Full on Oregon, or a taste of the foods and outdoors around Portland

gluten free apple tart

foraging edible plants john kallas oregon

When I get up on Friday morning, I know the day will be busy. I am excited because that morning, we are meant to go foraging, have lunch at Timberline lodge near Mt Hood National Forest, after which a visit of a distillery with its fruit orchard is planned. I feel impatient about every piece because it means that we’ll spend our time discovering the natural scenery and outdoors near Portland.

I always wanted to come to Oregon just for that.

I don’t think for too long about what to wear, and eventually decide to go for a light summer dress layered over a t-shirt that goes with my pair of gray sneakers. But minutes later, when a dark-skinned man with a shovel and a spray bottle attached to his backpack walks in the room where we all sit for breakfast, suddenly a doubt about my choice for clothes fills my mind.

Wearing his outfit, he stands out amongst us. At first, I don’t know neither his name nor who he is. But between the noise of the voices and giggles coming from the small groups gathered joyfully at each table, I hear someone exclaim: “He must be one leading an activity this morning!

Oh oh…that’s looking really serious! I hear myself utter louder than I’d like.

We quickly understand that he is going to be our edible plant guide. And immediately, I know I am not alone to suddenly feel completely ill dressed for our outing.

John is wearing serious-looking hiking boots, a vest and a pair of jeans. His entire head is buried behind dark sunglasses and a large beige hat, the type explorers like to have, that makes it hard to discern the expression on his face.

But we can see that he is happy to be there. He is smiling.

When we walk outside of the hotel, a small bus is waiting for our small group. Everyone is in a happy mood. It’s sunny. The air feels healthy. It’s going to be a nice day.

It’s like going to camp,” someone exclaims once we are settled inside the bus. In a charming sort of ordered way.

Our first destination that morning is Trillium Lake.

With Mt Hood reflecting onto the lake in the distance, the place feels serene and magnificent, and I am sorry we don’t have hours to spend exploring the area.

John is friendly and knowledgeable. As he walks ahead of our group, he shows and explains which plants are edible and which aren’t. And while we understand that this time of year is not the prime for foraging edibles (Spring is the best time), we still manage to taste leaves and berries that surprise by their unique flavor. That’s the first time I eat wild ginger.

You will have some of these in some of your dishes for lunch,” one of the chefs from Timberline lodge tells us as he and another chef accompany us on our walk. Right away, my curiosity is piqued. And I wonder what they will do with what we find along the way.

timberline lodge trillium lale

And rightly so, lunch at Timberline Lodge is outstandingly delicious.

Used as an Alpine ski lodge in winter, Timberline Lodge is an integral part of American heritage. Built at the bottom of Mt Hood, the building gives a feeling reminiscent of the past.

The road leading to the lodge was the one filmed in the opening of The Shining,” our driver tells us a few minutes before we arrive. Who would have thought? I cannot help but think, looking at the winding road ahead outside my window.

Each dish we are served is so appetizing that, while our five-course menu looks like a lot of food, I keep eating, hungry for more. By looking at everyone’s face while eating, I guess I am not alone to really enjoy the food and wine that keeps being poured with each dish.

Robert Morus from Phelps Creek Vineyards is sitting at the table with us. He is also wearing a hat, I notice, amused. His upper cheeks are red and round and, with every smile, his eyes become minuscule in the middle of his friendly face. He, too, looks like he is pleased to spend time with us. I know why. He is telling us his passion for wine.

As we leave the table, I feel ready for a nap.

Look behind,” I tell Sean sitting next to me on the bus. We are amused. Almost everyone is actually asleep, including John who is sitting next to our driver.

I am convinced that not a single piece of food or drink will be able to fit inside my body. But as our visit takes us to Clear Creek distillery where I catch sight of the orchard behind the small apple stand, I know that our drive through the countryside is worth every minute we spend in the bus. It’s as if I am hungry again. For fruit.

Steve McCarthy started Clear Creek Distillery twenty-six years ago because he wanted to find the best way to use the fruit from his family’s orchard. During his travels throughout Europe, he became exposed to a number of traditional European spirits– among them, an eau de vie made from Williams Pear. An inspiration and an idea were born. Clear Creek Distillery followed naturally.

clear creek distillery

clear creek distillery

I am not typically someone known to drink spirits but I know I will go with the flow.

