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Northwest Pine Apple, Yumberry will bowl you over

Few “superfoods” go down so smoothly as an acai bowl. Even as winter descends, this chilled dish still finds plenty of favor, not least as a health tonic.

The fruits of palms native to South America, acai has been widely touted for its antioxidant properties that come with naturally high levels of fiber and relatively low levels of sugar. The buzz around acai has subsided a bit over the past decade, as some studies yielded little evidence of the fruit’s value as a nutritional supplement.

But acai bowls can quell cravings for something sweet while offering wholesome servings of fruit and other ingredients that appeal to raw-food enthusiasts. The bowl concept also suggests a light meal, whereas a smoothie — often containing a similar calorie count — seems more like a mere beverage.

Northwest Pine Apple prepares both, plus cold-pressed juices and sweet and savory toasts. The locally owned business began in 2016 as a food truck that frequented farmers markets and other spots where mobile eateries are encouraged to park. It wasn’t long before Kinzie and Andy Whitman gained enough traction to expand Northwest Pine Apple to an attractive drive-thru on Medford’s North Riverside Avenue, across from Kids Unlimited.

I’d spotted Northwest Pine Apple’s light, bright, minimalist exterior last summer but hadn’t made a point to try it until a recent warm day when I was running morning errands downtown and feeling low on fuel. With no time for a sit-down meal, I hoped for an energy boost without the sensation of being weighed down by food. My friend met me at a nearby business and came along for the ride.

Reading Northwest Pine Apple’s menu board took a few more minutes than we anticipated. A half-dozen bowls can be made with up to 18 “extras” as pedestrian as peanut butter or as exotic as goji berries. Among health-food staples are protein powder, blue algae and bee pollen. Make a bowl decadent with cocoa nibs or a “vegan chocolate drizzle.” Priced from 50 cents to $2, extras quickly can elevate the price of any bowl.

A small bowl costs between $7 and $9, the large between $9 and $11. Kids’ portions cost $5.50. Bowls have a base of either frozen organic acai or organic dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, the fruit of cacti native to the Americas. Popularity has led to the dragon fruit’s cultivation in tropical climates from Southeast Asia to southern California. The “dragon berry” bowl piqued my friend’s interest, and he ordered a large ($9) with its standard blend of pineapple and apple, topped with granola, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and raw honey.

In the mood for something a bit more protein-packed, I gravitated to the “bee love” bowl’s almond butter and hemp seeds. The bowl’s acai base was blended with cherry, one of my favorite fruits, and topped with granola, strawberries, raw honey and bee pollen. I settled on the small size ($9).

We figured a juice also was in order, despite its cost of $7 for 12 ounces. To be fair, Northwest Pine Apple’s fresh, organic juices impart vitamins and minerals from such vegetables as beets, kale, spinach and celery, which most of us don’t eat in enough quantity. Combining those pieces of produce with fruits and spices, including turmeric and cayenne pepper, Northwest Pine Apple has eight formulas to its credit, plus “wellness shots” for $3. We chose a fairly uncomplicated blend of pineapple, lime and mint, dubbed “hipsters digest.”

We popped the top on the juice almost immediately and relished its cool, clean flavor. Northwest Pine Apple juices can be special-ordered on its website, northwestpineapple.com, which lets fans stock up on 32 ounces for $22. An assortment also can be special-ordered as a juice “cleanse” for $32 to $52. Juices come in glass jars with screw-top lids.

We waited to claim a seat at a nearby park before diving into our bowls. Both were attractively assembled with sliced fruit ringing the bowls’ perimeter. Mine didn’t skimp on the bee pollen and hemp seeds, mounded in the bowl’s center. The granola’s chew and acai’s mild sweetness kept the bowl from tasting like dessert.

The dragon fruit in my friend’s bowl had a far more distinctive flavor, nicely balanced with tang, although the blend seemed to melt more quickly. A plethora of berries mingled in the mixture, which benefited from granola’s contrasting crunch. Local businesses, including Pennington Farms, TerraSol Organics and Rogue Valley Honey, furnish some of Northwest Pine Apple’s ingredients, according to its menu.

Another Southern Oregon original, Yumberry Bowl has locations in Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass. The flagship ingredient is indeed the yumberry, a fruit native to China that tastes, according to the company’s website, like a cross between raspberries and pomegranate juice and boasts myriad health benefits. Yumberry Bowl also adds it, along with acai, to many of its smoothies and “yumsicles.”

I was drawn to the seasonal special “autumn leaves” bowl, promoting Pichuberry, apparently a trademarked name for Cape gooseberries, which are closely related to tomatillos. That flavor may seem like a strange complement to pineapple and peaches, but I was sold on the bowl for its liberal topping of toasted coconut chips with banana, kiwi and raspberries. A small costs $8.50.

