Thursday, August 17, 2017

Things to Do in Oregon after the Solar Eclipse

The long-awaited solar eclipse will be over by noon on Monday August 21st. Many are flocking to Oregon to experience the path of totality. When that's over there are more marvelous paths to experience in beautiful Oregon. Here are some recent experiences I have written about... lots of pictures too!

Experience a Little Bit of Germany in Quaint Mt. Angel*



Dining, Exploring and Staying at Mt. Hood's Timberline Lodge

Domaine Divio Vineyards in the Newberg Countryside *

Sip Along Eugene Oregon's Ale Trail

Have fun in Florence: Sand Dune Adventures

Willamette Valley Vineyards: Tasting and Overnight Stays  *

Enjoy the Art Town of Joseph in Eastern Oregon



The solar eclipse in Oregon takes place on Aug. 21, and will begin its partial phase at 9:04 am. The phase of totality will begin at 10:16 am on the coast, and will last around two minutes.

Portland's KGW News answers questions about the eclipse. 

*in the path of totality

New! Imperfect Produce in the Portland Area Delivers Fruits and Veggies that are Fresh and Inexpensive (Coupon Code)


What's all the buzz about Imperfect Produce? I was about to find out. It was late afternoon and I was just getting ready to look in my refrigerator and see what was there to pair with my leftover chicken. There’s always lettuce and sometimes a stray carrot or two. And I have a tomato plant on the deck. So I wouldn’t be going hungry… just getting ready for a rather boring meal.

And then the doorbell rang. A young guy with an “Imperfect Produce” t-shirt on, holding a big cardboard box and smiling, greeted me… “I have your Imperfect Produce delivery!” Dinner problem solved! We chatted a bit (he was new to the Portland area) and I took the box to the kitchen.


Inside was kale, parsely, squash, cherry tomatos, a small cabbage, beets and more. My boring dinner problem was solved. In fact, I was now faced with a challenge… how to creatively use these veggies for my dinner.

Oh yes, there were five lucious large plums too. I took one to have as a snack while I thought about dinner.



A Discount Code for Your Box of Imperfect Produce
After you read through this information, you’ll probably want to try a box too. They deliver to the Portland area and across the river to the Vancouver area too. The promo code (HELLOPDX) is good for 50% off a first box for all new customers. (I just found out that launch for Vancouver, WA will be in a week or so. I will post on this site and social media when it starts.)

What is Imperfect Anyway?
Imperfect is a produce delivery company that sources ugly produce straight from farms and delivers it to your door for 30-50% less than grocery store prices. (That’s their words. I didn’t find my produce ugly, at least in the “review box.”)



From the Perfect Produce company’s FAQ:

1 in 5 fruits and veggies grown in the U.S. don't meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores, usually causing them to go to waste. Imperfect works directly with farmers to find a home for this "ugly" produce, through a produce delivery subscription in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County and Portland, Oregon. Since our produce looks a little funny, our prices are 30-50% less than grocery stores. Customers save money, eat healthier, support farmers, and fight food waste. Our customers keep over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week. To date we have kept over 5 million pounds of produce from going to waste.

What are the advantages of your service?
  1. Price- Imperfect offers fresh produce to consumers at a rate 30-50% cheaper than what consumers can buy in the grocery store.
  2. Environmental Impact- We help close the loop on food waste by keeping over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week. To date we have kept over 5 million pounds of produce from going to waste. Not wasting this food ends up saving wasted water, fossil fuels, fertilizer, labor, and land as well!
  3. Convenience- We make eating fresh, healthy, and sustainable produce easy by delivering boxes of fruits and vegetables right to people’s doors.
  4. Economic Impact- Imperfect supports farmers economically by helping them sell more of their produce.
  5. Social Impact- By supporting Imperfect you are supporting the fight to end food waste and hunger. We are dedicated to helping close the loop on this important social and environmental issue. We proudly partner with community food banks to help fight to end hunger. We donate thousands of pounds of produce every week to non profit organizations.
     
How much does a box cost?
The exact cost of a box depends on what is going in it that week and how the customer chooses to customize the box. A small box costs around $12 and a large box costs around $18. The organic boxes are slightly more expensive than the conventional boxes, however we still offer organic produce at a significant discount to our customers. 


What makes the produce “ugly?”
The reality is that 1 in 5 produce items does not meet the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores. Because of its appearance they cannot be sold. The industry term for these items is seconds. Examples of “ugly” include crooked carrots, small squash, or an orange with scarring or discoloration. A large amount of produce goes to waste just because of its size, fruits and veggies that are too big or too small.

