For many Oregonians a trip to the beach isn't complete without a visit to Mo's for chowder or fish and chips. Mo's Seafood and Chowder is an Oregon institution: It's been around for longer than I have and is now run by the fourth generation.
Mo's was founded by Mohava "Mo" Marie Niemi. She began her career in the restaurant business in 1940, when she and her father bought the old Bay Haven Inn on the Newport waterfront. They sold that business in 1946, and Mo joined her friend Freddy Kent to open Freddie and Mo's. When Freddy became ill, Mo bought him out and the restaurant continued as Mo's. She was a hardworking, newly divorced mother of two, and she found it necessary to work two jobs. Her second job was as an announcer and talk show host at the local radio station, a job she continued until the mid-1970s.
Mo married a second time to Kaino "Dutch" Niemi, a Finnish fisherman. The couple spent 36 happy years together, and Dutch's lucrative fishing business is credited with helping make ends meet at the restaurant. But it was Mo's warm and hospitable personality that brought guests back again and again. According to her great-granddaughter Gabrielle McEntee the greatest legacy she left was the work ethic she instilled in her family.
Mo's is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and marking the occasion by hosting Mo's 70 Mile Ride, a family-friendly bike ride from the original Mo's in Newport to the Lincoln City location, then, back to Newport for a party featuring food, entertainment and live music at the original Mo's (622 S.W. Bay Blvd. in Newport). The event is a benefit for Lincoln County School District's Homeless Education & Literacy Project (HELP).
According to Oregonrides.com, the 70-plus mile route will follow the historic Newport Bayfront and the Yaquina River upstream. You will ride on back country, low traffic roads where the terrain is rolling; along rivers, streams and towering trees and then come out along the beautiful Oregon Coast. You get a quick stop to refuel at Mo's on the Beach in Lincoln City before heading south along Hwy. 101 with its breathtaking views of the ocean before you venture onto Otter Crest Loop, a hidden gem for cyclists along the Oregon Coast. Next stop: Mo's West located at Devil's Punchbowl. Then continue through Beverly Beach, historic Nye Beach and the mouth of the Yaquina River where it meets the mighty Pacific, follow along under the Yaquina Bridge and back to Mo's Original for the finish party.
For those wishing a shorter ride sign up for the "Just a Cup" family ride. It's just 21 miles out and back, starting at Mo's Original on the historic Newport Bayfront and running upstream along the Yaquina River to the Paddle Park. This ride is mostly flat with a nice wide shoulder, remarkable views and opportunities to view sea lions, bald eagles and other wildlife.
Cost for the 70 Mile Ride is $45 per rider, or $55 if you register the day of the event. The family ride is $25 per person, with kids 17 and younger admitted for free. Visit oregonride.com or call 541-265-9916 for complete details and to register.
Mo's Clam Chowder was a featured entrée at the first luncheon ever held at the Smithsonian Institute, which celebrated "Best American Regional Foods." Even with a good recipe like this from Epicurious, you won't be able to replicate the exact creamy goodness of a bowl of Mo's chowder, but give it a try. It will tide you over until you can order a bowl at the 70 Mile Ride.
Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!
Mo's Clam Chowder
Makes 8 servings
4 slices bacon
1 onion, diced
3 6-ounce cans clams, with juice
5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
4 teaspoons flour
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups water
In a large pot sauté the bacon slices until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove them from the pan. In the bacon grease sauté the onions with a pinch of salt and cook them for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes to the onions as well as the flour and stir the flour well. Cook the potatoes for about 10-12 minutes until they start to soften. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper, lemon pepper and parsley. You may crumble the cooked bacon and return it to the pan if desired but Mo's doesn't keep it in the soup, just as a flavoring. (You could also reserve the crumbled bacon to garnish the finished soup.)
Pour the milk and water into the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cover with a lid. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve with a dollop of butter and a sprinkle of paprika.
Adapted from Epicurious.com, Sept. 2015.