GETTING FRUITY IN THE ORCHARDS

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My first foodie stop in Hood River was to The Gorge White House… a great stop on the fruit loop with orchards, U-pick fields for fruits and flowers and home brewed wines and hard ciders.

I was out of season in early May and it was a Monday so the place was actually closed to the public. But a tweet or two later and I had an invitation to stop by before lunch when the chef would still be in and setting up for the week ahead.

I did just that, pulling into the car park I was met by a very smiley Sadie who I’d been previously tweeting. She showed me around, explained the history of the place… originally owned by the Kennedy family from 1901 and then, only a few years after selling the property in the early 2000’s the family bought it back. The Kennedys were officially back in the White House! 😉

Since I was a few weeks too early there wasn’t much to pick but Jack, chef at the orchard (and Sadie’s brother), offered to cook me up some of his menu, much of which incorporated the local fruits. Jack had trained at Le Cordon Bleu in France and Australia so knew what he was doing!

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He had an obvious flair and pride for cooking with fruits harvested just metres from his café and utilising locally sourced food. As an example, the flatbreads he used were baked by his uncle, the bacon and meats came from Mt Shadow Meats just down the road and the salad and herbs, if not from the garden on site, from Organic Speckled.

I tucked into a Cherry and Bacon Flatbread with Gorgonzola Cheese & Chives and a Pear, Bacon and Goats Cheese Quesadilla. Both were the perfect blend of sweet from the fruit with savoury from the smoky and salty bacon and creamy cheese. Washed down with a sampler of their hard cherry cider and with the orchard as a vista it was the perfect start to the day.

Sadie and Jack very kindly sent me on my way with a bottle of their Pear Wine made from home-grown Bosc pears and their extra special Pear and Blueberry Wine.

If you’re in Hood River during the right season (June-Aug) I urge you to stop by and try Jack’s food and have a go at the U-Pick. I fondly remember enjoying the UK equivalent, which is PYO… Pick-You-Own, as a kid because there’s something very satisfying about harvesting your own berries or fruit! Or, to be honest, even if not in season, you can still enjoy it as much as I did… so don’t miss out if you’re experiencing the Fruit Loop!

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