PDX Pop-Up Profile: Mian at Racion

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.

David. Photo Credit: Will Ray
David. Photo Credit: Will Ray

While David conceptualized the recipes and cocktails, Chef Connor Martin of Boke Bowl was the chef of the night as David bartended.

Before we get into the food, let’s start with the cocktails David concocted:

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:

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!

TOAST 2015 Giveaway Winner

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.

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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…

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Which means that Melissa wins the ticket to TOAST 2015 at Leftbank Annex on March 7th!

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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 saltwatercoffee@hotmail.com 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.

For ticket and event information, click here!

Portland Dumpling Week: So Far So Fab

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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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)

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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!

Sh%t Food Bloggers Do.

Last month, I (internally) celebrated the four year anniversary of Salt Water Coffee. FOUR YEARS. While the earlier posts tended to range from Fashion Week recaps to videos of me in my closet talking nonsense and picking my split ends to spaghetti squash recipes; I did manage to eventually find a niche and not stray too far from it. The past three years, Portland’s Food Blogger community has become significantly more prominent with its own Facebook group and countless dinners/cocktail parties/tastings hosted by local PR firms and restaurants/bars/artisans in the industry. In the past couple of years over the course of the 100+ events I’ve attended, I’ve collected a list of tidbits that signify Food Blogger Culture. Enjoy.

Blogger Lunch at Ringside Fish House
Blogger Lunch at Ringside Fish House

It is not rude to be on your phone 95% of the time; in fact it would be rude to not touch your phone because then how the hell would you be tweeting/instagramming/taking notes about how that duck was prepared or what sort of barrels that wine was aged in?

Favoriting tweets and liking pics from someone sitting right next to you that you’ve never spoken to before is so not awkward. 

You only know people by their Instagram or Twitter handle. But you know all about their opinion of Bon Appetit Magazine’s picks for Portland’s Best Restaurants or what they ate for lunch yesterday and the day before that…and the day before that…

“I can’t, I have an event.”- When your friends ask you if you want to go to Happy Hour.

You’re collectively confused when an event doesn’t have a designated hashtag, so you end up collectively creating one.

If you’re dining in a dimly lit environment, you show solidarity to other bloggers by shining your iphone flashlight/holding a candle near whatever they’re trying to photograph so that they can get a decent shot.

Nobody EVER starts eating until everyone has gotten a picture. 

Awkward silences are no longer awkward because you could just go instagram or tweet to occupy the time.

You can always bring up a controversy from Eater or Twitter to have something to talk about with other bloggers.

Chefs, notable bartenders, food writers for magazines/newspapers and PR Firm owners are your version of celebrities.

Exchanging phone numbers never seems necessary when you can just make plans on Twitter or Instagram. 

But then you will exchange numbers during Feast Portland because you’d rather keep it private when you’re giving one another the pros and cons of the opposing afterparties you’re at and which one you should attempt to venture to. 

Of course you care about what bay those oysters came from.

If you didn’t Instagram it, then you never ate it. 

You’ve developed an algorithm for how to choose your +1’s to events.

Not getting an invite to a brunch/holiday party/tasting/media preview that other bloggers you know did makes you feel like that kid that did’t get picked on the kickball team.

You’re probably married or engaged or living with your boyfriend and spend your excess income on Pop-up dinners, artisanal salts, a DSLR, and kitchen remodels. 

You have the utmost respect for PR Firms that make sure there is impeccable lighting at the events they invite you to and pre-send you all necessary guestlists, hashtags, social media accounts and menus to expect. 

Being retweeted by Carrie Welch, Mike Thelin or Gregory Gourdet is just like REALLY REALLY COOL. 

Feast Portland is the most turning up you will do in a given year. 

Your phone battery dying or your iPhone storage becoming full at the wrong time is an actual catastrophe. 

Anything to add? Let me know!

