As a chef and event enthusiast, I love exploring all the fun and enriching experiences that Central Oregon has to offer. A day that allows you to have fun, and learn a little nugget of new information is a great day in my book.
A few weeks ago Tricia, the Events Director and I had the opportunity to explore the rich culinary offerings of Central Oregon. We went on this fun adventure with Chef Bette and Aliza from the Well Traveled Fork. I was looking forward to a day of learning new things and finding the hidden gems of the Bend culinary scene. I can tell you that we had no idea of the treat that we were getting. Our tour guide was Aliza, and this knowledgeable and passionate lady truly helped us understand the importance of supporting these local producers. We went through a sampling of the great tours that they offer through The Well Traveled Fork.
We started off at the family run Lone Pine Coffee Roaster. We got the chance to sample small batch roasted coffee and see the transformation of the beans from green to delicious awesomeness. Now I consider myself a lover of coffee in all of its forms, but I had never understood the differences of climate, region sourcing, and roasting techniques. I truly appreciated the care that Anna Witham , the owner, took to source sustainable and seasonal coffee from the different growing areas of the world. I also have to mention their homemade Chai Tea mix, it was heavenly! This place is now a go-to stop for me when I am in Bend.
Next we ventured into Navidi’s Oil and Vinegar shop. I know that there are a myriad of oils and infused vinegars, but I had never had a tasting experience like this. We were encouraged to pick and pair oils and vinegars and taste to our hearts content. I never knew that taking shots of oil and vinegar could be so fun! The range of flavors was amazing. If you need recommendations for a special meal or salad, their staff is very knowledgeable and helpful.
We were finally dragged from Navidi’s tastings, onto the next part of the tour. This brought us to baked. bakery and Real Food Street Bistro. I was seriously impressed with the knowledge that Gordon from baked. bakery had about the history of the flours and grains that he used in his offerings. The cohesive spirit of farm and business has allowed Gordon to begin using heirloom grains grow by a local farm. I loved learning about the science of flours and that many of these heirloom wheat grains can be eaten by the gluten intolerant, as their base amino acids have not been tampered with commercially.
Real Foods Street Bistro is a food cart just next door to baked. bakery, and utilizes some of their amazing breads. At Real Foods Street Bistro I can honestly say that I had the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich! Seriously, if you are a connoisseur of yummy meltiness, you have to try this paired with some of their homemade tomato soup, it is an experience. The owner, Michael, is passionate about using fresh, local, and real ingredients, and puts out amazing food that belies the size of the cart from which it is produced.
Our next stops were outside of downtown Bend, at Red Tail Farm and Oregon Spirit Distillers. Red Tail Farm shows that you can do so much in a smaller space. They have Red Wattle pigs, chickens, cows, turkeys, and produce. The owner is Heidi Moir, and she is a lady that focuses on quality over quantity. I was inspired to start getting my own personal produce from her and other local farms as you can see the obvious difference and care in these local and sustainable farmers.
The local culture of craft beer and spirits inspired the final point of the tour. We got the pleasure of meeting Brad Irwin, the owner of Oregon Sprits Distillery. I personally love a great whiskey, and he mixed us up some wonderful cocktails that highlighted the unique flavors of the spirits he produces. I loved learning about the process and what makes each spirit unique, and I must say that his “still” is a beautiful work of art. I also had my first taste of absinthe, and I love the story of its history and the demonstration of the chemical change in color.
I was sad to see the tour come to an end, but the experience was inspiring. As the chef at FivePine I was encouraged to meet these passionate people, so that we can start to grow our involvement in the local farm to fork movement. This summer you will be seeing local organic produce featured in our catering menu. We feel so blessed to have these knowledgeable people committed to the sustainability of the community.
I hope that you will consider having your own culinary experience during your visit. I promise you will not be disappointed. Thank you to Chef Bette of the Well Traveled Fork for creating these amazing experiences for all of us to enjoy.
Amanda Pierce- Catering Manager, FivePine Lodge and Conference Center
Farm & Ranch Tour: Find out where your food comes from! Visit farms and ranches and meet some of the farmers who lovingly grow and raise the most delicious and nutritious meat, dairy and produce in Central Oregon!
Culinary Secrets of Central OR: Go beyond the Bend Ale Trail to visit some of the best kept culinary secrets in the region, including a distillery, scratch bakery, coffee roasters, spice shop and yes, of course, breweries.
Westside Follow the Fork Walking Tour: Guests sip, sample and stroll their way through local food and drink businesses on the Westside.
Downtown Follow the Fork Walking Tour: Guests sip, sample and stroll their way through local food and drink businesses downtown.
Lone Pine Coffee Roasters, Anna Witham
baked. bakery, Gordon Benzer
Real Food Street Bistro, Michael McCann
Red Tail Farm, Heidi Moir
Oregon Spirit Distillers, Brad Irwin