Portland’s most beloved food festival, Feast, celebrates its fifth year next week. Feast Portland is a four day affair taking place every year on the 3rd weekend of September and features events both small and large. What I love most about Feast is how it takes over the city–it injects itself not only into the city’s public spaces (courthouse squares, parks, waterfronts, you name it), but also into more subtle places. Since this will be my fourth year attending Feast, I wanted to share a few of my most memorable bites over the years and a few of the reasons Feast Portland is magical to me.
Come along with me, won’t you?
Let’s Make Some Magic!
I hear the whispers of Feast before September even starts. Feast will wink at you from some unexpected spots. One example of this was last year’s nod I found directly under my office window–Provenance Hotels is a sponsor of Feast Portland, and they had a local artist sidewalk paint beautiful quotes outside their hotels throughout the city. I personally LOVED these pieces and hope that we will be seeing more of them this year!
At the Sandwich Invitational 14+ chefs compete to create and be voted with best sandwich. The art of the sandwich takes on many interpretations. One of my favorites happened in 2014–Salt & Straw’s PBJ sandwich, which was not only incredibly delicious, but absurdly photogenic. It was a sundae built on buttery toast with marionberry jam, peanut butter ice cream, whipped cream, and homemade peanut butter crunchy bits.
Another favorite was at Smoked in 2015. The (above) grilled pork jowl and smoked oyster remoulade was made by Cockscomb’s Chris Cosentino. Smoked debuted in 2015 as the Saturday Night Main Event, and wow’d many. The event takes place in one of Portland’s most lush and open public parks, Fields Park, in northwest. It wrapped up its first year to an uproar of applause from its attendees and rumors that the smoke was so thick it set off smoke alarms in adjacent apartment buildings.
As I head to Smoked this year, I’m excited to see if there will be more interactions with chefs–the largest paella pan you’ve ever seen, an icy smoke slide (read bong) for shellfish, tomahawk steaks that will make your date double-take when they find you gnawing on a bone. Last year’s Smoked had all those things and more.
So many talented individuals attend and participate in Feast–it’s fabulous for people watching. It’s even better for meeting writers and chefs you’ve been adoring and following for ages. My moment was meeting and getting a signed copy of Diane Morgan‘s cookbook, Roots: The Definitive Compendium with more than 225 Recipes, and realizing she not only is amazing in person, but lives within five minutes of my house in SE Portland. Another year, I had the opportunity to push a good friend into introducing herself to one of her idols, Ruth Reichl, whom we had practically ran headlong into in the drink line at Sandwich Invitational.
Feast isn’t just about people though, it’s about ideas–it’s a pairing, flavor profile, design element, presentation or product; each event will give you ideas and make you think about the food. I think that is why anyone who has attended an event at Feast Portland will tell you that it is the most amazing thing! Its participants are creating and sharing fresh ideas, and after five years, it’s still happening.
Feed Me More FEAST