Oregon that green state that hugs the Northwest Pacific is well known for great food made with farm-to-table products. From foraged wild mushrooms in the Cascades, briny oysters and fresh fish from the ocean, grass-fed meats from local ranchers, to berries, greens, and all manner of fresh, in-season vegetables and artisan cheeses, honeys, and preserved fruits and vegetables from its valleys, the state offers chefs a culinary bounty that’s unmatched. And Dishing Up Oregon: 145 Recipes that Celebrate Farm-to-Table Flavors by Ashley Gartland captures the essence of that bounty with delectable recipes from some of the state’s most well-known chefs.
Dishing Up Oregon is both a cookbook and the story of Oregon’s chefs, farmers, and artisan producers. Throughout the 287-page book, local food writer Gartland, who also serves as the executive director of the Portland Culinary Alliance, has sprinkled interesting mini-profiles about these people and their businesses. For instance, she writes goat cheese Juniper Grove Farm, where they produce artisan goat cheese: “You can hear the heart of Juniper Grove Farm bleating the moment you approach Pierre Kilisch’s hand-built creamery. Just beyond the creamery’s bright blue front door, his herd of goats stand greeting visitors and munching on alfalfa between milkings. Kolisch and his small staff rise early to milk the goats at 7 AM; they milk them again at 4 PM to keep up with the demand for Juniper Grove’s high-quality artisan cheese.”
The stories, illustrated with photographer John Valls gorgeous photos and printed in a soft matte style, give the reader a much deeper appreciation for the personalities, the passion, and the persistence that go into producing farm-to-table foods.
Delicious Photos Too
Dishing Up Oregon is a beautiful book, Valls’s photos make the book as delicious to look at as it is to use as a cookbook. Beautiful photos of fishing boats bobbing in a bay, close-ups of fruits, vegetables, seafood, and recipes, and telling photos of the people this book is about create a portrait of the state that’s a food lover’s dream and makes Oregon a must-do on travelers’ itinerary. The photos also accurately capture the essence of this book and the many people who made it happen. For example, there’s a picture of Petrene Moreland of Sweet Briar Farms petting a huge hog. The beatific look on her face communicates clearly her love of the work. Another image of Chef John Stewart of Meat, Cheese, Bread laughing as he looks down at his razor clam po’ boy captures his joy. These and many other images help make Dishing Up Oregon both a personal and approachable book for readers.
Dishing Up Oregon is an ingredient-focused cookbook and, thus, divides the book in a non-traditional fashion: Seasonal vegetables, seasonal fruits, artisan cheese and dairy, clam chowder and beyond, grass-fed meats and wild game, cooking with bottled bounty, and sweet treats. The recipes, interspersed with mini-profiles and stories about the chefs and producers, come primarily Oregon chefs like iconic Vitaly Paley, who also wrote the book’s introduction. Readers can expect mouth-watering offerings like roasted beet and cheve salad, rustic cheese galette, heirloom carrot bisque with manila clams and chorizo, and lamp tangine with sweet tomato jam. The recipes are eclectic and cover a broad range of styles and cooking traditions.
All the recipes feature a brief intro that describes the dish. That’s followed by a listing of ingredients, number of servings, and numbered instructions. It’s an effective layout that makes following the recipes easy for any level of cook.
In addition to offering intriguing recipes, Dishing Up Oregon is a great way for travelers to “try out” recipes from some of Oregon’s best restaurant. Even if they don’t actually make the dishes themselves, just reading the recipes and descriptions give readers a good idea of what they can expect at each restaurant. I know in reading a number of recipes, I was intrigued enough to put those eating establishments on my go-to list.
Whether you’re a cook or just a food lover, you’ll find Dishing Up Oregon intriguing and satisfyingly beautiful. Kudos to author Ashley Gartland and photographer John Valles. They’ve created an apt ode to Oregon’s terrific farm-to-table products and her talented chefs and food producers. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor