Some people set their alarms and save up their lunch money for Coachella, other people set their alarms and cancel their gym memberships to save money for Feast Portland. I’m one of the latter types and it is not just because massive crowds of overly trendy people wearing $500 distressed booty shorts give me anxiety but also because four days of back to back eating and drinking some of the best food and beverage in the country while hanging out with all the chefs, food writers, distillers,brewers, bartenders and food geeks is my idea of a spiritual experience.
It has been eight months since Feast 2015 concluded and the final closing party left a pretty epic impression on me combining all my favorite things. In short it was a beautiful September Sunday, warm and clear skies and what started out as eating Gregory Gourdet’s delicious fare on the Departure rooftop with the blogger squad and all the chefs I have “coolness crushes on” resulted in an epic sunset dance party that marked the beginning of my obsession with “Hotline Bling,” (I’m serious…that was the first time I heard it).
With Feast going on its fifth year (and each one getting better), I’ve got high hopes for Feast 2016 and guess what? The schedule goes live tomorrow at 9am and tickets start going on sale MAY 20th at 9am PST. Set your alarm, will you? It is bound to sell out real fast. REAL FAST.
Check out my coverage from Feast 2015’s Night Market HERE
Feast Portland concluded three days ago yet I am only now beginning to recover from the most epic weekend of 2015.
Being a busy week at work as well, Night Market was one of the events that I was free to roam at my own accord (only to have to Uber out right after to set up Recovery Gift Bags for our infamous Restaurant Flip Cup Unofficial After Party).
I was #blessed enough to go to Night Market last year as well; and it is still just as impressive if not more impressive than it was in 2014. Night Market takes place in Zidell Yards, a beautiful wide open space at the Southwest Waterfront overlooking the Willamette River and the newly constructed Tilikum Bridge. DJ Anjali provided Bollywood-inspired beats and daisy chain lights hung across the corridor of chef/distiller/sponsor booths as the transition from daylight to sunset occurred.
Night Market last year wowed me away but this year…man, it was next level probably because I now have more blogger/media peep friends, got to saber a champagne bottle (well…with Tommy Klus’ help), eat multiple helpings of Kachka pelmeni and see the Noble Rot crew (plus my boss) dressed like Duke boys. Oh and of course there was the Little Green Pickle Karaoke bus to the venue which is always the icing on the cake (or rather the foam to my champagne). Anyhow, I’ll do that whole “show not tell” thing and let the photos speak and inject you with enough FOMO to jump on tickets for Night Market at Feast 2016.
UPDATE: Tickets to Feast 2016 go on sale on May 20, 2016 at 9am PST. Schedule is live tomorrow, May 19th at 9am PST.
SET YOUR ALARMS!
From Earl Ninsom of LangBaan
At the Noble Rot Booth! If you didn’t know, USA Pears is the headlining sponsor for the Night Market
Gobi Manchurian from Bollywood Theater
A very large and hungry crowd
The incredible Kachka pelmeni. I hear they serve this in heaven.
Me post-saber! Photo credit goes to Shauna Noah!
From John Gorham at Toro Bravo
Noble Rot’s dish: Pork, pear and Gresham granola on griddle bread
The Noble Rot crew dolled up as Duke boys at their booth
I’ve never been good at starting new routines intentionally; or maybe that’s just my self doubt talking and I’ve just never tried hard enough. In fact it is most likely the latter. I am excellent at staying on top of routines if they’re work related…just as long as I take that first step to create a repeating Google Calendar event with all the right alerts. But hey, that one day I turn off the alert to not have my phone go off in the middle of a dentist appointment…let’s just say it will take a lot of work to ever slide it back to on again.
I used to be such an early riser; a 6am-er who would religiously get up, make two full cups of Peet’s Major Dickasons coffee and eat my Fage 2% yogurt topped with berries, cinnamon and zucchini bread. I seriously went about seven years of my life where my refrigerator was never void of Fage 2%, berries or zucchini bread. SEVEN YEARS. I was also incapable of leaving the house if I didn’t have at least three hours of wake-up/get ready/alone time. I think that was the case up until 2012. In my current state I don’t think I’ve had a cup of Fage (or any other Greek yogurt for that matter) since at least spring of 2015 and I actually can’t remember the last time I ate a fruit because now I suck and just eat lots of fancy pizzas, cheese plates and Middle Eastern dips. Sometime between 2012 and the present, there were a lot of changes in routine and they were all inadvertent. I guess you could say I became more chill…well sort of.
