Posts Tagged ‘Farmer’s Market’

Oregon Travel & Food Adventures…

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

We had the opportunity to recently visit Oregon again, one of our favorite state’s in the Union, with delicious culinary destinations throughout and fantastic wineries, combined with the sheer natural beauty throughout of the landscape.


First stop was into Portland returning to an old standby, which is a true institution in the city, Higgins Restaurant.  Higgins’ was founded by Chef Greg Higgins, who is a James Beard Award Winning Chef and The Godfather of food in the city.  We have always enjoyed sitting in their Bar Room, which reminds one of an East Coast neighborhood bar, with its setup and feeling.  Lunch was an Open faced pastrami sandwich with Local Greens and Hazelnuts, paired with a glass of Pinot Gris from Pike Road Winery (Elk Cove’s second label).


After walking the local Farmer’s Market in Portland’s Park Blocks (which happens all Spring and Summer), we traveled down to the Willamette Valley and over to Wine Country.  Arriving there our first stop was in McMinnville to Woodward Wine Merchants, founded a few years back by Jeff Woodward.  They offer a great selection of not just valley wines, but those from around the world so we selected a Chenin Blanc from Domaine Ogereau, in the Loire Valley.  This was shared later in the evening at our friend’s home, where we were able to enjoy a stunningly beautiful evening outside.


Starting the next day in Newberg we headed over for a quick coffee, then making our way back down valley to McMinnville aka ‘Mac’ for a lunch over at Pura Vida.  This restaurant is a local favorite, offering a selection of Latin themed ingredients and dishes, while using local produce from the valley.  Here we were able to enjoy their Caesar Salad served with an Avocado Vinaigrette and Roasted Pepitas, then digging in to a Taco Selection (served on Homemade Tortillas) of Barbacoa, Camarones and Pork Belly.  Tasty and flavorful!


While still in ‘Mac’ we ventured over to their weekly Farmer’s Market, having a chance to walk the rows of fresh produce, flowers, crafts, etc.  Stops included Eola Crest Cattle for their Grass Fed Beef and Baird Family Orchards (for AMAZING fresh peaches), as well as a tasting with Townshend’s Distillery from Portland, who was offering their Amaro and Fernet.


Heading further into the valley, we ventured over to Elk Cove Vineyards, one of our favorite wineries in the entire valley.  Having a chance to walk the property while sipping on some of their fantastic Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, we were transported into the moment, thrilled of where we were and in awe of the beauty around us.


Dinner that evening was with friends and business associates, who shared with us the bounty of the valley with local greens and seared skirt steak, prior to having us walk their property which was ringed with Blackberry Vines.  These Himalayan Blackberries are actually an invasive species, but in the Summer then produce the most amazing and delicious berries.  We went into the thicket and started picking, taking care not to get stung by the bushes thorns.  Bringing them back into the kitchen, we blended them with Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Whole Milk, to create the most refreshing and tasty milkshakes we’ve had in a long time!


Friday morning started at our favorite restaurant in the valley for Breakfast and Lunch, Community Plate which is owned by our great friend Scott Cunningham.  Scotty has endeared his restaurant to the community (pun intended) in many ways, including sourcing each and every one of their products from 100 miles or less of the restaurant.  This morning started with a Scramble of Sausage, Farmer’s Market Peppers & Cheddar, paired with Fresh Local Greens, Homemade Gluten Free Toast (for the win!) and a Freshly Brewed Cup of Stumptown Coffee.  Perfect for the day ahead!


Next stop was a visit to Anam Cara Cellars, run by Nick and Sheila Nicholas, who are good friends with an excellent talent for making tasty wines.  They’re located right off of Downtown Newberg, a perfect location at the confluence of two highways; a great place to pop in for a tasting.  We were able to enjoy their 2017 Rose of Pinot Noir and 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay, both from their Nicholas Vineyard.


Then on the Valley Tour was bouncing over the hills and through the woods to Libra Wines Vineyard, owned by Bill and Linda Hanson, who we’ve known personally and professionally for years.  Here we were able to walk the South and West Blocks that Bill had planted, and is farming according to Biodynamic methods.  The vines were looking to be in great shape with Veraison recently occurring, and harvest being planned for mid-September at this point.


Wrapping up, we had a recap session at The Horse Radish in Carlton over local Pinot Noir.  They’re really known for their sandwiches, but it’s really come up as a Dinner destination in recent years.


