Oregon’s spirit of culinary experimentation is well on display at restaurants like Chef Gabriel Rucker’s LePigeon in Portland — a French leaning bistro that some credit with the recent sweetmeats craze. But it doesn’t end with fine dining.

Rucker, always ready for a new discovery, has found that creative spirit all around the state — at breweries, distilleries, farms — and in Southern Oregon at Lillie Belle Farms Artisan Chocolates in Central Point.

Here, owner and chocolatier Jeff Shepherd introduces Rucker to the art of chocolate making with a batch of raspberry cordials using organic Madagascar chocolate and berries from his Central Point farm. “If we grow our own fruit, we know right where it comes from,” Shepherd says.

Shepherd creates such unorthodox confections as blue cheese truffles made with Rogue Creamery Cheese (located right next door), voodoo bunnies (handmade zombie chocolate critters) and chocolate covered bacon (finished with a dash of sea salt).

“That’s what makes Oregon cool for me — that I can do this. There is that little bit of pioneer spirit going on in this state that allows people to break out and just do what they want,” Shepherd says.

Explore more: Spend some time investigating the culinary offerings of Southern Oregon. Check out the annual Oregon Chocolate Festival each March at the Ashland Springs Hotel. Book a room at the historic Jacksonville Inn or the TouVelle House Bed & Breakfast. For more culinary inspiration, check out our Southern Oregon Taster’s Tour.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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