizzle of caramel, toasted coconut and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. WOW! DE-LISH!!

They are open 6 days a week starting at 7:30 for breakfast, lunch and dinner (Monday’s Closed)

Other menu items include three different eggs benedicts (one with grilled tomato and Portobello mushrooms), Chicken fried steak and eggs, Build your own omelets with several delectable items to choose from along with standard breakfast fare.

Lunches range from (and just to name a few) homemade soups and salads, hamburgers and veggie burgers, a Grilled Eggplant sandwich with caramelized onions, sweet roasted red peppers and provolone on a roll with chipotle mayo. A Rueben with hand pulled corned beef, Jamaican Jerk Spiced Pulled Pork sandwich with mango chutney.

They have a large and intriguing dinner menu including a Light Fare menu with Littleneck Clams, Cajun Crawfish Won-Tons, or a Blue Bison Burger. Other dinner selections range from Pasta’s, Steaks, Jambalaya or Fish and a Pork Tenderloin that is topped with an apple and sage chutney, served with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed veggies. Too many items to list.

There is a great kids menu at great prices too!

Magnolia Grill
7360 Hwy 238
Jacksonville, Oregon

About a 35 mile drive from Grants Pass, OR
Check out this mention in April 2007 edition of Sunset Magazine,20633,1595995,00.html

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Crazy Jobs ~ Patient Attendant

Over the years I have had some crazy jobs. Some I’ve liked and most I have not. I’m pretty easy going when it comes to work as long as I have been given a clear guideline of my duties and I receive a decent check. I am a hard worker and always respectful of my superiors. I have never been fired or reprimanded. I just do my job and try to keep my sense of humor in tact to help me through the rough times. Easier said than done. Through the years I have tried many different sorts of employment. I’ve been a horse stall cleaner, hostess, house keeper, sales woman in a children’s dress shop, pizza maker, sous chef, medical receptionist, pharmacy tech and more. One of the jobs I have hated the most was as a Patient Attendant.

As a Patient Attendant at the old Josephine Memorial Hospital in Grants Pass, Oregon, my job was to sit in a room with mentally ill or elderly patients to make sure they stayed in bed, ate or stayed calm. If anything got out of hand and a patient became abusive, out of control or was in danger of harming anyone or anything, I was to yell out at the top of my lungs “Dr. Armstrong, calling Dr. Armstrong”. Or if I had time use the intercom system to page Dr. Armstrong over head. This would cause a herd of hospital employees to come crashing through the door and make everything better. Also usually meant more meds to the patient.

One night I had to watch 2 mentally ill patients. One was quite and reserved, obviously on meds, the other wired and anxious. He was about 6ft and 250 pounds. This patient was in a bed next to the window of the second story of the hospital. He would climb out of bed and try and open the blinds to see out. My job was to keep him in bed and keep him as calm as possible.

As the morning flew by, I must have put this guy back in his bed at least 20 times. As the sun came around to our side of the building, the guy became more and more agitated. His attempts to open the blinds became aggressive. No one told me his condition or gave me an other rules to go by other then keeping him in bed. After much thought I decided to open the dang blinds. I figured at least it would calm him down a bit. WRONG! As I pulled up the blinds and turned to sit back down, he flew out of bed, tore off his gown, pressed his body to the window and screamed something inaudible about the sun.

I screamed DR. ARMSTRONG at the top of my lungs. Three large dudes came flying in and settled the guy down. We tucked him back into bed. Of course no one thought to close the blinds.

About 15 minutes later the guy starts getting agitated again. He flew out of bed, tore off his second gown and this time ran past me faster than lightning. I yelled Dr. Armstrong again and picked up the intercom to do the same hoping for more backup. As I hung up the phone I saw the guy out of the corner of my eye, stop in the middle of the hall. He turned around and faced me nakeder then a jay bird and started running for the window. Stupid me, I stepped in front of the window with my hands out to stop him. He crashed full force into me and we both flew into the window. My head smacked glass and I became instantly dizzy and petrified. The guy pushed me aside and started out the door into the hall way again for a second attempt. Fortunately, the half the hospital staff came flying down the hallway. This startled the poor guy. He panicked and ran smack onto another person who suffered more injuries than I. A broken arm. The hospital staff finally got him pinned down, medicated and back to bed. The staff looked me over, and as they were walking out the door I realized that the second guy I was watching, the quite reserved guy, snuck out of the room and took off while all this was going on. The hospital staff found him safe and sound.

I quit my job that night.

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Shan Creek Cafe

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One of my favorite restaurants in Grants Pass is Shan Creek Cafe. It’s about a 15 minute drive from Grants Pass on Riverbanks road. The restaurant at one time was the Shan Creek Market, a local fixture for several years. I was happy to see an old piece of history still hanging above a counter from the old market. The once proud owner self-proclaimed his business as “The Smallest Country Super Market in the World.”

The lovely owner of Shan Creek Cafe is Angel Taylor. We were told that she and her husband bought the property in 2003 and spent many a night and weekend remolding the old store. During the remodel, Angel worked as a chef at the Sundance River Center in Merlin. She shyly told us that she had the honor of cooking for Martha Stewart when she was in Oregon filming for one of her shows.

Before that Angel lived and worked in Marin County staring her career at age of thirteen. She worked her way up from dishes to prep cook. At age fifteen she was in charge of her first dinner shift as the chef at the time had not show up for work. At eighteen she spent a year traveling and working in pubs in England.

Along with standard fare, the menu offers some unique dishes including a Veggie Omelet loaded with fresh veggies, herbs and feta cheese. A Breakfast Burrito with black beans, eggs, cheese, salsa, avocado and sour cream and French toast stuffed with cream cheese berries and pecans. They also serve fresh homemade muffins and coffee cakes. They also offer homemade jams. Yum!

