Oregon’s Willamette Valley named Wine Region of the Year

willamette-valley-vine
Courtesy Travel Oregon

More awards come to the Willamette Valley!

Industry leader Wine Enthusiast magazine recently named Oregon’s Willamette Valley as their 2016 Wine Region of the Year.  Home to 530 wineries and nearly 20,000 planted acres, much acclaim can be attributed to Oregon’s world class pinot noirs.

Rivaling regions of Champagne, Sonoma, and Provence, these international honors were awarded for “the outstanding quality of its wines, the resulting international recognition and the tectonic shifts in wine investments have engendered.”

Read Full article here.

Lost in the Clouds

I dropped by one of my favorite stores today to pick up a few specialty items. It’s always fun to plan a weekend visit, because the folks at Roth’s Market in Silverton go out of their way to feature tastings and innovative offerings.

Out front, they had their usual grill area set up cooking off their notoriously fantastic burgers—the smell is enough to draw you in and seal the deal.  As I skirted past the crowd to make my way into the store entry, I caught a whiff of another oddly familiar smell that jerked me around and took me back outside again.  It made no sense, but clearly, I was downwind from an unmistakeable cloud of roasting hatch chile peppers!

Yes, indeed, behind the tent of barbecuing burgers, a roaster was gyrating about searing and tumbling the elusive, elegant, elongated hatch chile peppers.Hatch roaster  A team of three was busy removing and bagging them as fast as they could for waiting shoppers.Roasted hatch Shades of New Mexico and Austin! How could this happen? The lady ahead of me carried off 10 pounds of peppers; she clearly knew what she was doing.

Hatch box resizedApparently the word is out: that small window of opportunity called hatch chile pepper season is upon us, right here in Silverton, Oregon. fresh hatch resized If you have not experienced these amazing peppers now is the time, and it will not last.  That is why people in the know, freeze enough of the freshly roasted peppers to last them an entire year.

Of course hatch chiles are amazing on burgers, for more information and ideas on these marvels, check out earlier posts:

The Land of Enchantment

Yup, Hatch Pepper Manicotti

Chile-Cheese-in-a-Hole

Tea, from Oregon with love

Minto Island Tea Company stands in a class all its own.  They are leading the way in the specialty production of certified organic, handpicked, small-batch crafted teas in Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley.Minto Island Tea

Who knew temperamental, labor intense teas would grow in Oregon—or in the US, for that matter?  First planted back in 1988 as an experimental project, their plants and techniques proved to not only thrive but they have flourished over the years. Minto Island Tea leaves

As small batch growers, this family operation continues to adapt, perfect their art, and gain acclaim along the way for high quality green, oolong and black teas.  For more information their teas can be sourced at their Minto Island Farm Stand in Salem, from their website, or at the Portland State Saturday Market. 

First look: Pine Street Market, downtown Portland’s new food hall

-36dffb6c9b4cbf21After months of construction and permitting delays, Pine Street Market, downtown Portland’s hotly-anticipated food hall, is set to open in the coming weeks.

The 10,000-square-foot food hall spans entire ground floor of the 1886 United Carriage and Baggage Transfer Building and will bring nine, big-name Portland restaurants, bakeries and more together under its skylit roof.

Pine Street Market, from project developers Jean Pierre Veillet, David Davies and Rob Brewster and culinary curator Mike Thelin, will give Portland its first taste of a red-hot modern food trend, the curated food hall, which has already found success in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Get to know all the tenants opening inside Pine Street Market:

Source: First look: Pine Street Market, downtown Portland’s new food hall | OregonLive.com

 Oregon Truffle Festival

Wee doggies!  For mushroom and wine lovers, mark your calendars for the ultimate event:

Truffle Dog

The 2016 Oregon Truffle Festival
January 16 & 17: The Joriad™ 2nd Annual North American Truffle Dog Championship

January 22-24:  Newberg and the Yamhill Valley

January 29-31 Eugene and surrounding truffle and wine country

For more than a decade, the Oregon Truffle Festival has been the leading voice for a burgeoning industry, and an exciting culinary festival that sells out its popular dinners and tasting events year after year. From James Beard award winning chefs to truffle industry experts to food journalists and food enthusiasts, many renowned culinary figures participate in the Oregon Truffle Festival every year.

TruffeIt’s the only event of its kind in the country, and the foremost wintertime culinary event in the State of Oregon.As the first truffle festival in the English-speaking world, and “one of the top 5 destinations in the world for truffle lovers,” the Oregon Truffle Festival offers a culinary experience that simply cannot be found anywhere else. This is an international event that joins truffle fanciers and truffle experts from all over the world in three days of celebration, educational seminars, and hands-on experiences.

