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SIMPLE BEAUTY

M O D E R N L I V I N G C L O S E T O N AT U R E TREE TO BOTTLE

Taste Applegate craft cider

CREATIVE COMEBACK Ashland supports its Art Center

TRAVELS THROUGH FOOD Exotic menus, local flavors

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oregonhealthyliving.com

Oregon Healthy Living inspires a healthier Rogue Valley community by providing quality whole-life wellness advice, insight and education for people who want to live life to the fullest. Health isn’t a fad in Southern Oregon; it’s a way of life, with deep roots and broad reach. In 12 issues a year, topics range from physical health, nutrition and fitness to alternative health practices, mental health and even caring for our pets.

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@dnwmagazine

PUBLISHER & CEO Steven Saslow

See the face and read the name on this page, and thoughts of food may follow.

EDITOR Sarah Lemon

It’s true: Food has fueled my passions during a 20-year media career that includes former food editor and current dining columnist for the Mail Tribune. I’ve also written extensively about health and fitness, wine and cannabis and just about every genre in between. My lifelong passion, however, is exploring my native Pacific Northwest and sharing with residents and visitors alike the stories that define this region.

GRAPHIC DESIGN Paul Bunch & Amy Tse SPECIALTY PUBLICATIONS SALES MANAGER Molly Little CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jim Flint Sarah Lemon Buffy Pollock Cheryl P. Rose CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Apple Outlaw Kyle Asher Ashland Art Center Jim Flint Bill Hoffman Dallion McGregor Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen

Growing up on Oregon’s south coast spurred my emerging culinary curiosity. Whether I was foraging wild strawberries from the dunes or pulling pots stuffed with Dungeness crab from Coos Bay, I craved more epicurean delights steeped in the beauty and wonder of my home state. Whenever I trade tales of quintessential Pacific Northwest experiences — or hidden gems — a sense of community is fostered among friends, neighbors and newcomers. Celebrating our unique community, by highlighting selections of the region's best in every issue, is Distinctly Northwest's mission. Read how local innovators build thriving businesses and stunning homes. Plan your next weekend getaway to a beloved attraction or little-known destination. Get to know some of the area’s intriguing personalities. And, of course, indulge in some fine foods and beverages. Is there a story you’d like to see in Distinctly Northwest? Let me know! Email thewholedish@gmail.com

Distinctly Northwest Magazine is published by the Rosebud Media Advertising Department 111 N. Fir Street, Medford, OR 97501 GENERAL INFORMATION: 541.776.4422 To advertise in this magazine, contact Molly Little 541.776.4427 • mlittle@rosebudmedia.com Reproduction is prohibited without the permission of the publisher

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Applegate orchard upholds organic GOOD READ

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CONTEMPORARY CONTENTMENT / f ea t ure

‘Cozy’ up with Ashland author

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NORTHWEST ADVENTURE

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Homebodies inspired by nature

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Gourmet fare from a food truck

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Getting lost on a coastal peak

Ashland Art Center plans reopening

32 ON THE COVER: The contemporary home of Bill and Kathy Hoffman incorporates natural materials, designed by Milo Shubat and constructed by Asher Homes, both of Ashland. Photo by Kyle Asher

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SARAH LEMON PHOTOS COURTESY OF APPLE OUTLAW

CIDER CONNECTION P

lenty of craft ciders are brewed in Oregon. “Tree-to-bottle” ciders are in a class of their own.

In his single-varietal ciders, Smith showcases McIntosh, Gravenstein and Wickson apples. Packaged like wines in 750-milliliter bottles, these ciders also have distinct flavor and aroma profiles that conjure rose petals and other florals; raspberries, grapes and pears; and cinnamon, cardamom and clove, to name a few. Thompson Creek’s barrel-aged dry and “heritage” blends also can be tasted, sipped and paired with foods in much the same way as wines.

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“It focuses on and highlights the organic, estate-grown fruit,” says Smith.

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The Apple Outlaw brand has grown far beyond the capacity of Blair Smith’s seven-acre orchard in the Applegate. But Smith’s higher-end Thompson Creek line keeps the connection to his land alive.