Up until three weeks ago I would struggle to wake up before 8:30am, drive back to my parent’s house every morning to pick out my clothes and drink coffee from an Espresso Machine then roll into work and stay til the evening then go home and watch shitty Netflix shows while drinking extremely subpar wine found at this brightly lit snackshop near my house…I believe its called the Argyle Pantry or something like that. Seriously. And then on weekends I’d take a Lyft somewhere to meet friends, order whiskey gingers, then at 2am go to someone’s house and end up spending stupid amounts of money on shitty Postmates orders or Sizzle Pie for the whole group. Then I’d hate myself the next day and stay in bed with my cats and my phone off until Monday rolled around and I had to get up for work.
Talk about a boring and predictable life. I haven’t left the country since 2013 and before that I used to go abroad at least twice a year. In fact one of my passports expired and the filled out renewal application has been in my trunk for two months and I intended to stop at the Post Office on the way to work the other morning but instead I spaced out at the traffic light thinking about how donuts were invented and decided not to turn back by the time I remembered four blocks past the Post Office. Ugh.
So these past three weeks I’ve been attempting to change my most recent “normal.” I downloaded a Mint.com budget and have become successfully obsessive over budgeting and becoming less depressed about all the hard adulty bills I’ve had to pay. I also have a trip to Europe booked in August so there’s something to look forward. I’ve also gone skiing twice on my own accord for the first time in eight years and I’ve also started putting my vitamins and medications on my nightstand with a full glass of water every night before bed so that I have no excuse for not taking them. I’m also trying to eat healthier since my immune system has been noticeably sucky this year- I’m trying to cook at home more, eat out less and eat more vegetables and stop drinking shitty wines and whiskey gingers. And finally, I’m going to make an effort to get back to writing because I’ve let my creative side wilt for too long. My domain got fudged up several months back and several of my recent blog posts got deleted and I had to cough up around $200 to get my domain back and make it usable again. Yes, a rip-off but now that I’ve paid that $200 it would be a disservice to myself if I let it go to waste so here’s my vow to start blogging again- both for myself and both so I can’t stop feeling super guilty every time I get invited with a media pass to really cool things and have people ask the name of my blog and instead I just refer them to go to my Instagram. I’m taking this seriously guys, I just put in my Google calendar an appointment for twice a week where I focus on writing a post; regardless of if I decide to publish it or not. Hopefully none of those times coincide with any future dentist appointments.
Also, I bought the domain SaraKorhonen.com because I have a super basic Finnish name and I don’t want one of my namesakes to get the rights to that the way they did with a gmail address. In fact, you can also look at this blog at SaraKorhonen.com
Now if you managed to read through all that, what motivates you to make changes and how do you get yourselves to stick to those changes?
And Feast Week is upon us; the biggest weekend of food, beverage and super flossy afterparties of the year.
Sadly, I started Feast Week yesterday sick in bed with food poisoning and living on a diet of vegetable broth and ginger tea…which I guess you could call an inadvertent Pre-Feast cleanse of sorts. Because of that, you can imagine I’ll be taking EXTRA precautions with my health prior to Feast’s commencement on Thursday so that I could make the most out of these next few crazy days.
For those of you attending Feast, I’ve created three miniature guides below for how to help yourself feel stellar before, during and after the epic Munch and Guzzle Fest:
Get at least eight hours of REM sleep. Both nights.
Do not consume any alcohol because it interrupts your sleep patterns, dehydrates you and you already have plenty of it in your future this week so just say no and have some Pellegrino with lemon instead.
Eat 5-8 mini meals per day. to prep your body and metabolism to be grazing on a lot of food over the course of a lot of hours. Don’t eat too much and don’t eat too little.
Make those mini meals CLEAN. Try to avoid fried, fatty, greasy, overly saccharine meals and instead focus on broth-based soups, salads, lean proteins and all those cliches that health magazines are always telling you to eat.
