Feast Portland is UNLIKE any other food and drink festival I’ve been to. To sum up, it was 4 consecutive days that required stamina, endurance, and most importantly, super stretchy pants. An all around event fit for ANY FOODIE, it included Drink Classes (For those seeking the liquid diet) , Dinner Series (For those of you who wanted a more intimate locale on chef collaborations), Hands on Classes (For those of you who wanted to have brain food), and Main Events (For those who like to eat and drink until it hurts).
These food & drink events challenged me to almost a breaking point. Even my belt buckle had to step back a couple notches. Personally, I have been to many events and you can almost say I’m sort of an eat, drink, and party veteran. But when Feast of Portland came around and knowing it was a 4 day event, it totally challenged me (and my liver) to the test of ultimate satiability. And for those of you who has been to Portland for their incredible food and drinks (like the food carts) , you know how creative each and every chef are for their tasty dishes. And what if I also told you some of the best Chefs from All around the country were also here at the same time? Would you now be a little more convinced that this is the “Costco Size” equivalent for a food festival? For my LA readers, some of the local talents who participated were Alvin Cailan from EggSlut, Mei Lin from Top Chef, Duff Goldman from Charm City Cakes, Ben Ford from Ford Filling Station. Feast also stepped it up with so many wonderful Chefs, like BBQ enthusiasts Aaron Franklin from Franklin’s BBQ and Vivian Howard from Chef and The Farmer.
So if you didn’t want to fly 3 hours from LA to Dallas, just to wait 3 additional hours for Franklin’s BBQ, is there another option? Sure, you could get your butt here instead this year and enjoy the Stumptown’s Coffee Cookout in less than half the time and half the cost to taste Frankin’s famous brisket.
For you LA readers, you might be asking: doesn’t Los Angeles offer The Taste or The LA Food and Wine Festival? True, but quite honestly, if you want to partake in more than 2 events in LA, logistically it’s not as easy as Portland where you could walk to almost everything. To continue reading my experience here, you might want to grab a cold one and join me on the journey.
Widmer Brother’s Brewing Sandwich Invitational Presented by Dave’s Killer Bread- Day 1
After I stepped off the plane, I was worried about two things, time and raindrops. I saw raindrops and it was already 4:30pm. I had my first event, the Sandwich invitational to attend. But prior to that, I had to pick up my media credentials and check into my hotel. If this was in LA, I probably would’ve missed some of the event but because of Portland’s ROCKIN’ transit Trimet Max line, I arrived in downtown within 40 minutes, picked up my badge in 5 minutes, and checked into my hotel in 10 minutes with time to spare! Shortly after, I arrived at Director Park with a beautiful lighted backdrop.
As I was roaming around for food, all of the sandwiches here were out of this world! What you typically see in between 2 pieces of bread has been totally redefined at this event. Gregory Gourdet from Departure wowed the Judges for his Pork Pastrami, Pickled Turnip, Hoisin BBQ, Chinese Crepe sandwich. While Chef Vitaly Paley won the People’s Choice award for his interpretation of the Banh Mi with pork belly, pickles, peppers, cilantro on fried taco bread. Widmer Brothers had the center stage with five different beer offerings and two of my favorites available were these collaborations:
- Som O Grapefruit Radler: collaboration with Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, whose Grapefruit Som Drinking Vinegar was used to create this innovative radler with a Helles Lager base. 3.5% ABV / 10 IBU
- Missing Legs Saison: collaboration with Prosciutto di Parma USA and Widmer Brothers to make this Belgian-style farmhouse ale brewed with Grains of Paradise. 6.5% ABV / 24 IBU
Ended night one on a full, happy note.
Eat Sleep Burn by BurnCyclePDX-Day 2:
The next morning started at 7am with a Spin Class by BurnCyclePDX. I knew I needed some balance between eating and working out so I showed up. The instructors were no joke. They were a notch below a drill Sargent. An hour long of IN YOUR FACE spinning with music from One Direction blasting from the rooftop of Hotel deLuxe. When it was all finished, it was a kick butt, feel good morning that was much needed for this weekend. So make sure you dedicate a day to your normal workout routine. My arteries appreciated the cardio workout from having that whole Tillamook ice cream sandwich the night before. (See slideshow below)
Bon Appétit Shaken, Stirred, and Buzzed: Why We Really Like Booze-Day 2
After showering at the hotel, my next stop was at the 1st Drink Tank : Shaken Stirred and Buzzed. Coming into these classes, I didn’t know what to expect. Do I drink? Do I learn? But after coming here, one word totally described it: UNPRETENTIOUS. It was as if I was at a bar drinking with the guys, but I was in the back. I totally relate to talking about alcohol. Perhaps I was an alcoholic in training?
The panels included:
- Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appétit (New York, NY)
- David Lynch, St. Vincent (San Francisco, CA)
- Alise Moffatt, Shift Drinks (Portland, OR)
- Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Clyde Common / Pepe Le Moko (Portland, OR)
- Adam Rapoport, Bon Appétit (New York, NY)
They talked. We drank. The panel talked some more on why we drink the way we do. We listened and Mr. Morgenthaler made his points bluntly and always contradicted the rest of the panel. Not sure if I really learned anything useful but it was definitely good humor fun.
After the booze, it was a fabulous day to start at the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting sponsored by Alaska Airlines. Conveniently located at Pioneer Square. The Trimet MAX dumps you into the same square. How freaking easy is that? Well, here’s a pro tip: Walk the alcohol and food off. Why? Because if you want your sensory functions to work correctly for the Grand Tasting, you’ll want to walk it off.
