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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Taste of the Nation: End Childhood Hunger, Sip Moët and Dine on Portland’s Best

What if you could experience Portland’s finest cuisines and libations all in the same night? And what if on top of that you would be supporting efforts to end the overwhelming problem that is childhood hunger?

Well, guess what? You can and you don’t even need to wait til Feast in September to spend a few hours tasting and sipping on the best of PDX!

Taste of the Nation Portland 2014 still has tickets available and if you’re looking to fancify a Tuesday night and take a platonic (or non-platonic) date out for an unforgettable night of the town, then you best get a move on.

I attended Taste of the Nation’s Media Launch Preview a couple of weeks back at Irving Street Kitchen and let’s just say that I am more than excited for this celebration of Portland chefs, wineries, distilleries and breweries collaborating to support local charities aimed at eliminating childhood hunger. There are over forty participating businesses this year including Indio Spirits, Argyle Winery, Full Sail Brewery, Aviary, Bamboo Sushi, Smallwares and Xocolatl de David! For the full list, check out this link!

While not all the purveyors expected to be at the actual event were at the Media Launch, I still got to experience a delightful handful including Lardo, Renata, Irving Street Kitchen, Paley’s Place, Boke Bowl, Fire + Flood and Bull Run Distillery:

Too fabulous. As usual everything was innovative and delectable whether it be Boke’s Asian Jambalaya-Poutine fusion dish or Vitaly Paley’s mouthwatering latke bites. On top of that, Bull Run Distillery mixed for me one of the best whiskey gingers I’ve ever had using their American whiskey, ginger liqueur and a splash of Cock n Bull Ginger Beer.

Oh, and dare I forget to mention that there were also bottles upon bottles of one of my very favourite #glamlife sponsors:

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Taste of the Nation Portland 2014 will take place at the McMenamin’s Crystal Hotel and Ballroom on Tuesday, April 29th. Both VIP and General Admission Tickets are still available at $150 and $85 respectively so come join me and the city’s best chefs, bartenders, brewers and distillers for an ultra fabulous night out on the town all for a great cause! See you there darlings!

Beneficiaries:

Partners for Hunger-Free Oregon

Oregon Food Bank

St. Vincent de Paul Society

Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank

Feast Portland, Day 2: Imperial, Tastings and A Party at Lardo

Day 2 of Feast began for me at 8am, an hour I don’t typically engage with unless it involves getting on a plane. However, this is Feast after all so an 8am presence must involve something incredibly delicious.

And delicious it was…

I started off my Friday morning at the Feast Portland Media Breakfast, which took place at Imperial at the Hotel Lucia. The buffet selection was a delicious spread full of Imperial’s signature brunch items (think fry bread, corn cakes and fantastic pastries) as well as Bloody Mary’s and Irish Coffees (which I resisted considering it was…err…8am).

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Apres Imperial, I had intended to chill out with a cup of Stumptown and blog at the Urbanspoon Media Lounge, however this thing called ‘needing a nap’ got in the way, so I rushed home for a two hour power snooze before heading back downtown for the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting at Pioneer Square.

The gist of the Alaska Airlines sponsored Tasting (which spanned over both Friday and Saturday) was that a tent was set up featuring Oregonian vendors and artisans providing samples of their fare. The majority of vendors were regional wineries and craft breweries, but there were also local bakeries, restaurants and local artisans such as Jacobsen’s Sea Salt, Bee Local, and Masala Pop (think tamarind masala popcorn snacks and the like). There was also a KitchenAid stage where celebrity chefs showcased cooking demos, a Whole Foods booth where you can get free printed tote bags, and a Bon Appetit Magazine tent that featured the famous Olympic Provisions Meat Spread.

After gorging myself on samples of breads, wine, cheese, and chocolates (rough life, I know); I headed home for yet another nap. I know, Feast is exhausting.

I ended up going out to a light dinner with Anne at Interurban since I didn’t get tickets to the Night Market, which was the main event du jour (or du soir rather) for Feast.

Afterwards however, we headed down to Lardo West at the Indigo for a Chefstable Feast after party…and boy was it fun. I do admit though I regret having skipped the party right before, a soiree at Irving Street Kitchen that included a FULL ON CAVIAR BAR. Oh well…at least we made it to this one.