Get in some exercise. I’m a hypocrite on this one because the only exercise I’ll be getting is walking in high heels to and from meetings; but because I have your best interest at heart- it’s probably wise to do a Barre3 class, go to yoga or go on a pre-work jog tomorrow.
Remember to wash your face and wipe off all your makeup before bed because obviously you want to look all luminescent and alive when you run into all your Celebrity Chef Crushes!
Take naps on the days you don’t have to go back to work between events. Naps will be your best friend; if you live far then find a friend who doesn’t and pay them with access to the after parties to let you nap on their couch between events.
Avoid overdoing the day turn-up. Yes it is tempting to try ALL THE WINES at the Oregon Bounty Tastings but wine makes you sleepy and you don’t want to be sluggish at Night Market, Smoked or Lord forbid, the after parties. Keep it to a sample here and there and alternate each glass of wine with both 8oz of water and a few sips of Stumptown Coffee. Moderation is key.
Remember that you don’t have to sample everything. Feast has more eating options than anyone can imagine and just because it is there it doesn’t mean you have to consume it. Be choosy and opt to splitting samples with a friend so that you still get to have a taste.
Dress fashionably but comfortably and definitely DO NOT wear high heels to the Night Market or you will hate your life and try to pay other people for their shoes. High heels really only work at the after parties, so go ahead and wear your Birkenstocks for all the earlier events and save the #glamlife for the after after party. For clothes; stick to dark colors and think along the lines of leggings, A-line skirts, oversize sweaters and statement jewelry.
Carry advil, water, your prescription medications, your phone charger, deodorant, chapstick, mouthwash and dental floss at all times.
Utilize legal appetite stimulants in the privacy of your home…but only if they don’t have the potential to make you sleepy and a couch potato.
You should probably ask for Monday, the 21st off and spend the day Netflixing and Chilling with a six pack of Gatorade and low sodium soup.
Unless you have been living in a cave in the middle of the Siberian tundra, you have probably seen some sort of magazine ad, tweet, or flyer for the fourth annual Feast Portland which begins in just under three weeks.
Just a quick snippet on what Feast Portland is again: An annual celebration, or rather a “movement” that corrals chefs, artisans, brewers, journalists, distillers, mixologists and food & drink enthusiasts from around the world to Portland for four fantastic days. From Thursday, September 17th- September 20th Portland becomes host to a plethora of food & beverage events ranging from an oyster shucking class, a Margarita showcase and even an ode to sandwiches in the form of the “Sandwich Invitational”. In short, there is a lot of food and a lot of drink and a lot of beautiful people who all share a love for eating, drinking and being merry.
And now, let me dispel a couple of myths: Not all Feast events are sold out and no, not all of them cost more than a 50ml Chanel eau de Parfum for a ticket. In fact, some of the best events still have tickets AND cost less than an oil change. Check out my picks below for Feast Events that still have tickets available and won’t cost you any more than $95 for a ticket:
Feast’s already legendary kick-off party transforms Director’s Park into a Disneyland for sandwich lovers. Fifteen nationally acclaimed chefs will be there serving up their own innovative and delectable renditions of sandwiches. Expect everything from dessert sandos to gourmet gyros to waffles and forever change how you define a “sandwich”. Bring a humongous appetite, taste from all fifteen chefs, vote for your favorite and sip on Widmer Beer, Hendrick’s gin cocktails or some Northwest wines. And yes, this event is all you can eat (and drink…as long as you stay relatively well behaved and don’t spill aioli on your fellow patrons). The line-up this year includes Top Chef runner-up Gregory Gourdet (Departure), Aaron Barnett (St. Jack and La Moule), Alvin Cailan (Eggslut, Los Angeles) and Aaron Franklin (Franklin’s BBQ, Austin).
Brunch Village was so extraordinarily successful last year that of course the Feast team decided to bring back the most epic brunch in America. Why go spend the same amount of money at a subpar hotel buffet brunch when you could come to this and eat both sweet and savory brunch fare cooked by some of the best chefs in America such as Andrew Carmellini of Bar Primi in New York City and our very own Rick Gencarelli of Lardo and Grassa. In addition to more food than you could ever eat, there will be a Bloody Mary Bar, lots and lots of wine, and obviously excellent coffee. This is exactly how I’ll be doing my Sunday Funday on the 20th so I sure hope you decide to participate.