Lots of Pacific Northwest Chefs along with over 30 wineries and a dozen breweries provide their signature offerings to feed the festival goers. In addition, popular names like Whole Foods, Breville, and William-Sonoma completes the lineup for the vendors.
In the middle of the square, entertainment included Q & A Sessions with select Food Network stars, A “shake-off” with Gregory Gourdet, and offerings of banana walnut cupcakes. It was a fun, relaxing atmosphere but if you know the area well, you’ll have to avoid the pigeons.
USA Pears Night Market at Zidell Yards-Day 2
Friday night ended with the night market event at Zidell Yards. Being Asian and been to many Night Markets in my lifetime, I have to say the authenticity of the night market was on point. The darkness with the bulb lights and infinite lines. I was almost ready to anticipate Starfish on a stick with a view of an alleyway. However, we had a great view of the Ross Island Bridge. But the better question was, where else are you going to feast on Night Market food from your favorite Chefs?
Street food REALLY is one of my favorite foods. If it could be in a food group by itself, I’d be eating it all the time. These edible creations are typically not available at the Chef’s restaurant itself. Believe me, they tasted like prized possessions. Some of the stand outs were: Mei Lin’s Pork Belly Pâté Egg Rolls, Bollywood’s Troy Maclarty’s Gobi Manchurian Caulifower; and the Lamb Pelmeni Ravioli with Adjika Butter and Pickled Pears from Katchka’s very own Bonnie Morales.
Ended night 2 overwhelmed by sensory overload
Drink Tank -Bourbon and Beyond: The New World of American Whisky-Day 3
Well, I had so much fun at the first Drink Tank the day before, I thought I would come back for more. I do have to say, I’m not a bourbon or whisky drinker normally. Having to go through these drink tank events does make it a little easier for non drinkers like me to openly accept something this strong into my system. While talking about malts, grains, distilleries and such….I was lost after my 3rd drink. I took lousy notes at this event, so please refer to Wikipedia for more information on this subject.
I do remember, tho, the Westland Single Malt was one of my favorite here as it was clean tasting. That and it was $75 a bottle and probably not the kind of Whiskey you make a cocktail out of!
Oregonian Media Group Smoked- Day 3
I love BBQ and I love to smoke meats. Apparently a lot of other people do too! The Smoked event focuses on meats/seafood/vegetables that are either cooked over fire or contains a smoking process with their dishes. You know you’re in for a treat when your nose can carry you to the dishes you so desire. One of the outstanding ones is John Tesar’s Fire Roasted Short Ribs with Red Wine Gastrique. Melt in your mouth meaty goodness. Not to be outdone, Olympia Oyster Bar had the most creative with their Smoked Hama Hama Oysters inside an Oak Barrel Smoker. While Spoon and Stable out of Minneapolis came out with my favorite of the night, Grilled Wagyu Skirt Steak, Wild Mushrooms, Caramelized Shallot Vinaigrette. Food wise, I would have to say this was my favorite MUST go to event of all events. If you are also a fan of food over fire, make sure you attend!
Feast Portland After Party with Nicky USA -Day 3
So if you’re lucky enough to get invited to one of these after parties, it’s another food/wine/beer/cocktail mecca for the night owls. Apparently, Portland has no shortage of them. There was a photo booth, DJ spinning the tunes, and LOTS of people having a great time dancing. This event was hosted by Eater and Washington State Wine so lots more to drink.
I partook in a few Washington State wines. Reds, whites, desserts, all excellent! At this time though, make sure you hydrate yourself with one or two bottled waters if you want to wake up and make it through tomorrow morning. Oh, and make sure you have one of those bottle openers in your back pocket. You will make lots of friends. Trust me.
Ended night 3 not believing I had to leave the day after and having really sore thighs from the spin class.
Tilamook Brunch Village-Day 4
What’s better than sleeping in on a Sunday? Waking up to Brunch of course! After having a late night and properly hydrating myself, I was ready for my last day and last event in town. To be quite honest, 4 days here was super enjoyable and went by quickly.
Upon entrance, the Petit Chocolate Almond Croissant from Beaucoup Bakery was a hit! Light and crispy with a surprise shot of chocolate inside! If you didn’t get one in time, they were out within 2 hours! Also the Aebleskiver with Lingonberry Jam from Broder Café was a light play on donuts that just reminded you why breakfast was important. And let’s not forget that sexy Turkish Egg from Saxon + Parole as it was sous vide to perfection! As for the salty side of things, nothing compared to the Breville’s Chicken and Waffles station which had one of the longest lines. Lastly, the best crafted sandwich here went to Lardo for their Brisket Benedict with Sunny Quail Eggs, Smoked Hollandaise, on an English Muffin. Of course, to complement the morning, nothing says good morning like the Stumptown
chocolate milk Chocolate Cold Brew with Milk.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I had at one of the BEST food/drink festivals I’ve ever attended in 2015. This is, by far, the LARGEST festival in the Pacific Northwest. As I finalize my recap of FeastPDX with these last sentences, I highly recommend looking at Feast Portland’s website in May 2016 when tickets go on sale. (Trust me, the good events ALWAYS sell out quickly!) I hope some of the tips I supplied along the way will help you Feast Portland newbies have a great time like I did.
Total beer consumed: ~30 cups
Total Margarita consumed: 5 glasses
Total Whiskey consumed: 5 glasses
Total Coffee consumed: 7 cups.
Total water consumed: ~12 bottles
Total wine consumed: 8 glasses
Total non alcoholic drinks not water and drank accidentally because I didn’t know better : 2 bottles.
Total food consumed: A LOT
Total money spent: Priceless
See you next year!
Feast Portland 2016 -Sept 15-Sept 18