Farm to Table

2012-september-october-1859-oregon-hood-river-farm-to-table-jennifer-euwer-dog-molly-valley-crest-orchads

Au Pear

The humble Oregon pear rarely gets its due. The subtle fruit is often overshadowed by the flashy berry or its more popular cousin, the apple. Since pears come late in the growing season, they may get ignored by canners vying for that last box of tomatoes or kids stampeding for the pumpkin patch.

2012-july-august-1859-southern-oregon-farm-to-table-blackberries-grants-pass-pennington-farms-sign

Savoring Blackberries

Sam and Cathy Pennington encountered a series of strange messages when they moved from Colorado to Oregon in 1994. “We kept seeing all these signs that said, ‘blackberry removal,” Cathy Pennington says. “We found it really perplexing. Why would anyone want to remove blackberries?”

2012-Spring-Central-Oregon-Food-and-Drink-Bend-Sparrow-Bakery-breads

On Leavened Ground

It’s 4 a.m. The aroma of fresh bread comes from flaming ovens. Buttery croissants are rolled, cut and shaped by hand at Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland. An hour later, the sweet smell of fresh baguette dough wafts past four bakers in jeans, t-shirts and aprons, their heads down, their floured hands dividing and shaping smooth, long loaves. The oven door clanks as the bread goes in.

2012-Winter-Southern-Oregon-Medford-Harry-and-David-chocolate-dipped-pears

Artisan Chocolate

Charlie Douglass faces supreme temptation daily. Nearly every morning he has a rendezvous with an enrober, a machine that releases a sensual wave of shining liquid chocolate over row after row of truffle centers.

2011-Autumn-Oregon-Bounty-Willamette-Valley-Wandering-Aengus-crate-of-apples-for-hard-cider-production

An Apple Refined

Kevin Zielinski’s eyes light up as he names the apple varieties he tends at his Willamette Valley orchard, just outside of Salem. Champagne Rienette. Douce Moën. Muscadet de Lense. St. Martine. The sinuous vowels and soft consonants even sound delicious. Eventually, they become fluid when Zielinski transforms these French heirloom apples into a traditional sparkling hard cider that leaves many searching for words.

2011-Summer-Oregon-Bounty-Columbia-Gorge-Mt-Hood-Orchard-View-Farms-bowl-of-cherries

The Oregon Cherry

Bailey’s family has been growing cherries in these hills for more than eighty years, when his grandparents made their first investment in a piece of farmland. Since then, Orchard View Farms has grown to include 2,050 acres in four counties. The orchard is home to twelve types of sweet cherries, from perennial favorites Bing and Rainier to more unusual choices, such as Sweetheart and Skeena.

2011-Spring-Eastern-Oregon-Wallowas-McClaran-Ranch-Jill-McClaran-on-horseback

Oregon Grass-Fed Beef

Jill McClaran wears her blonde hair to her waist and spurs on her cowboy boots. The 27-year-old spends her days in the saddle herding cattle along the basalt rims and airy benches of Hell’s Canyon. Out of cell phone range and hours from the nearest town, this University of Idaho graduate looks over a thousand McClaran Ranch cattle as they graze the rugged and wild eastern Oregon grasslands.

13.05_HGCMayblog_strawberries_wb

The Oregon Strawberry

Most mornings in June, starting at about 5:30, Chris Christensen is out in the strawberry fields of her 250-acre farm in Albany, picking the perfectly ripe fruit. “I’d rather sit and pick than do anything else” says Christensen, a third-generation strawberry grower. “There’s that quiet moment when the crew gets down to do it, and the birds are going, and you’re in your own thoughts. I’m giddy.”   As she deftly plucks the berries from the plants, she’ll pop a few into her mouth, savoring the natural sugar and juice that combines in an intense flavor found only in an Oregon strawberry. From farm-stand shoppers to food scientists and high-profile chefs, people with discriminating taste buds agree that this state produces the most intensely sweet, red and juicy strawberries. Even the world’s strawberry cognoscenti, mostly food professionals, know this. Yet, the berries are still relatively obscure, in part because production…