Just under four years ago, when this site was just a wee bloglet, I sent an email to Bob’s Red Mill. I admired the vision of the company to promote whole foods and healthy eating and was already using almost their entire product line religiously. At that time, my sole hope was for them to learn of my blog’s existence, and to possibly procure a free package of flour or two, because: opportunist. I received an email back almost immediately and was sent a care package with all sorts of gluten-free flours for me to play around with.
Using BRM’s flours, I began what I called The Pancake Project – a miniseries on my blog where I posted a gluten-free pancake recipe using a different gluten-free flour every Friday. From this experiment I learned how various gluten-free flours work…let’s just say it was love at first flapjack. I kept in close contact with the company, and I’m proud to say I’ve been a brand ambassador for Bob’s Red Mill for the past two years. You’ve seen me promote their products in various blog posts, and behind the scenes, I use their products in my daily life.
A week and a half ago, I was fortunate to be a part of a group of blog ambassadors to visit Bob’s Red Mill outside of Portland, Oregon. Not only did I finally get to meet the kind folks at the mill, but I learned more about the company, got to see it in action, and got to know my fellow ambassadors. So here I am, recapping the experience so you can get a glimpse of this marvelous company and also learn a thing or two about Portland. For those of you who enjoy smaller big cities and incredible food, Portland needs to be at the top of your To Visit list!
Let’s go chronologically, shall we?
I flew to Portland Thursday, 8/13 and arrived right around noon. I checked into Hotel Lucia, which was an experience in and of itself, then promptly hit the town running. I went to Powell’s City of Books, the world’s largest new and used bookstore in the U.S., where I totally looked up my own cookbooks and to my delight, found both of them sitting on the shelf.
My long-time friend, Jessica, lives in Portland, so we met at the bookstore then walked to Deschutes Brewery from there. If you’re unfamiliar with Deschutes beer, I strongly recommend it! Their Black Butte Porter has been my favorite since I first tasted it a few years ago. I also tried their gluten-free beer, and it’s the best I’ve had to date.
After Deschutes, Jessica and I went to Tasty n Alder, where we basically ordered everything, no joke. We had a radicchio salad that had legit chunks of pork belly in it, Mexican street corn, seared ahi, a super juicy and tender roasted chicken dish, and also shared a couple glasses of wine. After this feast, we went and got ice cream, because we’re gluttons for punishment.
Once the feasting had ceased, Jessica drove us down to the waterfront, where I learned Portland has right around a bazillion beautiful bridges. I nicknamed the city The City of Bridges, and we walked alongside the water as the sun went down. After our digetif walk, Jessica dropped me off at my hotel and I passed out to the tune of cable TV.
First thing in the morning, all us bloggers came together to meet Cassidy, our amazing, lovely, supportive, fun and awesome contact at Bob’s Red Mill. I was thrilled to finally squeeze her in person and to also meet some of my fellow ambassadors, all of whose blogs I’ve followed for a number of years. Stephanie from Girl Versus Dough, Erin from Well Plated, Carolyn from All Day I Dream About Food, Dana and John from Minimalist Baker, Liz from The Lemon Bowl, and Sarah from Sarah Bakes Gluten Free were my fellow travelers and BRM lovers.
We drove together to the Mill, where we met Bob in the flesh, who is just the biggest hoot ever. He gave us some history on how he began the Mill and told us about his inspirations. He encouraged us to read the book, Salt Sugar Fat, (which I read a couple of years ago and strongly recommend, too), which gives insight into how the food industry evolved to include those three addicting elements in packaged and prepared foods to keep you coming back for more.
Bob’s passion and commitment to the you-are-what-you-eat mantra shines through not only his company, but his every-day life. He and his wife raised their three sons with the pact that nothing but healthful foods would enter the home. I was left feeling inspired, knowing this employee-owned company genuinely cares about the quality of the foods they produce, as well as continuing to encourage consumers to pay attention to what goes into the foods they eat.
Following our chat with Bob, we bloggers geared up and took a tour of the facility. From start to finish, we got to see how the products are milled, stored, and packaged. We also had a chat with the lab tech, who runs tests on all of the gluten-free products to ensure they meet the highest quality standards.
After the tour of the mill, we all had lunch together at Bob’s Red Mill’s restaurant, where they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner using delicious fresh foods.
After lunch, Cassidy dropped us off at our hotel and we all went to coffee together to chit chat about this and that. After our afternoon pick-me-up, we all froofed our hair, got all gussied, and went together to Departure for what would be the most amaaaaaaazing dinner ever.
We met the head chef at Departure, Chef Gregory, who you may recognize as the second runner up to one of the Top Chef competitions. We took a tour of the rooftop, which has a beautiful view of the city, a vegetable garden, and a legit bee farm. We then were seated for our 10-course meal, prepared by Chef Gregory.
Following dinner, we bloggers (who at that point were bonded by full hearts and bellies) went to an awesome bar, recommended by Dana and John (who live in Portland). It was so nice having the opportunity to spend time with folks whose blogs I’ve admired for so long, and to also make friends with these incredible individuals. After the bar, we all parted ways and I fell into the most splendid food coma.
I checked out of Hotel Lucia, and my friend, Jessica and her boyfriend picked me up for brunch. We went to The Country Cat, where I enjoyed a veggie scramble, and then we went for a little car ride to see some sights. We went to Multnomah falls, which was absolutely breathtaking. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to view some scenery before hopping on the plane back to Reno.
To say the trip was a fun and memorable experience is an understatement. I was left feeling inspired by Bob, his incredible company, my fellow bloggers, and the beautiful city of Portland. I look forward to revisiting the area, trying out more restaurants, and seeing the beautiful surrounding areas. A million thanks to Bob’s Red Mill for organizing such a marvelous adventure!
Cheers to health!