The Pacific Northwest is a veritable farm-to-table banquet. Its plentiful waters, lush farmland, and mild climate keep the fresh food coming throughout the year.
Oregon farm-to-table highlights stretch from the Pacific to the mountains. In Portland, the Saturday farmers' market features weekly cooking demonstrations with local ingredients and seasonal events. In the Mt. Hood area, a Feast for the Senses driving tour CD will act as your in-car agricultural expert.
Oregon's Plate & Pitchfork farm dinners give diners the chance to get out into the fields and enjoy a local food and wine alfresco at elegant, white-cloth covered tables. The 2006 season is already sold out, which is a good reason to plan ahead for next year. Dinners that include the meal and wine cost $85 on Sundays and $95 on Friday and Saturday nights.
In addition to "u-pick" farms around the state, there are a few more unique ways to harvest your own bounty. The Mt. Hood Cultural Center often hosts a mushroom-picking event in fall, where visitors can learn to pick and cook mushrooms. And in August, Winchester Bay has a crab bounty hunt.
From guided picking tours in apple country to bog trails along the cranberry coast, there are ways to experience fresh and local all over Washington. The state tourism board has agricultural driving tour maps, and Puget Sound has a farm locator website.
Pike Place Market in Seattle is an exciting urban stop on the farm-to-table trail. This historic public market, known by many as "that place where they throw fish," is the retail home to regional growers and producers. And, featured crops are the subject of farmer talks and cooking demonstrations at summer Sunday farmers' markets.
At Cascadia Restaurant in Seattle's Belltown, local is the word every day. The restaurant takes a best-source approach that includes seeking out local, sustainable, and organic ingredients. It also offers cooking classes and chef-led market tours for $75.
Vancouver and environs
Vancouver and its environs stand at the crossroads between food and table, and offer many different ways to experience the local land and sea harvests. Tourism Vancouver publishes Forks & Corks quarterly, a newsletter that details the latest food news and is a useful tool for planning food and drink excursions.
Visitors who want an informed look at the local food scene may want to check out Edible British Columbia, a company that creates personalized itineraries for culinary travel. It also hosts events such as market tours, cooking classes, and food festivals in Vancouver, Whistler, Okanagan, and on Vancouver Island.
Within Vancouver, Granville Island Public Market is among the most impressive culinary landmarks. The market, home to many regional producers and vendors, is open seven days a week and displays fresh regional food and local specialty foods.
On nearby Vancouver Island at the Sooke Harbour House, the focus is on seasonal, regional, and organic food. And, there's more to do than just eat. Visitors can spend the day fishing, then enjoy their catch as part of a four-course dinner. The price for the fishing expedition and dinner depends on the number of people participating, but starts at $195 per person. The inn also runs less expensive seaweed tours, garden tours, and other activities.
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When to go: The rain that keeps the Pacific Northwest lush and fruitful is often a deterrent for visitors. Summers are the driest time of the year, and also peak season for many of the sweetest fruits and berries.
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