Sunday, September 18, 2016

Feasting in Portland

Five years ago Portland joined the major food festival game with Feast Portland. It's very similar to the Food and Wine shows across the country: Aspen Food & Wine, Los Angeles Food & Wine, Pebble Beach Food & Wine. It's their big celebration of all the great food and beverages of Portland and Oregon. 

The last four years I couldn't go because it happens in September, the same time as Farm to Fork month here in Sacramento and sometimes the same time as the International Food Bloggers Conference. This year I was excited to be able to attend. After all, next to Sacramento, Portland is my second home, where I went to college, where I've visited off and on since I was a toddler. 

Feast PDX spans a number of days and includes the standard Grand Tasting Tents as well as more intimate, limited seating dinners and classes. I would have loved to attend the dinner done with Chris Cosentino or the Twisted Filipino dinners, but tickets to those type events are the first to go. 

with Ben Ford
On Thursday Sacramentans might have been feasting on 15 burgers at the Sacramento Burger Battle, but up north I was busy tasting 15 different sandwiches in Feast's Sandwich Invitational. While most chefs were local, there are a couple celebrity chefs that are invited as well, such as Tom Douglas from Seattle, and Ben Ford from Los Angeles. 

Like Burger Battle, there is a People's Choice winner and a Judge's Panel winner. I really liked and voted for the Indian influenced one below. It was original, flavorful, was hot and crunchy, and was the People's Choice winner - Tom McCarty of Bollywood Theater. The judges selected Kim Jong Grillin's duck club sandwich. 

On Friday and Saturday afternoons it was time for the Grand Tasting Tent at Pioneer Courthouse Square. I have great memories of Pioneer Square because it was finished and opened in 1984, when I was at nearby Lewis & Clark College. It's a fantastic venue that has many different levels and created in such a way that it has built in amphitheater seating. Located smack in the middle of downtown, it's also the central downtown hub of the Trimet transportation system. 

The Grand Tasting Tent is the showcase for Oregon products, with a few outsiders thrown in. For instance, I saw our own California Olive Oil represented. Oregon has always had great wine, coffee, and beer crafters. They are also known for being very health conscious, so not surprising there were many healthy food companies with booths.

Here are a few that caught my eye. 

I've visited Bob's Red Mill twice in the past. They are always at the forefront for providing ingredients and products for all kinds of dietary restrictions. On Saturday they were showcasing their muesli: regular, paleo, and gluten free. 

Speaking of paleo, Honey Mama's had their paleo chocolate for tasting. Cacao-Nectar Bars are naturally free from soy, eggs, dairy, gluten and grains. Their bars have a nice, soft texture with a deep flavor from a blend of cacao, coconut oil, and honey. 

I was also impressed with Kite Hill. They make vegan 'dairy' products including ricotta and cream cheeses! I'm hoping to learn more about them. 

Oregon is well known for being the berry state. It's climate is perfect for blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. There are berry farms all through the Willamette Valley and a blueberry one just down from my dad's old house. This was a ceviche that featured berries. 

Now that I've been once, I know to get on it with buying tickets for some of the feature events in the future. In the meantime, check out some of the bites from Saturday's Grand Tasting in my Instagram video below.

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