My aunt in Virginia was telling me about the regional specialties there - food that she sees everywhere she goes. I moved to Oregon within the last year and was wondering if anyone could point me towards what food Oregon is known for.
Drop into a farmer's market and you'll soon know. It's a food Mecca here from fish, produce, berries, nuts, wine, bread, sausage, beer. I could go on & on. Or drop in on a food cart pod. Honestly, if you've lived here a year, you must have come across sonething
Check to see if you can join a foraging group in your area. You would discover all sorts of wild foods that couldn't be more local. The Northwest Coastal Indians, the region's early human inhabitants, had an incredibly rich range of foods avaiable to them almost around the year. They had no need to develop agriculture because of e rich variety of food. See if you could find some books about their foods for more info.
Here is a great link to check out = Oregon Local Food Guide:
Welcome to Oregon! For "specialties" just think seasonally and hit the farmers markets. The berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, marionberries) are incredible throughout the summer; get apples and pears in late summer-early autumn; root vegetables in winter-spring, etc. (What doesn't work as well here, in my view, are tomatoes and corn.) Get wild salmon and Dungeness crabs during local seasons. If you like mushrooms, local morels are delicious. Throughout the year, of course, Oregon wine, beer, and cheese are wonderful.
don't forget the hazelnuts!
Oregon morels and chantarelles are fantastic---although I'll pass on the truffles. Depending on the ocean temperatures dungeness crabs are available all year round from somewhere on the West Coast. Wild caught salmon. Oysters. Fiddlehead ferns. Berries in the Pacific Northwest are especially great.
Where in Oregon are you located? In addition to what's been mentioned, Oregon has a large number of microbreweries, as well as wineries. Oregon is the largest US producer of hazelnuts and mint (try driving around east of the Cascades when they're harvesting the mint; the air smells amazing.) I don't know that we have any local specialties as far as specific dishes we're known for (like bagels and dirt water dogs in NY, or cajun/creole cuisine in NOLA, etc...) I think it's more about fresh and local out here.
Something with Tillamook cheese will please any Oregonian. A sandwich, eggs Benny, pizza, whatever you would use cheese for.
Just highlighting the north Oregon coast: salmon, sturgeon, tuna, razor clams, Dungeness crab, oysters, huckleberries, chanterelles, Tillamook cheese, all sorts of smoked fish. We used to make a point of trying the local clam chowder in every small local spot along the coast.
Growing up in Portland we'd head to the Willamette valley for strawberry picking, and we've always believed that Oregon strawberries are the best! My great aunt grew black caps that she sold to jam companies, also blackberries, raspberries and Loganberries.
And don't forget all the vineyards in the Willamette valley and in southern Oregon.
Find lots of Oregon wines, seafood and regional specialties at the Astoria Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival- http://www.oldoregon.com/events/entry/astoria-warrenton-crab-seafood-wine-festival/
I'd say a quintessentially Oregon meal would be salmon with chanterelles, perhaps huckleberry pie to finish. For me though, it's pan fried razor clams, hands down!
But Oregon is really made up of completely different regions so you'll find completely different specialties on the "dry side."
I'm in the uk... I've only been to Oregon once... But! 97% of the USA hazelnut crop is grown in Oregon... How's that for a tourist fact?! The Portland farmers market was amazing....
Berries! In late summer or early autumn we've picked them when on road trips.
Every time I head north from the San Francisco Bay area to Oregon, I have a car stuffed with delicacies that are harder to come by there than here. But while I'm there, I eat the mushrooms and berries--they are among the best in the world. And I return home with wine and cheese and a bunch of other stuff. I lived briefly in Oregon about 35 years ago, when there were a few good wines and no good cheeses (sorry, Tillamook). (There were, of course, those hazelnuts.) But what an enormous change--now it's a food heaven. And if you think about the mushrooms and berries, I guess it always was.
I'm in agreement with Greenstuff on this one. Tillamook is hardly an interesting cheese. I guess maybe it was back in the 1970's. But Oregon mushrooms and berries are superb. And as we head into summer, soon the salmon will be good.
These all sound great. I'm really looking forward to trying marionberries. I saw chanterelle mushrooms in the market several months ago and I was too intimidated to get some. They're so expensive that I want to be sure I know what I'm doing with them.
Huckleberries and oysters always bring me back to camping on the Oregon coast as a kid. So do clams and geoduck (the stomach is the best part, don't just eat the foot).
Chanterelles are good, do remember that the reason that they're expensive is that they are fairly light and that your paying for someone to collect them (the foragers at the farmer's market always have the most interesting greens too).
We always referred to hazelnuts as filberts, never as hazelnuts here at least until the eighties. My great aunt had acres of filbert orchards just south of Portland. Always my favorite nut! (Both the aunt and the filberts!) Gibson2011- Never pass up chanterelles! Saute them with butter and shallots, and they have a wonderful affinity for chicken. We always gathered them in the fall, after the first major rains. You can freeze them after sauteeing them in butter and add to dishes all winter long.
Tillamook cheese is just a staple here, something we've all grown up with as a basic cheddar. It's ubiquitous here, in every store. But for some reason, tourists go crazy for it.
If you really want to get a feel for Oregon and Pacific NW foods, there's a lovely cookbook by Cory Schreiber titled, "Wildwood: Cooking from the Source in the Pacific Northwest." It's by a chef whose family have lived here for generations and is named for an iconic restaurant he opened in Portland. Check out this book- it's arranged by region and has wonderful stories of generations of harvesting, hunting and gathering in Oregon. I think this book is one of the best at imparting the feelling of what it's like to grow up here and participate in all the wonderful bounty of Oregon foods.
Also, James Beard, an Oregonian, often wrote glowingly about foods from his home state.