Like the goose that laid the golden egg, the company that grows the golden pears is the stuff of legend.
I’ve been on a first name basis with Harry & David (actually, isn’t everybody?) since I was young, when my grandparents would send us a box of green and gold beauties every year around the holidays. And, really. Everyone knows the golden pear is the best pear. I know, I’ve been there, and my sister can probably tell you better than anyone I was willing to fight for that gold pear, gosh darnit.
I think you can fairly say I win this time, having the opportunity to visit the land of the golden pears: Medford, Oregon.
The place is as pretty as the pears themselves. Nestled in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, Medford is surrounded by acres and acres of orchards, most all of them pears.
The pears had already been harvested for the season, but that didn’t make the orchards any less stunning.
Airdrop: it’s a bloggers’ best friend on a trip like this!
Sandy hosted all the bloggers at her house for a charming and intimate welcome dinner the first night; a perfect setting to kick off the trip. Even her pets are picture perfect.
We stayed at the picturesque Winchester Inn. Lovely accommodations and a gracious staff, with enough charm and personality to make us all fall in love with it.
But I will never. EVER. forget the food. Their restaurant, Alchemy, served some of my favorite bites of the trip (and, considering just HOW MUCH I actually ate over the course of 5 days, this is saying a lot!) Pictured above is our lunch shortly after arriving. Potato chips, people. Crispy and paper thin and topped with crab and prosciutto. And steak tartare and scallop spring rolls and beet and goat cheese salad.
Normally I am not in any position to eat after just getting off a plane but in this case I ate. Every. Last. Bite. And then went back for another crab potato chip.
I can’t forget to mention breakfast, which was different every day. I was actually excited to wake up every morning because it meant I got to enjoy their breakfast. Poached eggs on goat cheese soufflé with raspberry gastrique, bruleed strawberry yogurt, stuffed almond praline French toast, pear and hazelnut crepes…
Take me baaaaaaack…..
After our orchard tour we were shuttled over to the chocolate factory, where Charlie (yes, Charlie) showed us how to make our own hand painted chocolates. I may have gone a bit Jackson Pollock on those suckers.
We each painted about a dozen chocolates in, oh, an hour. This baby? Can make that many truffles in a matter of seconds.
You can install my TruffleMaster 2000 right over there by the sofa, please and thank you!
Ah, bloggers. Always taking pictures. And I’m always taking pictures of you taking pictures.
And then, lunch (because we hadn’t eaten in, oh, two hours) was at Deja Vu Bistro in Jacksonville, Oregon. Leek onion soup and steak and blue cheese salad and refreshing mint chocolate chip gelato. Swoon.
I love you, Oregon in autumn.
After another life-altering breakfast, we headed to H&D R&D to talk truffles. And taste truffles. And hear about all the design and planning that goes into creating Harry & David’s amazing selection of gift baskets. They are literally, right now, planning basket designs for NEXT holiday season.
And then we ate some more truffles.
Any day that starts with a truffle tasting is going to be a good day.
The bloggers on the bus go…
After donning some truly fashion-forward safety jackets (beware of fork-lifts, y’all), we ventured into cold storage to see where the fruit is stored.
And just as quickly ventured back out because brrrr! Cold storage is COLD.
And what’ya know, it’s time to eat again! A stunning table was set up just for us inside Penny & Lulu’s florist studio, with menu catered by Fresco.
These wild mushroom-stuffed beet tortellini blew my mind. I wanted an entire platter all to myself.
Back at the H&D facility, we toured the gift basket production facility. Each line assembles a different gift basket. The workers pack an entire basket in mere seconds with such skill and precision I was in awe. We even got to try our hand at this packing business, assembling our very own gift basket. It probably took us 45 minutes to make sure each pear was in its proper place.
No, I don’t think we’re going to be hired by Harry & David anytime soon.
There’s a reason Harry & David’s pears are always perfect. They are all hand-inspected and only the best make it to their gift baskets. The ones that are deemed un-giftable are sent back to be turned into juice or baby food.
So much of this experience was about the people; from the conversations with friends, both old and new, over a plate of incredible food, to the workers and staff at Harry & David that simply brim with passion for the brand, I came away with a full heart (and an even fuller stomach).
As if we hadn’t eaten enough already… Julie and I elected to stay an extra two nights and play in Portland. I’ll be posting about that part of our adventure shortly!
Disclosure: This experience was sponsored by Harry & David®. As always, all opinions written are purely our own. We’re incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow us to continue sharing delicious experiences with you, so thank you for supporting us and the brands we love.