NEW IN 2016! Now in its 11th year, the Oregon Truffle Festival will expand to three weekends beginning with the Joriad™ North American Truffle Dog Championship, moving to an exploration of the terroir of Yamhill Valley truffle and wine country, and concluding with the festival’s popular Eugene weekend of events to close out the festivities. That means more events, more chefs, more education, more truffle hunting and more opportunities to celebrate Oregon’s most treasured culinary ingredient.

Source: About the Festival – Oregon Truffle Festival

 

Kid’s Play: Petite Banana Bread Panibois

I’ve been going small lately.  After years of resizing recipes upwards of 50+ servings, this is clearly a novel situation.

Banana bread slices
Petite Quality Control

Baking small may be a new world for me, but it is far more efficient and less energy wasteful, thanks to my recent purchase of a mini convection oven that is big enough to hold a 9” pizza (just sayin’).

BD toaster oven
Mini convection oven

Turns out, the new Black and Decker countertop oven is ideal for tasks like baking two petite loaves of banana bread―yielding a sweet gift in hand for a lucky friend and a perfect quality control loaf for moi.

I felt like a kid again playing with an Easy-Bake toy oven.  In the same spirit, I kept it simple by using a basic quick bread recipe that requires no special tools.

As with most quick breads, the dry and wet ingredients are combined separately then quickly mixed together. However, I did change up the oil by substituting half melted coconut oil; a very nice touch.  For a sparkling flourish I sprinkled the tops with a dusting of Demerara sugar.  Kid’s play, for sure.

Banana panibous
Banana Bread Panibois

Panibois wooden molds are a handy solution for dressing up those spur of the moment acts of kindness.  Technobake offers a full line with all sorts of sizes and shapes.  They are so attractive I keep an extra woven tray on my desk to hold daily action items.  Even better news, you bake right in the molds, since each includes a paper liner for added protection.

Come to think of it, it’s time to re-order, holiday gift giving is coming up fast…

Petite Banana Bread

Makes two 5×3” loaves

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium/large)
1 large egg
4 Tbsp vegetable oil (part melted coconut oil is nice)
1/2 cup heaping, packed brown sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using metal pans, spray with baking spray and line bottoms with parchment.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients through salt and whisk to blend.
  3. In medium bowl, mash banana, whisk in egg, then the oil; add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth.  Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients just to combine.  Spread into two 5×3” loaf pans.  Sprinkle with Demerara sugar if desired.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the loaves begin to shrink away from edges of pan, are nicely browned, and the centers are dry when tested. (Since these brown quickly, I reduced the heat to 340 degrees half way through to insure they were thoroughly baked). Let cool for 10 minutes on rack, turn out of pan and cool to room temperature.    Yield: two 5×3” loaves.

Farmers’ Market Life in Austin

Bird's Eye Market View
Bird’s Eye Market View

Yesterday was market day at the Austin Downtown Farmers’ Market, part of Austin’s Sustainable Food Center network.  I’m told it is one of the largest in Texas, and although not packed with vendors, there was still plenty of variety to choose from.  Good things are happening in the realm of charcuterie, too; we found more than one source for such delicacies as duck, quail, and goose.

Springfield Farm IMG_0076

I am such a sucker for arugula, I jumped on a huge bag of tender greens offered by Springfield Farm out of Moulton, Texas, about 90 miles to the southeast.

And that’s nothing in Texas.  Many vendor’s farms are considerable distances away and think nothing of making three or more weekly trips to work the circuit of popular markets.  Even with outlandish transport costs this is just part of doing business in these parts.

I was impressed with the wildflower honey at Austin Honey Company.   Their creamed honey is just that: light and incredibly smooth, showing a mixture of floral notes―which change, based on the bees’ grazing tendencies at any given time of year.

Lemon Ginger Shrub MG_0117Another discovery came from the Shrub Drinks booth, where co-owner Cynthia Guido jokingly cracked that “they aren’t selling bushes”.  No, they are marketing a wide variety of artisanal drinking vinegars apparently enjoyed way  back in early Egyptian days (i.e., a long time ago).   In 17th century England and during colonial times shrub was used as a way to preserve fruit.  The resulting bitters-like syrup was used in beverages with water or soda or as a mixer in alcoholic cocktails.

Much later back at home, we put our feet up and treated ourselves to tall icy glasses of  Pelligrino water infused with Apple, Lemon, & Ginger Shrub.   Ah yes, very refreshing indeed―after another grueling day at the market.  What a life.