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New tastes for historically significant beverage drive flavor innovations at Applegate cidery

“We do a lot of barrel aging with the Thompson Creek,” says Smith. Produced in just 10 percent of the quantity of Smith’s Apple Outlaw, Thompson Creek boasts an exclusive continued on page 9

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“We try to keep it small, so we can make it super special,” says Smith. Special flavors — seasonal, small-batch and “one-off ” — have helped to drive Apple Outlaw’s rapid growth since the label’s 2013 debut. Selling fresh-pressed apple juice and whole fruit at farmers markets for his first decade in business, Smith devised adding value to his products by founding his Applegate cidery in 2014.

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Cider was on the rise around the country, coinciding with growing demand for gluten-free foods and beverages. Viewed as a hot trend in some circles, cider in fact was experiencing an American resurgence after languishing in obscurity for about a century. “It’s fascinating seeing it make a comeback,” says Chris Dennett, co-owner of Beerworks in Medford and Jacksonville.

Hoping that Apple Outlaw would be “wanted in every state,” Smith and wife Marcey Kelley chose a raccoon as their mascot in homage to real masked

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bandits that forage around their property. Planning for cider, the couple had planted their orchard in specific apple varieties, and Smith had been experimenting with home brewing before working on his first commercial batches with Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem.

cider club with about 100 members. A few spots are available; see details at appleoutlaw.com/cider-club

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Blair Smith tends apple trees in his orchard, which produces Thompson Creek Cider.

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The Temperance Movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s spurred Americans to raze apple orchards, which hadn’t recovered by the advent of Prohibition, from 1920 to 1933. German settlers to the United States already had ushered in mammoth breweries, shifting the American palate to beer.

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Cider’s heyday was the American Colonial era, when it was so popular that children commonly drank it diluted. The first apple trees planted in the New World were intended to yield fruit for an alcoholic beverage safer than water for the Pilgrims to drink. Indeed, Johnny Appleseed wasn’t traveling the country planting apples so the Colonists could eat fruit, but rather make cider, notes Dennett.

Reclaiming some of its status, perhaps in concert with craft beer’s popularity, cider has a designated tap at Dennett’s Elements restaurant in Medford. Over the summer, he says, Elements poured Apple Outlaw’s semisweet Siskiyou Gold. The original flavor is augmented by Apple Outlaw’s ginger- and pineapple-infused ciders, as well as the unfiltered, dry style dubbed Jefferson Dry. Summer’s seasonal flavor is Oregon Blackberry; fall and winter brings Coastal Cranberry. “People always want something new; they want something fun; they want something exciting,” says Smith. “It keeps it fun for us, too.” Playing around with watermelon, raspberry, lavender and even cucumberjalapeno, Apple Outlaw doesn’t bottle its “one-off ” flavors, but rather kegs them for dispensing at special events and weekly farmers markets in Medford and Grants Pass.

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“The growers market has been a really great way to engage with people,” says Smith. “That’s where we’ve seen the biggest growth — is in Southern Oregon.” Sold around the Pacific Northwest through Portland and Washington distributors, Apple Outlaw also can be purchased in Northern California. It’s stocked in Safeway and Albertsons stores, locally, as well as Trader Joe’s and myriad independent grocers and retailers. “Harry & David has been a big supporter,” says Smith. “It really all comes down to that local aspect.” “Local always sells well,” agrees Dennett, whose Beerworks locations each have an entire cooler dedicated to ciders. Apple Outlaw’s 500-milliliter bottle has a suggested retail price of $5.99. The same size in the Thompson Creek line has a suggested retail price of $8.99. Look for Apple Outlaw on tap at restaurants and bars throughout the region.  @appleoutlaw

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CHERYL P. ROSE

CRÈME la de CRIME

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Ashland author makes town a backdrop to mystery series

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n a fictitious version of Ashland Plaza, the delightful Torte bakeshop on the corner is the family business of protagonist Juliet, who seems to stumble upon murder as often as she whips up an artisanal delicacy. Eleven books into her bakeshop mysteries, author Ellie Alexander considers Ashland, itself, an essential character for her stories that juxtapose cozy cups of mocha lattes with coldblooded murder. Ellie Alexander is the pen name of Ashland resident Kate Dyer-Seeley, who moved to town four years ago, though she started the bakeshop mysteries in 2012. “My dad was an English teacher and a huge Shakespeare buff, so we would come to Ashland every summer,” says Dyer-Seeley, who grew up in Vancouver, Wash. “I thought it was like a quintessential English village, perfect for setting a mystery series. One of the gifts of Ashland is the influx of tourists from all over the world descending on this little Shakespearean town,” she says. “For a mystery writer, that’s gold. I can weave in new suspects with each book.” The bakeshop mysteries, which glory in punny titles, is one of four book series that DyerSeeley has written. She also has an ongoing mystery series about a brewpub set in Leavenworth, Wash. Combined, Dyer-Seeley has published 23 books. She’s currently working on the 14th book in the bakeshop series.

