Everybody loves a camping trip. And everybody loves gourmet cooking. The thing is, you usually get one or the other. You vacation in the city and hit a gourmet restaurant, enjoying fine cosmopolitan cuisine and perhaps sampling some wine as you watch boats drift along the river. Or, you rough it out in the woods, cooking beans or burgers over a fire you made yourself, drinking some camp-style coffee in the early morning as you wake up to the ducks quacking on the lake.
Ever wondered what it would be like if you were camping, and instead of scarfing down hot dogs and potato chips, you instead nibbled ”Tumbo Tuna with spicy mustard and reduced soy, followed by a grilled American Kobe flatiron steak entree with caramelized onion, homemade Worcestershire sauce, fingerling potatoes, and andouille sauteed Brussels sprouts.” Well, chef Damon Jones of Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine, based at the Ashland Springs Hotel in Ashland, Oregon has teamed up with Oregon-based tour company Outdoor Adventure River Specialists (O.A.R.S.) to create “Wilderness Gourmet: Culinary Adventure.” You get to go camping, and eat gourmet food made exclusively from local flora and fauna.
The trip revolves around Oregon’s Rogue River, which you’ll explore through kayaking and hiking, observing its various oases, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. And if you choose the Wilderness Gourmet Adventure – a 4-day trip that leaves on both September 1st and September 18th – you will not only get to see and experience Oregon’s wilderness firsthand, but sample its cuisine as well. The excursion will set you back about $1300 per adult, but that price is all inclusive.
The New York Times recently did a write-up on gourmet adventures, proving that O.A.R.S. was not the first to the table – it seems to be an increasingly popular trend. Of course, the idea is still foreign to some, as Executive Chef Bob Anderson says, “If there are other rafters on the river, it’s kind of a big surprise for them to see us on a sandbar with our white tablecloths, us in our chef whites, and just using camp stoves.” The scene certainly does create a strange juxtaposition, but as gourmet cooking has continued to evolve, so too have its applications.
As an aside, if you’re not interested in sampling any of the gourmet cooking, but still interested in other such river mashups, O.A.R.S. also offers a Wine Tasting Adventure. As you raft along the Rogue River, you’ll stop at some of its calmer shores, set up shop, and sample the products from local wineries. It’s a perfect way to experience nature and its finest fruits.