Local eats and treats: Foods raised and produced in our region fill picnic basket with yummy options

July 2010 Posted in Food & Drink

By Dixon Bledsoe

Summer should revolve around eating. Our out-of-town guests may already have an itinerary in mind, because when it comes to things to do, the Willamette Valley has a plethora of sights to see. But they are going to need a picnic basket for their all-day adventures.

If I am in charge of filling the basket, my guests will be in for a treat. I’d make sure it contained a little bit of heaven from right here in our neighborhood.

This picnic basket ought to be filled only with Silverton resident Sherry Hoefel’s caramels, available at The Chocolate Box on North Water Street. The Hoefelhaus Fine Confections line would weigh down my 5-foot-wide basket, with chocolate peppermint, butter rum and other fancy caramels. My personal favorite is the dark chocolate caramel with hazelnuts, but these are treats that go like the proverbial hotcake. When Sherry brought in a bag for our volunteers at the local food bank recently, they were gone in a nanosecond. When the bag got back to me, it was worn and empty.

But picnickers might want a broader sample of delicacies, so let’s give them that, starting with breakfast in the car enroute to Silver Falls State Park.  A sack of strawberry or chocolate donuts from EZ Orchards, Peach Pound Cake from Bauman’s Farm, or marionberry scones and muffins from Willamette Valley Fruit Co. are to die for, especially with a great cup of coffee.

Eric and Tamara Dahl of Silver Falls Coffee Co. have us covered there. They’ve been roasting their java treats for just two months, but the Columbia Supreme, Sumatra, and Espresso roast are ready to go and can be found at the Silverton Farmers’ Market (on Saturdays until the fall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Purdy’s Berry Stand on Marquam Road and the gift store at Silver Falls State Park.

The coffee beans are roasted in small quantities, according to Eric, because “The beans are much better coming from small batches rather than a mechanically-augured large batch where the beans break apart.”

He and his wife, Tamara, love coffee and the challenge of roasting it.

As a lunch entrée, Silverton local Molly Ainsley’s soon-to-be legend Sortasausage should fit nicely into the basket. I might add a little Tabasco, but I had salsa in my baby bottle and may be a different sortadiner. Her sausage is a wonderful non-meat alternative sure to satiate vegetarians and convert the palates of soon-to-be ex-carnivores.

Maybe I’ll include the Sortasausage in a soup, chili, tacos, enchilada, or spaghetti … Or perhaps sauté it with onions, peppers olives and mushrooms and serve it like a pulled pork sandwich on homemade sesame buns or French rolls pickdc up at the Farmers’ Market or Roth’s Family Market bakery.

But what if they like real sausage? Maybe we should throw in a couple of pounds of Mount Angel Sausage Company’s Fricadelwurst or Currywurst. Slap it on whole-grain bread with vine-ripened tomato from the
Silverton’s Farmers’ Market, slather it with the Benedictine Sisters’ Monastery Mustard from Mount Angel, Monastery Mustardand call it good.

The Sisters have concocted nine flavors of their award-winning mustards from Glorious Garlic and Heavenly Honey to Hallelujah Jalapeño to the seasonal Orange Cranberry.

A Currywurst sausage loaded with sautéed onions, peppers, and Glorious Garlic mustard is as good as it gets in my book. The Sisters’ Devoutly Dill works great in the obligatory homemade potato salad that will bless our basket.

Roadside stands will be offering homegrown raspberries and strawberries, and a host of other naturally sweetened offerings. Blueberries and Marion berries cannot be far behind. Isn’t a chilled local cantaloupe a natural fit with our Northwest basket, too? Why not stuff the cantaloupe with big, fat blueberries and raspberries?

I’ve been known to eat my weight in blueberries while picking a bucket for my family.

An Oatmeal Ellie stout ale from Seven Brides would be a mandatory liquid accoutrement for the basket, because a Sortasausage guy needs a real hearty beer, one that looks like motor oil drained from the crankcase of a 1957 Edsel but tastes as good as a Willamette Valley Fruit Co. Marion berry pie, a must-eat addition to our basket since we know those HoefelHaus Caramels will be gone faster than William Hung from American Idol.

The local Seven Brides Tap Room is a mega-hit along with their roommates from Vitis Ridge Winery. Our guests should imbibe in a local wine on a hot Oregon summer day. So why not cool off with Vitis Ridge’s 2008 Pinot gris or their wonderful Gewürztraminer? May I suggest a pairing of Vitis Ridge’s outstanding 2005 Petit Verdo Vibrato (a wonderful Port) with a dark chocolate caramel from the House of Hoefel at the end of the day?

The East Willamette Valley is full of great wineries, and Pudding River Wine Cellars’ 2008 Pinot gris is one of many award winners in the region. Maybe I’ll suggest a stop at Silver Falls Vineyards for a little wine tasting at the end of the day. We can check out our stellar cellars at eastvalleywine.com.

Or for a late afternoon treat we may swing back around to Bauman Farms for their Peach Fuzzy Wuzzy, an inspiring seasonal lemonade variation or the more traditional strawberry lemonade. Strawberry shortcake is definitely in season as well. For a unique offering, the lavender milkshakes are EZ Orchards are from another world.

Or should I have one more caramel?

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