Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
specialty foods of oregon (and one or two from elsewhere)
CEREAL, BREAD, AND GRANOLA BARS:
---White Pine Muesli, www.whitepine.us. I can’t decide if I like this muesli because of its ingredients or because of what it doesn’t contain. Rolled oats, raisins, dried apricot, dried mango, wheat germ, and almonds; it doesn’t get much simpler (or much better-tasting). Put some of this into your favorite yogurt, let it stand for a while, top with fresh fruit, and you have an easy, filling, delicious meal that’s both sustaining and genuinely nutritious. White Pine also makes Granola, Tropical Granola, Candied Pecans, and Organic Volcanic Horseradish and Horseradish Mustard. Online ordering is available.
---Umpqua Oats Oatmeal, www.umpquaoats.com. In my experience, foods where you add water to a container and allow for a short steeping time don’t often turn out well. But this oatmeal might singlehandedly change my mind about that. Add boiling water to one of the four varieties (I’m partial to the Mostly Sunny, with dried fruits and cinnamon), let the carton sit for 2 or 3 minutes, and dig in. You’ll find an oatmeal that actually has a little texture to it (unlike the mushy instant stuff), with the good flavors of those dried fruits, spice, and brown sugar. Just the thing for busy people who desire a filling, hearty, low fat meal, and of course this is tailor-made for kids. By the way, don’t restrict this oatmeal to mornings; there’s nothing wrong with consuming it for lunch or a light meal after a long day. Online ordering should be available by the time you read this.
---Dave’s Killer Bread, www.daveskillerbread.com. Every small-scale food producer I’ve ever run across has a story. Dave’s is one of the best and one of the most surprising, so make sure you read it or watch the video. All of these breads are whole grain, but don’t get the idea that they taste like cardboard or are impossibly chewy; they’re simply good, honest loaves. I recommend his Killer Cracked Wheat Bread, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of these products. All of the breads are certified organic, and none contain any animal products. Online ordering is available, but you can also find these breads in grocery stores in a handful of western states.
---The Roman Bar, www.theromanbar.com. One day, Roman Starno had the bright idea of dipping a supermarket fig cookie in chocolate. It was a big hit with his family. Some 15 years of experimentation later, this idea has evolved into cookies of other flavors dipped in chocolate, but these are not your grandmother’s cookies. I was able to try only the Blueberry Fruit Bar, which I enjoyed, but their best seller is the Raspberry, and they have a Honey-Peach Apricot, as well. Two of the three flavors are vegan (the Honey-Peach Apricot is the exception), and the Raspberry is wheat-free. Online ordering is available.
PRESERVES, HONEY, AND NUT BUTTER:
---Ivy’s Cookin’, www.ivyscookin.com. The Awesome Caramelized Apple Butter is very good, with just the right amount of sweetness and an excellent apple flavor. But don’t stop there: Ivy has a nice-sized list of berry cordials, chutneys, and salad dressings on offer, too, so you can try her Golden Apple Plum Chutney, the Bodacious Brandied Cherries, or the Wowie Zowie Chinese Plum Sauce. All of these goodies are made from locally-grown produce, organic when possible. What you can’t buy at Market of Choice at 29th and Willamette in Eugene, you can order by phone (click on “Culinary Boutique” on the website, and call at (541) 485-4200 to order). If you live in the Eugene area, Ivy even delivers her homemade entrees to your door!
---Boat Street Pickles, www.boatstreetpickles.com. Made by Boat Street Café in Seattle, the Pickled Figs are simply the single best cheese accompaniment I’ve tasted. The syrup is divine, as well. Pickled Prunes, Pickled Raisins, and Pickled Red Onion round out this inspired roster. Mail order is available via Zingerman’s or Murray’s Cheese.
---Covered Bridge Honey Butter, http://home.mindspring.com/~cbhoney/. Based in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Covered Bridge offers a lovely creamed local blackberry honey. I don’t see it on their website but would e-mail or call to ask about it; I likely purchased mine at Market of Choice at 29th and Willamette in Eugene.
---Pennington Farms, www.penningtonfarms.net. Two words: Strawberry Marmalade. Even if you don’t think you like marmalade (or strawberries), this is a must-try. A combination of strawberry and orange, this is a thin marmalade with a great aroma and an even better flavor. It’s a new product for this farm, and not yet on their website as of this writing, but I’m told it’s definitely available. Try their Marionberry, too. Also offered are agave-sweetened jams. Pennington Farms also sells at some Farmers Markets in the southern part of Oregon, including Medford and Grants Pass, where you can find their delightful hand pies (large turnovers with lots of good fruit filling). Otherwise, you can call to order at (541) 846-0550.
