You could go to Oregon for the natural beauty—the majestic mountains, the thick woods, the rivers, the flowers, the waterfalls, the streams.
You could go for the history—maybe to see the Timberline Lodge, a towering structure built in the 1930s as a product of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies, and to stand under its 98-foot-tall fireplace constructed mostly by Italian immigrants.
You could go, as part of a blogger weekend, to meet new people—to hear about their passions; to be exposed to new stories; and to then come home, after a few days with them, with a whole list of new blogs to read, while you think more about the world of blogging and bloggers and how/when/why you want to continue yourself.
Kind and friendly Andrew from Eating Rules
Fascinating and inspiring chef/traveler/urban gardener Janelle from Talk of Tomatoes
The always lovely Danielle from Beyond the Plate (aka, the most beautiful blog ever)
Charming Bea from La Tartine Gourmand
(And others: Rika of Bella Bonito // Gwen of Bunky Cooks // Nick of Departures // Stefanie of Endless Simmer // Georgia of GeorgiaPellegrini.com // Nicole of Pinch my Salt // Sean of Punk Domestics and Hedonia // Tami of Running with Tweezers // Linda of Salty Seattle // Debra of Smith Bites // Susan of Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy // Helene of Tartelette // Richard of The Passionate Foodie // Liz from The Toronto Star // and Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking?)
You could go because you’d always wanted to see Portland.
You could go because it’s a break from wedding planning.
You could go, mostly, for the food.
Oh, the food.
This post, you’ve probably gathered, is about the recent long weekend I spent in Portland, Oregon, and the areas surrounding it, on a press trip for Travel Oregon. (Here comes the disclosure: All elements of my trip were hosted and arranged by Travel Oregon. While I was not paid for going on this trip, everything I experienced and participated in was covered for me.) While we did a lot of touring and sightseeing, the predominant theme all weekend was food—lots and lots of food. Food at wineries, food on city rooftops. Food classes, food demonstrations. And every one of the photos I took is from my iPhone because, WouldYouBelieveThis!, my camera is broken. Broken. I found out the first night there.
Thankfully, not even a broken camera could ruin Oregon’s bounty though, especially the way the Travel Oregon people chose to show it off.
Here are some highlights:
Thursday Dinner @ St. Jack (2039 SE Clinton)—a four-course meal including a butter lettuce salad and trout cooked in brown butter
Friday morning foraging with our wilderness guide, Dr. John Kallas, learning how to spot, among other things, smooth yellow violet, baneberries (poisonous!) and thistleberries.
Friday lunch at Timberline Lodge, made by chef Jason Stoller Smith, featuring ingredients we had foraged in the forest earlier.
Friday dinner on the rooftop deck of the ad agency Wieden and Kennedy (and the award for coolest office building ever goes to…): pure gorgeousness, from the weather to the tables to the food, featuring burgers from two of the area’s best grillers: Gregory Denton of Metrovino and Chris Carriker of The Gilt Club. Carriker’s lamb burger was outstanding, especially the fig relish.
(plus, on that same rooftop, we had cookies from 2 Tarts Bakery, including fleur de sel chocolate chip cookies that knocked my socks off, sweet and salty just the way I like them.)
A session on canning with the very cool Erin and Jen of Sassafras Southern Kitchen, where we learned how to make heirloom tomato jam using 15 pounds of tomatoes she picked up at the morning’s market:
A family-style lunch at Kitchen Cru, a fully equipped and licensed shared commercial kitchen, which is also where we canned with Sassafras, provided by a team effort from three James Beard approved chefs who’ve opened restaurants/bars in Portland: Scott Dolich (Park Kitchen and The Bent Brick), Chris Israel (Gruner and Kask) and Jenn Louis (Lincoln Restaurant and Sunshine Tavern).
Immediately after lunch, I followed Salt and Straw to a session on artisan ice cream making led by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek. In addition to tasting a flight of ice cream, we got the chance to hear how this cool ice cream shop, which uses all-natural dairy and focuses on local, sustainable, organic ingredients, develops new flavors (lots of experimenting and tasting), as well as the chance to make our own.
Our final dinner, Saturday night, was held at the beautiful Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, atop a hill in the Northern Willamette Valley.
And then, just like that, two-and-a-half days of feasting were over. Many thanks to Travel Oregon for this opportunity and many thanks to the state of Oregon for having so many beautiful places and locally focused meals to enjoy.