All the Meat and All the Potatoes: Raven & Rose Limited Release Beer Dinner

Having food blogger as one of my side hustles comes exclusively with perks. You get invited to tastings upon tastings whether they be for caviar, oysters, macarons or champagne. Every once in a while there’s also the opportunity to attend a dinner or a festival- those are the ones that you might want to raincheck your pedicure or girl’s nights for.

Last Sunday I had the honour of attending a media preview dinner with several notable beer bloggers and LeiLani and Irene of Watershed Communications for an event that will happen this Sunday, December 7th at Raven and Rose. If you’re a beer or delicious food connoisseur, then this is the event for you.

The menu for the evening included an array of seasonal side dishes and entrees served family style along with six Goose Island Beer pairings from Raven & Rose’s single barrel program spearheaded my notable Portland bartender extraordinaire, Dave Shenaut. We were all provided with an IPA to start off accompanying a heaping plate of Ken’s Artisan Breads and butter. One of the facets that made this pairing dinner unique is that we were then served a flight of four beers where we were encouraged to create and test out our own pairings using the salad, four side dishes and two entrees.

The beers in the flight were The Class of ’88, Matilda, Madame Rose and Bourbon County Stout. As the majority of the other attendees were beer bloggers, I’d advise checking out their blogs for more refined reviews of each of the brews. You can see  Kris of Beer Musings from Portland’s recap here!

I didn’t want to be blasphemous and admit this at the dinner, but being more of a wine connoisseur than a beer one, it was no surprise that my two favourites in the flight were the Class of ’88 and the Madame Rose. The Class of ’88 is a Belgian style beer that is aged with Michigan Riesling grape juice and Oregon Pinot Noir grape must and thus giving it a slightly sweet and winey tinge. The Madame Rose on the other hand is a brown ale aged in French oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels and thus also giving it that delicious bit of wine essence.

Now, let’s get onto the food…and little did I know what a feast we were all about to be in for.

Would you look at that! My sentiment is that Raven and Rose does not get half the accolades it deserves; with every time I have eaten there I have been thoroughly impressed at the wood-fired oven fare whether it be their flatbreads at brunch or the delectable assortment of meats and seasonal vegetables at their weekly Sunday Roast. This time was no different, the salmon and prime rib were both absolutely succulent and cooked to perfection whereas the twice baked potato and turkey pot pie played the swoon-worthy comfort food role given how it was below freezing just outside. Everything was absolutely splendid, and I’m extremely grateful that Dave Shenaut provided us all with take home boxes so that I didn’t have to say goodbye to an extra salmon filet or the remaining half of my baked potato.

Oh…yeah…right, there was also a dessert course.

Bourbon County Barleywine with Black Sticky Gingerbread with quince sorbet, ginger tuile, poached quince and warm sweet cream
Bourbon County Barleywine with Black Sticky Gingerbread with quince sorbet, ginger tuile, poached quince and warm sweet cream

The dessert was also splendid- a brownie-like textured block of gingerbread cake topped with a refreshing quince sorbet; certainly a melange of textures between cakey, creamy, chewy and crunchy.

And since I had that filet of salmon as a leftover…I decided to take Dave Shenaut’s advice and turn it into a hash for brunch the next day:

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As someone with very few culinary skills, I’ve been trying to sharpen my repertoire of signature dishes past quesadillas and Middle Eastern style eggs. Here, I created a hash out of sweet potatoes, zucchini, red onion, chanterelles, rosemary, whole grain dijon mustard and king salmon all topped with a fried egg. It was delicious and it actually looks kind of pretty in my opinion.

A huge thank you to Watershed Communications, Goose Island, and the Raven & Rose crew for putting together such a delightful media preview dinner. There may be tickets still available for the open to the public dinner this sunday! Check out the Event Website for more info!

Restaurant Review: Bluehour

Bluehour just may be one of my favourite restaurants in the Pearl District. The ambiance is classy, chic and elegant with a menu that is both adventurous as well as comfortable enough to take someone who might just want a plate of pasta made solely with ingredients they’ve heard of.

