7/28/11

Farm To Fork

I’m a city girl. I love living downtown where I can walk to work or to the grocery store, and my free time usually consists of strolling through the city, discovering new streets and coffee shops. Still, sometimes it’s fun to leave the city and do something out of the norm. One of my favorite local day trips is wine tasting in Oregon. Not only is it a great excuse to drink during the day, the scenery in the Willamette Valley is simply stunning.

There are many amazing wineries and vineyards in Oregon, most of which offer tastings on-site. I’ve gone wine tasting quite a few times with the girls for birthday parties, get togethers, and well, sometimes just because. Amazingly enough, Sam had never been wine tasting – and its been on our “to do” list for quite some time.

When Portland finally graced us with a 80+ degree Saturday, and I knew I had to spend it outdoors. Plus, Sam had just officially completed his first year of grad school, and we were in desperate need for some R&R. Grad school is exhausting for both of us!

On a whim – which is so not my style – we jumped into the car and headed out Highway 99W towards Dundee, Oregon. Located about 45 minutes west of Portland, Dundee is a teeny but adorable little town filled with wineries, restaurants and cute shops. Although we didn’t have much of a plan, it’s really easy to navigate through the town, and there are signs for wineries everywhere.

We pulled into Four Graces, one of my favorite Dundee wineries, and each bought a tasting flight. For $10 each, we got to sample 5 wines, ranging from a Pinot Gris to their Estate Pinot Noir. Our favorite was the Four Graces Pinot Blanc, made with apricot, banana, lime, butterscotch, honey, Asian pear, peach and grapefruit. How could anyone not like this, right?

Although he was mostly along for the ride and to appease me, Sam was pleasantly surprised with how fun wine tasting could be. The sun was shining, the property was picturesque, the wine was great (and plentiful), and we both brought our cameras for photo oops. Like this one:

Beautiful day, huh?

We had planned to visit several wineries throughout the afternoon, but the combination of the heat and the tastings left us only wanting two things: food and water.

We drove over to Farm to Fork for a late lunch/early dinner, and luckily hit their Afternoon Menu, which was just what we were looking for. They were serving salads, sandwiches, cheese platters and other lighter fare.

Farm to Fork is a restaurant connected to the Inn at Red Hills at the far end of Dundee. All of the restaurant’s food is sourced locally, or “farm fresh” as the menu describes.

 We sat outside on the back patio, an adorable and shaded little spot with a fireplace (that was obviously NOT running on such a beautiful day), strings of lights, and lots of comfy seating. After rehydrating, we had several questions about the menu. The waiter recommended the burger, which Sam and I both couldn’t resist ordering.

… Let me skip forward to the point where I tell you that this was The BEST BURGER EVER. Seriously. Sam doesn’t get excited about much… and he literally couldn’t stop talking about our meal.

Burgers are often greasy. Heavy. Fatty.

This burger was not. Made with locally grown organic meat, topped with a fresh brioche bun, this burger was light. It was fresh. It was juicy. And I ate the whole darn thing. Including the house-made chips and house-made pickles. I honestly don’t think we talked during the meal, except for a few groans of happiness.

Oh ya, and we ordered some guava sorbet for dessert.

But back to the burger. Being in Dundee, it clearly couldn’t make the Willamette Week’s list of Top 10 Portland Burgers. But honestly – I’m nominating it for the Best Burger in Oregon. And I’d be willing to bet every item on the menu deserved a similar ranking.

All in all, we had a great day wine tasting, photographing, playing in the sun – but the highlight? Farm to Fork. Hands down.

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