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Ellie Alexander “For me, writing more than one series is better for my creative energy,” she says. “I will write a fast, horrible first draft in about six weeks. Then I don’t look at it for three or four months. The gift of multiple series is that I go into another world and then come back to that first draft and dive deep into editing and layering.” Dyer-Seeley writes 2,000 words each weekday. Additionally, she manages a busy social media profile, including videos from the Torte Test Kitchen and walking tours of her story settings. Readers often ask her if Ashland is as magical and charming as it seems in her books, and she is happy to say she believes it is. Anyone familiar with Ashland will recognize landmarks, streets and events she lovingly details. continued on page 14


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“I use real places in my books, with my only caveat being that if I write anything negative, like murder, that will be fictional,” says Dyer-Seeley.

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“Most of the people in my books are figments of my imagination or amalgams of people I’ve known,” she says. “But everything I pepper in historically — like in book nine, ‘Live and Let Pie’ when they find a body in Emigrant Lake and discover there once was a town now covered by water — is all true.” The bakeshop and brewpub series are a genre of mystery called “cozies,” which downplay the violence and CSI-like forensics. Dyer-Seeley says she grew up a fan of famous mystery madams Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and P.D. James. “The cozy mystery is a bit of a modern-day fairy tale; something horrific happens, but everyone comes together to bring right to the world and justice is served — which is not always true in the real world,” she says. “That resonates with the readers, allowing some light escapism.” Dyer-Seeley was 40 years old when her first book was published. A self-starter, she previously had a successful online business and also worked as a communications and public policy director for the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter. As a full-time author, Dyer-Seeley has found another outlet for her restless energy. “Writing centers me,” she says. “That’s good not just from a professional standpoint, but for my mental health. It can be cathartic. In my most recent book, there is a flashback, origin story to Torte’s early days and remembering a parent who has died. I wasn’t expecting the layers of grief that got unpacked, and I cried through the last half of the book.” Food is a love language in Dyer-Seeley’s home, remembered fondly from her childhood. She incorporates recipes of her own invention in each of her books. Though she has always dabbled in baking, Dyer-Seeley invested research time working in commercial kitchens with professional bakers and baristas to create authentic expertise for her characters. She’s done the same for her brewpub series, learning to pour a perfect pint and other brewery secrets of the trade. In a normal year without a pandemic, Dyer-Seeley would be making the book tour circuit. This year, she’s taken to social media with interactive

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choose-your-own-adventure-style mysteries with her readership. “I would pose a question every week and readers would vote,” she says of the bakeshop short story. “We collaborated for two months this spring. I’m doing another this summer for the brewpub readers.” Dyer-Seeley also is working on a mystery series masterclass taught through videos and worksheets. “This is the biggest project I’ve ever done; it’s harder than the mysteries,” she says. “The goal is that it will take someone from the seed of an idea for a book to query letters, agents and more.” What’s next for Juliet and Torte? “The Rogue Valley is lush with options,” says Dyer-Seeley. “I’d love to send her up to Mount Ashland or maybe further afield to Crater Lake or the Applegate. “On a more personal level, I think what’s been so surprising to me over the years is how connected readers feel to the stories. It’s a heartwarming and rewarding part of writing for me.” 


