Give Me All the Sandwiches: Feast 2014 Sandwich Invitational

I know, I know- the Sandwich Invitational was something like two weeks ago. What can I say? The unemployed life gets real hectic sometimes between scoping out new opportunities and catching up on the sleep that your prior high-stress 60-70 hour work week job sucked out of you; so now that I’m bright eyed without the help of an under-eye ointment and have a 16 ounce mug of Stumptown, I’m ready to talk to you about sandwiches.

Someone once said (meaning myself, but I’m certain there is someone else in history that also said this) that all the best foods are arguably some type of sandwich. And there is a lot of truth to that considering the infinite concoctions one could create and still label as a sandwich.

Considering how epic the Feast 2013 Sandwich Invitational was, I was extremely grateful that for the second year in a row I was given a ticket to the invitational as a birthday gift from my friend, Anne. Though the event was not included in my Blogger Pass, I still felt the need to wear the tag- basically so I didn’t feel like an intrusive badger every time I wanted to run up to the front of the line and snap a few photos.

So, like last year, I did not manage to try every single sandwich because there were fourteen of them and I had little self control with the ones I want to get seconds on…but I did manage to try MOST of them.

Rick Gencarelli of Lardo’s pork burger also was slathered with some “dirty mustard,” peaches and American cheese. Despite drawing one of the longest queues of the night, they STILL managed to not run out. Impressive.

From what I did try, here were some of my favourites:

Paul Kahan’s gyro was absolutely out of this world! I personally like my sandwiches packed with saucy unique condiments and a juicy dose of meat and like the other options above the gyro killed it (and stole my vote). I was also a huge fan of Dustin Clark’s water buffalo short rib sando- Chef Clark was at the now shuttered Wildwood, which had been a personal favourite so I am certainly looking forward to the opening of The Oddfellow Social, his next culinary venture. Another surprising favourite? From Stephanie Pearl Kimmel of Marche in Euguene- I’m a sucker for anything with Middle Eastern flavours so her submission also got five gold stars from me.

Another favourite was of course Salt n Straw’s PB&J; also the winner of the People’s Choice:

Tyler Malek’s magical dessert dish was a scrumptious concoction of buttery grilled brioche topped with marionberry jam, peanut butter ice cream, whipped cream and peanut butter Cap’n Crunch. I’m salivating just recounting that.

Some of the other bites I managed to chew into included Broder’s ultra Scandinavian gravlax on rye rendition, Bar Avignon’s deconstructed Cubano and Dallas based FT33’s pimento and bologna sandwich (which if you ask me would be exactly what I would want to eat at 2am to soak up a night’s worth of cocktails).

The winner of the invitational from the judges’ vote was Bonnie Morales of Kachka with her smoked Sprats, egg, and smetana on butter fried toasts; an usual though gorgeously assembled sandwich. I didn’t try this one nor do I have a photo, but I’m sure if you peruse Pechluck or Michelle’s blogs you’ll be able to find one!

And with that, another ultra successful Sandwich Invitational under Feast Portland’s belt. Already looking forward to what deliciousness is in store for 2015.

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Feast Portland Night Market: The Haute Couture of Street Food

I was extremely fortunate this year to have my Feast Portland Blogger Pass include a ticket to the USA Pears Night Market, an event which I did not attend in 2013 but heard remarkable things about.

This year, the Night Market took place at Zidell Yards, a large open space below the Ross Island Bridge at the South Waterfront. The weather was warm, a slight tinge of muggy and the market was set up as a wide boulevard lined by each of the prestigious chefs’ booths along with a large assortment of breweries, wineries and distilleries offering delicious libations with an international twist. There was a stage at the end with performers and bhangra music provided an appropriate atmosphere given the event. What was fantastic about Night Market is that there were loads of picnic benches lining the waterfront making the munching/sipping/photographing juggle a million times more feasible.

Night Market in Action
Night Market in Action

Out of all the Feast events, I had the most anticipation for Night Market given that it had the largest number of my favourite Portland restaurants being represented (Departure, Bollywood Theater, Biwa and Levant to name a few). Plus, I’m a humongous fan of Middle Eastern, Indian, Pan-Asian and Latin cuisines so there’s really no better event to taste them all than here.

Sadly I got too full to sample every dish, which was a shame considering that all of them looked and smelled incredible. Some of the ones I did get to taste though are below (and there are some whose photos magically disappeared, but go check out Michelle from Hummingbird High’s post on the event for some next degree food porn from the event).

Chef Jose Chesa of Ataula killed it with this juicy rabbit skewer- an interesting melange of Japanese and Spanish flavours.

Top Chef Boston contestant/Departure Chef/one of the most genuinely COOL people in Portland, Gregory Gourdet also killed it (as usual) with this light pork dish. Plus they were giving away free multicoloured Departure emblazoned sunglasses at their stand (and of course I grabbed a pink pair that I wore to the after party).

What a splendid event this was. Just like the Tillamook Brunch Village, the USA Pears Night Market was beautifully executed from the vibrant street market atmosphere to the impeccable selection of food and beverage. Plus, I got to take a karaoke bus there and back from the Sentinel Hotel with the rest of the Media/Blogger crew…and yes, that did mean that Brooke and Olivia of Little Green Pickle accompanied me in singing Gangsta’s Paradise en route (though we later realised our microphones were off the whole time…oops).

Once again, a HUMONGOUS thank you to all the geniuses behind Feast Portland for producing such a fantastic event.

