I've been doing some PIC programming lately. I really love Microchip's parts. Simple, cheap, effective. The 18F series is my current love. The 18F458 has lots of flash, a CAN controller, serial an a little RAM. I wired one up to a Cirrus 8900 ethernet chip and write a simple TCP stack for it. Amazing huh? Other have done this before me, but I was amazed how easy it was to do and how robust the part is.
Now I have a simple ethernet device which does serial, parallel, CAN for very cheap. Can't beat that.