The number one reason I like to travel is that I enjoy trying new food from different cultures. The other sensory experiences are great and definitely well worth the reason to travel, but for me, it’s always about what I can taste that really opens me up to a new part of the world. My favorite thing to bring home from travels is “foodvenirs” or food-souvenirs (as I explained in this post) so that I can bring a bit of the flavor of the region I visited home with me. Whether it’s a perishable good or a bottle and preserved dish, it’s always fun to pull out that can of tomatoes you brought home from Italy or the bag of salt you got from Oregon.
With a couple of exciting trips coming up, I wanted to dedicate a new part of my travel recaps solely to souvenirs and to help you navigate what to bring home from these places. There will typically be a mix of non-perishable and perishable items I recommend to bring home all from local artisans and regionally specific.
What souvenirs to bring home from Portland Oregon.
Jacobsen Salt Co. Finishing Sea Salt (flavored and regular), Kosher Salt, Sea Salt Caramels. Jacobsen Salt Co is the first North American company to harvest salt from the Oregon Coast since Lewis & Clark set up salt works in the early 1800’s. Since then they’ve become a nationally recognized brand, and yes you can buy it at William’s & Sonoma and online, but visiting the store is a lovely experience and will save you a couple of pennies than buying through another retailer. (Plus Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax, so stock up!)
*Packing Note: pack this in your checked luggage unless you don’t mind having to open your package and have the TSA agents test it before heading to your terminal. Speaking from personal experience.
Bee Local Honey. Regional honey varieties. Bee Local is a sister company of Jacobsen and you’ll most likely notice the signage around Portland notifying you that Bee Local hives are in the area. Bee Local is committed to producing sustainable honey and never heats, treats or blends its honey. It’s just purely delicious honey. I picked up a jar of the Willamette Valley honey to bring home.
*Packing Note: Don’t pack your honey in your carry on. As a reminder, the TSA only lets you carry on jars of liquids that are 3.4 ounces or less. If you have to throw away your honey, there is a gift shop on the other side of the check-in gate where you can rebuy it. Speaking from personal experience.
Hand Made Pottery by Local Artisans. Alexandria Cummings Ceramics Deep Coffee Mug featured. There are a lot of fantastic ceramics artists and beautiful ceramics at different stores in Portland and I highly recommend bringing a piece home. My friends at The Modern Proper told me about Alexandria Cummings Ceramics whose ceramic mugs I fell in love with. I love how deep they are and how sturdy the handle is. I used it in this tomato soup recipe here.
*Packing Note: Pack these in some rolled up clothing in your carry-on. These pieces are too delicate to chance to stow it in a checked bag.
Local Wine. Pinot Noir and anything from the Willamette Valley. If you’re a wine drinker, you’re going to want to take advantage of the max number of liters (5) you’re allowed to bring home in your checked bag with some regional wine. Some of the wines in the Willamette Valley don’t always make their way to the East Coast where I live so I loaded up on some Ayers Pinot Noir and a bottle of Cor Cellars Momentum (which is a medium-bodied red blend from Washington). I didn’t have a chance to make it to the wine region but I visited Park Avenue Fine Wines downtown and the guys there helped me pick out a couple of great bottles of wine to bring home.
*Packing Note: If the winery offers to ship you a wine you’ve fallen in love with, definitely do that. If you have to pack your wine in a checked bag, you’re only allowed to bring home 5 liters in each checked bag (which is 6 whole bottles). Make sure you pack them in some sort of airtight bag in case one breaks on the journey home. Most wine shops will have these bags on hand to purchase just in case.
Fine Textiles. Parachute Home Linens. The Modern Proper told me about this Linen shop in the Alphabet district. They have the softest collection of linens and beautiful textiles from the bathroom to kitchen to the bedroom. I came home with some beautiful kitchen towels with gray piping. I love how lovely and subtle the detail is. It’s just plain pretty. You can shop Parachute Home online but if you’re in town, pay a visit to their storefront! It’s minimalistically charming.
*Packing Note: If you buy ceramics, you can wrap your linens around them for safe keeping. If you’re bringing wine home, I wouldn’t recommend packing your linens and wine together in the same bag just in case of a breakage.
Pendleton Wools. Everything wool, sweaters, blankets, shirts, etc. I have been a longtime fan of Pendleton Woolen Mills as my grandma used to have some vintage ones she’d keep around the house. They product exquisite wool pieces and I left with a cable-knit wool pullover and a wool cardigan. Forgot your notion of scratchy wool, these are fine boiled wool pieces that will last a lifetime. You can buy it online or you can visit one of the many stores around Portland.
At the end of my week long journey to Oregon, I ended up buying so many souvenirs I had to A) resolve to come back another time with proper luggage and proper attire and B) buy another carry on bag to get everything home.
Remember, Oregon doesn’t have sales tax, so shop to your hearts content!