We taste grappa and pear brandy and cranberry liquor–and probably more than I can remember. When I hear the word mirabelle, I am curious and ask the dark-haired girl working at the distillery where they grow them. “In an another orchard nearby,” she says. The thought of lines of mirabelliers and quetschiers trees brings a smile to my face as I think of my father and his parents on their farm making their own mirabelle and quetsche liqueurs.

While everyone is still gathered around the picnic table, busy drinking and chatting away, I decide to take a short walk through the orchard. As I wander through the apple and pear trees, and I notice the aroma of sugar and fruit that I am so familiar with, I think about my grandparents’ and brother’s orchards. I know this taste so well. I’ve always loved everything about it.

Later that night, a reception on top of the sixth floor of a building downtown welcomes us to a wide open view of Portland. Chefs from Metrovino and the Gilt Club have come to serve us tasty hamburgers prepared with unusual elk and lamb flavors. We drink beer. The evening feels like the kind sealing a perfect day outside.

Casual as we like it. Full of the good energy of being in the outdoors.

Back to my room, my mind wanders back to the thought of the apples though. It’s what feels familiar and right. I think about the orchard and the time we’ve just spent outdoors. In a lovely part of Oregon I want to visit more in depth. I think about fall and how much I am impatient to go apple picking once I am back home.

It just happens like that.

And I know that I will be baking an apple tart.

Une tarte rustique au bon goût de pommes.

Because a fruit tart is always the first dessert I am inspired to bake after I visit an apple orchard.

Disclosure: My trip to Oregon was sponsored and fully paid by Travel Oregon. I was neither asked nor received any compensation to write about my experience. I am doing it because I want to share and I enjoyed what I did and saw.

gluten free apple tart recipe

Apple tart recipe (gluten free) with coconut milk and lime

For a 9.5 inch tart

For the crust:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons xantham gum
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Note: You will have leftovers of crust for 2 tartlets. If you prefer, make a large tart too.

For the topping:

  • 5 to 6 organic apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with a fork
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup Turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Zest of 1 lime finely grated
  • Steps:

    • To make the crust:
      Combine the flours, xantham and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse into crumbles.
    • Add the egg and continue to pulse.
    • Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time and work the dough until it detaches from the bowl. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or more.
    • When ready to use, take out of the fridge for 30 minutes and roll into the shape of a circle. Garnish the mold and make small holes at the bottom.
    • To make the rest of the tart: Preheat the oven to 375 F.
    • In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, lemon zest and coconut milk.
    • Arrange the slices of apple on top of the crust and add the egg batter.
    • Bake the tart for 30 minutes, or until the crust is light brown, and the flan is set. Leave to cool for 30 minutes before eating.


    1. La deuxième photo est juste …. woaw, quoi !!!
      bon je vais être bonne pour faire une tarte aux pommes ce week-end, tu m’as trop fait envie. bizz de France

    2. I had to re-read this several times because I kept getting interrupted. It was sort of comical as I attempted to absorb your trip over and over. Such beautiful images, such a wonderful opportunity. Who knew all of this could come from blogging? You are so talented!

    3. I’ve lived here in Portland for over 10 years and continue to discover new and wonderful places and people every year.
      Glad you enjoyed your trip. Don’t be a stranger.

    4. What stunning photography! You make food look exactly as it should…simple, beautiful and clean.I will try this apple tart recipe for my kids.

    5. So colorful! Perfect time of year for an apple tart. Thanks!

    6. I have lived in and on the outskirts of Portland for 10 years and I can’t get enough of it. I’m still hungry to discover more of it’s culture, beauty and wonderful weirdness. The beer, the wine, the wild edibles, the weather, mountains and ocean make this region the perfect mix for me. I find myself completely content to always be here. I hardly feel a need to travel elsewhere as I feel anything I’m longing to see or experience can be found in some form in Oregon. I hesitate to express my complete infatuation for this place, lest hoards of people up and move into the few existing cracks and crevasses that are uninhabited. But I suppose that’s what makes this all so great. The people are as diverse as the landscape around here and as unpredictable as the weather. Thank you for a beautiful read. I found myself beaming with pride as I read your loving review of this area. The apple tart will be made this afternoon, which I was so pleased to see you had altered it to be gluten and dairy free.

    7. I live in Portland, and LOVE my city and the surrounding areas. Thanks so much for the wonderful pictures and your beautiful take on the place that means so much to me!

    8. I just found your blog and I love it! Your pictures are just gorgeous! Thank you for sharing this great adventure and recipe!


    9. Your pictures are sick! Such beautiful scenery. And may I add that the apple tart is screaming my name right now? One day, I’d like to visit Portland. #1 Because there’s no sales tax. #2 Visit good wineries and breweries. #3 To see in person the beautiful shots you posted here. Very nice.