This beautiful restaurant is located on the corner of NW 13th and Everett sharing a building with Wieden & Kennedy and has been providing Portland with fine, modern dining for over 10 years. The crowd ranges from couples on first dates, client dinners, families having a celebratory lunches to a melange of Portland’s upper echelon mingling over martinis at the bar.

I’ve been to Bluehour for happy hour and lunch countless times over the years. For one thing, they do have one of the best happy hours in NW Portland- it goes from 4-6:30 PM M-F (and 5-6:30 PM on Saturdays) and is one of the few spots of its caliber where a $20 bottle of bubbly is available (not to mention a vast selection of nibbles ranging from lamb sliders to bruschetta to their delectable Bluehour burger).

Splitting a bottle of Bubbly and a Cheese Plate at Bluehour Happy Hour a couple of months back
Splitting a bottle of Bubbly and a Cheese Plate at Bluehour Happy Hour a couple of months back
And another time at Happy Hour
And another time at Happy Hour

Besides Happy Hour, I last hit Bluehour’s impeccable lunch for my 25th birthday:

And finally, I got the chance to sample Bluehour’s dinner menu at last week’s Blogger Dinner hosted by the ladies of Little Green Pickle.

Bluehour’s menu is printed on a daily basis and aims to provide a selection of dishes that exhibits seasonally relevant regional ingredients in a unique yet refined manner. Chef Kyo Koo is an expert at combining the best of what’s available with his experiences in the kitchen to create one-of-a-kind dishes that will keep you coming back to see what else he has in store.

Our table setting
Our table setting

Besides the food, as one would expect, Bluehour also has an impeccable selection of cocktails. The bar manager, Gigi in fact led us in a hands-on “Make your own cocktail” tutorial:

Huge thanks to Gigi for being so patient with all of us as we muddled, shook and poured our own libations for the evening. This particular cocktail was concocted from muddled cucumbers and rosemary, a splash of Ginger liqueur, lime juice and 2 oz of Templeton Rye. Incredibly delicious and a great lesson in how much muscle it takes to be a bartender…shaking mine basically qualified as my exercise for the day (sad, I know).

Once, we all had cocktails before us, the supper service began…

The salads above were anything but your regular salad course. In fact the amaranth/truffle oil/king crab salad may have been one of my favourite dishes of the night- such a rich and unique blend of flavours and textures.

Of course, all these dishes were served family style. Definitely a thoughtful way to ensure that we all got to sample a decent chunk of the menu’s offerings. The risotto was luscious and velvety; ultra hearty and perfect for the blistery weather outside while the Chinese-inspired noodles were also delicious and full of black-bean bolognese encased surprises between the chunks of high quality meats. The salmon and duck were also impressive; I’m not one to typically order duck but this one was splendid, not too fatty nor gamey.

And, of course what’s a meal without dessert? Pastry Chef, Salina Rubio killed it with these beautiful final courses. None of the desserts were overly sweet and each blended complimenting textural components and hints of salt. The ideal way to end such a fantastic meal.

After last week’s Blogger Dinner, I will say that I’ll be back at Bluehour for more than just lunch or happy hour. If you’re looking for the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, have a ladies night, take a date/client/your parents, then Bluehour is sure to impress with both service and delivery. Plus, you can dress up (or down…I’ve admittedly been to Bluehour in yoga pants but in my defense it was spontaneous).

Restaurant Review: First National Taphouse

I’ll straight up admit I’m not a huge beer connoisseur, I prefer wines, but enjoy craft cocktails or a fine scotch the most (I know…how bougie). However, I’m always willing to try something new and I am one to enjoy multi-course meals that incorporate a beverage pairing whether it be wine, sake, or yes- beer.

