Exploring Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory (Part I)
In a previous Oregon trip report, I covered my time spent at a fun and festive culinary event, Nicky USA's Wild About Game. It was the perfect kick-off activity for a few days of exploration in the picturesque region of Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory (find out all the details about this can’t-miss annual event by clicking the photo below).
Mt. Hood Territory encompasses Clackamas County, including sections of Oregon Wine Region and part of Portland. It’s a place awash in natural beauty, and although outdoor activities - skiing, hiking, fishing, kayaking - abound, my plans were to explore some of the artistic, historic, and culinary gems.
After checking out of my cozy room at the beautiful Mt. Hood Oregon Resort in Welches, it was time to hit the road and explore more of The Territory on my way to Lake Oswego. My first stop was historic Oregon City. Located on Willamette River, it was established in 1829 and became the last stop on the Oregon Trail. It was also recognized this year as one of the winners of the 2018 Great American Main Street Award.
You’ll see Main Street lined with welcoming restaurants and pubs, and trying to decide where to dine for lunch was made difficult with the range of choices. I was torn between Vietnamese at Pho Ti, Scandinavian at Ingrid's Scandinavian Food, Italian at La Famiglia, or Latin American at Mesa Fresca, but finally decided on Mesa Fresca, a warm and inviting spot where chef Roy Galván’s menu features dishes from Mexico, Peru, and the Southwest. The lunch menu offers soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and tacos, but as a Peruvian food fan, I was here for a Pisco Sour (a traditional Peruvian cocktail using a spirit distilled from grapes called Pisco) and lomo saltado, the national dish of Peru. The combination of tender steak, peppers, onions, tomatoes and french fries in a tangy soy-based stir-fry sauce served with rice hit the spot.
A short stroll after my tasty lunch brought me to Oregon City’s famous Municipal Elevator. Oregon City’s environs are divided into an upper area on top of a bluff and the city located below along the Willamette River. To connect the two sections, the current Oregon City Municipal Elevator was built in 1954 to replace the original 1912 water-powered elevator (residents at one time reached the bluff by following Native American trails and, later, via a series of wooden stairs).
The Oregon City Municipal Elevator is one of only four municipal elevators in the world and its “Elevator Street” is the only vertical street in North America. Once at the top, walk McLoughlin Promenade, a half-mile scenic path that follows the bluff to Willamette Falls and overlooks downtown Oregon City.
It also offers a bird’s-eye view of Oregon City Bridge, also known as the Arch Bridge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
It was also an ideal launching pad for a self-guided Gallery Without Walls walking tour, an outdoor rotating exhibit featuring over seventy permanent and loaned works of art. I started at Sundeleaf Plaza, located five steps from my door, where sculptures included Patricia Vader’s wind-driven metal “Sunflower” and its spinning wheels, and Ed Humpherys “Wormy Apple #2.”
Back in my lakeside room, I had a chance to relax before freshening up and making the 2-minute walk to downtown’s Lake View Village and my dining destination, Pizzeria sul Lago. This pizzeria helmed by acclaimed Portland chef Nick Ford opened earlier this year and you’ll want to add it to your must-visit list of restaurants in Lake Oswego.
Naturally, I started with my favorite Italian cocktail, a Negroni (link to the history of this libation here) and settled in on the pretty patio overlooking Millennium Plaza Park and Lakewood Bay. Chef Ford shops the farmers market for inspiration for the seasonal dishes so be sure to check the “From the Farmers” section on the menu which, on my visit, featured salads such as heirloom tomatoes with bacon vinaigrette and roasted Padrón peppers, and green beans with peaches, blueberries, cucumbers and goat cheese. My order of roasted corn on the cob slathered with a creamy aioli spiked with Calabrian chile and dusted with Parmesan cheese was the perfect starter.
Of course, the wood-fired oven turning out fragrant Neapolitan-style pies with a puffy, blistered crust takes center stage. While the daily special with pear, candied walnuts, and blue cheese was tempting, I was drawn to the mushroom pizza layered with a garlic-flecked cream sauce, mozzarella, fresh spinach, shaved red onion, peppers, and fontina cheese crowned with salty-crispy slices of speck, a spiced cured ham. In fact, it was so delicious, I left no room for planned dessert at ice cream shop Salt & Straw across the street - next time!
I ended my day full and happy and looking forward to touring more of this beautiful region. Click the photo below for part II and visits to St. Honoré Boulangerie, Fir Point Farms, TMK Creamery, Boundary Social Club, and Five Spice Seafood + Wine Bar, and Bob’s Red Mill.
I partnered with Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory tourism, and you can find more information on the region's activities, dining, lodging, and annual events at Mt. Hood Territory.