Farm to Fork brings together local farms, wineries and chefs for a celebration of just one of the things that makes Oregon such a spectacular place to live – our food. They host farm dinners around the state, and I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the event being held in one of my favorite places: the Hood River Valley.

The setting was Kiyokawa Family Orchards. I have been a fan of this place for a long time, having previously discovered their booth at the annual Harvest Festival along the Hood River waterfront and at Portland area farmers markets. They offer one of the largest varieties of apples, from the well-known honeycrisp to lesser-known heirloom varieties such as pink pearls and elstars.

Upon arriving in Parkdale, we wound our way through the orchard like a maze, following forks to the location of the dinner. We were greeted with a glass of Riesling from Viento Wines and took in a grand view of Mount Hood towering above the valley. Servers wandered the growing sea of people with trays of small bites, such as crostini topped with eggplant jam and anchovy.

After appetizers, we were treated to a tour of the orchard by farmer Randy Kiyokawa. He shared the history of the farm, which has been in his family for generations. As I listened to him speak, I gained a greater appreciation for where our food comes from. He credits the people that work for him, some of whom have been there for decades.

At the end of the tour, we entered a clearing between rows of trees, where our dinner would be served at a grand table. There was something surreal about eating off a white linen-draped table set with mismatched dishes and silverware and vases filled with flowers plucked fresh from the fields.

As my husband and I looked up and down the table with approximately 170 diners, the largest we have ever been seated at, we noted that every face wore a look of utter enjoyment as we eagerly awaited course after course.

Thank you to Kiyokawa Orchards for being such gracious hosts, to Chef Jon Moch of Celilo Restaurant and Bar in Hood River for preparing such a symphony for my stomach, and to all the small farms that provided the food for the meal. Last but not least, thank you to Farm to Fork for bringing events like this to small towns around Oregon, allowing people to sample the bounty that is unique to this state. Bravo!

Thank you to the local Hood River businesses that participated in the orchard dinner:

Viento Wines

Double Mountain Brewery

Wildwood Farm

Hood River Organic

Editor’s note: Travel Oregon is on the road with Farm to Fork during their 2012 series. Read about their other dinners around Oregon. 

About the Author: Cari Gesch

Cari, a resident of the Mount Hood foothills, is a photographer, writer, and wanderer of hiking trails and scenic byways. She captures images and stories of the experiences and destinations that make Oregon such an exciting place to live and play in on her blog, Wahkeena Exposures.

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