    10. wow i love how you presented and wrote everything. Beautiful and delicious photos~ I have got to try that tarte aux pommes recipe!

    11. I’ve really enjoyed this blog post, as I used to live in Portland (left it for Italy and France), and miss it very much. I just wanted to make one small correction. Timberline Lodge, where I was married, is not at the bottom of Mt. Hood, as you say. It’s at the base of the summit…on the “timber line,” hence its name. So, it’s actually very high up, situated just beneath the majestic rocky peak of this extraordinary mountain. I still have my Timberline Lodge cookbook…the cuisine was excellent years ago. Thanks for this “trip back”…it makes me both happy and sad to see this beauty. Melancholy. Homesickness.

    12. What a beautiful, scenic and descriptive recollection of your trip to Oregon, Thank you for sharing!!!
      I recently featured an apple tart cake on my blog, don’t you love celebrating the flavors of fall and seasonal gifts of nature? I will certainly have to give your recipe a try as I am venturing more and more into a gluten free diet… Thanks again for the inspiration!

    13. Ooooh–you just hit the right spot with the tarts! Will try today. Beautiful, as always!

    14. Oh how timely and perfect! I’ve been trying to plan a surprise birthday trip for my sister, and you have just inspired me with your beautiful words and images.

    15. Ooohhh, you have Asarum as well.. We have A. europaeum! It’s so nice to see that we share the same genus, but different species!

    16. This looks like you had a perfect time. Apple tart is always delicious. And when you have it in the beautiful scenery of Oregon, even better

    17. Apple tart with coconut and lime? Wow, that’s something I’ve never seen before, got to try it. Do you parents still make their own mirabelle and quetsche liqeurs today? My in-laws had a mirabelle tree at their previous house which provided alot of entertainment – birds would eat the fermented fruit and forget how to fly after 😉

    18. So, is fern edible? There’s a picture of your guide holding fern…

      Awesome pictures and article, as usual. I live in Salem, Oregon, this year! So I’ll look for your writing in Travel Oregon. Oregon is so beautiful! I’ve gone on blissful hikes in this state…


      Baptiste (www.cuisine-de-reve.com)

    19. More amazing photos and wonderful memories. I can’t believe no one commented on the reflection of the mountain in the wine glass yet – simple, beautiful, the perfect essence of the moment.

      I find it funny how perceptions vary on manner of dress, depending on profession and location. To me, your foraging guide looks almost city-ready with his fancypants light-colored vest on. That would get dirty in no time:)

      @Baptiste, maybe the guide is discussing eating the ferns as fiddleheads in the springtime?

    20. J adore le pays dans lequel vous vivez et pourtant la Lorraine refait toujours surface !!des mirabelles des quesches!!!
      J adore votre bolg

    21. I love apples too! I grew up in the Hood River Valley (near Mt. Hood) and I feel that same love of the orchards and the fruit! Part of what makes fall my favorite time of year I think. 🙂 Thanks for sharing about your trip!

    22. I married a man from Oregon and I’m so glad we are settled here! It’s so beautiful! So glad you got to experience a little bit of what Portland has to offer!

    23. I bet you had a great time. The scenes are so splendid. A break sitting on side of a river, nothing can be more wonderful. I can feel the freshness. And the food looks amazing too. Great decoration and great pictures.

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    25. Bea, What a beautiful tribute to the life that is Oregon. As I read about your experience I found that I had tears running down my cheeks. I lived and worked in Portland for 14 years and Oregon is as beautiful as you have described. Ten years ago I moved to Idaho and have had only one opportunity to return, nine years ago. I didn’t realize how truly homesick I’ve become for that beautiful place. Thank you for a little vacation that at this time I can only take by way of computer and the internet.

    26. Made two versions of this tart this weekend. On Saturday an apple tart and yesterday from the remaining dough a plum tart (I added some cinnamon to the egg mixture). Delicious! Only the apple tart lacked flavor a little but I blame the apples as I used Royal Gala apples. Should have used something with more character.

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    28. Wow this was delish ! I’ll definitely be making it again. Admittedly I used store bought GF pastry as I have a newborn and no time to make my own pastry :0)
      I’m curious to know when I should have added the honey – the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of honey but I can’t see where I’m suppose to add it in the directions – thank you!

    29. i have to tell you that i really love your photos !! take me to those places .When i have timeand some ingredients i try your recipies. Kisses from Argentina !

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