Double-Ch oc

olate Cooki

es te-Cream C heese Frost ing

With Choco la

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INGREDIE N T S: 1 cup butte r 1 cup gran ulated suga r 1 cup light brown suga r 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspo on salt 2/3 cup un sweetened c ocoa powde 3 cups flou r r 1 cup milk cho 1 cup semis colate chips weet choco late chips DIRECTIO N S: 1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 2. With an electric mix e r, cream tog eggs and va ether nilla; beat o n medium sp the butter and the sug 3. Sift toge ther the dry ars. Add th eed. e ingredients er on low sp a n d combine wit eed. Stir in 4. Form do h wet ingre the chocola dients in m ugh into 1te chips by ixin h a c n h d. balls and pla Bake in pre ce on cookie heated oven for 10 minu sheets 2 inc late-cream hes apart. tes. Cool an cheese frost d frost with ing accordin chocog to recipe below. FROSTING : With an ele ctric mixer, whip 1/2 cu room-temp p room-tem erature crea perature bu m c Slowly sift tter with 8 in 1/2 cup u heese until light and fl ounces uffy. Add 1 nsweetened sugar, mixin teaspoon va c o coa powder g on low sp nilla eed until ble and 2 1/2 c dered sugar ups powdere . nded. Mix in to achieve a d u p sm to 1/2 cup a cooled cook ooth, spread dditional po ies. able consist wency. Sprea d frosting o nto From “On Th in Icing� by Ellie Alexan der.

@ellie_alexander

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JIM FLINT KYLE ASHER, JIM FLINT, BILL HOFFMAN

SIMPLE BEAUTY, TIMELESS QUALITY Williams couple’s contemporary home is rooted in relationship to nature

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or homebodies Bill and Kathy Hoffman, their decision to build a dwelling came only through assurance of daily joy and contentment in the space and environment. The Napa, Calif., transplants achieved that and more in their dream home, constructed on a gently sloping 22-acre site of mixed woodlands in the Williams Valley near Applegate.

“It attracts a long, diverse list of plants, insects and animals,” says Bill, who had a landscape business in the Napa Valley for 40 years. “With our plant-based work backgrounds, the land was important to both of us,” says Kathy, who owned a floral business for more than 25 years. The house, designed by Milo Shubatwof Ashland Design Solutions and constructed by Asher Homes of Ashland, sits on the south edge of the meadow, tucked a little into the hill. It’s a simple house with an open plan and big, generous spaces. “We were so grateful to find Steve Asher anwd his amazing team,” says Kathy. “With their vision and creativity, Kathy and Bill were both wonderful to work with,” says Asher. Inside 2,000 square feet of interior living space

Bill & Kathy Hoffman

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It has five different plant communities: a meadow, oak savanna, spring wetlands, a young second-growth forest and a couple acres of old growth.

are two bedrooms, two and a half baths, a utility room and a great room that includes the kitchen, dining and living spaces. “Since we have no garage, the utility room is a catch-all,” says Bill. “It has the laundry and all the mechanical systems.” The L-shaped, 10-foot-deep porch adds 800 square feet of living space. “Although the porch is not a conditioned space, it is such a necessary part of our day-to-day living,” says Kathy. There is no handy architectural label for what they built. continued on page 18

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“We wanted the house to feel rustic but also contemporary,” says Bill. “We wanted it to have a timeless feel, to fit into the land and the community around us.” About 20 years ago, the couple decided to build a home from the ground up, but they allowed plenty of time for their plan to take shape. “I had lived in Napa my whole life,” says Bill. “We were ready for a change. “The cost of building in Napa was out of our reach, so we decided to look for a new area.” His father grew up on a berry farm outside Portland and always missed his home state. They decided to check out Southern Oregon and the Rogue Valley. The views of mountains, fields and clouds — and four distinct seasons — sealed the deal. “After driving over the Jacksonville Hill and looking down on the valley, it looked like the Napa of my youth, before the grapes took over,” says Bill. Over a period of two years, they drove up and spent three to four

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days in Ashland, making a point to visit in all seasons. To get the feel of the area, they ventured in many directions looking for that special place. Finally finding a piece of property they loved, they bought it long before they developed it, drawing up rough designs and layouts over the years. Construction of the house began in October 2017, and it was ready by Christmas 2018. Shubat helped steer them in a clear direction, fleshing out their ideas and dreams.

“Every design session with Milo was a joy for us,” says Kathy. “He shared with us his love of hemlock. It became one of the most important design decisions that made our house special. The warmth and quality of that wood still knocks us out.” They like the interplay of clean, sleek hemlock with rough, unfinished cement board-framed walls. Shubat helped them achieve the spaciousness they desired. continued on page 20


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“Scale and proportion are so vital in good design,” says Kathy, “and he had such a good sense of that.” The master bedroom and bathroom are oversized, with a comfy sitting area and views of the meadow. The other bedroom and bath are quite different, but also large with private spaces. During the day, the soaring interiors are awash with natural light from the large Sierra Pacific windows and skylights.

