Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Eating Local on the Road
Although it is difficult to leave Michigan in the summer, I do sometimes take a vacation elsewhere. I just came back from Portland and Bend, Oregon. While traveling, of course, I look for food that is local to the area. There are restaurants all over the country – especially in large cities – that feature local food.
Some regions are defined by their local foods such as coastal seafood and New Mexican chilies. The Chef’s Collaborative website will direct you to some restaurants where the chefs incorporate local food. Visit Local Harvest for a data base of farmers markets and local food restaurants. Some areas have Culinary Tours.
Your general online restaurant research is also a good source. The descriptions and reviews will help you to determine which ones serve local food. The names of the restaurants, such as Natural Selections in Portland, will tip you off to the type of restaurant it is also.
Even when you are not camping or don’t have a kitchenette in your hotel room, farmers markets are useful at least for a picnic of bread, cheese, and fruit. Add some veggies and a tub of hummus and you have something even more substantial.
Many restaurants define local food as food from adjacent states. So, much of the food in Oregon would be locally sourced from adjacent California. I also enjoyed a locally made tempeh burger from Turtle Island Foods (maker of tofurkey) while having lunch at Full Sail Brewery in Hood River, OR. And, I had locally made tofu at Khan Pie’s Bahn Thai in Portland. I also ate breakfast at Old Wives’ Tales in Portland which has been serving local food for years.
It was Spring in the Cascade Mountains, so I was fortunately able to eat morels and asparagus again. (I missed them already.) There are also lots of local breweries and wineries in Oregon. To find breweries in your destination visit the Craft Beer website; to find wineries visit the US Winery Index.
In Oregon there is an agricultural area called the Fruit Loop. Despite the silly name, it was a beautiful drive through fruit and wine country just east of Portland. There are 33 stops including farm stands, wineries, alpaca farms, and lavender farms. So, watch for this type of area when you are researching your trip.
And, talking to the locals is a great way to learn more about the food in the area. I took a tour with Wanderlust in Bend, OR. The guide knew a lot about the wild edible foods in the area. And, he tipped me off about a great pizza place that featured local ingredients in Bend called Jackson's Corner and a newer Bend microbrewery called Boneyard. The name reflects how they put together salvaged equipment for the brewery during the recession.
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