Friday, June 24, 2011

What's the food (and view) like on a 30 hour Amtrak train ride?

Fate would have it that my boyfriend, Justin, has a fear of flying. Instead of dialing 1-800 A-M-B-I-E-N to the rescue, we rode the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Portland to Los Angeles for a mini vacation adventure. which turned out to be an amazing way to travel. It goes as follows:

Board the train at 2 pm. We got a sleeper car. This is what they look like. Later on, they turn into lifestyles of the Tokyo studio life. 

Champagne mini bottles delivered to our car at 3pm.

We're late for the daily 3pm wine tasting - this time it's Oregon and Washington wines since we're still in the hood.

Wine and chocolates (and cheese not pictured). 

Constant reminder of how beautiful Oregon is. Meanwhile I read and Justin becomes an official senior citizen one man escort service.

Then it's time for dinner. We go to the Dining Room - those that get sleeper cars have their choice of Dining Room and Parlour Room. The Dining room is open to all passengers on the train while the Parlour Room is strictly for those who have sleeper cars. I got the halibut with mashed potatoes.

The Butcher's Cut Choice Steak - a 21 day aged marbled steak was readily consumed per Justin. 

BBQ Ribs eaten by our dining mate who was going to central California for her baby daddy's funeral. 

And let's not forget the token salad served with an assortment of Newman's Own dressing.

More fun scenery!

The next day we got to exit the train on some California soil.

I forced Justin to order the salmon sandwich with a cucumber salad. He didn't like it so I got it. Victory is mine!

Spinach Salad: hard boiled eggs, minced bacon, cranberries, mushroom and tomatoes. Fresh and good. 

Lunch dessert: tiramisu and coffee. Creamy and rich.

The chocolate cake was meh.

Somewhere between Salinas and Paso Robles

And then it was Wine O' Clock and time for more wine tasting. This time California wines.

We made it to SLO and got to walk around outside for about 10 minutes.

We became drinking buddings friends with the only other 30 somethings on our ride (everyone else was at least 30 years older). Pure awesomeness meeting a professional hip hop couple. (@JABBAWOCKEEZ seen on the right)

That night we dined in the Parlor (where we had all our wine tastings). A slow-cooked flat iron of beef braised in chipotle chile sauce with whole grain rice pilaf and a veg med was served. Delicious!

Followed by desserts similar to lunch's plus a raspberry sorbet cup with whipped cream.

The train ride was not only a relaxing way to travel but actually part of the vacation. Plus  my boyfriend looks like an extra handsome 'stache-less Dennis Eckersley

Ready for round II. New Mexico? 



JustinM said...

Fantastic. My 30th birthday present to myself a couple years back was a sleeper car on the Coast Starlight... from Portland to Los Angeles... And my name is Justin!

This was the end of a week in Portland, though, where I ate and drank a ton, so on the way back I wasn't feeling adventurous. Plus Elizabeth had to work and she couldn't join me. So I mostly I just drank Sierra Nevada in the Parlour Car and ate hot dogs. You definitely did it better.

Three-Cookies said...

This looks like a fun and comfortable train ride. I've travelled on the trans-Siberian, its really fun also but different.

Magda said...

I love train rides but have never taken that long a ride! 30 hrs! Wow.
You guys looked so happy though! :)
And the food didn't look that bad either.
I'm looking forward to photos from LA!

Mary Bergfeld said...

It (the train) is a great way to travel if you have enough time. The food, scenery and company are all quite delicious. It sounds like you are having a great time. Enjoy your holiday. Blessings...Mary

Ruth Abatzoglou said...

Nice pictures Anna it makes me want to rethink my upcoming trip to Portland. Beautiful country and food.

tasteofbeirut said...

I have taken train rides galore in Europe, but never in the US; sounds like a lot of fun; too bad it is not more mixed age-wise. I see the train rides becoming more popular though, especially as it looks like they are trying to polish service and food offerings!
San Luis Obispo was my town for a couple of years and I would love to visit it again!

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

What a great post! Who need airports with all the malarkey you have to endure! What a romantic and adventurous way to explore the countryside! Loved it Anna!

Dream of cakes said...

What a nice trip! Very beautiful photos!

Helen said...

The things we agree to do for our significant other LOL :) In this case, traveling with the train seems more luxurious than with the plane. I too, am nervous about flying although I still do it. But yeah, let's talk about the! I once travelled with the train here in Ontario from Ottawa to Toronto (First class) and it was by no means this decadent. I had a glass of wine my main meal and dessert, coffee, etc. That's it. It was only a 5 hour trip so I guess one meal was adequate. I imagine the scenery along the US west coast must be breathtaking too!

Melissa Good Taste said...

That looked like so much fun! i love reading your blog!!!

DrThunder said...


Good stuff. Those view from the train are great and really allow you to take in all sorts of new information that you don't get with the traditional transport vehicles.

A couple comments:

1. What qualifies as eating locally while moving? Parts of your post suggest they make some attempt to pair food selection selection with geography.

2. Good to see that my influence of being an avid A's fan back in the late 80s-early 90s era paid off for you!

Lenia said...

I feel as I have travelled with you!Great pics,honey!Hugs from Greece!

Esi said...

Cool! I want to try the train sometime. Especially after being stuck in hours of traffic coming back from SB today.

Banana Wonder said...

Justin - I know... I have been meaning to mention something like that to you! lolz. You will have to make a second round with your lady!

Three-Cookies - Wowzer. I would love to cruise the trans-Siberian.

Magda - Coming soon!

Mary - Thanks, this travel method makes do-over status no doubt.

Ruth - I think we should take the train to New Mexico!

TasteofBeirut - SLO was your hood?! Nice!

Peter - You know it. Now if they would only build a train to OZ....

Eftychia - Thanks :-)

Helen - They def boozed us properly on the train. I think it was a sedation tactic. Smart move Amtrak. The seniors only need a glass and they are basically out. Maybe J and I will have to take a train to Canada and visit you guys :-)

Melissa - Thanks so much! Love yours too.

DrThunder - I was hoping you'd appreciate my Dennis Eckserly comparison. You will have to see for yourself in real life. I wonder if there is a train out your way?

Lenia - Efxaristw!

Esi - I hear ya!

Gastronomer said...

Your BF is totes cute! And this ride sounds totes FUN! One of these days, I'd like to take Amtrak to the Grand Canyon. Thank God the food doesn't suck.

Kung Food Panda said...

Great post and recap to your trip!

I'm actually quite impressed with the food served on Amtrak, as I didn't think the food on there would amount to much. The ride looks to be a lot of fun actually..

elly said...

I admire you guys for being able to travel that long on the train. I can't even take the Amtrak from IL to MI...but maybe if I had a few wine o'clocks I could muster up the energy to try again. :) Looks like you had fun!

Banana Wonder said...

Cathy - Thanks :-) He is the one who introduced me to Pine St. biscuits. We'll all have to go when you come up to pdx.

Danny - You should take it up to pdx!

Elly - pre-medication via wine O' clock is a must!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Our daughter and son-in- law rode the train from Boston to Portland, Maine for a visit. They loved the train ride. I'll be returning to your blog frequently.

Banana Wonder said...

Karen - That sounds like too much fun. Thanks for stopping by :-)

Maria said...

I've always wanted to travel by train ... and you've solidified that! It seems like it was a great experience.