Expert Eats: An insider’s guide to Oregon food routes

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By Kerry Newberry
Illustrations by Corey Lunn

 

Wondering how best to savor your Oregon summer? We asked experts across the state—from the salt-kissed city of Astoria to the snow-capped peaks near Joseph—to share the best food and farm experiences in their city. What better way to discover a region than from the perspective of a local? Here are the top picks from our experts to help travelers get a taste of place this summer.

 

Astoria 

Collaborators since 2008, Kristin Albrecht and Teresa Retzlaff were the inspiration for the North Coast Food Web, a coalition of people and organizations working to build a connected North Pacific Coast food landscape. The duo hosts Food Talk, a radio show on KMUN – Coast Community Radio.   

 

Catch a sunrise (and maybe a steelhead) at Coffee Girl, perched on the Columbia River in the West’s oldest cannery building on Pier 39. “At Coffee Girl you can have coffee, take your fishing pole and set up right there on the dock for the day,” says Albrecht. The storied coffee shop once fueled the tuna processing workers of the Bumble Bee Tuna factory when they were on break. Today, you can spot a “coffee girl” carrying out a cup o’ Joe and a fresh-baked cherry-almond scone to fishers pulling a boat up to the pier before they head out to sea.

100 39th St., Suite 2 | 503.325.6900 | thecoffeegirl.com 

 

Stock your picnic basket with a fresh-baked baguette from Blue Scorcher Bakery & Cafe, a worker collective set on the site of the original Fort of Astoria. “They have great artisan breads and pastries, and go out of their way to buy produce from local farmers,” says Retzlaff. Don’t miss the mixed fruit custard tartlets or the mini lemon-rosemary bundt cakes. Get the rest of your picnic items one block west at the Astoria Co-op, and then head to Fort Astoria Park, tucked just behind the building.

1493 Duane St. | 503.338.7473 | bluescorcher.com

 

Toast a pint at Fort George Brewery and Public House. Try the Quick Wit, a citrus-kissed Belgian-style ale infused with organic lemongrass and wild-crafted elderflower—a perfect pairing for the beer-battered fish and chips. After local Astoria farmer Larry Nelson heard an interview on the Food Talk radio show with Fort George co-owner Jack Harris and chef Dana MacAuley, he sealed a deal with the brewery to buy his russet potatoes to make their fabulous French fries. Slip behind the scenes for a brewery tour each Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm and 4 pm, and tune-in for live music on Sunday nights.

1483 Duane St. | 503.325.7468 | fortgeorgebrewery.com

 

Joseph

A fifth-generation rancher on the 6 Ranch in Enterprise, Adele Nash works alongside her mother raising Corriente cattle. A trained chef from Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Texas, Nash is a board member of Slow Food Wallowas.

 

The Wallowa Mountains—known to the Nez Perce as “the land of running waters” and more recently deemed the “Swiss Alps of Oregon”—is home to outdoor adventurers, cowboys and family ranches. Start your taste of place at Liza Jane’s Farmstand at 6 Ranch located on Highway 82 just west of Enterprise. The traditional stand, open every day, is based on the honor system. “You can find fresh produce, eggs, bread, honey, grass-fed Corriente beef and fresh-cut flowers,” says Nash of the family farm stand.

65917 Sunrise Rd. | 541.426.3827 | 6ranch.com

 

Lunch like a local at Terminal Gravity Brewery and Public House, housed in a cheery yellow craftsman bungalow. “Pair your pint with fresh local greens or a burger,” says Nash. “You can choose from a grass-fed beef or buffalo burger, both raised less than ten miles from the pub.” The best spot to sip your IPA is at a picnic table set beside a brook under a grove of sun-dappled aspen trees.

803 SE School St. | 541.426.3000 | terminalgravitybrewing.com

 

Indulge your sweet tooth at Arrowhead Chocolates on N. Main Street. Deliberate over more than forty flavors of chocolate truffles, barks and bars (all Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified) at this family owned and operated business. Try the slow-smoked caramels topped with alder-smoked sea salt or the huckleberry truffle, a 2013 Good Food Awards Winner. “Don’t miss out on their mochas!” adds Nash.

100 N Main St. | 541.432.2871 | arrowheadchocolates.com

 

Hood River

Rooted in Hood River since 1989, Robert Morus, winegrower and president of Phelps Creek Vineyards, tends to 30 acres of estate vineyards framed by dramatic mountain peaks. In his spare time, this view hunter pilots a Boeing 777 in international operations for a major airline.

 

The plump, sweet Hood River cherries are in season mid-July. Cruise the scenic Hood River Fruit Loop, “a great collection of fruit stands, u-picks, lavender farms and wine tasting rooms spread throughout the Hood River Valley,” says Morus. In Parkdale, Kiyokawa Family Orchards offers u-pick cherries and other berries throughout the season, and at The Gorge White House in Pine Grove you can add u-pick flowers and three varieties of strawberries to your basket, says Morus.

hoodriverfruitloop.com

 

Catch a sunset or a wave, if you are adventurous enough to try kite boarding or standup paddle boarding. Then refuel at the chef-driven Nora’s Table. “Chef Kathy Watson wins the local acclaim for best kitchen tied to local ingredients,” says Morus. The intimate restaurant also features a wine list exclusively devoted to the Columbia Gorge.

