Oregonian’s MIX Magazine, July 2013
With so much to do, see and (most importantly) taste in southern Oregon, spending a night, or three, is imperative. And to make the very most of your food-centric trip, we compiled a list of some of the most delicious lodgings.
For the fly-fishing devotee: Steamboat Inn
Instead of summer foraging, try fishing. Jack Hemingway (Ernest’s son and a renowned fly fisherman) called the water just upstream from Steamboat Inn “the greatest stretch of summer steelhead water in the United States.” The steelhead begin to arrive in the “fly-waters” of the North Umpqua River by July — the perfect time to escape to a cabin at the inn and cast a fly into the legendary waters.
The streamside studio cabins are charming with river-side decks, but the luxurious (and romantic) river suites are worth the splurge with river-view soaking tubs, fireplace, mini-kitchen and private deck. If you’re not a fisher, fret not — you can day trip to Crater Lake, hike among waterfalls and wildflowers or adventure to the off-the-beaten-path Umpqua Hot Springs.
During the summer months, the Steamboat Inn is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, focusing on home-cooked comfort fare.
The Fisherman’s Dinner: The inn serves dinner near dusk during the fishing season. The evening begins with a cocktail hour in the library, and a family-style dinner follows in the main dining room. Hosts and chefs Sharon Van Loan and Pat Lee change the menu daily. Note to cookbook collectors: Check out Van Loan’s “Thyme and the River: Recipes from Oregon’s Steamboat Inn.”
42705 N. Umpqua Highway, Idleyld Park, 541-498-2230; thesteamboatinn.com
For the aspiring cheesemaker: Pholia Farm
Sleep in a refurbished 1970 Airstream Land Yacht? Count us in. It gets better: The vintage Airstream is on Oregon’s only off-the-grid creamery, Pholia Farm, where Gianaclis and Vern Caldwell produce award-winning aged raw milk cheeses.
This is why we love Oregon. Located 10 country-road miles outside the city of Rogue River, the 24 acres of forest and farmland mesmerize as you drive through the gates and spot Nigerian dwarf goats frolicking. You can sign up ahead for cheesemaking classes, dairy school or just peek at the chore schedule in the Airstream to participate in feeding and milking the goats. At the end of the day unwind with one of the Caldwells favorite cheese films — “The Cheese Nun” or “Artois the Goat.”
The Cheese Plate: Bring your own accouterments to pair with the sampling of farmstead cheeses you will find in your fridge. You can buy more for the ride home from the on-site cheese shop. Try the Elk Mountain, a raw-milk aged cheese, or the Covered Bridge, a semisoft to semihard, raw-milk washed curd cheese made with Nut Brown Ale from the nearby Wild River Brewing.
9115 West Evans Creek Road, Rogue River, 541-582-8883; pholiafarm.com/home.htm
For the cook: The Willows Bed & Breakfast
When you pack for The Willows Bed & Breakfast, bring a tennis racket, bikini and your favorite apron. The grand orchard estate, listed on the national register of historic places, boasts an outdoor pool, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, formal croquet lawn and a cooking school. Owners Sandy and Joe Dowling, Manhattan expats, retired to southern Oregon wooed by the long growing season. The duo tends to the five lush acres of landscaped gardens and ponds, and more than 250 varieties of roses grow across the property. “We have every fruit tree you can imagine,” says Sandy, “from fig to quince.” For cocktail hour, carafes of Wooldridge Creek are available on tap.
Breakfasts often feature seasonal accents procured by Joe, an avid forager and fisherman. “If he catches crab, it’s crab Benedict for breakfast,” says Sandy.
The Cooking School: Cooking classes take place in a carriage house turned large country kitchen adjacent to the estate’s herb, vegetable and fruit gardens. Each class accommodates up to 16 epicureans and ranges from the art of charcuterie to a traditional lobster bake.
3347 Old Stage Road, Central Point, 541-665-3020; thewillowsbedandbreakfast.com
For the Shakespeare fan: The Winchester Inn
If you want to walk to the best of the bard, The Winchester Inn is where to stay. This elegant Victorian-style home with tiered English gardens is a charming getaway in the heart of downtown Ashland. In addition to the two-course gourmet breakfast, the inn offers on-site dining with Alchemy Restaurant and Bar run by executive chef Billy Buscher. Try the venison burger with garlic aioli or the house-made rabbit sausage en croute from the bistro menu.
The Wine Bar: Drew Gibbs (the son of innkeepers Laurie and Michael Gibbs) curates a thoughtful wine list, spotlighting many local Applegate Valley and Rogue Valley producers. Designated wines are labeled biodynamic, LIVE-certified and Salmon-Safe. Wine flights change weekly.
35 S. Second St., Ashland, 541-488-1113; winchesterinn.com
For the ardent locavore: Willow-Witt Ranch
If you’ve ever fantasized about living off the grid, venture to Willow-Witt Ranch. Perched in the Cascades at almost 5,000 feet, this 440-acre property is full of hidden gems –such as a wood-fired hot tub for sunsets and stargazing.
The rustic-chic farmhouse studio with loft features a wood stove and a full kitchen stocked with farm eggs, fresh goat’s milk and butter. Or try “glamping” in one of the two safari-style wall tents framed by ponderosa pines. Each tent sleeps up to four, and you can cook summer feasts in the adjacent fully equipped kitchen with provisions from the farm.
The ranch is home to a cast of farm characters reminiscent of an E.B. White tale, tended by owners Suzanne Willow and Lanita Witt. Take a farm tour and you will meet Berkshire pigs, French Alpine goats, countless clucking chickens and three sweet and loyal livestock guard dogs.
The Farm Feast: Grilled Saucisse Pistache from the onsite farm store with freshly picked lettuces and vegetables from the garden. Bonus: Willow-Witt will host a Farm to Fork Dinner on Aug. 17 with Quady North Winery and chefs Braden Hitt of Elements and Neil Clooney of Smithfields.
658 Shale City Road, Ashland, 541-890-1998; willowwittranch.com