Examples of produce that we do NOT source are: produce that grocery stores have passed on for quality reasons, moldy produce, bruised produce, old produce, or wilting produce.

We also source surplus produce. When a farm has a larger than expected crop of a fruit or vegetable there may not be grocery store demand to meet the excess supply. Imperfect works directly with these farmers to ensure that their surplus does not go to waste.

Aren’t people less likely to want to buy ugly produce?
People are conditioned to see uniform, perfect-looking produce in the grocery store but once they realize how much food is needlessly wasted every year because of minor cosmetic quirks they open their minds pretty quickly. Honestly the most common feedback we get from customers about the appearance of our produce is "hey! This isn't even ugly at all!" 

  
Why do we have these standards for grocery store produce?
It’s important to remember that these standards didn’t appear overnight. If you looked at a produce market 100 years ago it would look very different than the supermarkets of today. What happened was overtime, with farms growing more and more food and produce wholesalers getting more and more competitive, grocery stores could become picky about what they would and wouldn’t buy. There’s a saying in the produce world: “pile it high and watch it fly.” Stores love produce that can stack in uniform, and physically perfect display cases. This means when they will always prefer buy fruits and veggies that are all the same size and have perfectly flawless skins and bright colors. While not all produce actually looks like this, we are growing so much food that stores can be super-selective about what they will and won’t buy. Over time, this perfection became “normal” as it was all that supermarket shoppers ever saw. The sad consequence of all of this is that tons of food ends up getting wasted in the quest for perfection.

What makes it so affordable?
We are able to offer such affordable prices because we only work with “ugly” produce that traditional produce companies don’t source. This produce currently goes to waste on farms because of minor cosmetic imperfections, such as being the wrong shape, size, or color.  By sourcing this produce straight from farmers, we can pass on the savings to consumers.  


Are you a CSA box service?
While we deliver a weekly/biweekly box like a CSA would, there are some differences between Imperfect and a traditional CSA. CSA’s source from one farm/area and are not focused on wonky/”ugly” produce. We source from a wide range of farms and focus only on “ugly”/wonky/excess produce. Fighting food waste is our number one goal and so we source a wide range of produce from a wide range of regions to make this happen.

How much produce do you keep from going to waste?
We keep over 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste every week!

What About the Boxes Here in the Portland/Vancouver Area?
Imperfect tries to source all their fruits and vegetables from regional farmers and uses a local delivery model with different distribution hubs. They deliver their boxes as quickly as possible from farm to doorstep. Their new warehouse is located within the Portland metro area for easier distribution and quality control. Imperfect offers a variety of boxes for singles and families, and each box can be customized with just the right mix of fruits and veggies – customers chose each item that arrives in their box each week. Portland metro residents can sign up for the new delivery service and remember that my readers can use the code: (HELLOPDX) is good for 50% off a first box.


Cooking with Imperfect Produce
As I put together my veggie sauté that night, I realized that everything was crisp and fresh. I put several things together as a side for my piece of chicken and it was delicious. 


The next night I used a crisp green pepper in my salad and today…. I think I’ll make cole slaw from my little cabbage. This turned out to be fun.



Here’s More Information on Imperfect Produce:

Social: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook: @ImperfectProduce

Note: These are all my iPhone photos from that first Imperfect Produce food box.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Romantic Luxury B&B in Port Townsend, WA

I had the pleasure of staying overnight in Port Townsend's historic Uptown District. My quiet, relaxing, luxury B&B was Ravenscroft Inn. Imagine sleeping in a modern, fluffy, crisp sheeted bed after luxuriating in a clawfoot tub. Well, that can be yours along with relaxing on the veranda and having a marvelous gourmet breakfast.
You'll want to read more about my stay and savor the photos on WanderWithWonder.com.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Exploring Port Townsend Washington

I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Port Townsend, WA on the Olympic Peninsula. I walked Uptown with the lovely Victorian homes, took the Taylor Street stairs downtown for dinner and gallery strolling and had a great time.

I've been writing all about it for Wander With Wonder and started with how you can enjoy a day in Port Townsend... next you'll find out about the amazing B&B where I spent the night.

Monday, July 31, 2017

An Oregon Wine Dinner Experience Near Newburg

I've been doing quite a few articles on area wineries of late. But, to me, the greatest joy is when I can experience a wonderful dinner paired with good wines. We had that experience earlier this year at Domaine Divio near Newburg, OR.