---Berry Berry Good Produce, www.berryberrygoodjams.com. I’m always a little uneasy when I see reduced sugar fruit spreads. Will they be sweetened with the dreaded white grape juice, which overwhelms other fruit flavors? Not here. If you like your preserves with fresh fruit flavor and not bulldozed by a sugary taste, you’ll want to try both the White Peach Spread and the Apricot Spread. They don’t contain enough sugar to legally be called preserves, but they do contain enough to be sufficiently sweet and allow the flavor of the good-quality fruit used to come shining through. Berry Berry Good sells at both the Medford and Grants Pass Farmers Markets, but you can also order online.
---Sunset Valley Organics, www.sunsetvalleyorganics.com. All blueberries, all the time. The Blueberry Spread (again, it’s called a “spread” because it has too little sweetening to legally be called a preserve) is very good. The sweetener used here is evaporated cane juice. The spread is not sugary-sweet, contains no corn syrup, and has a fine blueberry flavor. Frozen blueberries, dried blueberries, and blueberry powder can also be yours. E-mail ordering is available.
CHEESES AND OTHER DAIRY PRODUCTS: There are a lot of good cheese makers in Oregon, but I’ll only tell you about those whose products I tried this trip.
---Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy, http://fernsedgedairy.com. Farmstead cheeses, with both organic and biodynamic practices in managing the herd and the land. This is a very small operation, but they turn out some lovely fresh goats’ milk cheeses, available at many Markets of Choice, especially in northern Oregon. There are flavored versions of the cheese, but I like the unflavored variety best. Spread it on a good cracker, drizzle a little honey atop or garnish with a fresh strawberry half (or both), and you don’t need much more. No mail order.
---The Rogue Creamery, www.roguecreamery.com. Originally known for their blue cheeses, Rogue now also makes Cheddars and cheese curds, some flavored. I’m a big fan of their raw milk Cheddar. You’ll also discover that their shop, though small, is bursting at the seams with goodies that will cause the food-lover in you to rejoice. The boutique is located at 311 North Front Street in Central Point, in the southern part of the state. Some mail order is available.
---Bellwether Farms Sheep’s Milk Yogurt, www.bellwethercheese.com. It’s rich. It’s creamy. And it doesn’t taste like cows’ milk yogurt, which is just as well, because it isn’t. Bellwether Farms, who has made appetizing sheep’s milk cheeses for some years, now makes an equally mouthwatering yogurt from the same milk. It’s available in Plain, Blackberry, Strawberry, Blueberry, and Vanilla, but this quintet will soon be joined by several honey-sweetened flavors. As of this writing, this yogurt is in stores in a very limited geographic area. However, as soon as the last few paperwork hurdles are cleared, these products should be offered coast to coast.
---Nancy’s Yogurt, www.nancysyogurt.com. Well-known in Oregon, Nancy’s makes cultured dairy products, including yogurt, soy, kefir, and cottage cheese (real cottage cheese like Nancy’s is cultured, if you didn’t know it). Probiotics are big in health news these days, and there’s nothing like getting those friendly bacteria in a form you’re glad to eat. My pick here are Nancy’s delicious and restorative kefirs, all of which are both organic and lowfat; I especially love the Blackberry. And the Peach. And the Raspberry. And…well, you get the idea. While these products are not available absolutely everywhere, they appear to be in most (if not all) states.
SAUCES AND CONDIMENTS:
---Tribal Moose Cranberry Ketchup, www.tribalmoose.net. The moose is loose! This is a ketchup that can go from eggs to sandwiches to main courses. It’s got a definite fruit flavor with some tomato taste; there’s a flavor of spice (but not too much), and it doesn’t have the overwhelming sweetness associated with supermarket ketchups. Maybe that’s because it contains no high fructose corn syrup—hooray! This ketchup is good enough to eat merely spread on whole wheat bread (guess how I know?). Tribal Moose recently began donating 100% of the proceeds from this ketchup to The Salvation Army, a practice they intend to continue. Online ordering is available.
---Ooga Booga BBQ & Sauce Company. No website as of this writing, although www.oogaboogasauce.com is in development and should be up soon. When was the last time something you bought in a store had the developer’s name and phone number on it? I had never heard of this sauce, but I saw it in Gary West Smoked Meats in Jacksonville and decided I had to try it, partly because of the product’s name and partly because there’s a real person, not a corporation, behind it. Barry Kepner began making his sauce in 2000, and it’s in stores all over Oregon. There’s a reason for that: it’s good stuff! The ingredients in this sauce are those you’d use to make something similar at home, like tomato paste, unsulphured molasses, apple cider vinegar, and dry mustard. Mr. Kepner tells me this sauce is great on baked beans, but I’d think it would be a perfect match for any type of grilled meat (or even veggies). It’s also a fun dipping sauce. Ooga Booga is available in three varieties: Mild, Wild, and an in-between style. You can order by calling (503) 890-9824.