On Saturday, we were able to stop at a true staple in wine country, over in Dundee – Red Hills Market.  They were slammed, as always, but we still managed to secure a table and enjoy a Breakfast Bowl w/Local Eggs, Local Kale & Zucchini and Thick Cut Bacon, with a side of Seasonal Padron Peppers.  It’s definitely worth a visit as you find yourself driving through the wineries, for a filing breakfast, tasty lunch or just a glass of wine on the patio.


Heading back into Portland, we visited another favorite, Olympia Provisions; stopping in for their ‘Happy Hour’ Experience which is offered every day from 3pm to 5pm.  This is so much better than your neighborhood bar, as they make their own Charcuterie and are all about local.  This visit included a Chef’s Selection of 3 types of Charcuterie, Pacific Oysters with Mignonette paired with their Aperitivo Selection, done either on the rocks, with soda or Spritz-style.  We decided to enjoy the Cocchi Americano Blanco, Spritz style – perfectly refreshing!


And, with that, our PDX travels came to a close.  It was, yet again, another amazing trip back to the Beaver State, with so much more to enjoy and discover on our next visit!




New Mexico Sojourn

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

The famous saying “Life is Short, so Live it to the Fullest” is the best truism there is in these times of politic, economic and worldwide uneasiness.  Travel is always a good way to experience and learn, not necessarily only to the larger cities of our country or world, but to some of the smaller locales too.  Places like New Mexico always seem to be glossed over when thinking about visiting and dining places to go and explore.


Albuquerque has a nice collection of well-established restaurants and a few newcomers to visit too.  Seasons Rotisserie & Grill has been around for a while and is now part of a small collection of area restaurants in the town.  They offer straightforward American Cuisine and before “Farm to Table” was a catch phrase, they supported and served local products.  Crazy Fish has been in business for over a decade and currently has a Thai chef who likes to work his magic with the flavors of his country, but you have to ask.  As long as he has the ingredients, he will make anything for you, such as Green Curry Glaze on Shrimp Tempura Vegetable Roll.  The Monte Carlo Steakhouse, or should I say ‘Liquor Store’, since the restaurant is tucked behind the establishment; this is for sure a throwback restaurant, with extremely fair price on steaks, burgers and local specialties.  There is also Il Vicino, originally a local restaurant that has now expanded to Santa Fe, Colorado and Wichita. They are certainly not the inventors of the new pizza craze, but could be credited with establishing a niche in that market, with salads, pizzas, calzones, some pastas and a few great desserts, coupled with great service.


It’s very fair to say the all of the above restaurants would most likely be accepted by an opinionated and discerning clientele in any major metropolitan area, but this is Albuquerque, and unfortunately not on too many foodies’ radar screens.  Besides the great food experience is most importantly the feeling of genuine hospitality exuded by the staff at each restaurant – as one would say “Priceless”.


Santa Fe has no equal when it comes to art, tranquility and diversity, especially in who lives there.  There are the old and established stalwarts of the restaurant landscape, along with some new and independent startups.  Plus, a visit to the Farmer’s Market at the Railway Yards which is available twice a week, is like going to a great food banquet.  Choices abound from great hearth baked breads from Cloud Cliff Bakery to Homemade Raspberry Ginger & Chili preserves.  Ohori’s Coffee Company is a mainstay of the town, and has been roasting coffee for over 30 years, along with a welcoming smile and a great place to just meet local folks.  La Boca is one of the great simple places in Santa Fe to have a great selection of Tapas and small plates and some of the best food in the town.  Chef James Campbell Caruso, an eight times nominated James Beard Award Chef seems always to be there, not only cooking but welcoming and talking to guests.


Sweet Water Harvest Kitchen is tough to find, but for Breakfast & Lunch certainly hard to beat for great food, hospitality and local natural & organic ingredients. The new kid in town is the return of prodigal son John Sedlar with his homage to his grandmother at Eloisa located at the new Drury Hotel.  The menu features the best of Southwestern Cuisine and ingredients, and offers diners a glimpse of the past with wonderful gustatory leaps to the future.  The restaurant is watched over by local veteran Jack Shaab who certainly knows his way around the Santa Fe dining arena and is easing the restaurant into being a local jewel for its guests.


All of the restaurants share a simple, but sorry to say not common enough goal or experience; they are approachable, warm, friendly and extremely hospitable too.  Too many times restaurants forget that guests are coming for a good time and experience, and want to feel the comfort of being in a favorite place. The dictionary defines Hospitality as, “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.”  Now, just think if more places and restaurants learned from New Mexico hospitality – what an idea!