Price: $60 per day (occurs both Friday and Saturday)
Occurring on both Friday and Saturday (with different itineraries for each day), The Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting is an orchestra of Pacific Northwest bounty presented to you by their artisans. Expect local cheeses, chocolates, pastries, honey and tastings from over 20 wineries and several surprises yet to come. The ultimate weekend wine and cheese day party…and I may or may not be participating in one of those surprises. You’ll have to come on one or both afternoons to find out what that surprise may be. All I’ll say is that you’re more than welcome to wear sequins.
Price: $55 (also include one year free subscription of Bon Appétit Magazine)
Whoever said booze couldn’t be art obviously has never ventured past 7-11 for libations. Come and get educated by some of the most prominent players in the wine and spirits industry and learn exactly what vintage champagne has in common with overproof whiskey. Then go throw your own cocktail party in a month and impress your guests with your new knowledge.
This guided Beer Brunch combines beer connoisseur Christian DeBenedetti’s knowledge (Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery/author of The Great American Ale Trail) with the talents of cookbook author, Andrea Slonecker (The Picnic; Eggs on Top; Pretzel Making at Home). Expect a delicious educational experience to start off the final day of Feast.
I hope to see you all there! And remember, use the #FeastPDX so I can see all your tweets and instagrams!
Chinese food in Portland. That’s quite the topic to spark conversation amongst local foodies. Most would argue that the best Chinese food in Portland can be found peripheral to 82nd Avenue in establishments that don’t have craft cocktails on the menu, chic cosmopolitan decor or a staff whose mother tongue is English.
“Chinese food” is also an extremely generic term as it attempts to encompass the cuisine of a geographically (and thus agriculturally) diverse country with over fifty ethnic groups and that’s not even taking account the most prevalent “Americanized” Chinese food.
David Sigal might just be the first friend I made when we were freshmen at Lewis and Clark College back in 2007. We sat at the same table during Orientation at the Dining Hall and somehow we ended up being very good friends ever since then. David is Jewish and was born and raised in San Francisco, but also speaks fluent Mandarin, studied abroad in China and most recently helped open a craft cocktail bar in Beijing. Post college he started out as a bar back at Kask then moved on to bartend at Fish Sauce and Produce Row Cafe and he now holds the coveted title of Bar Manager at Racion. Besides having an impeccable talent at creating craft cocktails, David’s dream has been to open a restaurant- one that brings regional Chinese flavors to Portland.
Several weeks back, David invited a group of us over to dinner to test out some potential recipes. The dinner was a great success and next thing I knew I got a text from David to stay open on the night of April 27th as he was holding his first pop-up at Racion named Mian.
While David conceptualized the recipes and cocktails, Chef Connor Martin of Boke Bowl was the chef of the night as David bartended.
The Chef. Photo Credit: Will Ray
The two induction burners that Connor made A LOT of noodles in. Photo Credit: Will Ray
Chef Connor Martin and his sister, Libby (David’s brother’s girlfriend). Photo Credit: Will Ray
Before we get into the food, let’s start with the cocktails David concocted:
Sichuan Lady: Pueblo Viejo Tequila, Sichuan syrup, ginger, lime. Photo Credit: Will Ray
Chinatown Fizz (with David in the background)
Chinatown Fizz made with Byejoe, sweet and sour shrub, honey, lime and soda. Photo Credit: Will Ray
All that can be said is how fantastic these two cocktails were. The Chinatown Fizz being incredibly refreshing and the Sichuan Lady having that tequila and spice essence.