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There are no hallways in the house, a design component to which they were both committed. Multipurpose functionality won out over the number of rooms. Quality and beauty counted more for them than square footage. The main living, kitchen and dining space is large and open. “Each area is distinct, while integrating together beautifully,” says Kathy. What really makes it all work, they believe, are the concrete walls enclosing the pantry and back entry area, dividing the living space from their bedroom. “They form the heart and soul of the house, anchoring it to the earth,” says Kathy. “The texture is simple but dramatic, and sculptural in itself.” The kitchen is the heart of the home. Kathy’s parents started The French Laundry, a world-acclaimed restaurant in Yountville, Calif., and she worked with them for many years. “I designed the kitchen and redrew it many times over a period of at least five years,” she says. The star is a 6-by6-foot center island with a custom madrone butcher block top, 2 1/2 inches thick, crafted by Green Mountain Woodworks of Talent. “Timberline Designs in Grants Pass did our amazing cherry cabinets,

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and we had floating shelves milled of heart pine from 100-year-old reclaimed timbers provided by Rogue Pacific Lumber Company of Medford,” she says. A nephew from Napa, a renowned concrete fabricator, cast the green one-piece kitchen sink and drain board. They cook on an orange commercial Viking range, but have a simple fridge, no dishwasher by choice and very few appliances. “Just a drawer full of sharp knives,” says Kathy, smiling.

“We have hardly any artwork on the walls and feel no need for it.”

One of Bill’s projects was finding a use

for the pine that had to be cut down to clear the building site.

“The big walk-in closet in our bedroom

and the storage in the utility room have shelving and hanging space I designed using that pine,” he says.

“We had it milled by a local guy, then

“We are a big family of cooks and chefs,” adds Bill, “so having a beautiful and functional kitchen was a must.”

sticked and dried it in advance. I

Building the house wasn’t just about the living spaces.

building with it, and it makes us feel

“For a gardener and an artist, the relationship of the interior of our home to the outside forest and meadow was of the highest priority,” says Bill. “The views are everything,” says Kathy.

stained it a beautiful grey-green. Steve Asher’s finish guys got a kick out of

good to use it, a piece of the property repurposed and preserved.”

The Earth Advantage-certified home also has concrete floors with radiant

heat, a Swedish Rais wood stove, and

mini-splits in the bedrooms for cooling. The large porch isn’t the only outdoor living amenity. In an alcove, they

have built an outside bathing

area with a vintage bathtub and adjacent shower.

They’ve also created special places

throughout the

property where

they can sit, relax, muse or read.

There is a small

refuge in the big cedar and pine

forest, a cozy

spot at the edge

of the meadow to

catch the winter

sun and other spots

just for the views. The Hoffmans are

delighted with the house.

Continuing to develop the

gardens, plantings and outdoor

spaces firmly roots these transplants in Southern Oregon. 


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builder since 1977, Steve Asher specializes in high-end custom homes and remodels.

Asher Homes also is known for building rural dwellings that need land-clearing and infrastructure, such as power, wells, septic systems and roads. The Ashland firm’s projects are built to Platinum Earth Advantage specifications. Asher’s vision of building homes for the Pacific Northwest lifestyle is ensuring they are site specific and cater to the needs and wishes of clients, including Bill and Kathy Hoffman of Williams.

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“Establishing trust is our most important approach prior to starting construction,” says Asher. “Maintaining that trust throughout the building process is paramount to a successful building relationship.”

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945 S Riverside Ave

(541) 779-2667

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Building a community where people belong

medfordfood.coop

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From left: James Williams, formerly of Omar's, assists Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen's Shawna Williams and Skyler Golden.

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SARAH LEMON PHOTOS COURTESY OF TRUFFLE PIG CRAFT KITCHEN

LOCAL INGREDIENTS

Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen transports diners with exotic spin on seasonally fresh flavors

“It’s something we’ve been dreaming about for, like, three-plus years at this point,” says Williams. Truffle Pig earned a set of wheels this spring when a GoFundMe campaign assisted the purchase and refurbishment of a sleek food-service trailer. Previously, before an in-

“We get to see and smell and taste all the things they are doing,” says Fry Family Farm co-founder and co-owner Suzi Fry. “And it’s always really fresh-tasting … and it’s light.”

