Day one of the trip had me leaving Portland behind on the train via Amtrak's Empire Builder on route to Chicago where I will have a wait before changing trains. I love train travel, and have since I discovered it in college.
The train leaving Portland crosses the Columbia river into Vancouver, WA before heading East up the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side of the river. There are some great views on this section of the trip, and the first afternoon and evening is one of the most scenic on Amtrak's route.
Leaving Portland the Empire builder has a viewing car with a cafe downstairs but no dining car, so dinner the first night was a boxed affair. The choices available were limited to shrimp or beef, so I selected the Burgandy Beef Tri-tip. The beef was flavorful and tender, cooked a little farther towards well than I would prefer but when trying to serve a variety of people and keep under refrigeration that is often the case. The fruit was fresh and tasty, not over ripe as sometimes can be the case with this type of meal, and the dessert was creamy and delightful. The only thing that didn't really work for me was the veggie selection. A mushroom and broccoli combination that might have been good warm was decidedly not when served cold and tossed in some type of vinaigrette.
After dinner I decided to open the bottle of Teeling Irish Whiskey the folks at Caskers sent me to review for a first tasting. Made in Dublin since 1782 The Teeling hasn't been available in the United States since the revolution. With whiskey making such a resurgence in the Americas they decided to begin export in January of this year.
This is a smooth whiskey for a type normally known as a shot not for sipping. As a shot it was so smooth with great sweetness and depth on the finish that I decided to try it on the rocks as well. Over ice it loses what little bite it had on the nose and leaves the sweet aromas derived from its rum cask finish. The sweet malts hit the palate first, followed by a little spice before a slightly fruity finish.
In all a very nice close to my first night aboard my favorite train.