On to the food:
The Pop-Up in full session. Photo Credit: Will Ray
Sichuan beef jerky
Sweet Water Noodles
Sous Vide Tea Egg and Pickle Plate (cauliflower with pork belly, rhubarb and long beans) Photo Credit: Will Ray
Braised beef tongue. Photo Credit: Will Ray
Black Bean with Pork Belly noodles
Small Plates. Photo Credit: Will Ray
Uigur Salad: Shaved carrots and radish with cilantro and a puree made with cumin, cilantro and other stuff I wish I could remember
Sous Vide tea egg
Photo Credit: Will Ray
Adam Sigal (left) and David Sigal. Photo Credit: Will Ray
I promise I’m not just saying this because David is my friend, but the food was absolutely splendid and unique from any other Chinese cuisine I have ever tried. The sweet water noodles were my favorite dish- deliciously chewy hand-pulled noodles in a tahini based sauce with some sliced chilis for spice. The small plates also included a fascinating melange of textures and flavors- the Uigur salad for instance having a tinge of Middle Eastern flair as its representative of an ethnic group in China who migrated from Turkey.
And of course the sous vide tea egg was necessary as Racion does after all belong to the PDX king of Sous Vide, Chef Anthony Cafiero.
Mian was held from 6-9PM and for the duration of the time the restaurant was packed with even a waiting list at some point- a fantastic success for David and Connor. David hopes to continue with more pop-ups in the near future, if you’re interested in staying up to date for when those might be then go ahead and like his Facebook page and follow him on Instagram!
Up until last week, I had somehow in my 4.5 years as a Portland food blogger not yet made it to Toro Bravo, one of Portland’s most notable dining establishments. In all fairness, I had made two prior attempts and with a two hour wait time, I had decided on other options so as not to risk getting my blood sugar too low and becoming a potentially unpleasant dining companion.
Several other bloggers/media folk and I had the fabulous opportunity last week to be taken on a tour by Chef Gorham of Toro Bravo behind the scenes, experience the new standing tapas bar and to be treated to an impeccable tasting menu and pairing. After that, yes, I just might wait two hours to come back…as long as I have a snack right before.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with this fresh and delicious Aria gin and tonic to compliment some unique tapas.
Spanish Kisses “spherical olives”
Watching the spherical olives being made
The first of the tapas were “Spanish Kisses” in which the olives undergo some molecular gastronomy to be turned into mini balloons that pop and burst with the briny olive flavour once they touch your tongue.
Absolutely delicious. Such unique and scrumptious tapas, perhaps even the best I’ve ever had. Yes, I said that.
After sampling the tapas, Chef John Gorham guided us downstairs to see where all the magic is made- not just for Toro Bravo but also for his other restaurants, Tasty n Sons, Tasty n Alder and Mediterranean Exploration Company. And as one would expect, there was a whole lotta meaty action down there.
Chef John Gorham telling us about how they make the crinkle fries for the Tastys here
Charcuterie curing room
Awesome new meat machine
I’ve gotta say, I definitely gain a further appreciation for the dining experiences I have when I get to see all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into it whether it be learning about the experiences the chef(s) had which inspired a certain dish or method of cooking or getting to watch all the cool kitchen gadgets they’ve got in action.
After the grand tour, it was time for dinner…little did any of us know just how much of a treat we were in for.
Octopus a la plancha
Grande Charcuteria Board: Chorizo, Lomo, Fuet, French Kisses (foie gras in a date), duck liver mousse terrine, sherry chicken liver mousse
Beet Salad with carbonated citrus and radish sprouts
Clam Catalana with tomato and jamon
Canelone Catalan: Butifarra, chicken, black truffle, manchego
Iberico pork skirt steak with sherry glaze
Roasted leeks in ash vinaigrette
Braised beef cheeks with celery root and Yukon gold potato
So much deliciousness; everything was so impeccable that I can’t even designate which dishes were my favourites. The Charcuterie Board at Toro Bravo is impressive, not your typical couple slabs of meat and bread deal but a generous arrangement of specialties such as rich and creamy duck liver mousse terrine and dates stuffed with foie gras. Definitely cool to know that a lot of those meats were cured just downstairs!
Then there were the clams, I for one am admittedly not a huge fan of clams as the texture kind of irks me. However, if you ask any of my tablemates, I was practically licking this bowl clean thanks to its rich, tangy tomato sauce. Another big standout was the Canelone Catalan, perhaps due to the fact that it contained a bunch of my favourite ingredients (lots of cheese, black truffle and chicken). Definitely the creme de la creme of comfort foods.