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Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen is the partners’ food truck and vehicle for wine-pairing dinners and other special events. The duo’s brand of modern cuisine, which champions locally grown produce, was born from their formative years at Ashland’s Omar’s, widely regarded as the region’s oldest restaurant.

jury sidelined Golden for about two months, Truffle Pig served from a stationary stall at local farmers markets and Fry Family Farm Store in Medford.

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fter catering to Southern Oregon tradition, Skyler Golden and Shawna Williams cooked up a way to serve food they like to eat when and where they please.

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GLOBAL INSPIRATION

The freshness of seasonal ingredients defines Truffle Pig’s frequently changing menu. Spring offers succulent pea shoots, vibrant rhubarb, eggs laid on local farms and such foraged specialties as nettles and morels. Summer brings on the pantheon of produce in all its sweetness and splendor. Autumn ushers in the switch to heartier squashes and braising greens to support Golden’s comfort food menus, including beef short ribs and pork belly.

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“It’s nice to have that change and transition to inspire you,” says Golden of the shift to cold-weather menus.

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Golden’s own transition from Omar’s to Truffle Pig came by way of Austin, Texas, where he earned recognition at the acclaimed Driskell Hotel. After returning to Southern Oregon, he manned Fry Family’s commercial kitchen, preserving the farm’s bounty in pickles, hot sauces and fermented foods like kimchi.

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The chef also crafted the store’s globally inspired take-home meals and curated its wine selections. A level-one sommelier, Golden embarked on the Court of Master Sommeliers Program to enhance his hospitality expertise. “We really love to bring wine and food together,” says Williams. Wineries around the region — including Del Rio, EdenVale, Troon and others — summon Truffle Pig for their release parties, live music series and

multicourse meals to fete rare vintages. The 30th anniversary of Weisinger Family Winery tasked Truffle Pig with conceiving a 10-course tasting menu paired with 14 estate wines, some dating to 1988.

“I know when I go in the kitchen, and

“I brought in some inspiration from Texas,” says Golden, adding that founder John Weisinger hails from Texas and still lives there part time. “He brought stuff out from the cellar.”

gourmet presentation of farmers market

Bringing out the best from locally and regionally produced ingredients is Truffle Pig’s creed, whether it’s turning summer tomatoes into salsa for use all year or transforming humble flavors with ethnic spice palettes.

he’s making that broth,” says Fry, “it’s like ‘wow!’ ”

That wow factor is a consistent aspect of the Truffle Pig experience, from its

fare to goodie bags for winery customers

to the popular roast whole pig and paella party. As the Truffle Pig trailer traverses

the Southern Oregon food scene, it transports customers through cuisine to local farms and exotic locales alike.

“It’s fun to kind of travel through food,” says Golden.

“I’m pretty well known for my pho,” says Golden of the quintessential Vietnamese noodle soup. “It’s one of those things I can’t make enough of.”

Find Truffle Pig Craft Kitchen on

Similarly, Truffle Pig’s ramen has captivated Fry and other customers.

mation, email trufflepigcraftkitchen@

Instagram @trufflepigcraftkitchen and Facebook, facebook.com/TheTruf-

flePigCraftKitchen. For more inforgmail.com. 


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SARAH LEMON DALLION MCGREGOR

BAH, HUMBUG!

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Mountain mishap gives writer new perspective

F

eeling on top of the world, I wanted a vantage as expansive as my mood. Summer vacation with my kids had concluded in sending them for a weekend with my parents. I’d accepted an offer on the sale of my house — and the position of editor for Distinctly Northwest magazine! Things were looking up, and I was ready for the challenges ahead. What better metaphor in such circumstances than ascending the nearest mountain? Or at least what passes on the Oregon coast for a mountain, known for its spectacular view. Humbug Mountain rises directly from the ocean to a height of 1,750 feet, making it one of the Oregon coast’s tallest features. Not exactly monumental proportions, but the hike constitutes more than a stroll. Three miles of trail circumnavigate the mountain with numerous switchbacks to minimize the uphill pitch. The route is forested for nearly its entirety, so my partner and I didn’t worry about getting an early start. We spent a leisurely morning at our continued on page 29

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Sarah Lemon

GETTING THERE Humbug Mountain is located on Highway 101 between Port Orford and Gold Beach. Find more information on day use and camping at stateparks.oregon.gov


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campsite in Humbug Mountain State Park before embarking around noon. The coastal native in me should have made a stronger case for summiting Humbug in the morning. Summer afternoons on the coast often coincide with fog, particularly when inland temperatures are as hot as those we left behind in the Rogue Valley.

