Athletes know the importance of the pre-race evening meal and carb loading. Every year hundreds upon hundreds of water athletes, including standup paddlers, flock to Hood River, Oregon for famous down-wind events from Viento State Park to the community built Waterfront Park. Others enjoy clinics, fun paddles and adventures requiring skill and endurance. These thousands of athletes need that pre-event meal. I have often used pizza or pasta for carb loading, and often that pizza and pasta were excellent. But I have never – not ever – had a pre-race carb loading meal like the one I had Friday night at the Hood River Inn (a Best Western Plus property managed for over a quarter century by Chuck Hinman). (Read more here)
We wandered in to the hotel’s restaurant, Rverside, just as the sun was turning the dramatic slopes on the Washington side of the Columbia River a burnished gold. Of course, we chose to sit outside on the well-protected deck peppered with blossoming baskets of brilliant flowers. Okay, back to the important part of this story – the pasta meal. With an 8-mile downwinder scheduled for the next morning (with not enough wind to make it a glide in the park) we wanted fuel!
With smiles we came to expect from the wait staff and hosts, we were lead to our table. We sat down with a ticket in hand, provided at check-in, that gave us 50% off the second dinner entree. (Are you kidding? The prices were so value-wonderful to begin with). The menu was a dinner party in words. After drooling over everything, we went for pasta dishes:
I selected the Sausage and Fregula, which consisted of Olympic Provisions Parsley and Percorino sausage over toasted Fregula pasta, Calabran chiles, broccolini , spinach and Parmesan. It was a delight from the first mouthful until I cleaned the plate with a bit of the warm homemade bread. Toasted Fregula is taste and texture at its best.
Ed decided on the Vongole. He was delivered a bowl full of more than a dozen large Manila clams in garlic sauce over fresh linguine. The clams were a never-ending parade of freshness. Ed enjoyed dipping those beautiful mussels from their shells. Now, THAT is carb loading at its best. Oh, I forgot the best part.
Just before our amazing pasta dishes were delivered, the attentive wait team brought us a plate with three types of fresh bread, a serving of gourmet olives and delightful olive oil and vinegar for dipping. I usually eat very little bread. There is no way I could pass up a sampling of each fresh baked variety. You will want to know more about Chef Mark DeResta. He has a blog with a couple of good recipes. He’s a busy man, so the blog may not be updated as often as he likes, but it generally conveys his cooking philosophy.
You might head to Hood River, Oregon for a gnarly sports week or weekend. Even if you don’t usually focus on fine dining at the most value-centric venue in town you will want to plan ahead and book your stay at the Hood River Inn – your expectation will be met and exceeded! That certainly happened for us.
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