Feast Portland Tillamook Brunch Village: The Most Epic Brunch Experience of My Life

Now that I have slept an entire day following the four day extravaganza that was Feast Portland 2014; I am ready to start rollin’ out the recaps. I would also like to acknowledge how much I admire all the other Media/Blogger folk who were able to knock out posts while Feast was in session. The best I was able to do was an instagram or a tweet here and there so I could soak up the most of what this epic food festival in it’s third year running had to offer.

This year, Feast added a new main event to its roster of the usuals (being Sandwich Invitational, Night Market, and High Comfort) and it was the Tillamook Brunch Village in Pioneer Courthouse Square. First of all, adding a brunch event as part of Feast is not only genius, but absolutely necessary and the perfect way to end an exhausting albeit exhilarating weekend.

There was a Brunch Cocktail Competition, a plethora of brunch dishes being whipped out by some of the country’s finest Brunch Pioneers (aka chefs), an endless supply of cocktails/beer/wine/Stumptown coffee, an epic Bloody Mary bar, and a starting time of 11am (reasonable given how late most of us Feasters were partying the night before and double fisting milk cartons full of White Russians).

I arrived at 11:25 am since I did after all have to go home and change from my prior night clothes (which was a kimono, leather skirt and snapback-hardly “Brunch Clothing”) since I was up late at the Chefstable party the night prior nursing my Monkey Strong scotch induced drunchies with the most epic drunchie platter of all time:

Absolutely EPIC assortment of Drunchies from Lardo/Grassa/Racion
Absolutely EPIC assortment of Drunchies from Lardo/Grassa/Racion: From top left- Fried Chicken Slider, Patty Melt, Corndog, Herby tots, meatball in marinara, creamy mac.

When I first arrived at Brunch Village, I decided to make a beeline for a couple of brunch cocktails…you know to double fist while having to wait in the ever-growing food queues. I know I’ve already said “double fist” a couple of times in this post, but if you aren’t double-fisting at Feast then you aren’t doing Feast right. In fact, Alaska Airlines provided at the Oregon Grand Bounty Tasting wooden portable tray tables with a slot for your wine glass so you can essentially QUADRUPLE FIST while still having one hand free. There was also a wine glass lanyard provided by one of the wineries so you can even WEAR your wine glass. So ergonomically brilliant.

I started out at the Bon Appetit Cocktail Tent

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The three choices were a Meadowsweet Mimosa (made with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, sugar syrup steeped with foraged meadowsweet flowers, and Bolerno blood orange liqueur), a Frozen Ramos Gin Fizz (Hendricks Gin, pressed citrus juice, cream, sugar syrup steeped with vanilla bean orange flower water, and nutmeg), and the one I chose which was a Pimm’s No. 9 made with Milagro tequila, Bolerno blood orange liqueur, Madeira combined with mint, ginger, and Tamarind soda.

The next stop was Urban Farmer and Whole Foods’ absolutely epic Bloody Mary bar.

With so much to choose from I ended up sticking to chicken, olives and some Marshall’s Haute Sauce. Now that I had a Bloody Mary and a Pimm’s in hand, it was time to hit the food.

What I’ve learned from Feast this year is that you’ve really got to hit the popular stuff first, because otherwise it is almost guaranteed that they will run out…and if they don’t then their chef is a saint (I’m looking at you Rick Gencarelli for somehow still keepin’ the Lardo sliders rolling at Sandwich Invitational last Thursday).

I decided to start with the Franklin’s BBQ line. I’ve never been to Austin, where this BBQ hotspot is from but anyone who is a BBQ aficionado needs to know about Aaron Franklin and the sorcery this man is capable with when given a slab of meat. My friend Zoe (of Toasty Talk), insisted I hit this queue first citing that one bite of his luscious brisket will give even the hangriest and most hungover patron an inevitable “Brisket Glow.”

Brisket Glow indeed. Franklin’s BBQ ended up running out before 1PM so BOY am I glad that I got to get a slab of that- I think I would actually go to Austin just to have more of this brisket…it’s THAT good. Juicy, delectably seasoned and with just enough melt in your mouth fat- this seemingly simple breakfast taco was enough motivation for me to work hard at life so I can get rich and fly Aaron Franklin out to cater my wedding one day. I might need to wear a bib though given the amount of juicy spillage potential…but that’s a problem I’ll focus on later.

And what was the other infamous Feast queue?

Eggslut.
Eggslut.

Perhaps the most beautiful of all the dishes at Brunch Village, Los Angeles based Eggslut was clearly one of the other crowd favourites. By the time I got to it though, I was reasonably full so a group of us bloggers snagged one container to share (after we each took a go with the camera). That my friends, is kimchi fried rice- once you take your pic, you close the container and shake it up and enjoy.

While I did get too full to try all the dishes; here’s a sampling of what some of the other ones I did get to taste were:

What an event. I am incredibly impressed with how beautifully executed Feast 2014 was; there was not a single logistic forgotten and all the time, energy and creativity put into making this celebration possible paid off in every sense. There aren’t enough people to thank for what is truly one of the nation’s best food festivals- most notably Emily Crowley, Mike Thelin, Carrie Welch, Jannie Huang, Melissa Broussard, Carly Diaz, all the amazing hardworking ladies of Little Green Pickle (Chloe, Olivia, Frances, Brooke, Zoe) and of course the many sponsors including Bon Appetit Magazine, Travel Oregon, and Tillamook (see full list of sponsors HERE), AND the many volunteers who kept the wheels oiled throughout this past week.

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll snag tickets to the 2015 Brunch Village once they become available because believe me, this event WILL sell out even faster than it did this year.

Look at for my posts on other Feast Events from this weekend coming up in the next few days! Also check out all the food porn under the Instagram hashtag #feastpdx