We struggled a bit in the gusts to bridge two trees with our hammock, a repose intended for soaking in the ocean view. Instead, huddling under jackets in our nylon nest, we soaked up droplets shed from overhanging

I weighed going back for my hat — a two-mile detour, if we wanted to follow the westerly route down the mountain. What was the point of taking the west trail if the view was socked in with fog? But persuaded by another hiker that we shouldn’t miss it, my partner said he would wait for me while I retrieved my hat. I practically jogged down the trail, propelled by gravity and a strange urgency. I passed a couple with three kids, who said they hadn’t seen a hat. I kept going, figuring they might not have noticed it. I’d already come this far, after all. At the three-quarter-mile mark, I thought I had stepped into some kind of time warp, where the formerly straightforward trail twisted like continued on page 30

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But the longer we hiked and higher we

As we crested the top, fog that completely obscured the view dampened our enthusiasm and, shivering, I hurried to put my sweater back on. The atmosphere swirled with the ocean’s own exhalations — heavy, rhythmic and redolent of brine.

branches. My partner donned his beanie cap, as I suddenly realized … I’d forgotten my hat on the bench a mile down the trail!

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But we departed under blue skies and in high spirits. I was reminiscing on bygone days of my youth berry-picking alongside burbling creeks under canopies of firs, spruces and hemlocks. I relished the resinous scent of myrtle leaves crunching underfoot, the path bordered by wood sorrel carpets, furnished with ferns and upholstered in moss. At the trail’s fork, we took the east route, electing to save the loop’s west side for a leisurely descent after lingering at the summit.

climbed, the more apparent the fog. Its fingers twined with the evergreen boughs, where the moisture collected and dripped onto the forest floor. Also perspiring, we stopped at a trailside bench to rearrange clothing. I regretted bringing my broad-brimmed hat in such wan sunlight and was too hot to wear it for shielding intermittent drops of condensed fog.

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a labyrinth through the trees’ pillars. Finally, I saw the bench and … no hat.

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I was certain I took the hat off at that spot. And I certainly didn’t overlook it on the trail. Nothing to be done but climb back up the mountain and rejoin my partner, who likely was feeling a tad anxious. I traveled much more slowly this time, but steadily, stopping only once over the mile to shed my jacket. A cold soda from my pack, left with my partner, consoled me a bit. I didn’t care for the hat’s color or shape all the much; its main appeal was utility. But I’d been spurred along by childish possessiveness: I couldn’t leave MY hat stranded near the top of a mountain. My misadventure, in fact, perfectly fit the setting. “Humbug,” an English colloquialism from centuries past, means something that deceives or something that’s nonsense. The mountain, we learned, earned its name when a group of 19th-century explorers got lost en route to Port Orford, a “gross failure,” according to the site’s lore. Maybe I should have accepted with grace the loss of a mere hat, I mused, instead of descending down a rabbit hole in its pursuit. Life poses plenty of challenges without needlessly complicating matters. Trust what the universe has in store, I vowed, descending the mountain a tad deflated but more clear-headed. At the trailhead, we detoured to some interpretive signs we previously skipped and spied … my hat! Some good Samaritan had brought it down the mountain and hung it from the signpost, no doubt trusting it would find its owner. Hat in hand, a grateful smile on my face, I turned away from Humbug Mountain with new perspective on future horizons. 

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Aaron Taylor paints at Ashland Art Center

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BUFFY POLLOCK PHOTOS COURTESY OF ASHLAND ART CENTER

CREATIVE COMEBACK

Ashland Art Center poised to reopen better than ever with town's support

Almost.

Not only would the art center reopen, but it would return stronger than before. Brandon Goldman, board president, says the voluntary period of dormancy was both short-lived and productive. The threat of losing the art center, it turned out, was like a call to action to those who valued its presence in the downtown and local art communities. “The COVID crisis has hit arts organizations particularly hard. For most arts organizations, like ours, a big part of the business model is social interaction,” says Goldman. “So cutting social interaction out, from classes for kids, expeditions, gallery space and our studio artists that occupied the second floor in close proximity to one another — it all had to cease in response to the Governor’s mandate — didn’t leave us with many options. “We had to really take a step back and see how to help the organization continue to move forward,”

“Going forward, we were able to negotiate a new lease agreement to secure the building for a full year, through July 2021, so we’re in a good position now that we don’t have any old debt and have a building for the next year,” says Goldman.