It was a chilly spring evening as we wound our way on country roads from Salem to the Newberg countryside. We were headed to Domaine Divio Vineyards for an eagerly anticipated wine dinner in a new tasting room.

The Domaine Divio tasting room, in the heart of the Ribbon Ridge AVA in Newberg, Oregon, was designed as a barn. It is a simple building with a barn door that opens on to the beauty of the vineyard.

You can read the full article (and savor the food photos) on WanderWithWonder.com 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

On the Hunt for Dinosaurs in Colorado

I recently had an article on the dinosaur museum and other places to hunt dinosaurs near Grand Junction Colorado published in WanderWithWonder.com. I loved that museum even though I suspect kids will love it even more!

Just outside of Grand Junction Colorado you’ll find yourself in the heart of Colorado dinosaur country. A great place to start learning about these fascinating prehistoric creatures is at the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey Museum in nearby Fruita, Colorado.



You can read my full article and see more scary photos here

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Oysterville is a Must-Do When on the Long Beach Peninsula

My article for Wander With Wonder on Oysterville, WA was recently published.

The entire town of Oysterville is on the National Historic Register. Oysterville, named after the rich oyster beds of adjacent Willapa Bay, is picturesque and very different from the bustling beach towns of the Long Beach Peninsula. 

Take a walking tour, attend summer vespers in the little church, or relax with a view of Willapa Bay. The maintenance of the little town is a labor of love by the locals. You, too, will fall in love with Oysterville when you visit. Read the Full Article on Oysterville.

The oldest house in quaint Oysterville.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort in Los Cabos Offers New Hands On Foodie Experiences


Nestled on a secluded 2.5-mile stretch of pristine beach in Cabo San Lucas, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort is an all-inclusive luxury resort catering exclusively to adults seeking a tranquil oceanfront hideaway.

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort has amped up its guest experience with a series of exclusive, one-of-a-kind “happenings” designed to create exceptional vacation experiences and special memories.

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica
“We’ve devised a series of unique, hands-on activities,” said Mizraim Corpus, Pacifica’s General Manager, adding that there is no extra charge to resort guests for these “happenings” and experiences. “One of the knocks against all-inclusive hotels is that surcharges typically apply for above-and-beyond experiences,” he said. “We deliver these special, personalized experiences free of charge to create a lasting emotional impact. We want guests to leave with great memories and think about coming back to see us.”

The Orchard Cooking Class, its name inspired by “La Huerta” (The Orchard) at The Market at Quivira (a purveyor of locally sourced organic produce), was created to appeal to avid “foodies” and would-be chefs. A maximum of eight guests are invited to participate in the open-air Orchard Cooking Class at Pacifica. Together with the Executive Chef, guests are encouraged to select and prepare vegetables and herbs for each dish. The chef then teaches guests how to create regional Baja cuisine, including favorites like roasted chilies stuffed with smoked marlin; an herbal vinaigrette that calls for finely chopped herbs grown in the hotel’s garden; and the classic “Tiradito Gabina,” seared fish cut into thin slices and served on a toasted flour tortilla with fresh garnishes. Once completed, the gourmet lunch is paired with well-chosen wines from Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley and served at a table set up beneath orange umbrellas. Recipes can be taken home so that guests can reproduce the dishes in their own kitchens.

Debuted last year, Hook & Cook, hosted by butlers from The Towers at Pacifica, invites guests to surf cast in some of the world’s richest fishing waters. “Even for novices, the butlers are very good at familiarizing guests with basic casting techniques,” Corpus said. “They work with guests to make sure they catch something,” typically sierra or roosterfish. Even if there’s no action, the butlers ensure that fresh fish is always available to make the resort’s signature mesa de ceviches using the house-made emulsions and salsas. Sashimi is also popular. Hook & Cook is normally scheduled for Wednesday morning, but Corpus explained that if the tide brings in fish, “we alert interested guests that the fish are running!” He added that special catches can be taken to the Pescados or Peninsula restaurants for a cooked preparation.

There’s nothing like a beachside clam bake for a fun, informal dining experience. The Clam Bake at Pacifica, staged on a pristine stretch of beach a stone’s throw from the ocean, is held on Thursday nights year-round. Designed as a pre-dinner “finger-food” event, guests are invited to sit around a natural fire pit on the beach, where the region’s famous Chocolata clams, drawn from San Carlos on the Pacific side and La Paz on the Sea of Cortes, are roasted over a mesquite fire. Also featured are a tempting array of hand-picked, fire-roasted root vegetables.

