Susanne and I love Forest Grove, a beautiful small college town in the middle of rolling farmland with the backdrop of the Coast Range on its west and only a thirty minute drive from Portland to its east. We discovered it through our three trips to the Focus on Book Arts conference we went to in 2011, 2015, and 2017.
The first place we went when we got there was Maggie’s Buns, which I’ve written about before. They had an abundant and delicious lunch selection. I had their veggie lasagna, which rivaled my own in texture and taste, and I am very snooty about my lasagna. I’d go back just for it, but we all tried each other’s salads and they were wonderful too.
The Wednesday evening farmers market downtown is one of the things we love about Forest Grove. When we go, in late June, there are abundant fresh cherries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and all kinds of vegetables. This time there was a baker, Slow Rise Craft Breads whose breads are made from local organic grains and wild yeast. Oh, the complex flavors from that bread. We bought some Face Rock Creamery smoked cheddar cheese from Urban Decanter to go with the Slow Rise rye levain and rolled our eyes in pleasure for the rest of our time there.
We didn’t make it to the King’s Head Pub this time, but we did buy Cornish pasties and almond shortbread from the Great British Bakery at the farmers’ market. The pasties were better than the ones I ate in Cornwall!
Susanne talked to a street fiddler who invited us to a bluegrass jam that evening just a couple of blocks away at Waltz Brewing, a very small brewpub in a renovated garage. The garage door was up, there was seating on the sidewalk, and the weather was perfect. We munched on our goodies from the market, petted the local dogs, drank ginger ale and porter, and enjoyed the music. We enjoyed it so much that we skipped the conference lecture again the next night and went back to hear a blues guy play guitar and sing to a karoake machine. I bought a growler of Coffee Porter with To the Roots Espresso (from a local coffee roaster) to keep back in the dorm room fridge.
We were invited to a potluck on Sunday with a group of folks who are developing a co-housing community, which I was quite interested in, but we didn’t have time, it was roasting hot, and I can’t even think about doing anything like that for at least several years. I was curious, though.
Forest Grove has a community edible garden program. Plots with veggies and berries had signs that invited you to help yourself. One was in front of Forest Grove Community School, which also had lovely flowers and artwork.
On Friday evening, we went to a Hawaiian restaurant – a new experience for me but a trip down memory lane for Susanne, who spent a year of childhood living in Hawaii. At Kama’ Aina, Susanne had manapua (sweet bbq pork in dumplings), I had shoyu ahi poke. Poke hasn’t made it back to North Carolina yet, but my bet is that it is the next big foodie thing. Very much like sashimi, but with different seasonings. We also blew everyone away with our garlic breath the next day after sharing garlic furitake fries. Just when you think that you can’t make fries less healthy, somebody decides to fry them with butter and garlic and sprinkle them with sesame seeds and flaked seaweed. God, they were good.
We were sorry to leave Forest Grove, but not sorry to leave the dorm, which was not air conditioned and had no fans. The temps the last two days we were there got up to almost 100 degrees. Pacific University is a lovely campus, though.
^^^From the garden in front of the Forest Grove Community School.