Editor’s note: Oregon’s COVID-19 restrictions have eased, but businesses may ask you to wear a face cover – bring one along and be patient and kind if asked to wear it. It’s also wildfire season – plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.
Sweet with your salty? Savory with your sugar? We’re known for pushing the gustatory envelope around here, and Oregon treat makers are no exception. Whether you order online for delivery or place an order for takeout — or even attend a virtual chocolate festival — you won’t run out of ways to treat yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Take Salt & Straw, for example. The ice cream empire offers its iconic flavors like arbequina olive oil, pear with blue cheese, and bourbon and caramelized honeycomb as pints online — you can even join their Pints Club monthly subscription.
Cool Moon Ice Cream and Ruby Jewel also offer some of the finest small-batch, handcrafted ice cream in town. And what better time to find some of the region’s best bean-to-bar chocolate? Take a craft chocolate tour of Portland to explore and fully appreciate the true bitter yet addictive taste of quality chocolate, unmasked by artificial sweeteners. Or better yet, taste the chocolates that celebrate Oregon wine in the form of truffles that look like wine corks.
If you like your treats bottled, take time to appreciate McMenamins Distillery’s coffee liqueur, said to taste like a chocolate brownie. Their Phil hazelnut liqueur is made from 100% Oregon-grown filberts, just enough sweetness to make their clean, unaged wheat whiskey go down a little too easily. And their Morning Dew is a brandy made with pinot noir grapes grown in the Dundee Hills, with just the right balance of cherry and red berries. Find true bliss by pairing these with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
In Southern Oregon, Lillie Belle Farms brings chocolate and cheese together with the only-in-Oregon Smokey Blue Cheese Truffles, made with help from the award-winning Rogue Creamery. For a good dose of heat with your sweet, Lillie Belle’s “Do Not Eat This Chocolate” bar is a mix of dark and milk chocolate heated up with ghost chile, aji amarillo and chile de arbole. At Face Rock Creamery, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the silky richness of their “Vampire Slayer” garlic cheddar and fromage blanc cheese, not to mention their famous cheese curds. Cleanse your palate with a scoop of Umpqua Dairy ice cream for good measure.
You can find both sweet and savory at Pennington Farms outside of Grants Pass, which uses sustainably grown berries in its baked goods and jams. Be sure to try their mouthwatering orange rolls, caramel cuts and jalapeno-Swiss-cheese scones. Buttercloud Bakery & Cafe in Medford serves up a delicious menu of sandwiches, soups and salads. But don’t leave without snagging their famous orange-pecan sticky buns or their airy namesake buttercloud biscuits.
On March 5, 2021, Ashland’s 17th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival is going virtual with online demonstrations, pairings for pickup and behind-the-scenes livestreams of production facilities. The Chocolate Maker’s Sweet & Savory Provision Box from Larks Restaurant is sure to satisfy all your cravings. The festival is also offering special overnight packages to help you experience the region’s Rogue and Applegate valleys safely.
Along the Coast, there are a number of hideaways to satiate your sweet tooth. Nosh Eatery in Florence has a goat-cheese cheesecake topped with their house marionberry jam that shouldn’t be missed. Pacific Sourdough in Waldport is one of those finds that you’ll remember for years, with its natural leavened sourdoughs and small-batch pastries that use locally made butter and seasonal fruits. If you catch them on the menu, try their rich dark-chocolate tortine, Italian almond cake and bourbon pecan bars before they sell out. Farther north, The Naked Lemon in Astoria whips up from-scratch French macarons, cupcakes, cakes and more. Its menu includes enticing flavors in its cakes, including an orange-cranberry-cardamom cake and a triple-layer pumpkin-spice cake.
But always, always save room for pie. Some of the finest bakers in Oregon are cranking out truly exquisite masterpieces every day. Don’t miss the vegan spinach-and-feta pastry at Pacific Pie Company in Portland; the fruit tarts at Sweet Life Patisserie in Eugene (which can be made without eggs, dairy and gluten); the raspberry-rhubarb pie at Sisters Bakery in Sisters; and the bacon-jam empanadas at Sweet Wife Baking in Baker City.