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.

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Leaving an Impression: Fishes, Sauces, & Fashion Shows

Summer in Portland is now officially over. I can leave my lipsticks in the car without fear of melt-age and my seat warmers now serve more of a purpose besides quasi-ironing the backs of my pencil skirts. And it’s raining so all my calf hair and suede pimp slippers have to go back into hiding.

Erica and Anne were also both out of state this weekend which naturally in cohesion with the weather change made me think it would be a calm, indoorsy, tea-loaf and Earl Grey sort of weekend.

As if.

Naturally, the weekend started off with a cocktail; this time at Fish Sauce where one of my best friends, David is a bartender and despite the fact that I will never order a vodka cocktail off a menu, David assured me that his menu contribution was not something I would regret:

Two Birds: Sobieski vodka, Combier orange liqueur, pickeled kumquat, lemon, cane sugar

Impressive. This is coming from the guy who used to split six dollar Monarch with me in college…those were also the days I wore Abercrombie Kids hoodies…we’ve both come a long way

***

Friday Night: For those who may have been unaware, Portland’s Fashion Week (FASHIONxt) was running from October 10th-13th. While the events which entailed FASHIONxt were nowhere near in grandiosity to some of the fashion weeks of more cosmopolitan cities; it was nevertheless a unique opportunity to see what innovation Portland had to offer. Plus, talk about a fabulous opportunity to meet, mingle, wear sequins, and be fabulous.

My friend, Matthew Rugamba- the founder/fashion designer behind Africa Fashion Week London featured House of Tayo * and I were lucky enough to get VIP tickets  to the October 12th Programme for FASHIONxt.

Naturally, I booked an appointment at Chanel since I don’t know ish about make up and blending- made some friends at Chanel (who I later ran into at the show) and then tossed on some sequins and Alexander Wang before Matthew and I headed to the site of the event at Vigor Industrial Shipyard in deep North Portland

Sequins, Leather, and Alexander Wang
The runway- designers featured were Lenzanita, Collier (Brent Collier), Joshua Christensen, Joshua McKinley, and Seth Aaron (Project Runway All Stars winner)

Each of the shows had it’s own eclectic theme- my favourite was Seth Aaron’s collection which exhibited a lot of clean and contemporary lines. I also was a fan of some of the sheer asymmetrical maxi dress/shorts pairings in Lenzanita– most of the shows however focused on menswear which is not as much my area of expertise.

Post show we headed back to the VIP lounge, hit some bottles, met some models, smiled for the paps, and traded business cards.

Yurop, my brother from another mother also ended up showing up

Fashionistos

Post-Shipyard we all headed back downtown to Saucebox for the post-runway soiree. I somehow neglected to mention previously that my local-celebrity crush Departure head chef, Gregory Gourdet modeled in one of the shows and then was spotted in the DJ booth at Saucebox. What can I say…nothing gets me star struck like a fashion designer, craft mixologist or a chef…and speaking of…Joshua McKinley and I had a lovely little exchange which went along the lines of him complimenting me on my glitzy choice of frock.

Oh yeah…then the next morning Gregory Gourdet started following me on Twitter.

***

So what’s missing from this post? The food? I still eat and I still eat well however these past few months have been such a flurry of busy-ness that I have become a bit too overwhelmed with the number of gentrified salads and artisanal hashes taking up my iPhoto. I will eventually find a way to present them in a refined manner, but until then, I’m going to focus on where I ended up having dinner on Saturday night

The Woodsman Tavern has been at the top of my infinite Portland Dining To-Do List; it was recently ranked in Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in America list and has been on the receiving end of countless accolades in the past several months. Woodsman is owned by Stumptown founder, Duane Sorenson and the bar manager is Evan Zimmerman (also the cocktail artisan at my absolute favourite establishment, Laurelhurst Market). Naturally, I was going on my second night of a row of being locavore-starstruck.

One of my friends, Ben also happens to work as a cook here and somehow some way in his FIVE months of employment is yet to have sat down for a meal at his own restaurant. Naturally, I was more than ecstatic when Ben asked me if I’d like to have dinner there. Do excuse the quality of the below photos…my camera was on some party setting that I could not figure out how to change AND the tavern lighting was not too conducive to impeccable photography:

From the Raw Bar: Crudo of Bay Scallop, Calabrian Chili, Orange, & Scallion, Chilled Prawn Cocktail, and Assortment of Oysters

Before even perusing the cocktail menu, we were brought out this delectable assortment from the raw bar. The scallops were out of this universe and the prawns, plump and succulent. Weirdly enough it did end up complimenting my cocktail choice (something with Cognac and Pear Eau de Vie…wish I could recall the name).

Since my only dietary restrictions are no pork, green capsicum, or brussels sprouts I insisted that Ben select all the food on our behalf

Whole Roasted Trout with Crazy Water and Toybox Tomatoes

This was hands down the best trout I have ever had; the “Crazy Water,” is apparently an herb and chili infused fish stock soaking the tenderly roasted fish; and of course those would be mini heirloom and sundried tomatoes. Thoroughly impressive; I let Ben have the head because fish heads aren’t really my thing but otherwise I can honestly say that if I could eat this dish every day, I would not be disappointed.

Spring Greens with Lemon and Olive Oil
Roasted Delicata Squash

Ben also chose us some seasonally appropriate and delectable sides; nothing like some delicata squash to remind me how lucky I am to live in a place with a) actual seasons and b) geography fertile enough to have such incredible seasonal produce choices

Ling cod with smoked lentils, madras curry, and chanterelles

So we did go a little HAM (for my parents that does not refer to pork in any way) on the seafood tonight, but this was also an exhilarating dish. Ben mentioned that the Madras Curry had some infusion of nectar/stone fruit and the lentils and buttery chanterelles were smoky and the perfect compliment to the filet of cod.

I don’t think I can even iterate in typewritten words how ecstatic I was about this meal; absolutely out of this world. And it was not just the food, Ben is also quite a food/cocktail nerd so we definitely had several great conversations (not just about food/cocktails) and I even told him about my Gregory Gourdet experience from the prior evening and he courteously understood and commiserated with my degree of starstruckedness. And of course the service was wonderful; talk about a fantastic bunch of people who run this place (with quite the dashing array of tattoos and mustache styles).

After an Omaha Sour, we realised that this establishment would not allow us to leave without dessert.

(My camera battery died than revived…which is why you’re seeing an already partially demolished dessert)

In-house made rum raisin ice cream with some sort of a hot apple cobbler/streusel

I actually feel ashamed that we could not finish this; but it was undoubtedly delectable; the ice cream made in house with rum and raisins melting a top a hot streusel of caramelised apples. Not too sweet but perfectly comforting and seasonally appropriate.

This place is impressive. Seriously. I have fantastic food in Portland all the time; most of the time it is satisfying but there is a not-so-fine-line between being satisfied and being impressed. Satisfying in my mind is a meeting of expectations; an ending in which needs may have been met and I can go on with my day. Impressing on the other hand? Blowing those expectations out of the oven and roasting them in a fire pit then making you want to come back over and over again and there are maybe four or five other establishments in Portland which have done that to me* and Woodsman has officially inducted itself into the list.

The Woodsman Tavern on Urbanspoon

*Other establishments refers to Laurelhurst Market, Clyde Common, Gruner, and Luc Lac

What a fabulous weekend. Now I’m going to put on some flannel, cocktail rings and yoga pants and head to The Hilt on Alberta for some all day Happy Hour and Wild Buckhunter.

When was the last time you were impressed?

Ever been starstruck? Or to a fashion show? What did/would you wear?