After four weeks of Oregon Month, we end today with a look back at our favorite bites and sips. Geez Oregon, you are one delicious place.
'oregon month' on Serious Eats
The Pizza Research Institute, or just "PRI" as Eugenians like to call it, makes hippie pizza. Not pizza-pizza. "Hippie pizza," as Mark Kosmicki of the Party Cart in Eugene clarified for us when we told him we were going that night. At PRI, you won't find pepperoni. Nope, just baked spicy tofu, huge trees of broccoli and cauliflower, dried apricots, pesto, gluten-free crust, and a vegan alternative to everything.
I'm pretty picky about clam chowder. First of all, it should taste like clams, as if the juices from the bivalves have really contributed something. The broth should be at least as clammy as it is creamy, and it should never be gluey or pasty. There should be tender pieces of clams, too, and the whole thing needs to be seasoned properly. Suffice it to say, I'm often disappointed. But this unassuming little cup on the Oregon coast impressed us.
Driving up and down Highway 101 in Oregon, we made many detours for fish and chips. Oftentimes the fish was caught "in their own backyard," AKA the Pacific Ocean or the Columbia River, and that made this quest even tastier.
Everywhere we went in Eugene, folks mentioned Red Wagon Creamery. "It's the best ice cream in Oregon," more than a few people said. "It's the best ice cream in the West," said others. We tried to get a scoop at the Lane County farmers' market, but Red Wagon was away at an event for March of Dimes. Their little mobile shop next to The Party Cart was closed as well. Determined to follow an ice cream tip (and always willing to try a beer sampler), we tracked down Red Wagon Creamery's ice cream at Falling Sky Brewery on Oak Alley, and we're glad we did.
"Eat your sandwiches from Lardo then come get your sugar from me," said Kirsten Jensen from the window of her Sugar Cube trailer, parked in the same lot as Lardo. Once on wheels, too, Lardo opened a brick-and-mortar this year and it doesn't get much better then eating one of their serious sandwiches, followed by an ice cream sandwich from Sugar Cube.
As we neared the front of the line in the ice cream area of the visitor's center, I spotted it, and our real purpose for the visit became clear. The Ice Cream Adventure. For a mere $25.95, you can have not just some ice cream, but all the ice cream. Every flavor they've got, in what they call "a golf ball sized scoop" (traditional scoops are, well, a bit bigger than that) stacked in one platter-sized bowl. I'm not sure Erin and I even needed to speak to agree on the mission.
When it comes to Oregonian cheese, it doesn't get more iconic than Tillamook. The cheddar loaf is what defines cheese for many a west coaster who grow up eating it. But if you visit Steve's Cheese Bar in Portland, you'll meet many new cheeses, none of them Tillamook. Inside his glass case Steve offers over 200 cheeses from all over the globe with a special focus on the smaller-scale farmstead cheeses from the Willamette Valley and all over Oregon. Here are 10 we enjoyed.
Tillamook Cheese is headquartered in Tillamook County, Oregon—you'll see the tall stainless steel vats of milk out front. Fifteen million pounds of milk goes through here each day and the majority of it comes from cows in Tillamook county (where they all Tillamoooo, sorry milk puns are too easy). Go on a quick tour of the cheese factory with us!
If there's a better place for chocolate lovers, well, then I haven't been there. Cacao is an emporium of all things chocolate, including shelves of gilded chocolates and artfully wrapped bars, many of which you've probably never seen before, and a menu of drinking chocolates served in little mugs.
Portland ice creameries have been killing it recently, upping their game to make some of the best scoops in the country. It makes it hard to choose a spot, never mind a flavor, but these 7 of our recent flavors in town.
Though everything at this bakery on the Oregon coast looks delicious, it's definitely worth a visit for the Bohemian Buns alone. (Those would be brioche dough buns studded with pecans and topped with caramelized granola. No, we don't know how we didn't think of that before.)
When we stopped by What's the Scoop on Portland's North Williams street, we didn't know that we were in for a show. But we lucked out, and owners Jodie and Brian Ostrovsky were about to mix up a batch of their Mocha Chip.
It's a bit daring to open a doughnut cart mere steps from Portland's touristy hotspot Voodoo Doughnuts, but Greg Slauson had a vision. And we're not certain we've seen so much blowtorching in a food cart anywhere.
Everyone always raves about the street food in Portland, and for very good reason (see our 10 favorite carts here). But we wondered: what about Eugene? Is there any exciting street food happening in this college town just 100 miles south of Portland? Yes, and it's called the Party Cart.
The Tuesday edition of the Lane County Farmers' Market in Eugene, Oregon might be a tad smaller than the one we visited in Portland, but it's full of riches nonetheless. Freshly caught salmon, gorgeous tomatoes, greens of all kinds, grapes, and apples greeted us as we made our way around on a recent visit. Check out the slideshow for a peek at some Oregon produce (and other tasty farmers' market bites).
As part of Oregon Month, we bring you another college eating guide, this one for Reed. The 1,400 or so Reed students living in Portland have some interesting choices once they get off their lovely campus.
Portland State University, aka PSU, is located in downtown Portland, though it does manage to have a campus vibe. It's also home to the best farmers' market in Portland, which sits in the middle of the campus on Saturdays. Here are some picks for the best bites near campus!
You could eat incredibly well in Portland without ever stepping into a restaurant. The food cart scene in this city continues to evolve and multiply, and it's an awesome way to eat (as long as the weather isn't too gloomy). Out of 475+ carts across town, it's hard to select just ten favorites, but these were the ones we loved most.
It's possible to spend quite a few hours at the Saturday Farmers Market at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. When we recently visited, we found evidence of the cusp of seasons: there were bins of peaches and boxes of berries alongside decorative gourds and the first fall apples. There were some local specialties too: sea beans, wild plums, chanterelles, fresh ginger, filberts, and more.