110 Fifth St. | 541.387.4000 | norastable.com

 

Slumber beside a majestic mountain peak at Sakura Ridge Farm and Lodge, a 72-acre property with thousands of fruit trees. “This is a stunning log-constructed lodge set on an organic cherry orchard with a breathtaking view of Mt. Hood,” says Morus. “John and Deanna are passionate about their operation, bringing produce grown and raised on their farm to the dining table.”

5601 York Hill Dr. | 877-472-5872 | sakuraridge.com

 

Ashland

Matthew Domingo launched Farm to Fork, a farmer-centric and winemaker dinner series in Southern Oregon, in 2010. Since then, the farm feasts have expanded to other areas of the state and to river-rafting adventures. His mission is to put food producers at center stage.

 

The scenic Rogue Valley boasts sun-soaked summers, clear blue sky and starlit alpine evenings. Tantalize your taste buds with a trip to the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market, held each Tuesday. The market showcases growers, producers and crafters from the surrounding Jackson, Josephine and Siskiyou counties. Domingo advises a visit to Tom and Glenda Ponder’s booth of Abbie Lane Farm. As members of the Rare Fruit Growers Society, you can always find an offbeat edible, says Domingo, “from pawpaws & jujubes to finger limes and aji dulce peppers.”

National Guard Armory, 1420 E. Main St. | rvgrowersmarket.com

 

Stargaze at Willow Witt Ranch Farmstays, a mile-high homestead and 440-acre ranch. You can slumber in rustic tents perched on spacious wood platforms or pitch your own tent. Bonus: The owners, Suzanne Willow and Lanita Witt, tend pasture-raised goats, chickens, hogs and vegetables, and make specialty sausages.

658 Shale City Rd. | 541.890.1998 | willowwittranch.com

 

Meander west out of Ashland and make a stop by Whistling Duck Farm, “one of the Godfathers of organic family farms in the area,” insists Domingo. Try the spicy kimchi or curly kraut from their newly launched Farmstead Ferments. If you have a sweet tooth, venture down the road to family-run 90-acre Pennington Farms for baked-from-scratch turnovers and tarts made with organic berries.

12800 Williams Highway, Grants Pass | 541.846.0494 | whistlingduckfarm.com

11341 Williams Hwy. Grants Pass | 541.846.0550 | penningtonfarms.net

 

Portland

A Parisian native with Portland soul, Pascal Sauton of Milwaukie Kitchen and Wine has cooked in the City of Roses since 1997.  He co-owned Carafe, a Parisian-style bistro in downtown Portland, from 2003 to 2012 and is known to many in the culinary community as the “godfather of Portland chefs.”

portland eats

If you can’t get out of town, Portland is a sublime city for an epicurean staycation. Savor carefully curated cheeses from Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery. “I love this place,” says Sauton. “You can feel the passion behind it.” The space is split; a charming café peeks into a petit barrel-filled urban winery. In addition to lunch and dinner, you can partake in a monthly cheese CSA hosted by cheese guru Sasha Davies and winemaker Michael Claypool, including a lively “Pick-Up Party” with wheel cracking, wine and beer pairings, and tasty bites made with the cheese of the moment.

815 SE Oak St. | 503.206.7862 | cyrilspdx.com

 

Turn your staycation into a chance to bring the ghee or kimchi you’ve always dreamed of to market at Kitchen Cru, a community kitchen and culinary incubator. “This place is totally different,” says Sauton. The 3,200-square-foot kitchen accommodates up to five culinary entrepreneurs at a time and provides a realistic means to build and launch a business without the initial investment of a brick-and-mortar space. Alums to note include Tails & Trotters, Jacobsen Salt Co. and Petunia’s Pies & Pastries. “I think this is a jewel in Portland,” says Sauton.

337 NW Broadway | 503.226.1400 | kitchencru.biz

 

Celebrate with farmers at a Plate & Pitchfork dinner as the sky turns from dusk to starlight. “I’ve been part of these dinners for ten years,” says Sauton. “The one thing I hear before any of the food or the wine is how cool it was to take a tour with the farmers. People just love that,” he says. The farmers talk about their philosophy and hopes. “You realize farming is religion¾it’s a lifestyle, like cooking,” says Sauton.

plateandpitchfork.com

 

Kerry Newberry is a Portland-based freelance writer covering food, wine and travel for local and national publications.

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No Comments
  • Nicole Brown

    August 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    A delightful list of new additions to my dining wish list!

  • Kathee Lavine

    August 8, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Hey, what about Eugene?!