I was extremely busy when I visited Portland, Oregon for the Travel Oregon press trip, and engaged in a wide range of food and beverage activities. I wanted to highlight a few of those activities here, as well as showcasing some of the artisan producers we met. It is these small, artisan producers who are helping to make Portland a fantastic food destination. My own participation, which I'll describe below, also gave me a glimpse into the difficult and skilled efforts these producers engage in on a daily basis. They deserve much respect for their passionate labors.
Arrowhead Chocolates. On the right side is David Briggs of Xocolatl de David. Interestingly, neither Bruce or David originally planned to enter the chocolate making business.
Bruce started out as a fish biologist and eventually changed careers, entering the field of web design. One of his web projects was for a chocolate maker and this intrigued Bruce, who then decided to make another career change into chocolate. David initially acquired a physiology degree and became a personal trainer, though he always enjoyed cooking. He took a job as a line cook, making chocolate in his free time. His chocolates proved so popular that he started selling them and eventually purchased a shop, making this his full-time career.
Chop Butchery & Charcuterie. Chop Butchery is a small business and they make all of their own charcuterie as well as butcher all of their own meats. They have a curing room in their basement and try to source locally as much as possible. Their products are sold to restaurants, stores and consumers, including at local farmer's markets. Both Eric and Paula were very personable and down to earth, with a clear passion for their work.
Red Ridge Farms. We met Paul Durant whose parents started the farm in 1973, planting Pinot Noir, Riesling as well as various fruits. The farm now has about 60 acres of grapes and they produce about 1000 cases per year under the Durant Vineyards label. Paul's mother specialized in agriculture, not viticulture, and sold olive trees. About eight years ago, Paul's father planted about 2000 olive plants and their olive production facility was completed in 2008. Winters can be tough so they are researching olives which will do best in their climate.
It also shows how the passion of artisan producers can lead to excellence. And that is the lesson of this entire post.