When reaching there, Anne and I met up with Adam, one of our friends who runs his own professional knife shop (talk about the perfect kind of afterparties to network at). As three of Chefstable’s restaurants, Racion, Grassa and Lardo are all interconnected at the bottom floor of the Indigo, all were opened up to accommodate the massive amount of people who showed up to this party. There were chefs, famous food writers, judges, other industry workers, bartenders, event sponsors, media/blogger peeps and everyone else lucky enough to be ‘in the know’ about such a fantastic party.

Plus, as can be expected from such a party, the food and booze is something to write home about. We’re talking Aviation Gin and Juice kegs in one room, 40s of Olde English mixed with OJ, sangria jello shots and champagne otter pops. Oh yeah, and the game of Flip Cup that took up half of Grassa…so in other words we were at a very high class frat party.

At around 1am or so, I headed home- there was yet another full day of Feasting left and I needed nothing more than a good night’s rest and a couple of bottles of Acqua Panna. If you think day 2 of Feast looks awesome, wait until I show you what Day 3 was like!

For more information on the Friday Oregon Grand Bounty Tasting (and the vendors who were present), check out this link:

Macaroni & Negronis: A Preview of Grassa

One of the coolest things about being a so-called ‘food blogger’ is that you never know who is going to read your posts, relate to your words, and reach out.

Yeah, I love to dine out and write about it later for fun, but of course it is always exciting to be contacted by the Portland community with opportunities and invitations to attend events and try new establishments/products.

My post a couple of weeks back regarding my ‘final lunch break’ pre-unemployment at Lardo ended up receiving the attention of a very kind and prolific Portland foodie who asked Chris Angelus of Portland Food Adventures to contact me with an invitation to an event at Hokusei, a renown sushi/omakase establishment on June 11th as a very generous gesture to brighten up my day due to my recent job lay-off situation. Of course, I accepted because who am I to turn down an opportunity to have a six course Omakase supper and beverage event prepared by Chef Kaoru Ishii?

In addition to that, Chris from PFA also invited me himself to an experiential Pasta-making and dining event last night at Grassa, a restaurant slated to open next Wednesday at the Indigo building sandwiched between Lardo and Racion.

Menu for the evening
Menu for the evening

Chris’ best chef friend is Rick Gencarelli, the mastermind behind Lardo who in the past year has transformed it from a simple sandwich food cart into two brick and mortar establishments and is now opening his third dine-in restaurant, Grassa venturing into the territory of fresh pasta (which they also intend to sell retail along with some of their house made sauces).

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Anitpasti Salad: Olympic Provisions Meats, Mama's Lil Peppers, White Beans, Oregano, Red Wine Vinaigrette
Anitpasti Salad: Olympic Provisions Meats, Mama’s Lil Peppers, White Beans, Oregano, Red Wine Vinaigrette

There were approximately thirty attendants at the event and we were seated at two communal tables placed between the Open Kitchen and the ceiling-floor length windows facing SW Washington Street. Pre-pasta making we were all supplied with delicious Negronis, Bicyclettes, and a couple of appetisers to hold our appetite for the next hour. And of course, everything was served family style and in great abundance.

Fritto Misto: Calamari, Fennel Lemon, Calabrian Chiles
Fritto Misto: Calamari, Fennel Lemon, Calabrian Chiles

I admit I am normally not a fan of octopus, but this fritto misto was delectable, especially with the tad of fire from the calabrian chiles and the two un-pictured dipping remoulades.

Pasta Making
Pasta Making

My mum would be so proud of me, I got to put on an apron and stuff little Mezzaluna pastas with a ricotta/parmesan filling…yes, my first few were deformed but then again this was my very first time attempting to stuff pasta.

Super Awesome Pasta Making Machine
Super Awesome Pasta Making Machine
View of the Open Kitchen
View of the Open Kitchen
Mezzaluna filled with ricotta and tossed with brown butter and sage
Mezzaluna filled with ricotta and tossed with brown butter and sage

This was hands down my favourite dish! The sage was fried in the same method that Lardo next door does with their herbs on their French Fries and the brown butter and parmesan with the pasta was delightful in the simplest of manners. I could probably eat this every day and never get bored.