And, don’t think Chef John Gorham let us leave his establishment without dessert. Funny enough, while on the tour downstairs, pastry chef extraordinaire Carrie Merrill (formerly of Urban Farmer and Departure) and I mutually recognised each other from Instagram. Sure enough, she is now the Pastry Chef for the Brave Bulls and was debuting her first dessert at Toro Bravo to us.
As was expected, Carrie’s dessert was impeccable and an appropriate finale to such a splendid supper. If you’ve ever tried a dessert at Departure or Urban Farmer in the past couple of years, chances are Carrie concocted it and that it was beyond delicious. This olive oil cake was light and sumptious and beautifully complimented with some hidden blood orange, a dollop of olive oil ice cream and an accent of chocolate. So stoked to see what else Carrie is going to be bringing to the table in the coming months!
Alright folks, well if the above food porn hasn’t tempted you to try Toro Bravo then I’m not sure I could trust your taste buds. Check out their mouthwatering tapas menu and head on over to this NE Portland gastronomical landmark for your next date, birthday, girl’s night or supper out on the town.
A humongous thank you to Chef John Gorham, the fantastic staff at Toro Bravo, and the lovely ladies of Little Green Pickle for hosting such a wonderful Wednesday night at one of PDX’s finest.
As promised, folks, a winner for a $45 General Admission ticket to Toast 2015 has been selected from last week’s post I put up announcing the contest.
Since I’m still learning how to do cool stuff like plugins for contests and such, I simply used a random number generator that I found on the internet to select a winner for the giveaway. I numbered the seven comments left on my prior post as 1-7, the two tweets as 8-9 and the three Instagram comments as 10-12.
And…the winner is…
Which means that Melissa wins the ticket to TOAST 2015 at Leftbank Annex on March 7th!
Congratulations, Melissa! If I may say so myself, you do have impeccable taste choosing the Crazy 88 at Departure as one of your favourite Portland cocktails. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org your e-mail address and full name so that I can e-mail you your ticket🙂
As for everyone else, I still HIGHLY encourage you pack your lunch a few days next week and use that money towards a ticket to TOAST so that you also can have the opportunity to taste 120 different spirits from 40 distilleries and munch on bites from Smallwares, Olympic Provisions, The Bent Brick, Stella Taco and the up and coming Ringside Grill.
Rum, Brandy, Tequila, Absinthe, Aquavit, Whiskey, Vodka, Gin, Tacos, Charcuterie, or Asian fusion food?
Now, let me ask you this: Are you free on March 7th between the hours of 4 and 10pm and have the means to get to the beautiful Leftbank Annex event venue in Portland? If you answered yes to both questions, then I’ve got a helluva surprise for you.
The Oregon Distiller’s Guild will be putting on the 5th Annual TOAST, a celebration featuring forty distillers from Oregon, the rest of the Northwest region and around the globe. There will be the opportunity to taste 120 different spirits with no limit on how many you can taste and delectable bits from renown local Chefs Elias Cairo (Olympic Provisions), Scott Dolich (The Bent Brick), Matthew Fields (Stella Taco PDX), Johanna Ware (Smallwares/Barwares) and Kevin Schantz (Ringside Grill) to soak up the booze.
Olympic Provisions Charcuterie
Olympic Provisions Charcuterie
Olympic Provisions Charcuterie
Smallwares Chicken Lollipops
Hamburger Hot Dog from The Bent Brick
The Bent Brick
The Leftbank Annex venue is perfectly accessible by public transportation with the Convention Center MAX stop and Portland Streetcar within a couple of blocks.
Now, do you sound tempted yet? Yes? Ok, fabulous. So, here it is, I have a General Admission ticket valued at $45 that I will give away to a lucky winner on Tuesday, February 24th. How can you enter to win?
1) Leave a comment telling me what your favorite cocktail in Portland is (or if you don’t have one, your favorite cocktail in general).
If you do all three of the above then yes that does qualify you for three entries, if you do two then two and if you do one then one. Best of luck my comrades…and hey even if you don’t win still get a ticket before they run out! General Admission ones are $45 and include event entry, a commemorative tasting glass, food from popular local chefs, samples from 40+ distilleries and the Oregon Distillery Trail Scout book. The VIP ones are for $60 and come with everything the GA tix do PLUS two specialty cocktails, access to the VIP area and access to the after party with the distillers.
