Magical things can happen at the Portland Farmers Market. Like when a baker of tiny, delicious cookies meets a Willamette Valley filbert farmer. Friendships are formed, filberts (aka hazelnuts) are tasted and the Hazelnut Bocce is born — a diminutive sweet shortbread cookie filled with rich chocolate ganache.
That’s what happened between Elizabeth Beekley from Two Tarts Bakery in Portland (now with a bricks-and-mortar location as well as a stand at the farmers market) and Barb Foulke, of Freddy Guys Hazelnuts based in Monmouth.
“This is more like an unpaid networking group,” Beekley says of the farmers market. “You get to go and sell with all of these amazing people who have been in business and have the same commitment to quality that you do.”
Foulke is one of those people. She spends her week with busy hands — shelling, sorting, roasting and packaging the hazelnuts that Beekley fell for. “Barb was one of the first people that I met at farmers market when we started. We tasted her hazelnuts and that was it. We haven’t used anything else since,” she says.
Oregon’s hazelnuts are pretty special. “Hazelnuts only grow in the Willamette Valley. They are grown nowhere else in the United States,” Foulke says. The valley’s blustery winters and dry summers make for perfect growing conditions for the hazelnut, which arrived in Oregon more than 150 years ago on wagon trains.
Beekley thanks local producers like Foulke for her success. “Our recipes are so simple. What really makes the difference is the quality of our ingredients,” she says. “We are able to work with things that are ultimately as fresh as you can possibly get, and that’s really what makes our product sing.”
Explore Oregon’s Food Scene: Spend some time investigating the Portland’s Farmers Markets, and pay a visit to Two Tarts Bakery. Book a room at Hotel Lucia or The Heathman Hotel in the heart of downtown Portland. For more Willamette Valley food trip ideas, check out how to have a Perfect Wine Country Weekend, or learn more about the good food and drinks the balley grows Beyond the Wine.