My friend selected the “Rio” a more mainstream acai-based bowl with bananas, blueberries, kiwi, shaved coconut and granola. His was sweeter than mine, which verged on a bland base for the fruit and coconut chips. If only the Ashland location had the chia pudding advertised online at yumberrybowl.com. I would have been perfectly content topping an order of chia pudding with the coconut chips and cocoa nibs.

Located at 1200 N. Riverside Ave., Northwest Pine Apple is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Call 541-613-6717.

Yumberry Bowl has locations at 1112 Progress Drive, Suite 115, Medford; 1259 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland; and 136 N.E. Steiger St., Grants Pass. Check the website for hours and contact information.

Tempo Tidbits

A new walk-up window serving burritos, salads and “bowls” builds on the success of Ashland’s Falafel Republic.

Burrito Republic opened last week at 46 E. Main St., Ashland, a tiny to-go accommodation that formerly housed coffee kiosks. Owner Sam Jackson offers a format similar to his Falafel Republic, located in south Ashland off Siskiyou Boulevard, where customers choose proteins as either toppings or fillings for three types of meals.

Falafel Republic’s pitas were replaced at Burrito Republic with tortillas, and its Mediterranean spices were reinterpreted for Latin-inspired adobo chicken, verde pork, chiles rellenos and fajita veggies. The window also serves quesadillas and fresh churros, and Jackson says he anticipates doing a brisk business in house-made horchata and aguas frescas once the weather warms. Base prices are $8, $9 and $10 for burritos, bowls and salads, respectively.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

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Give thanks for chefs who prepare holiday meals for takeout. Thanksgiving packages are available from several local eateries with advance orders.

Jefferson Farm Kitchen in Jacksonville offers a menu comprising “everything but the bird” for $139. Serving four to six people, the roster of classic side dishes adapted to special diets includes choices of cauliflower stuffing or Rise Up! bread stuffing, mashed roots or potatoes, gluten-free poultry gravy or vegan mushroom gravy, fermented cranberry relish or cranberry dressing, vegan cheesecake or apple-pear pie and blanched green beans and pureed squash and yams.

Packages must be reserved by Nov. 18. A la carte dishes can be purchased through Nov. 23 at jeffersonfarmkitchen.com. Delivery or pickup of all orders is scheduled for Nov 25.

Jefferson Farm Kitchen is at 135 S. Oregon St. Call 541-531-6740.

In Ashland, Peerless Restaurant & Bar and Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine have multicourse menus of heat-and-eat holiday dishes.

Peerless’ traditional Thanksgiving feast costs $40 per person and includes Tuscan kale salad, fresh-baked rolls, whipped yams and Yukon Gold potatoes, green bean casserole, roasted squash, cranberry-orange compote, sourdough, rosemary and gruyere bread pudding, turkey confit, roast turkey breast with gravy and pumpkin-winter squash pie. Peerless suggests wine pairings and bottle purchases for additional prices.

Reserve by calling 541-488-6067. See the menu at peerlessrestaurant.com. The restaurant is closed on Thanksgiving.

Larks plans a reservations-only feast at Ashland Springs Hotel but recommends its socially distanced alternative to restaurant dining. Its take-and-bake Thanksgiving menu costs $29 per person and affords turkey noodle casserole, field greens salad, Rise Up! rosemary ciabatta bread and pumpkin pie bars. Preorder by Nov. 19 at larksashland.com/thanksgiving-take-bake. Pickup is 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 25.

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A dinner prepared by the region’s top chefs is postponed amid new limits on restaurant capacities in response to the coronavirus. Neuman Hotel Group announced this week that its Top Chefs Dinner would take place in February, instead of this Saturday. The event was an homage to the Ashland Culinary Festival, also canceled this year.

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Have a Tempo tidbit to share? Email news about the local dining, food and beverage scene to: thewholedish@gmail.com

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Sarah Lemon has relished the Rogue Valley’s dining scene for nearly two decades as one of the original contributors to Tempo’s dining column. Her palate has helped to judge some of the region’s culinary competitions and festivals. The former editor of A la Carte, the Mail Tribune’s weekly food section, she writes a biweekly column, The Whole Dish, and blogs and podcasts under the same name. Listen at mailtribune.com/podcasts and read more at mailtribune.com/lifestyle/the-whole-dish. Follow the.whole.dish on Instagram,

@thewholedish on Twitter or see facebook.com/thewholedish.

A pichuberry bowl is a fall special at Yumberry Bowl in Ashland.
The Rio bowl has an acai base at Yumberry Bowl in Ashland.