oregon you bastard, you've stolen my heart.
The window was down in the adventure mobile, a honda people mover...(anythings possible). My hands gliding through the force of the wind like a samurai blade. An unfamiliar smell of cedar and pine gently welcoming me with open arms. The road weaved up mountains to Lost Lake, one tight corner after another. And with each new turn my anticipation for a good camp site grow more intense. What would this camping be like? What noises would I hear? What would I see? (Mt Hood National Park)
I've never camped here before, I've never seen the Blue Jay, Chipmunk or Squirrel in their true habitat. I held back my excitement to my guide for fear of appearing too nerdy and naturalist, then I forgot to hold back and I just let it out. "Wow...did you see that?!!!" Normal scenes for him where like a different world for me. The experience was phenominal to say the least. To be fortunate enough to see such a natural wonder in this life time is pure indulgence, I'll definitely be back.
(Yes morels are in season....amazing tucker)
Indulgence was the theme (or so the fella's suggested) as I told them what I was cooking for camp dinner. In reality it was just some ingredients thrown together cooked very simply in foil with smoke. Not being permitted to bring a rifle on carry on I had to make do with a Portland chicken from a supermarket, but it's Portland so it's not some normal supermaerket of course, it's totally clean, well almost. The meat, vegetables and wine all clearly marked with what state they're produced in, allowing the consumer to decide on purchasing food closer to the store/home. What a novel idea, I yearned to see something like this in Australia, pretty slim chances of it happening though. I grabbed some chicken thighs, plump and fresh, with a small tub of in season wild morels (yes guys they have wild mushrooms at this eco market...USA!....USA!!!). In the mix was a Salmon, a hard choice to make as we had a time schedule too tight to catch our own fish. Some herbs, veg, wine and we were set.
The fish was like no other I'd seen before, durr it's a different country Ro. I rubbed the de boned flesh with brown sugar and red wine and marinated it for an hour or so before hot smoking it in a webber, served it with a cous cous salad with pan fried camp eggplant, fresh parsley, new season tomato, spanish onion and plenty of garlic. I figured if all of us ate garlic we'd not notice our stinky breath! The chicken I marinated in parsley, garlic and white wine, wrapped in tin foil and cooked sealed practically steaming the tender flesh from the heat of our comfortaing camp fire. The food was simple....that is until Mr Fancy pants Jason French rocked up and took it to a new mega level of awesomeness. A smoked Lamb bacon thing, a riulette of mixed beast, a wheat butter with rose and a tone of salt that had the boys lining up for bahqette and butter. Actually the guy turned out not to be a douche bag which was a relief becuase I was talking at his resutrunat the folling day at Nedd Ludd, which just happens to be the raddest palce in town.
After tucker we settled in with glasses of this blow away liquor drink called Snap, mixed with portlandier ginger bear with lime. Wow dangerously easy to drink, easy to easy to sink. We sat around the fire, the poler boys, Jason and me talking first world problems, food and getting away from it all. Eventually one by one we slipped away into adventure mobiles and tents. As I lay in my tent looking through the little celling window I thought about the nights conversation. The views and similarities between us men either side of the Pacific. What I admire about the poler guys is their love for getting outdoors, out where we belong with nature. I know this sounds really simple, but I have a theory, that if they convince more people to get into loving the outdoors then maybe that person would change their food habits and prefer food that has less impact on said environment. Lets face it, everything we do has some sort of impact, I guess minimising our impact is the cause.
Special thanks to Jason French (the most rockin Portland Chef) and Benji, Kharma and the poler boys (including Gary).