Monday, July 11, 2011

For the Love of Lavender and a Winner!

What a glorious way to spend a summer day—visiting some of Oregon's lavender farms! This weekend the annual Oregon Lavender Festival took place, and I visited four lavender farms—two I'd visited two years ago during the festival, and two I hadn't been to before.

My first stop was Moonshadow Lavender Farm in Albany, where I tasted some lovely hibiscus and lavender iced tea, picked up some very fragrant lavender hydrosol and hand cleanser (much nicer than the generic hand cleanser I usually carry with me in the car), and snapped this fun photo of a small lavender field and vineyard with a snow-covered peak in the background.

My next stop was an hour north in the quaint town of Yamhill, where there are several lavender farms. Wild Rain Farm was the first Oregon lavender farm I visited two years ago. This year, the fields were not quite as mature as they were the last time I was here, but beautiful, nonetheless.

Here is where I picked up a jar of their lovely Lavender Blackberry Jam. I think I might have to make those yummy Lemon Poppyseed Muffins again. They went so well with the jam!

The next stop was Willakenzie Lavender Farm, the largest of all the farms I visited. They grow six varieties of lavender and their display beds feature dozens of others.

The owner's house is surrounded by lush gardens, sitting high up on a hill overlooking the lavender fields and valley below. It's such a spectacular setting.

It was fun to watch visitors picking fresh-cut lavender, taking photos, and just enjoying the beautiful summer day. I was inspired to come home and cut some of my own lavender.

I made my way inside the large gift shop and managed to escape with only a tiny vial of Grosso Bleu lavender oil. Outside, I met Kathy Gerht, author of Discover Cooking with Lavender. She was sampling her sensational Summer Mango Salsa (made with lavender, of course!) It was so delicious, I'm looking forward to making some this week. You can find the recipe right here on her blog!

My last stop was Lavender Lake Farms in the tiny town of Independence—about an hour south of Yamhill, and midway between Yamhill and my home.

At each farm, my favorite moment was walking by the distiller, where the fragrance of lavender was so intense, it almost put me in a trance. That's likely why I failed to take even one photo of a distiller. After driving around for hours and walking through all of these lovely lavender fields, I didn't even notice how hungry I was. So when Seth of Rolling Stone Pizza Company (who just happened to be at Lavender Lake Farms with his wood-fired oven on wheels), told me he could make me a cheeseless Purple People Eater Pizza, (purple cauliflower, purple onions, and eggplant on lavender-infused dough, I was more than ready to indulge. A seasoning blend of lavender, garlic, thyme, and pepper made the flavor come alive!

Here's a photo of all the spoils of my trip, along with the gorgeous cutting board I scored last weekend at a local arts festival.

Congratulations to The Vegan, who won a fabulous gift pack of Sweet Spice, Chocolate Fantasy, and So Delicious! Please let me know where to have the companies send you your booty!  Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway. Stay tuned for the next one. I love sharing my delicious finds with you!