FEAST Portland is a festival I look forward to all year. It has a spirit about it that’s just different from all the other food festivals I’ve visited. The air, the makers, the wine, the food. You’ve got to go experience it for yourself. But if you couldn’t get there this year, here’s my 2017 wrap-up.
Wheels down in Portland, first stop? Snap a ‘gram of that famously green PDX carpet. “I’m here.” Time for coffee at Stumptown and a bagel with lox spread from Kenny & Zuke’s. Now I could relax. Time to get the car.
HUGE thank you to my friends at Toyota who really came through for me with a zippy little RAV4 that got me safely from Bull Mountain up in Tigard down to Feast’s downtown events every day. That’s about 30 min each way, so I was super lucky to have a sweet ride with tush warmers, sport seats, XM radio so I could rock out to my fave 90’s hits and really useful safety features. If you’re in the market for an SUV, definitely check out the RAV 4; it had even more safety features than my Volvo and it was super cute inside.
Thursday’s first stop was to grab my media credentials at the media lounge, which was blessedly centrally located inside the beautiful Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland. There, members of the media and bloggers could grab wine, food, coffee (Stumptown was always in the fridge), cocktails and various other treats and surprises whenever they need to recharge their literal or figurative batteries.
From there, a former prison transport bus-turned party bus took us to the Sandwich Invitational, AKA a huge area full of teams from restaurants churning out sample-sized sandwiches to the masses (like 1000 masses), hoping to win People’s Choice or the whole darn thing. Who ended up with the prize? Lardo, with their Nashville Hot situation. People’s choice came from Pastrami Zombie (but they’ll always have the #1 best name in my heart).
After parties are a big deal during Feast. They’re sponsored and themed out and are full of samplings – almost as much as the daytime events. You don’t pay to get in, but you have to be on the list. The first night I went to Bar Casa Vale, where a Ham and Eggs-theme sponsored by Portland Monthly Magazine felt very Miami Vice-meets-Hawaii 5-0.
Friday started early and strong at the gorgeous Hotel deLuxe with an elegant media buffet breakfast welcoming us to Feast and introducing us to a few key sponsors like VerTerra (those chic recycled plates we’re eating on – made from fallen trees!). We also heard from Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, the beneficiary of Feast’s fundraising! Definitely take a look at the great work they do when you get a chance.
After breakfast we were treated to a fascinating crash course in Kambucha from the experts at Health-Ade Kambucha. I recommend Health-Ade because they are small batch, keep their brews in glass (no plastic seepage), and the owner/creator is totes adorbs. Next, we scooted over to Smith Teamaker for a tea and dumpling class that was both beautiful and interesting. If you make it to Portland, definitely go visit the tearoom at Smith.
After tea, came lunch, even though normally it’s the other way around. Normally I don’t spend three hours at lunch and drink six different kinds of wine either, but when at Feast, we fuckin’ FEAST, don’t we?
This lunch was generously sponsored by Washington State Wines and I love them for it. Thanks to Jackrabbit for hosting. Also, the profiteroles pictured above are LIFE.
Later that evening, after a quick pitstop at the media lounge for snacks, coffee and/or a margarita (because why not?), it was time for some party hopping of sorts. First, a trip to the Night Market event followed by a ticketed multi-course dinner.
First, Night Market:
Then I jetted off to a steak dinner of sorts. This one was exciting: Surf & Turf featuring Dallas’ own Chef John Tesar.
These types of dinners are always a treat because I get to hang with wine producers, out-of-towners and local couples who just wanted to splurge on something cool for date night. It’s a welcome change from hanging out with foodies and VIPs 24/7.
Our friends at Little Green Pickle and the folks at Smokehouse PDX treated us to a beautiful, delicious boozy brunch at Smokehouse. And it wasn’t just any brunch, but it was a special Polish brunch celebrating chef BJ Smith’s heritage. From cocktails and coffee to borscht, caviar, perogies and more, this was a brunch not to be missed. Take a peek:
Note: The passion fruit cocktail at this brunch was hands down the best cocktail I had all fest long. I’ll be back for that one.
Next stop: it was off to a quick tasting of the visiting Souvla one-day-only pop-up at Wiz Bang Bar where we happily sampled greek yogurt soft serve topped with the likes sour cherry, olive oil, baklava crumbles and something called “choc-la-va & magic shell.”
Get your butt to Wiz Bang Bar ASAP, from the Salt & Straw folks, and I’ll be visiting Souvla next time I’m in San Fran.
Next stop: The Grand Tasting! The Main Event!! There’s just so much to taste, see and learn about, you’ve got to go for yourself, but my photos can give you a sample of what you’ll find, should you find yourself at Feast.
SO much wine. Such pretty weather. But no time to dwell or even digest, because it was time to get our punch on.
IMBIBE showed us how to make punch for a group. Genius, right? These little classes are so fun and so informative. Plus, cocktails!
SMOKED last year was a muddy, amazing mess.
This year, the rain held off but it was just as meaty. Think tomahawk steaks in piles and Big Green Eggs for days. What even is life?
After SMOKED! we partied with Eater (thanks!) and the next morning I double booked myself at a fun-size brunch and Brunch Village. Both were awesome but I really loved the smaller event, as the food was better and we got to really hang with the small business owners (like Ellen Marie Bennet of Hedley and Bennett aprons who is LOVELY).
Check out a few pics from brunch:
After that, Feast was basically through. It was more delicious than ever and I so appreciate my time in the Pacific Northwest with its food, people, weather and views. Thank you, Feast Portland, for a wonderful trip. Thanks to Toyota, for the RAV 4 that got me where I needed to go in sporty style, and thanks to my Food Bastard, who let me experience it all while he took care of our Food Babies without so much as a complaint. He’s incredible.
Until next year, PDX!