Corvallis, Oregon is a beautiful little town with a lot going for it. Of 53,000 residents, 19,000 are Oregon State University (OSU) students. The university has seen such graduates as Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling and Heisman trophy winner Terry Baker. It’s home to a selection of special projects, like the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium.
The town was named one of the “100 Best Communities for Children”, the third “Best Green Places” to live in America, the safest small city in America, and the 14th Best City to Live. There are more per capita computer and library users and the highest education level per capita in the US. I had spent a few days in Corvallis a couple of summers ago, but was excited to see it in the winter and to experience more of the quaint town and its lovely atmosphere.
It wasn’t the season for the famed Farmers Market, but my sister and I made ourselves busy with the multitude of little shops in Corvallis. I fell in love with The Tea & Herb Shop in the Water Street Market at 151 NW Monroe (541.754.7508) and Wineopolis in the same Market (541.738.1600). I also loved Avalon Wine. This tiny little store does most of its wine business online at http://www.avalonwine.com. The art shops were great, with a considerable amount of work by local artisans.
Of course, as with all of my travels, I was on the lookout for some great food. I wasn’t disappointed. We had lunch at Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, located at 250 SW Third Street (541.754.7508). Teppan tables are available, but with the ocean so close, I opted for sushi and sashimi and wasn’t disappointed. The salmon was so fresh it almost melted in my mouth.
Corvallis, or Oregon in general, wouldn’t be complete without coffee. Not quite as well-known as nearby Seattle, Oregonites still love a good cup of coffee. We stopped in one afternoon for coffee at Francesco’s Gelato-Caffe at 208 SW Second Street (541.752.1326). The cafe mocha I had was delicious and the gelato I sampled was divine. I can’t recommend this one enough.
I also found great coffee at Coffee Culture. There are three locations: 2483 NW Kings Blvd (541.758.6760), 1195 NW Kings Blvd (541.753.3030) and NW 9th and Cir Blvd (541.231.0772).
Dinner was definitely a treat at Aqua Seafood Restaurant and Bar. The restaurant, under executive chef Adam Kekahuna, serves up delicious Pacific Rim and Hawaiian regional cuisine.
Located in the Water Street Market at 151 NW Monroe #102, the restaurant is unforgettable. We tried the Hawaiian Seared Ahi with Kabayaki Beurre Blanc and Chinese Hot Mustard Sauce. We also shared the Miso Butterfish, which was melt-in-your-mouth marinated in miso and served with Wasabi Beurre Blanc.
The food wasn’t the only mouth-watering thing in Aqua. The drinks were fun and offered a perfect end to the day. We tried the Mango South (Hornitos tequila, Triple Sec, fresh lime and orange, mango puree, and Prosecco) and the Aqua Sake (sake, Hibiscus Vodka, fresh lime, and Triple Sec). Then for dessert, we opted for liquid nourishment. We had the Chocolate Milk (Stoli vanilla vodka, Godiva dark and white chocolate liqueur, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and dark creme de cacao). Be sure to call ahead for reservations at 541.752.0262.
With all that great food, I knew I was ready for wine tasting the next day. Off to the Willamette Valley and its vineyards.