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Raising the proverbial Phoenix from its ashes, however, those who most love the art center rushed to its aid, rallying to find ways to save their beloved space. In a series of serendipitous events, board members announced a newfound hope by midsummer.

Goldman says board members got to work on some new ideas for the art center including finding ways to retire old debt, thanks to community members who offered generous support. An added boost, property owner Greg Provost offered a waiver for months during which the center could not be open due to the coronavirus.

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Lingering debt and sudden lack of revenue, coupled with a halt on public gatherings, found the board of directors making the tough decision in early May to announce that the center would permanently close its doors.

he says. “In the end, looking at the silver linings, that voluntary period of dormancy provided us an opportunity to decide how we could respond to changing conditions for, not only the pandemic, but how to really recreate the art center in a more sustainable way.”

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A

creative hub for the close-knit art community in Ashland’s picturesque downtown for more than a decade, Ashland Art Center was almost an immediate casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re looking at a capital campaign to bring back staff, re-add an operations manager and potentially an artistic director.” Artist JoAnn Manzone says the local art community was hopeful to see the art center reopen better than ever. Manzone says she and fellow artists were “like a family” and sorely missed the community feel of the studio space and gallery. “I started off in the gallery there, and eventually I took a studio upstairs. To have a working studio, for me personally, and the whole experience of being there with other working artists, was so eye opening for me and helped me to grow so much as an artist,” says Manzone. “I was used to creating in solitude, so to be able to connect with other artists while you’re creating, and continued on page 34

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Elaine Frenett displays her work at Ashland Art Center.

share ideas, and interact with the public — because the public could come in at any time and get to interact with artists while they were at work — was just such an amazing experience.” Manzone, a felter, dyer, printer and garment maker, says she was relieved to see the art center find a plan for staying open. Aside from her own work as an artist, Manzone says the center provided her and others the opportunity to sell their work, network with customers, provide or attend educational courses in various forms of art and to give back to the community in myriad ways. “Not only did I get to grow personally and professionally through the art center but my creativity really blossomed when I was there,” says Manzone. “It also gave me a chance to meet customers and sell more of my work. A tourist or local would come in and see me again and say, ‘Oh, I bought a scarf from you last summer, and I’d love to see what you have this time.’ ”

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“The art center means a lot of different things to different people. When we lost the art center, or thought that we might lose it, we lost that connection,” says Manzone. “All the artists now will occasionally have a Zoom meeting to

check in with one another, and that’s good, but that in-person connection and the experience of the art center was — and is — so strong.” Goldman says restrictions of the pandemic provided insight for how the center could continue its mission both in person and otherwise. Modes of engagement that previously did not seem feasible, he notes, became commonplace. “We will be looking at having a much broader offering and to look at other types of art and creative expression that appeal to a more diverse population of artists,” says Goldman. “We’re looking at re-engaging the gallery space to both promote local artists and promote art education for community by bringing in outside artists on occasion.” With no time line in place, and likely a phased reopening that could start — on a small scale — by September, Goldman says hope is the common theme. “We’ll be looking at a phase-in approach in terms of time line, possibly opening on some level by late winter or spring 2021. “Leading up to that, we’ll be considering some virtual experiences and finding ways to engage the community in

ways that we have not done before,” he adds. “Until Jackson County gets into phase 3 of the reopening plan, it’s premature for us to figure out how to reengage the space and have people in there, but we can dream up new ideas.” If anyone’s up to the task, says Goldman, it’s community artists who will document and capture different perspectives about the current and “new normal” under COVID-19, finding ways to express their hopes and fears and even find beauty amid the uncertainty. “I have no doubt artists are out there taking these strange times we’re living in and putting it through their filters and developing it into art that will help us all better understand what we all are going through,” he says. “With all that has happened, one kind of has to wonder if sometimes things don’t have to get to that final breaking point before they can be put back together.” For more information, or to donate, see ashlandartcenter.org. 


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