Oregon Bounty International – Japan (Day 2)
October 13, 2006 (yes, it’s a Friday)
But there was no cursed weather or bad luck on this day.
Day #2 of promoting Oregon’s Culinary Tourism in conjunction with our statewide Oregon Bounty was another whirlwind of activity but, as always, done in classical Oregon style (laid-back and leisurely).
Our day began leaving the foggy banks of the Willamette behind to head into the Columbia River Gorge after being caffeinated at Urban Grind in the Pearl District. I decided to start high so diverted at Corbett off of I-84 and headed for the amazing view at the Portland Women’s Forum. Blue was the color of the sky and it was good (but a little chilly).
We proceeded on down towards Multnomah Falls where we made a quick stop at Wahkeena Falls. Upon reaching Multnomah Falls I was hailed by a familiar voice and looked up to see Petra (POVA) who was on a research tour of her own with some guests from Europe, only she was heading back towards Portland. Kind of appropriate her heading west and me heading east…
After a quick trek up to the Benson Bridge (seriously, how many of you knew the name of that bridge), we continued east. At this point, a meal from the day before had exposed a revelation that the Japanese have no idea what a Sturgeon is. At Caprial’s Bistro the day before we had an amazing meal of Sturgeon and upon explaining this freshwater fish and the size and proximity of this delectable delight, I was met with disbelief and doubt.
SO, our next stop took us to the Bonneville hatcheries where I prepared an introduction to Herman the Sturgeon. Apologies in Japanese are one of the most beautiful sounds in the world… :-)
The next chapter of our sojourn came straight from the recommendation of our esteemed partner (Ms. Genevieve) up in Hood River and she was spot on. This is the view of our state’s favorite icon that more and more folks will become familiar with…
We swung by Panzanella and ordered some Italian-style sandwiches on fresh-baked bread. We wrapped everything up and headed up to Mt. Hood Winery for a picnic in the orchards and a little wine-tasting.
We then headed to Kiyokawa Orchards where Randy Kiyokawa, a third generation Japanese farmer, met us and gave us a personal tour of the orchards. Some details of how his family got started and many apple and pear-tasting crunches later, we pushed on to the Apple Valley Country Store where we met up with the owner Bob White. Bob updated us on some newly landed accolades of the area including a spread in the NY Times, a top-10 listing of ski towns in Ski Magazine, and a spotlight on the Travel Channel’s recent series on Offbeat Vacation Ideas.
We left the country store weighed down with huckleberry/habanero jellies and marionberry lotions to add to the cache of fresh fruit from Kiyokawa Orchards. One quick right and an even quicker left (actually a right after the U-turn), we were at the doorsteps of Pheasant Valley Winery. There, Scott gave us a personal tour of their production and helped guide us through a tasting of their assortment of wine. After additional contributions to the local economy, we headed back towards Hood River.
At this point, I’d like to point out that this tour effectively outlines the Fruit Loop Tour up there in the Hood River Valley and while I wouldn’t recommend trying it with a couple of feet of snow on the ground, this trip was a memorable experience and took the Japanese guests by surprise (in a good way, no, a great way).
Our return to Hood River was a bit ahead of schedule so I introduced them to Full Sail Brewery and the opportunity to solicit many of the shops downtown.
As dinner drew near, we re-organized and headed to Celilo to see first-hand if they were truly as good as others said… I’m not going to give away the ending or the plot, but suffice it to say, blockbuster in the making…
Ben and Maui swung by our table for a chat and it was then that I found out that Maui and I graduated from Cornell together (1991) and at that point agreed that Cornellians would take over the state (in a diplomatic, peaceful kind of way). We also learned that Ben was mentored by Chef Boule of NYC (more on that later) and a good friend waltzed into the restaurant for yet another serendipitous moment.
I still have not tried the Huckleberry Tart even though the table ordered two (somehow they forgot to let me have a bite before my normally super-polite guests devoured them both) so after some espresso we headed back to Portland relaxed and satiated.
And then we did something completely crazy.
We pulled over at Multnomah Falls and looked up in the sky and there they were…. Stars (1… 2… shooting starts to boot!). And our guests relished in the opportunity to gaze upon the Milky Way and, starry-eyed, we traveled back for a good night’s rest for some, and the beginning of tomorrow for others.
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