Squid Ink Chitara: Chorizo Butter, Charred Octopus, Preserved Lemon
Squid Ink Chitara: Chorizo Butter, Charred Octopus, Preserved Lemon

And here I was once again faced with chunks of charred octopus, and quite frankly it was fantastic and not slimy in the least; I’m beginning to think I need to give the tentacled creature another chance in every day ordering…

Radiatore with tomato braised chicken, crisp skin, ricotta, basil
Radiatore with tomato braised chicken, crisp skin, ricotta, basil

Being a fiend for anything with chicken and ricotta, this was another fantastic yet simple dish; a very slightly fancified version of pasta with tomato sauce.

Tiramisu
Tiramisu
The Radiatore and container of fresh Marinara I got to take home
Take-Aways

At the end of the night, Rick had a table set up with all the various pasta shapes and a choice of Marinara or Bolognese sauce for us to take home. Being a fan of the ‘radiator’ shaped radiatore, I selected that one along with a tub of fresh marinara.

While I was definitely the youngest person at the Grassa PFA, I had a great time meeting and commiserating with my fellow attendees over a delicious meal. I admit I still sometimes get a little nervous about going to events where I know I will not know anyone, but with a communal seating arrangement and unlimited negroni flow you’re guaranteed to start a conversation with your neighbour and have a grand old time (which I most certainly did).

Thanks again to Chris from PFA for the gracious invitation, for Chef Gencarelli for providing us with such a fantastic hands-on dining experience, and to the lovely staff at Grassa for keeping us well-fed and hydrated. If you’re looking for the next Italian hotspot on the Westside, be sure to check out Grassa when it opens next week!

You can also stay in the loop on all Grassa new through their Twitter and Facebook pages!

The Unemployed Post

I am officially unemployed.

Long story short, the company I have been working for for the past nineteen months decided to close their Portland office so as of last week I am no longer waking up at 7am to pack my lunch and iron my pencil skirts.

I admit that I am not dreadfully forlorn despite the circumstances as the time has come for me to progress in my career; however this also means my days will be filled with working towards the acquisition of whatever my next gig may be. And while the job market in Portland is difficult to break into, I am trying to maintain a positive attitude and keep busy at networking, polishing up  my side hustles (aka this blog), and keeping my vision sharp for any potential opportunities in my areas of interest (Public Relations, Fashion/Luxury Goods, Social Media Strategizing, Journalism, etc).

With the above words, I leave you with a short and sweet post of the last supper  lunch which my lovely coworkers and I partook in on our last day at the office; a trip a few blocks up the road to one of Portland’s most craved after sandwich establishments, Lardo:

Obligatory Pig Map
Obligatory Pig Map
Menu at Westside Location
Menu at Westside Location
Moscow Mules. Much needed.
Moscow Mules. Much needed.
The infamous herb parmesan fries with Korean Pork Shoulder Sandwich with pickled vegetables, sriracha mayo, cilantro
The infamous herb parmesan fries with Korean Pork Shoulder Sandwich with pickled vegetables, sriracha mayo, cilantro
Me: Spit Roasted Chicken on Brioche with arugula, horseradish, pickled red onion, cheddar
Me: Spit Roasted Chicken on Brioche with arugula, horseradish, pickled red onion, cheddar
Priscilla's Cubano Sandwich topped with a pickle
Priscilla’s Cubano Sandwich topped with a pickle

While the majority of Lardo’s offerings are pork inclusive, there are a few unique vegetarian and non-pork options available as well. As a non-pork eater, I decided on the chicken sandwich and while it was delectable and hearty I was not too crazy about having it atop the notoriously buttery brioche. Had I known that would be the choice of bread, I may have gone for my second option, the Italian Tuna Melt. All in all, the quality of ingredients at Lardo are all of impeccable quality, and yes you will pay for it with the $7-10 price point.

The true star of the menu however? The French fries generously sprinkled with parmigiano reggiano and fried herbs- perhaps, some of the best frites I have had in this city if anywhere.

Lardo on Urbanspoon