I couldn't have chosen a more perfect time to come home to Central Oregon for a visit. All month long, the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance (HDFFA) has been promoting local farmers and ingredients with the Local Food Challenge campaign and Taste Local Thursdays Restaurant Series. Every Thursday, through the rest of September and October, a different restaurant will host a Taste Local night. They will create a few specials incorporating ingredients from Central Oregon farmers. The point is to get the community excited about how fresh and delicious local food tastes!  I was able to snag a seat at Jackson's Corner East, in Bend for their turn at sourcing local ingredients for their evening menu. It was so fun to participate in this important awareness program and to taste some of Central Oregon's tastiest ingredients!

Jackson's Corner East not only had a great menu for Taste Local night, but also in general! The restaurant aims to source as many local ingredients as they can all year round, not just when it's asked of them.  I loved the open space and "market" feel.  It reminded me of one of my favorite LA destinations, Joan's on 3rd.  It's casual enough that you order at the counter, but the food is crafted with heart and style.  Maybe we can call it fancy fast-casual dining?  

My favorite dishes were the Local Heirloom Tomatoes with Stone Fruit, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Jocobsen's Sea Salt and the House-made Meatballs in Marinara topped with Romano Cheese and Fresh Basil.  I also ordered the Havana Sandwich and the Local Radicchio Salad. Another one of the local specials, which sadly I was too full to try was a beautiful Pizza with Zucchini, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Garlic, Lemon, Thyme and Basil. I can imagine how delicious it must have been! 

Participating farms included: Radical Roots FarmRainshadow Organics and Juniper Jungle Permaculture Farm.  Not only was it comforting to know that I was eating fresh and local ingredients, but it was also fun to see what the chef had come up with using these specific ingredients. Even though LA is where I live, Central Oregon will always be home to me.  There are so many farms here, including the one I grew up on and that's why it's so important that they get your support! I promise you will taste the difference!

Upcoming Taste Local Thursdays #tastelocalthursdays

  • 9/29 Primal Cuts Meat Market
  • 10/6 Broken Top Bottle Shop
  • 10/13 Bethlyn's Global Fusion
  • 10/20 Deschutes Brewery
  • 10/27 Rockin' Dave's Bistro & Backstage Lounge

Enter the local food photo contest and share the local food love! Take photos of Central Oregon inspired food and local fare during the month of September. Snap and share images of local food from vendors, restaurants, farmers markets, and gardens. Post photos with #HDFFA and #TasteCentralOregon to Facebook or Instagram. HDFFA will select a winner in each of the following categories: Best Restaurant Photo, Weirdest Looking Vegetable, Best Dish featuring local food.

*HDFFA is a 501(c)3 non-profit serving Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson Counties. Their mission is to support a community-based food system in Central Oregon to increase access to fresh healthy food, support sustainable farm land use, and foster relationships among farmers and consumers.

For more information on how you can support Central Oregon farms and ranches visit http://www.hdffa.org/