It’s been a week since Feast Portland put the wraps on another successful food festival, and I’m still savoring the memories and flavors of the event. The formula of daytime tastings, demos, and workshops combined with evening theme events and collaborative dinners continues to shine, with this year bringing an added attraction to finish the feasting.
Each year, I return home to remarks of “Why isn’t Seattle home to a festival like this?” We’ve certainly got the talent, though in the absence of a “Feast Seattle,” at least some of our Seattle-area culinary celebrities travel south to contribute to the Portland event. They’re part of a program that includes famous (and not-so famous) fooderati from around the country, from Food Network stars to local heroes that include chocolatiers, winemakers, farmers, and of course chefs.
Feast Portland is quite the hedonistic event, a feeding frenzy that justifies a juice cleansing afterward. For those feeling guilty about the gluttony, note that Feast Portland continues to benefit the statewide Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, as well as Share Our Strength—a national organization aimed at ending childhood hunger.
Read on to see some Seattle food celebrities, favorite bites from the Grand Tastings and the four main events (Sandwich Invitational, Night Market, High Comfort, and Brunch Village), and a few extras from Feast Portland.
Judges’ winner of the Sandwich Invitational was a good one: Kachka’s smoked sprats, egg, smetana butter fried toasts. (Kachka is a fairly new Russian restaurant in Portland that is high on my wish-list.)
The Sandwich Invitational featured plenty of pork (and other meat), as usual, but it was refreshing to see some seafood, including Broder’s gravlax, Skyr, pickled cucumber, crispy chicken skin, rye bread. (I also liked the “mini-battle” between Hugh Acheson/5 & 10’s pimento cheese sandwich and Matt McCallister/FT33’s version which added bologna.)
Salt & Straw was the People’s winner at the Sandwich Invitational with this PB&J.
Chris Cosentino of the soon-to-open Cockscomb chats up Ruth Reichl while serving up a sandwich he called Cicciolina (Google her for the fascinating story).
From the Feast Dinner Series event at Departure (featuring chefs Gregory Gourdet, Anita Lo, and Pichet Ong): chicken and mushroom shu mai with carrot vinegar.
One of my favorite dishes of the Departure dinner: shrimp toast with black pepper caramel and grilled pineapple.
While fun, I actually thought there were more misses than hits at the Departure dinner. This five-spice pastrami with Valrhona dark chocolate, ginger, and chili was too intense in its “mole”-like sauce, with an absence of Asian flavor for me. Coming at the end of an 8-course dinner, it was also too heavy. I did like the turnips, though.
My favorite course of the Departure dinner was actually the dessert: 3 shades of chocolate with peach, sesame, white miso semifreddo, and Jacobsen’s sea salt.
The scene at the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, featuring lots of food and drink, plus chef demonstrations.
A pleasant surprise at the Friday Grand Tasting: Fran Bigelow of Fran’s Chocolates.
Best bite of Friday’s Grand Tasting: Face Rock Creamery’s Bloody Mary shooters, featuring peppadew peppers stuffed with Vampire Slayer garlic cheese curds.
The festive entry to Friday’s Night Market.
At Night Market, a treat to see Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of the newly opened Trove (and Joule and Revel).
Yang and Chirchi’s spicy shrimp cakes.
Best bite of the Night Market came from Brad Farmerie of Public and Saxon + Parole in New York City: pork blood popsicles with chili jam and peanut powder, served with a side of crab salad laksa.
Gabe Rosen of Portland’s Biwa dished out pork and shrimp water dumplings and also dished out plans to open Noraneko, a non-tonkotsu ramen restaurant the likes of which we don’t have in Seattle.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai always draws huge lines, even though Portlanders can get the chicken and rice dish all the time.
Better than at her Departure dinner dishes: Anita Lo of Annisa served grilled quail with celeriac and Szechuan pepper at the Night Market.
Jon Shook (of Animal and Son of a Gun) served salmon with jerk spice, grapes, palm sugar vinaigrette, and habanero. This dish comprised half of perhaps the evening’s most popular pairing, as it went well with 10 Barrel Brewing Company’s Cucumber Crush.
Night Market festivities included this fire dancer.
People pack in for Night Market, one of the most popular events of Feast Portland.
Liam Kenna of Stumptown Coffee Roasters demonstrates pour-over brewing technique at a hands-on class. (A great way to wake up early on a Saturday morning.)
Best bite at Saturday’s Grand Tasting: scallop sashimi and braised pork belly w/uni emulsion from Bend’s 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar.
Ethan Stowell (with Branden Karow) preparing a 3-course pear menu for USA Pears’ “pop-up restaurant” at the Grand Tasting.
Stumptown’s cold brew was refreshing and invigorating during the long, hot days of Feast Portland.
John Gorham of Toro Bravo served fun picadors at High Comfort. The three paired bites per skewer included housemade chorizo, fuet, onions, pears, pepper, and anchovies.
Even more fun from Gorham: olive puree spheres he calls “Spanish kisses.”
Aaron Barnett of St. Jack served up comfort in the way of braised lamb tongue, bulgher, and bay broth.
Surprising best bite of High Comfort: Imperial/Vitaly Paley’s fried chicken (double-fried, so quite crispy!) and spicy watermelon salad with Imperial rooftop honey.
It might not look like much, but my second favorite bite at High Comfort was Paul Qui’s (of Qui) mushroom dinuguan.
Kristen Murray of Maurice provided a sweet finish to High Comfort: pain perdu with tomato and anise.
Brunch Village was the new event of Feast Portland, serving up plenty of carbs to start Sunday. Just this Black Seed Bagel alone was filling, but worth the stomach space for a real New York bagel.
Best bite at Brunch Village: smoked lamb neck with Geechie Boy grits, okra, and harissa jus from Butcher & Bee in Charleston (SC).
Eggslut (Los Angeles) was painstakingly slow in poaching eggs for kimchi fried rice, but Alvin Cailan’s shake-your-own-can concoction was fun and tasty.
Also commandeering a long line: Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX.
Franklin Barbecue’s breakfast taco with avocado and charred salsa. Yes, the brisket is delicious!