“These experiences or ‘happenings’ are not for large groups,” Corpus explained. “We keep the group size for the Clam Bake to about 10 guests for a more authentic Baja dining experience.”  

Guests who want to experience an unforgettable gastronomic experience can order the Steak Flambé at Siempre, one of Pacifica’s most popular restaurants. According to Corpus, the prime New York strip steak can be enjoyed in one of two ways:  cooked on hot river stones and flamed with mezcal or prepared with Himalayan salt, which imparts a unique flavor profile to the meat. “It’s a spectacle,” Corpus said. “Guests who observe another table enjoying the Steak Flambé often order it themselves.” Both preparations, available every night at Siempre, are paired with an exquisite collection of national and international wines.

The Mixology Class at Pacifica, invites guests to refine and expand their bartending skills with a master mixologist. Staged on Saturdays at the Peninsula Beach Bar, one of Pacifica’s most beautiful settings, the class is shown how to use hand-picked herbs and spices grown on property for Montiel’s creative concoctions, many of which feature Mexico’s most famous native spirits: tequila and mezcal. As at the Orchard Cooking Class, guests learn the appropriate salutation before imbibing: salud! (cheers). Montiel’s exceptional drink recipes can be recreated by guests back home.

In terms of personal luxury, Pacifica’s Beach Bed experience is a perennial favorite, especially for couples who have slipped away to Los Cabos for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Spaced along the beach, these comfortable, shaded platform beds are secluded and provide a nice alternative to the pool. Guests can snooze in the shade, canoodle, and stay late to take in a glorious sunset. Eight blissful hours of personalized service are available to Beach Bed patrons, from a breakfast catered by the butler staff to an extensive snacks and cocktail menu, all delivered bedside with a smile. Rocking beds are also available.  

Information provided by Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2017 Wild About Game - Exciting Line-Up at Resort at the Mountain


Nicky USA recently announced the 2017 lineup for the 17th Annual Wild About Game, the friendly, but fierce annual cooking battle between Portland and Seattle’s best and brightest chefs. The event offers a rare opportunity to rub elbows with the region’s top rising star chefs in an intimate setting, at one of the country’s most fun live action cooking competitions. This year’s celebration of specialty game will be held at the Resort at the Mountain in Welches, Ore., on Sunday, October 8, 2017. At Wild About Game, Nicky Farms proteins, the house brand at Nicky USA, will be prepared by some of the region’s best chefs, as the Pacific Northwest’s favorite specialty meat purveyor hosts the event to thank their loyal customers and suppliers, farmers, artisans and restaurants.

During this meat-centric culinary event in the Pacific Northwest, four chefs from Portland and four chefs from Seattle will go head-to-head in a cooking competition in four different game meat-based categories. Each dish is presented to a panel of renowned culinary experts and attendees for judging. Guests will also be able to sample each chef’s dish and judge for themselves.

Competing chefs for the Portland vs. Seattle battle are:
Portland
Jose Chesa – Chesa
Matt Sigler – Renata
Sarah Schafer – Irving St. Kitchen
Phil Oswalt– MAC

Seattle
Paul Osher – Porkchop & Co.
Jason Stratton – Mbar
Andrew Gregory & Ricardo Valdes - The London Plane
Chris Lobkovich - Quinn’s Pub

The People’s Choice award winner will be voted on by Wild About Game attendees and one chef will take home the ultimate Nicky USA’s Wild About Game prize of Overall Winner, to be named by this year’s esteemed judges, former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl (6 time James Beard award winning writer), Justin Chapple (James Beard Award nominee, FOOD & WINE) and Karen Brooks (James Beard Distinguished Craig Claiborne Restaurant Review Award 2017, Portland Monthly). Often a prediction of future success, past winners of the event include chefs Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon and Gregory Denton of Ox who both went on to receive James Beard awards, and last year’s winner and Food & Wine Best New Chef Edouardo Jordan of Seattle’s Salare.

One of the highlights of Nicky USA’s Wild About Game is the Artisan Marketplace, offering an exclusive tasting of the best of the Northwest, including foie gras, artisan salts, cheeses, chocolates, ice cream, spirits, wine, beer, and the most exciting new game products from the Nicky USA lineup. Top Northwest chefs are paired with artisans to create one-of-a-kind dishes featuring favorite local products. Attendees can taste these items, and talk with the chefs, artisans and producers who create them - mingling with some of the biggest names in the Northwest’s food community.

