Wild and Edible

Greg Robeson and Elan Hagens, Guest Author
June 28, 2013 (Updated May 16, 2016)

Elan Hagens is a native Oregonian, which can be a bit rare these days in the Portland Metro area. Ever since she was a little girl, Elan has been playing in the woods, hiking, foraging and going to every outdoor camp imaginable. After college she became well known for her work with dogs, and was even on the hit reality show “Greatest American Dog,” which opened a lot of opportunities for her to work with animals full-time. After reading a few articles about truffle dog training, she decided to combine two of her passions: food and dogs. Temptress Truffles Wild Edibles was born. Elan’s line of truffles and truffle-infused products is a hit at local farmers markets and with some of Portland’s top chefs. She also provides educational classes and leads wild edible tours and hikes. Here’s how Elan recommends spending a few days around the central Willamette Valley and Oregon Coast.

Start your day
Oregon isn’t short on coffee establishments, and there are many corporate coffee companies close to me. But I choose to drive a few extra miles to get my morning jo from Happyrock Coffee Roasting Company in Gladstone, just a few blocks away from the scenic Clackamas River. Try “The Temptress.” It’s a truffle-salted caramel mocha that’ll really get you going.

Meet the maker
I like to pull off of I-5 south of Salem and stop at Willamette Valley Vineyards to chat with founder and winegrower Jim Bernau. They’re big supporters of the annual Oregon Truffle Festival, where you can do more than just eat all things truffle; attendees can have their dogs trained and then take that them out on a forage.

You’ve gotta see this
On my way to the coast I love the windy drive up to Marys Peak west of Corvallis. It’s the highest peak of the Oregon Coast range in the Siuslaw National Forest. Like many regions of Oregon, this region of dense forest gets a lot of coastal and valley wetness, which makes for some great mushroom hunting. On a clear day you can see all the way to the coast.

Unique sleeps
As a forager and someone who almost always has a truffle dog or two with her, I’ve gotten to know a few places that welcome pooches. The Looking Glass Inn has great views of Siletz Bay and the ocean, and it’s just a few blocks to the beach where I can walk my dogs. I love to curl up with them by the fire after a day of foraging in the coast range.

Get out the camera
One of the benefits of living in this mountainous state is our abundance of waterfalls. Silver Falls State Park is just the place to start a waterfall journey much like the pioneers and Native Americans did. There are ten falls in the canyon that you can reach by hiking well-maintained trails. You can also make it an overnighter in one of their campgrounds or rustic cabins.

Can’t-miss meal
If you are a lover of wild edibles, then you definitely need to add The Joel Palmer House in Dayton to your bucket list. It’s located in a historic home in the heart of Willamette Valley wine country and is owned by my favorite foraging family, the Czarneckis. Father Jack started the restaurant, and also literally wrote the book on mushrooms for cooks. His son Joel now oversees the kitchen. For a splurge, try the Mushroom Madness tasting menu and grab a bottle of their Oregon Truffle Oil on the way out.

A treat worth driving out of your way
Hands down for me it’s Salt & Straw Ice Cream in Portland. Their seasonal wild berry ice cream is amazing. They are well known for the local unique flavors and combinations of their small batch ice creams, which are just perfect for my huge sweet tooth.

Looking for more culinary inspiration? Check out our other Trails to Feast around the state.