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Tasty River Rafting

Tasty River Rafting
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BY KITT WALSH

If, like me, you went river rafting in younger days, you may have found the experience exhilarating but a bit cold, wet, and rugged with the food being more about survival than salivating.

Well, times have changed and today’s culinary adventure trips have all the thrills of your earlier trip with the edges knocked off. You will still sleep in a tent, but your party will include a gourmet chef and a sommelier, who will prepare meals which begin with locally sourced cheeses and craft beer microbrews, followed entrees like wild poached salmon and oyster,s paired with the perfect wine and those s’mores supplanted by molten chocolate cake and a soothing glass of port.

Welcome to the world of Culinary Adventure Trips.

Companies like O.A.R.S have been running river trips since 1969 and culinary trips since the 1990’s but, according to Director of Sales and Marketing, Steve Markle, such trips have really taken off in the last few years, as Boomers kids finally leave the nest.

“They may have even taken their kids on river trips when they were younger,” Markle says, “but now they get to enjoy a new spin on an old classic. They get to experience the excitement of a river trip, with a group of adults with whom to share a glass of wine and some wonderful food along the way.”

There are still spaces on two of O.A.R.S’ Culinary Trips this year, both with show-stopping settings: the wild and scenic Rogue River in Oregon and Idaho’s Main Salmon River in the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness.

Main Salmon Epicurean Adventure, July 6: Epicurean Adventure with Whole Foods Market on the Main Salmon River

The Main Salmon Epicurean Adventure is a river-loving foodie’s dream–gourmet, fresh and often organic meals prepared by a gourmet chef paired with regionally sourced wines and micro brews. Produced with organic and regionally sourced products from the Whole Foods Market store in Boise, the impressive cuisine is restaurant quality, matching delicious food and cooking demos with exciting whitewater and gorgeous scenery on this all-inclusive adventure. Oregon and Washington varietal wines are guaranteed to pair perfectly with the delicious riverside fare. Included is 2 nights lodging and air transportation from Boise to Salmon, Idaho, plus the river trip for $2699 per person.

Rogue Wilderness Gourmet, September 1 – 4: The Wild and Scenic Rogue River, just a short drive from the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, is the ideal setting for the Wilderness Gourmet trip on the Rogue. Featured wines for the culinary adventure will include an eclectic selection of California wines. Make your ways and stay overnight in Galis, Oregon (an easy drive from Portland or the Bay area) at Morrison’s Lodge and the O.A.R.S team picks you up by van the next morning and off you go. The chef on the Rogue River trip is Executive Chef Bob Anderson, of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park (he is also current owner of V Restaurant in the historic mining town of Murphy’s in the California Sierra foothills.) Anderson is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, as well as an outdoor enthusiast. The cost for the 4 days (which does not include transportation) is $1649 per person.

Besides getting very well fed, you will get white-tablecloth cooking lessons on the banks (optional) and monogrammed aprons and recipe books to take home.You also get a body which will probably be in better shape because of the trip’s routine of rafting, kayaking and hiking by day and riverside camping by night.

You may explore the rapids by inflatable kayak (yes, you will be given refresher lessons on the kayak’s use) or float through the river’s swimming rapids, (where you are encouraged to jump out of the boat to swim) or you may fish for trout in a deep clear pool and spot wildlife, including turtles, deer, bear, otter, osprey, great blue heron and bald eagles, while floating through the breathtaking scenery.

The tours not only provide experienced guides, but all the camping equipment (and best of all, your tent will be set up for you by the team. When you arrive at that night’s riverbank stop, you can even leave all the work to them and take a nap.)

Another company which has begun culinary river trips is ROW Adventures. Their Culinary Whitewater Series puts a slightly different spin on such trips. On the ROW Adventures, guests actually get to do a lot of the cooking, albeit with Dutch ovens and over charcoal, but still they learn skills they can take home, not only for use in their local wilderness, but in their own kitchens. For more information, contact ROW Adventures.

Happy floating (and chowing down.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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