Confirmed participating vendors for the 2017 Artisan Marketplace include: 33 Books, Anderson Ranch Lamb, Beam-Suntory Spirits, Block 15 Brewery, Bull In China, Bull Run Distillery, Carlton Farms, Carter Cutlery, Clear Creek Distillery, Case Study Coffee, Classic Foods, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, Ecliptic Brewing, Fermin Iberico/Wagshal’s Imports, Gilgamesh Brewing, Grochau Cellars Winery, Hardmill, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, La Belle Farms/Bella Bella Gourmet, Manchester Farms Quail, Marshall’s Haute Sauce, Mary’s Chicken, Nicky USA/Nicky Farms, No Bull Specialty Foods, Nueske’s Smoked Meats, Olympia Provisions, Painted Hills Natural Beef, Patz & Hall Winery, Reverend Nat’s Cider, SakeOne, Salt & Straw, Snake River Farms.

Tickets will be $69 per person in advance, and $79 at the door, and will go on sale on July 8th. Please visit http://www.nickyusa.com/wild-about-game/ for upcoming ticket and event information.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Light Adventurer: Exploring the Salmon River Trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest


We were headed for an afternoon on the Salmon River Trail #42 out of Welches, Oregon. Even getting there was magnificent. The beauty began soon after leaving the mountain town of Sandy. It was June and the snow was still covering most of Mount Hood. The wildflowers were in bloom. It was a perfect day for hiking.

Driving to the Salmon River
In Welches, we took the Salmon River Road. We were shaded by the forest canopy on this increasingly warm day. Five miles of narrow, pot-holed road but who cares when it is bordered with beautiful blue, purple, pink and white wildflowers. 


We entered the Mt. Hood National Forest and arrived at the trailhead, just before a bridge over the rushing Salmon River. I peeked over the side and thought this would be a great vantage point when the salmon were heading upstream to spawn. To the left of the bridge was a deep, calm pool. Great for fishing, I thought.

What Goes Up…
Our group gathered, geared up with hiking boots, sticks and, of course water.  We left our passes on our dashboards. We chose the upper trail, the most difficult, and decided to hike to the bridge, a little over a mile and a half and then return. Sounds, easy, right? Well, with all the rocks and stops for photography, it wasn’t a quick hike.

The hike starts up a rocky trail with views of the Salmon River to the right. Going up that rocky trail is well worth it. Not only can you enjoy trickling rivulets oozing out of the mountain and delicate wildflowers, the trail will take you to a marvelous place.


The Old Growth Fern Forest
About a mile up the trail, everything smoothed out. The trail was softer and more flat. We were still by the river but were surrounded by mossy old growth forest, ferns and lush greenery. It was the type of place that dreams are made of and where you might expect to see Bambi and Thumper cavorting.

We were told that in the 1960s, the Forest Service planned a paved highway up this canyon, connecting to Highway 26. The canyon was included in the 1984 legislation that created the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, and will forever be protected. The old growth forest, and canyon are treasures that are not far from Portland.

The Island
Some of my hiking friends waded over to explore an island in the river. The island is a wide peninsula cut off from the shore by a small fork that splits from the main river. They enjoyed the lush forest with massive trees.

I took the main trail back and stopped frequently to enjoy the wildflowers and the huge trees. You have to stop on this sometimes-narrow trail to look up at the treetops. There are many rocks and roots to trip you if you walk and gawk too much! So slowing down, or stopping to have a look is recommended.


Tips for Hiking the Salmon River Trail
(contains affiliate links)

Gear Up for Your Hike - You'll be more comfortable and safe if you have the following:

 - Water Bottle or Hydration Pack - There are cliff face trails that are exposed to the sun and can get very hot. Consider a small hydration pack. The day was warm and there was shade, but it was still a day to carry water.

- Lunch or Snacks - Carry at least some trail mix or snack bar. The hike might take longer than you think it will and a good trail bar or mix will give you energy. I prefer Corazonas bars. They taste great and are a healthy snack.

- Hiking Stick or Hiking Poles - Due to uneven terrain, rocks and tree roots, you'll need to consider a hiking stick. I prefer my collapsible travel staff. It gives me a third leg and helps a lot when I trip or slip (which isn't uncommon for me!)

- Gortex Hiking Boots with Good Tread - It's uneven terrain out there on the trail and it's rather rocking in places. I like a mid-height gortex hiking boot. If you want to get over to the island, waterproof boots are a must.



On the Way Back
On the way back, as I was ready to leave Sandy, I saw a sign for the Jonsrud Viewpoint and followed it off to the right. This is a favorite stop for photographers. You will enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Hood and the Sandy River Valley as well as informational signs about the Barlow Road, part of the Oregon Trail.