The lunch and dinner menu has a nice offering of homemade soups, salads and salad dressings. You can order a cup, bowl or Bread Bowl of the soup of the day. Or try one of four different salads like the Field Greens with warm pecan crusted goat cheese, (this would be delish with the homemade creamy lemon dressing) or a Greek Salad with red onion and Kalamata Olives.

How about a hamburger made from Oregon organic free range beef? This comes with the standard toppings for or add grilled mushrooms or grilled onions or avocado. Not interested in burgers? Try the Marinated Grilled Chicken breast sandwich smothered in grilled apples and brie. Or try one of the many other sandwich selections such as the Veggie sandwich with carrots, zucchini and olives smothered in Jack cheese and served on toasted whole wheat with tomatoes, sprouts and avocado for. The selection of sandwiches comes with French Fries or homemade Cole Slaw or Potato Salad.

Other options to try include Beer Battered Fish and Chips (my husband and I think they are the best fish and chips in Grants Pass) and Fish Tacos. The main menu is not large however the daily specials make up for what is not on the menu. Chef Angel offers five to six specials a night including seafood, (one is Clam Steamers with perfect amounts of garlic, wine and herbs) a veggie dish, pasta dish and the best aged steaks in the valley.

Along with Free Trade Coffee, they offer espresso drinks, both black and green iced tea. Fresh squeezed lemonade and orange juice and a small but nice selection of beer and wine.

One of my first meals was the Fish Tacos and let me tell you that as a lover of fish tacos, these ranked at the top of my list. I was served two with a plate of black beans steamed rice topped with grated cheese, lime wedges and home made salsa. The fish was very lightly seasoned and breaded, sautéed, wrapped in a grilled corn tortilla. The taste was sensational. I reluctantly offered a meager bite to my partner to get his take. He loved it. He ordered the Beer Battered Fish and Chips. He too offered up a reluctant and meager bite of his selection, and I do declare it was fantastic. The fish was fried in a light seasoned beer batter and served with fries and a homemade tartar sauce and a crisp Cole Slaw. Even though we were happily stuffed, we were encouraged by the chef’s mother, Grace Alexander, to try one of several home made desserts or cookies. She proudly stated that her daughter not only made the best fish and chips she has ever tried but was indeed a “master baker.” We were sold. I had a wonderful slice of Marion Berry Pie slightly warmed with a crust that was to die for and my husband had a piece of a rich and creamy Kaluha Cheesecake.

Back to those steaks. My husband and I have tried several meals at Shan Creek and beside the Fish and Chips, Angel’s steaks are to die for. Perfectly aged and cooked, I have yet to try anything better in the valley. Tender, flavorful and well just darned right perfect. Her Filet Mignon is like buttah, and so full of flavor you’ll be humming through the entire steak. Oh did I mention the sautéed mushrooms piled on top?

The food is outstanding, the service was beyond compare and the friendly neighborly atmosphere is very comforting. My one critique is the limited hours. Only open Thursday through Sunday, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Always call first. Angel’s family always comes first, one of the many reasons my husband and I love this place so much.

Shan Creek Café
5547 Riverbanks Road
Grants Pass, OR 97527
(541) 479-5057

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Tome Raider

I love books. Other then the obvious, reading, I love to hold them, feel them, smell them and buy them. My dream is to have a huge fireplace with large bookshelves on each side filled with books, books and more books. I think more then new books, I prefer used and old books. A good used book has much character. I can pick up a used book and day dream about who would have read it before myself. Did they like it? Would we have much in common? Would they like other books I have read? Did they hate it and why?

In Grants Pass we actually have several used book stores. I always try and buy local when I can. Oregon Books, formerly Book Depot, has been around several years. family owned and operated, they carry a nice selection of new and used. They also have web site to order what they don’t have in stock. Usually only takes a couple days for your book to arrive.

Oregon Books
937 NE D Street, Ste C
Grants Pass, OR 97526
(541) 476-3132

Book Lore and More is a used book store. This place is run by SPARC. The store is a training ground and a great place recycle used books that would otherwise been shredded. I love this store. They don’t always organize their books the best way possible, but they are very helpful can usually find what you are looking for.

Book Lore and More
122 SE H St
Grants Pass, OR 97526
(541) 471-4945

Middle of 6th street, downtown Grants Pass is Booktique, Books and More. A cute and cramped shop with both used books, funky antiques and collectables and used movies.

212 NW 6th St
Grants Pass, Oregon 97526
(541) 474-9580

On Rogue River Highway is another cramped and dark book store with great finds. The $2.00 Book Store & Exchange. I have found some great books here. Not all books, however are $2.00 however so you need to make sure and check the price tags.

$2.00 Book Store & Exchange
914 Rogue River Highway
Grants Pass, OR 97527
(541) 479-6008

In the City of Rogue River, about 8 miles from Grants Pass is a new book store called Reading on the Rogue. New books, candy, games, gifts and one of the largest stuffed beavers I have ever seen. That thing must be 9 feet tall.

Reading on the Rogue
206 Main
Rogue River, OR
(541) 582-1712

I also absolutely love Powell Book’s in Portland, Oregon. This is a must see bookstore. Touted at one of the largest book stores in the World. The main store takes up an entire city block. New, used and rare. Powell has six store locations in the Portland Area. Including one specifically for Home and Garden. Powell’s is where I go when I just can’t find what I need locally. And whenever we make the trip to Portland, Powell’s is our first stop.

Powell’s Books
1005 W Burnside
Portland, OR 97209

I’ll be posting reviews here from my favorite tomes. I never seem to have as much time as I would like to read, or maybe I have too much time to read and not enough time to do anything else? Highly doubtful!

A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

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