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Menu Mix: Northern Exposure

Menu Mix: Northern Exposure

Chefs in the Pacific Northwest discover fresh and foraged ingredients that are both trendy and timeless.

JUST PLANK IT: Salmon is an iconic Pacific Northwest food, and it’s served a lot by Bon Appétit at Mt. Angel Abbey

At Marketplace West, a dining venue at Oregon State University, in Corvallis, Chef de Cuisine Jay Perry creates menus that reflect the environment. That includes lush forest, sparkling streams and plenty of cherries, hazelnuts, tuna, salmon, wild mushrooms and more.

OSU Dining is part of a growing trend in onsite foodservice that looks more within the local environment for concepts rather than attempting to represent cuisines from all over the world.

“I look at what’s seasonal here in Corvallis and what really represents the Willamette Valley rather than diverse global cultures that we see on our campus,” Perry says.

A Harvest of the Month program allows Perry to show off Pacific Northwest dishes “that really speak to Oregon and the valley,” he says. And even more local than that, cheeses made by OSU’s food science department show up on artisan-style pizzas with dough that includes fresh-milled whole-wheat flour from a local flour mill.

Hyper-local ingredients are found in many menu items at Marketplace West. The salmon is wild-caught from the coast. Hazelnut pancakes are topped with blueberries from the Willamette Valley and the wild mushroom mac ‘n cheese features chanterelles or porcini ‘shrooms foraged from the woods just off campus.

Local lamb and grass-fed beef also give the menu a sense of place.

Flavors from the Forest and Across the Sea
At Silverton Hospital in Oregon, different aspects of Pacific Northwest flavor are found on both patient and café menus, according to Philip Balogh, director of nutrition and environmental services.

“We serve steelhead trout with a sweet chili sauce on the patient menu—that’s grilled and usually comes with basmati rice,” Balogh says. “And we do a lot stir-fries. The Asian culture has a lot of influence on the Pacific Northwest as well.”

And a popular salad at the café brings to mind an afternoon of foraging and feasting: The Pacific Northwest Salad with wild greens, hazelnuts, apples, pears and blue cheese.

Photo: Raz-Art/Thinkstock

Life in the 541
An Oregon-centric restaurant called Five Four One (in honor of the local area code) is opening inside the McNary Dining Center at Oregon State University.

“Five Four One will serve locally sourced foods, focusing on pizzas and pastas, but with an emphasis on what’s in season while highlighting the flavors of the Pacific Northwest,” says Tara Sanders, registered dietitian. Seasonal veggies will play a big role on the menu.

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