From a local farm cooperative to a true farm-to-table restaurant experience, explore the Willamette Valley and immerse yourself in the local foods scene of Portland and Oregon...
I had the pleasure of attending the first ever Indulge Conference in Portland, Oregon at the end of last month. If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you may have caught some of my photos and experiences from that trip. I promise to share all the details of the conference and my thoughts on exploring Portland's local food scene (can we say all the foodie fun?) with you all soon, but today I am going to give a little recap of Day #2 of the conference- the OXO Farm Tour. OXO happened to be one of the major sponsors of this year's Indulge Conference, and in partnership with Travel Oregon generously arranged for the food bloggers in attendance to experience one of two farm-to-table outings on the last day of the conference- Hood River or Willamette Valley. I opted for the Willamette Valley tour myself. If you happen to be into the whole farm to table experience, then you are definitely going to want grab a cup of coffee and sit back and read through today's post... And then start planning a trip to Oregon. ;)
After a drive through the beautiful countryside between Portland proper and the Willamette Valley, our first stop was at Our Table Cooperative. Our Table is a cooperatively-owned and community-supported organic farm headed up by Narendra Varma and his wife.
Narendra personally gave us a tour of the farm sharing their practices and philosophy for supporting the local foods economy. We were even invited to pick and taste a few of their fresh blueberries straight from the bush as they were just starting to ripen that weekend. Folks, you really haven't had a fresh blueberry until you have picked and tasted one right from the bush. :) Besides their fresh produce offerings, Our Table Cooperative also keeps their own honey bees and chickens.
In addition to the farm itself, the cooperative also offers an on-farm grocery store that only sells Certified Local Food. And what does that mean exactly? All products and produce in their store are sourced locally, are free of chemicals and pesticides, contain no GMO's, and are ethically and humanely grown and cared for.
After grabbing some fresh strawberries and arugula from Our Table and tucking it away safely in a few OXO GreenSavers, we were on our way to The Kitchen at Middleground Farms...
The Kitchen is a recreational cooking school on the grounds of a small working farm. All the ingredients that Chef and owner Jessica Hansen uses in her cooking classes are either sourced from her own farm or from neighboring farms. The classes themselves take place in a refashioned cattle barn that is equipped with a modern kitchen and state-of-the-art appliances.
For our farm to table cooking experience in The Kitchen, we made three locally sourced & fresh dishes- crostini topped with fresh strawberries from Our Table, Goat Cheese Mousse, and a Red Wine Caramel drizzle. I am not even a big fan of goat cheese, but this mousse was so fresh and amazing that I had two of these crostinis! We then made fresh butter and enjoyed it with crisp local radishes, a little Jacobsen salt, and local honey. And lastly, we made an appetizer of juicy cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto and fresh arugula. As we cooked and laughed and took photos, we also sipped on local wines from the Willamette Valley...
Last but definitely not least on our Willamette Valley OXO Farm Tour was a stop at JORY at the Allison Inn & Spa for a true farm-to-table lunch experience. Being recognized as one of Oregon's best restaurants, almost all of their menu offerings are sourced from their own greenhouse or the 1 1/2 acre Chef's Garden on the Inn's premises. Holding accolades such as Best Chef: Northwest for Chef Sunny Jin's culinary talents and being nominated for an Outstanding Wine Program by the James Beard Foundation, we all knew that we were about to indulge in one of the best meals that the Willamette Valley had to offer...
Our amazing lunch at JORY consisted of four courses- an Amuse, a Grilled Asparagus Salad, a Rotisserie Leg of Lamb, and a Poppy Seed Cake. Each course was perfectly paired with a local wine personally chosen by JORY's Wine Director & Sommelier, Ken Bolick. It was definitely the perfect ending to our day in the Willamette Valley learning about and experiencing the local food culture that is inspiring Portland's food scene and the state of Oregon as a whole.
After our trip to Portland and our experience on the OXO Farm Tour, each of us were sent an OXO GreenSaver to try at home. The very same GreenSavers we had used to transport our fresh picked goodies from Our Table Cooperative to The Kitchen...
I have to say that I was thrilled when OXO told us that they were sending us one! :) I love fresh produce and leafy greens, but the rest of my family isn't the biggest of fans. (Boo on them, right? ;) ) I often find myself throwing out half a bag of fresh leafy greens because I couldn't eat the whole thing by myself before it went bad. And I sort of loathe wasting food. Anyone else here feel me on this one?
I tried out my OXO GreenSaver Produce Keeper with some fresh organic baby arugula I had purchased at the store, and guess what? I was able to enjoy it for at least a full week after when I normally would have been able to thanks to storing it in my GreenSaver in my fridge!
So how do these GreenSavers work?
- They have activated carbon filters that absorb ethylene gas. These filters help slow down the aging process thus keeping your produce fresher longer.
- The elevated basket inside the GreenSaver keeps the air flowing around your produce and prevents sogginess and rotting due to moisture.
- And each GreenSaver has an adjustable vent with a handy chart to let you know how the vent should be set based on which fresh produce you happen to be storing in it.
The GreenSaver is pretty much genius, folks. Now I just need like five more for all my favorite fruits and veggies. ;)
What would you store in your OXO GreenSaver?
Have you visited the Willamette Valley of Oregon before?
A big thanks to OXO and Travel Oregon for sponsoring and organizing this amazing farm tour experience for us! :)
CLICK HERE to learn more about the OXO GreenSaver.
CLICK HERE to visit Travel Oregon and start planning your trip there today!
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