The sun is out, flowers are blooming and Central Oregon’s calendar of events is filling with festivals, classes and cook-offs that appeal to the ever-growing foodie population.
From crawfish boils to lakeside dinners, this summer has a palate-pleasing event for almost everyone.
Thai cooking for car campers
As Bendites gear up for the summer camping season, the desire increases to find easy and delicious camp breakfast and dinner recipes. In past years, OutsideIN has hosted cooking classes for backpacking, but this year the staff thought car camping would reach a wider audience and allow for more meal creativity.
“You don’t have to worry about weight and you can do something fancier,” said Katie Stahlhuth, events coordinator at OutsideIN.
The class will be led by Valerie Hemstreet, a former chef at Spork, who will share tips, tricks and recipes for Thai dishes to make with a camping stove. Because many Thai dishes can be prepared vegan or gluten-free, they can be made for a larger group of people when camping.
After learning about the recipes, participants will go to the Crow’s Feet Commons to set up their stoves outside and, with Hemstreet’s instruction, start cooking. Participants can purchase a drink at the Commons while cooking their meals.
Tickets must be purchased in advance. Participants will need to bring their own camp stove, plate and utensils; all ingredients are provided.
When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 23
Location: OutsideIN, 845 NW Wall St., Bend
Cost: $20 per person
Contact: outsideinbend.com or 541-317-3569
Barbecue and beer cookouts
The Suttle Lodge’s Wednesday Night Cookouts series is returning with rotating Oregon and Washington breweries showcasing their seasonal craft brews. The lodge’s chef, Jacob Rodriguez, will cook classic barbecue meals to pair with the featured microbrews.
“We’ll have a little beer garden out there, so we’ll bring our brewery buddies out here and fire up the grill, and that menu reflects whatever style beer that brewer is doing,” Rodriguez said.
Menu items could include “sausages with German potato salad and roasted vegetables or down-home barbecue,” according to Rodriguez. In the past, the chef has cooked up St. Louis ribs, baked beans and Texas toast for the cookouts.
“It’s our chance to have some fun and flex a little muscle and do some really classic stuff but a little more updated and fresher versions of them,” he said.
Thus far, guest brewers include Portland-based Laurelwood Brewing Co., Everybody’s Brewing, pFriem Family Brewers, Double Mountain Brewery, Ex Novo Brewing Co., GoodLife Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project and Wild Ride Brewing.
Cookouts will take place at the lodge’s outdoor beer garden, overlooking Suttle Lake. There will be lawn games and, occasionally, live music for patrons to enjoy.
No reservations necessary.
When: 5 to 7 p.m. May 30, June 20 and 27, July 25, Aug. 1, 8, 15 and 22
Cost: $15-$20 per person for dinner and a pint of beer
Location: The Suttle Lodge, 13300 U.S. Highway 20, Sisters
Contact: thesuttlelodge.com or 541-638-7001
Community Crawfish Boil
Jacob Rodriguez, of The Suttle Lodge, will be busy this summer. In addition to the Wednesday Night Cookouts, Rodriguez and his cooking staff are heading to Riverfront Plaza in Bend to prepare a crawfish boil meal.
Fresh from the Columbia River, the crawfish will be provided by the Ihander family and Live Tides. Crawfish, corn on the cob, potatoes and sausage will all be thrown into the pot. Pounds of crawfish will be available to purchase to take home. Reservations recommended.
When: 1 to 4 p.m. June 3
Where: Riverfront Plaza, 875 NW Brooks St., Bend
Cost: $30 includes 2 pounds of crawfish and 1 pound of hot sides
A sweet treat for pie-lovers and the largest rhubarb festival in Oregon, La Pine’s eighth annual Rhubarb Festival returns in June, but not at its original location, the L & S Gardens. The festival has been moved to the La Pine Senior Center.
There will be a variety of food vendors at the event, but the festival revolves around a rhubarb dessert contest using the simultaneously sweet and tart ingredient. Amateur cooks can sign up for the rhubarb dessert contest and festivalgoers can purchase $1 samples of the competing dishes.
The festival will have a yard sale, live music, arts and crafts and more than 900 pies for sale.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 9
Where: La Pine Senior Center, 16450 Victory Way, La Pine
Cost: Free to attend
Contact: lapinesenior center.org/rhubarb-festival or 541-536-6237
Rainshadow Organics Longtable Dinners
Rainshadow Organics, a certified organic farm in Sisters, will host mostly family-style, longtable dinners for diners to enjoy a farm fresh on-site meal.
All of the dinners include appetizers, a salad course, a chicken, pork or beef entree and dessert. From the salad dressings to the homemade biscuits, about 99 percent of the meal is prepared with food grown and produced on the farm, according to Rainshadow Organics owner Sarahlee Lawrence.
Lawrence and her farm staff will introduce each course and discuss the ingredients as they are presented.
The setting sets the dinners apart from other multicourse meals in Central Oregon. The dinner is served outside on a single long dinner table. Diners are surrounded by rows of growing vegetables; chickens can be heard in the background, and the farm has a Cascade mountain backdrop.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own beverages, layers for cooler temperatures and good walking shoes for a tour of the gardens. Reservations are required.
When: 6 p.m. June 11, July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 15
Where: Rainshadow Organics, 71290 Holmes Road, Sisters
Cost: $65 per person, includes gratuity
Contact: rainshadoworgan ics.com or 541-279-0841
Bite of Bend
Bite of Bend is Central Oregon’s largest food festival. The three-day event includes a chef competition, a food marketplace, a bartender’s mixology competition, a beer run and live music.
The festival’s marketplace will have 120 vendors, with several food booths selling $2 tasters. Other vendors will be selling drinks, health-and-wellness items and handcrafted goods.
Bos Taurus’ chef George Morris will return as the reigning champion at this year’s Top Chef Competition. Morris will go head-to-head with Market of Choice chef Greg Cabeza, Sunriver Resort’s Travis Taylor and several others.
Bartenders from local bars and restaurants concoct one-of-a-kind cocktails in the mixology competition.
When: 5 to 10 p.m. June 15, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 16, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 17
Where: Downtown Bend, on Bond Street between Franklin Avenue and NW Oregon Avenue
Cost: Free admission, $2 per “bite”
Contact: biteofbend.com or 541-323-0964
Oregon Crafted Swine and Spirits BBQ Festival
About 20 barbecue teams from around the Pacific Northwest will gather in July at American Legion Park in Redmond to compete in the second annual Swine and Spirits BBQ Festival. Organized by the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association, the festival includes a Papa Bad Bones Chicken Wing Challenge, Pork Butt Turn-in, Chicken Turn-in, Brisket Turn-in and Pork Rib Turn-in.
Walk around and sample sweet and spicy barbecued treats between competitions. In addition to the barbecue stands, there will be at least 20 distillery vendors with samples of whiskey, gin, vodka and more.
A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Oregon Hunters Association and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
When: Noon to 6 p.m. July 28 and 29
Where: American Legion Park, 850 SW Rimrock Way, Redmond
Cost: $12 in advance, $17 at the door for five barbecue tasting tickets
$20 in advance, $25 at the door for five barbecue tasting tickets and 10 spirit tasting tickets
Contact: oregonbbq.com or 541-390-3214
— Reporter: 541-383-0351, email@example.com