In case you have been living under a rock (or I suppose just don’t religiously follow Portland food news), the first annual Dumpling Week is well underway here with only two more days left (well technically a day and a half).
There are nineteen restaurants participating with their own take on the dumpling and if you print out your Dumpling Passport from The Oregonian’s website you can collect stickers from the various participating businesses and qualify to win a prize! Check out the full directions and info HERE
Anyhow, I got quite a late start to Dumpling Week since I’m not normally a big dumpling muncher but then the Instagram FOMO set in and I decided to hit up my ever so reliable foodie partner, Anne and create a master plan to conquer as many dumpling destinations over the course of four days. I still have five restaurants to hit tonight and another three I’m planning on for tomorrow, but I thought I would share with you all the dumplings I’ve already indulged in so that you can also get some dumpling FOMO and hit these spots while you still have the time.
BOLLYWOOD THEATER: Minced chicken and pork Momos (vegetarian version available too) $8
These plump bundles of meat are momos, a delectable comfort food prevalent in Nepal and Northeastern India around the Himalayas. Having spent a week in Darjeeling in the past, I am an adorer of momos and was thrilled to see that there was a place in Portland to offer them. While these momos were delicious and full of mincemeat I found the dumpling skin to be a tad too thick for my liking.
IMPERIAL: Georgian spiced beef and pork Khinkali with herbed yogurt $8
Plump, juicy and filled with brothy goodness, these dumplings were definitely one of my favourites so far. Essentially you’re supposed to hold the nub, take a big ol bite and suck in the juices while holding the bowl underneath your chin for any broth spillage, then dip and douse in the herbed yogurt. Quite the savoury treat these dumplings are.
LITTLE BIRD BISTRO: Goat Cheese Gnocchi with mashed English peas, lamb tongue, pea tendrils and fresh Oregon truffles $17
Little Bird’s contribution to Dumpling Week just may have been the most photogenic of them all. And yes, it was also spectacular in taste whether it be the fresh pea puree, umami-ness from the truffles or the pickled lamb tongue complimenting the chewy gnocchi morsels. While certainly on the pricey side, I’d advise splitting with a friend because this is one dish that should not be missed.
GRASSA: Crispy semolina dumplings with Dungeness crab, porcini, mint and house pancetta $12
Oh dear Lord, this rendition of a dumpling dish is in the same vein as Little Bird’s offering; a melange of flavours and textures that form a beautiful piece of culinary art. The large crispy dumplings are stuffed solid with Dungeness crab and sit in a decadently buttery porcini and caramelized onion strewn sauce. So damn good.
BOXER RAMEN: Potstickers filled with pork, ginger and chives served with pickled carrots and a garlic ponzu sauce. $5 (NOW SOLD OUT)
Perhaps one of the most dumpling-esque of all the dumplings, Boxer’s extremely affordable potstickers make an awesome appetizer. Plus their pickled carrots are fantastically spicy. I’ll admit I’m quite forlorn for all of you that didn’t get to try these since they sold out today; however fear not, I believe the potstickers reside on Boxer’s regular menu.
DEPARTURE: Shrimp Dumplings made with palm sugar, ginger and crispy shallots $11
Top Chef finalist, Gregory Gourdet’s winning shrimp dumplings encompass everything that a dumpling should be. Three chubby pouches of goodness show up in an appropriate dumpling basket (I don’t know if that’s what its actually called but you get what I mean). They are meaty and fabulous and the dumpling skin is super sheer allowing maximum flavor potential. So bomb. You have to get them.
ST. JACK: Quennelle de Brochet (poached and baked pike dumpling with a mushroom, crayfish and cognac sauce)
Perhaps my favourite of all the dumplings so far. While the description might sound adventurous, this classic Lyonnaise dish is the epitome of comfort food for a cold day. The dumpling reminded me of mashed potatoes and the sauce, an incredibly rich tomato and mushroom strewn accompaniment. Delectable beyond belief.
So, what are you waiting for? Go get your dumpling on ASAP! On that note, I’m off to try the ones at Son of A Biscuit, Kachka, Ox and Lincoln!