Road Journals Blog—In Newport you never want to stray too far from the water, which is how I ended up at the Noodle Cafe, an unassuming little place on the bay with a sign that reads: “Fresh seafood from the boats to your table.”
Sure enough, when I sat down for a meal there at dusk, a few fishing boats were pulling into port to unload fresh catches. What better place to order tempura oysters or udon seafood soup? But as I surveyed the menu, I felt perplexed.
I’d already been in Newport for a few days and had eaten seafood at nearly every meal—things like crab soup, pan-fried oysters, and prawns with pasta. When I’m home in Portland, just 130 miles away, oysters and albacore don’t call to me like they do when I’m at the coast.
Not only do I know the seafood will be fresher close to the sea, but there’s something about spending the day beachcombing or watching waves crash that makes fish taste fantastic. There's also the fact that you’re surrounded by men and women who earn a living fishing and crabbing, and even from my limited landlubber viewpoint, their jobs don’t look easy. Fishermen spend long days away from their families and endure cold, dark, and wet conditions to get the job done. Why not support them by eating the fruits of their labor?
So there I was in the Noodle House, as the sun went down on my ocean-centric day, and all I really wanted was tofu. Tofu? A soybean product that had nothing to do with the Pacific Ocean? I felt a rise of self-loathing, then made a snap decision: I’d eat what sounded good right now.
Ultimately, this is one of the great joys of dining out, because tomorrow would be another day at the coast. I’d wake up and watch the fishermen getting coffee. My appetite would shift. Then I’d find the best crab benedict in town.
Lucy Burningham wrote about Newport, Ore., for the July/August 2011 issue of VIA.
This blog post was first published in August 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.