Ridpath Salad, from the mid-20th century

Ridpath salad

Let’s examine what is the healthiest bacon on the market,  as we indulge in an outstanding 1950’s salad,  while reminiscing about the historical Davenport and Ridpath hotels, in Spokane, WA.

This Ridpath salad dates back to my early childhood days in the mid-twentieth century; then my family traveled to Spokane, from our little mountain village of East Glacier Park, MT, on such special occasions as school-clothes-shopping.  During these trips, we always stayed at the Davenport, and ate at least one of our meals at the Ridpath, where their signature salad was served, with its pickled beets, eggs, bacon, and more.

The Healthiest Bacon

Today, with our high health-consciousness, we may be reluctant to indulge in regular bacon, but fear not, for there are safer alternatives out there.  The three recommendations in choosing the best bacon are: the uncured, reduced-sodium, and center-cut options.  1

Uncured bacon has no nitrates or nitrites and generally tastes no different.  (For more on the history of curing and nitrates/nitrites, see respectively: The Best Corned Beef  and Disguised Ham .)

Reduced-sodium bacon may not appeal, for it may present a small taste adjustment, which is quickly overcome.  This change is important, as the salt used in producing bacon isn’t the high quality pink salt-Himalayan and Real Salt, which is actually critical for optimum health.  Rather, the sodium in bacon is harmful to our bodies; thus, reduced-sodium bacon may be the best choice, if you are planning on having more than one serving (2-3 pieces)-and this only on rare occasions.

The final instruction is to look for center-cut bacon.  This is bacon that has less fat; being mostly meat; thus, it is healthier and tastes even better.  It also is easier to cook, for it doesn’t curl so readily.

To get a brand that has all the above three qualities, you may have to go to a health food store, such as New Seasons or Whole Foods, but it’s really worth it.   You will also be able to find some of these three recommendations, in various brands at your local supermarket.

Davenport Hotel  2

The Davenport Hotel, which my family stayed at during the mid-twentieth century, was built in 1914.  Louis Davenport, however, neither provided the idea or the finances for it, but because of his already strong name in the city-as a restaurant owner widely established in hospitality-he was made its overseer and first proprietor.  Rather, it was it was commissioned by the Davenport Company, a group of Spokane’s leading businessmen, who desired a large public house for boarding and entertaining their guests.

Along with engaging Davenport, this group chose Kirkland Kelsey Cutter as the architect, for it had been Kelsey who had expanded Davenport’s highly acclaimed restaurant in 1904.

Davenport and Cutter employed lavish architectural elements from Italy, France, England, Spain, and Imperial Russia, with the lobby being inspired by the Spanish Renaissance style.  Among its lush details were Irish linens from Liddell, which came over on the Titanic; all this lent to the establishment’s promoting itself as “one of America’s exceptional hotels.”

It was on the roof of this hotel that the first commercially licensed radio station in Spokane was set up in 1922.  KHQ featured Harry “Bing” Crosby, a drop-out from Spokane’s Gonzaga University, who later became world famous for his singing.

Having sold the hotel in 1945, Davenport died in his suite in 1951.  It was shortly after this that my family first began staying here.  My brother Paul, two years my junior, can recall being taken in the arms of the bellhops around the lobby to gaze into the large fish tanks.  I remember the beauty of this majestic room, as well as the scurrying about of those attending to us.

The Davenport was closed in 1985; it was re-established, after a $38 million dollar renovation, by local entrepreneurs Walt and Karen Worthy, in 2002.

Ridpath Hotel  3

While we stayed at the Davenport in the 1950’s, we always ate at least one dinner at the Ridpath Hotel, which doesn’t exist anymore as a hotel, but rather is the Ridpath Club Apartments, a renovated, low-income, apartment complex, since 2017.

This grand hotel, the Ridpath, was known as Spokane’s longest, continuously run hotel, with its original building, built in 1900 and destroyed by fire in 1950.  Being promptly rebuilt, the doors of the second iteration of the Ridpath closed in 2008, a half a century later; thus, its continuous existence covered 108 years.

The original Ridpath Hotel, established by Colonel William Ridpath, suffered its first fire in 1902, but was subsequently restored.  The other fire, in 1950, totally destroyed this 5-story building.   It was 1952, the year of my birth, that San Francisco architect Ned Hyman Abrams completed the design of this second rendition, a twelve story building, with the architectural style of modernism.  It was during this decade that my memories of this establishment were formed.

History Translated into Personal Experience

The memory of their famous Ridpath salad is vivid to me, as is Caesar salad at this hotel (for history of the latter’s origin, see Creative Caesar Salads).  For Caesars, they would coddle the egg with a Bunsen burner table side; this fascinated my young mind, as did the strong garlic, tantalizing my tongue beyond imagination.

Food holds a power over our souls; we look for the good in this.  Tastes can invoke recollections of the past in our hearts; certain recipes call forth experiences from our childhood, as well as strengths and weaknesses found in our present existence.  We watch these, as they surface in our minds, tending to these impressions with care-allowing positives in and rejecting negatives.  This ordering of our live’s palates always produces good fruit in us.

References:

  1. https://www.self.com/story/weekend-approved-bacon and https://www.healthline.com/health/cured-vs-uncured-bacon
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Davenport_Hotel_(Spokane,_Washington)
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridpath_Hotel

light olive oil good for dressings

Ridpath Salad  Yields 6-8 servings.  Total prep time: 20 min (only if preparing your own pickled beets and croutons, total time for these two items: 1 hr 10 min/  prep time: 10 min/  cooking time: 1 hr).

2-3 small fresh beets, or 1-15 oz can of pickled beets

1 c raw apple cider vinegar, if pickling your own beets

1/2 lb bacon

3 lg eggs

3 Roma tomatoes  (Organic is best.)

1-6 oz package of organic greens  (Available at Trader Joe’s for $2.29.)

croutons  (Use ready-made, or see recipe at Healthy Greens .)

1-2 garlic cloves, for optional rubbing of serving bowl

Dressing

1/4 c vinegar of your choice  (I used lavender.)

1/3 c olive oil  (See photo above, for a light olive oil from Trader’s, for $7.99/liter, that works well in dressings.)

2 med/lg cloves of garlic  (For easy prep, may substitute 1 cube frozen garlic from Trader’s.)

1/8 tsp oregano  (Organic is inexpensive at Trader’s-$1.99.)

1/8 tsp basil  (Also available at Trader’s.)

1/8 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)

  1. rubbing skin off cooked beets

    If pickling your own beets, cut roots off beets, spray with vegetable spray (an effective, inexpensive spray is a combination of 97% white distilled vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide); let sit 3 minutes and rinse well.  Boil until tender.  Remove from hot water, cool, and rub off skin with your hand (see photo).

  2. Next, cut beets in 1/2”x1/2”x 2” slices.  Put beet slices in a small container and cover with apple cider vinegar.  Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  3. Boil eggs.  Cool, peel, and set aside.
  4. Place bacon in a large, cold frying pan.  Turn heat on to medium and brown well on one side before turning.  This method helps some with curling of bacon, as does using center-cut bacon, which is mostly meat (see photo below).
  5. center-cut bacon in cold pan

    Shake all dressing ingredients in a pint jar; set aside.

  6. Place greens in a large bowl, optionally rubbed with garlic.  Top with all other ingredients, toss with dressing, and serve.

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