---Rising Sun Farms Drizzles, www.risingsunfarms.com. While Rising Sun Farms makes many products, I’m including them in this section for their Drizzles. These are blends of balsamic vinegar and fruit concentrates or flavors, such as the Apricot Balsamic, Ginger Lemon Balsamic, and Smoky Chipotle Balsamic. You can add these Drizzles to olive oil, or use them for dipping sauces or while grilling. My favorite is the Fig Balsamic Drizzle, which is beautiful over a green salad (even without the addition of any olive oil). These Drizzles are also sold in many stores in southern Oregon. Note that the Drizzles are not on the company’s website as of this writing, but you can call to order (there’s a six-bottle minimum).
CHOCOLATES AND OTHER SWEETS:
---Lillie Belle Farms, www.lilliebellefarms.com. Part of the reason I went to Oregon was to volunteer here for a couple of weeks, something I’ve done before. Proprietor and Creative Force Jeff Shepherd is a larger-than-life character and a friend. Having said that, I wouldn’t volunteer here or write up the company if I didn’t think they made some exceptional confections. A number of these chocolates can be shipped, but some are too perishable and can only be found in-store. You can’t go wrong with the Brown Velvet Almonds or any of the certified organic Berry Cordials (despite the name, these contain no alcohol); if you like spice, try the Cayenne Caramels. The Lavender Fleur du Sel Caramels are hugely popular, as are the Smokey Blue Truffles. If you’re anywhere near Central Point, the small boutique has a great selection and is well worth the trip. Jeff also carries sarcastic refrigerator magnets, some of which I haven’t seen before. The boutique is located at 211 North Front Street in Central Point, almost next door to the Rogue Creamery’s store. Online ordering of some products is available.
---Sipping Dreams Hot Chocolate, http://sippingdreams.com. Sipping Dreams is a small company based in Eugene; they offer only two products as of this writing. The first is a compact bar, meant to be chopped and heated in milk until it becomes a drinking chocolate. The second is a diminutive cup, just right for one portion of the hot chocolate. I have no experience with these sipping cups, but the bar makes a solidly good drinking chocolate. And it really is a drinking chocolate, not a hot cocoa with a fancier name. Online ordering is available.
MEAT AND FISH:
---Gary West Meats Silver Fork Natural Steak Strips, www.garywest.com. For reasons unclear to me, a good deal of jerky is made in Oregon, but this is some of the best I’ve tried anywhere. It’s not too spicy or too dessicated, it’s a little moister than most jerky, and it contains no hormones, antibiotics, steroids or added nitrites. But this small business has a lot more to offer than just one kind of steak jerky! You can find their Buffalo and Elk Jerky, Certified Angus Beef Jerky, jerky for your favorite canine, and smoked meats (turkey and ham). A surprising number of other specialty foods are packed into this shop, and many are very good (Barry Kepner’s Ooga Booga Sauce can be purchased here, among others, and Sarah Jo’s caramels are a must-have). If you can’t get to the store, at 690 North 5th Street in Jacksonville, you can order many items online.
---Fishing Vessel Pisces Canned Fish. No website. How can canned fish be a specialty food, you’re asking? Well, this isn’t your standard supermarket tuna and salmon, I can tell you. This is hook-and-line caught, filleted fresh (not frozen), hand-packed at a micro-cannery in Oregon with minimal salt, and cooked only once when canned (the smoked products are lightly smoked prior to canning). I’ve tried both the North Pacific Albacore and the Smoked Albacore, and either would be just the ticket as part of a nutritious meal or a snack (if your kids are hungry after school, try a small can of this fish as a high protein, non-junk-food way to fill them up). Concerned about mercury levels? Oregon State University tests indicate that North Pacific hook-and-line caught albacore, the type used here, have a significantly lower mercury content than called for in FDA guidelines, as well as a far higher Omega oil content. The Smoked Albacore has an especially nice flavor, and the smoky/salty taste isn’t too strong as it has been in other brands I’ve tried. I haven’t tried the Salmon yet, but I’ll bet it’s just as good. To order, call (541) 266-7336 or (541) 821-7117, and Daryl or Sally will help you out. You can also buy this fish at Eugene’s Saturday Market (8th and Oak, downtown Eugene, Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, April through mid-November).