A few weeks back, I returned home from tending to a tire catastrophe to find a gift bag at my front door from Watershed Communications with a Growler and an invitation to dine with a guest at First National Taphouse followed by getting the growler filled with my choice of brew.

One Wednesday night back at the beginning of October, my partner in flossiness Caitlyn and I dressed up and headed down to First National Taphouse growler in hand. The Taphouse is located adjacent to Portland State University, an area with a severe lack of non-college bar or non-fastfood-esque restaurants. The original location is in Eugene and both locations strive to serve locally sourced beers and gourmet pub fare.

Five Course Menu with Beer Pairings
Five Course Menu with Beer Pairings

Upon being seated, Caitlyn and I were handed a five course menu and beer pairing that would be our culinary itinerary for the evening. Mouthwatering, isn’t it?

Course 1: Prawn Boule: Brunoise vegetables, prawns, brandy nosh, potato roll. Paired with First National Taphouse Baker's Blonde in collaboration with Vertigo Brewing
Course 1: Prawn Boule: Brunoise vegetables, prawns, brandy nosh, potato roll. Paired with First National Taphouse Baker’s Blonde in collaboration with Vertigo Brewing

Such a delightful first course, a potato roll stuffed with tender shallot sauteed prawns, veggies and a delectable sauce. Also, quite the generous portion- the beer was light and summery (forgive me I don’t know beer lingo well enough to say something better)

Course 2: Artisan Cheese Terrine (Barbander Goat Gouda, Taphouse Ricotta, Ancient Heritage Hannah, Asian Pear) paired with Duche de Longueville Cidre Antoinette
Course 2: Artisan Cheese Terrine (Barbander Goat Gouda, Taphouse Ricotta, Ancient Heritage Hannah, Asian Pear) paired with Duche de Longueville Cidre Antoinette

This unique rendition of a cheese plate was RIDICULOUS. Caitlyn and I are the ultimate cheese heads so having a mini mason jar full of various delectable fromage to spread on pears and baguette was heaven on a plate. None of the cheeses were too pungent so if you’re on the fence about anything too strong, I’d say this is a perfect “cheese plate” for you. The cider was also a pleasant accompaniment, I’m a fan of ciders (probably because they aren’t too hoppy) so this was a great choice as it wasn’t too sweet.

Course 3: Honey Root Vegetable Boxty (parsnip, carrot, yellow beet, Irish potato pancake, spiced honey). Paired with Elysian the Great Pumpkin Imperial
Course 3: Honey Root Vegetable Boxty (parsnip, carrot, yellow beet, Irish potato pancake, spiced honey). Paired with Elysian the Great Pumpkin Imperial

Another innovative yet delectable small plate. The boxty is a potato pancake and this one was topped with a melange of fall veggies and spiced honey; all the flavours of fall especially when paired with the Pumpkin Imperial.

Course 4: Whiskey Pepper Steak Frite (Pepper Crusted Hanger Steak, Irish Whiskey Demi Glace, Microbrew Fries). Paired with Oscar Blues Deviant Dale's IPA Nitro
Course 4: Whiskey Pepper Steak Frite (Pepper Crusted Hanger Steak, Irish Whiskey Demi Glace, Microbrew Fries). Paired with Oscar Blues Deviant Dale’s IPA Nitro

Well, you all know how much I adore steak so having a steak frites course is obviously always welcome. This was a delicious, lean, medium rare slab charred with a pepper crust and accompanied by the crispiest perhaps double-fried frites. The IPA being as hoppy as it is wasn’t my favourite, but appropriate considering it was being paired with red meat.

Course 5: Chocolate Porter Ice Cream & Young's Double Chocolate Stout Foam with Hazelnut Brittle. Paired with Young's Double Chocolate Stout
Course 5: Chocolate Porter Ice Cream & Young’s Double Chocolate Stout Foam with Hazelnut Brittle. Paired with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

I apologize for the hidden hazelnut brittle, but man that was the star of the show for this dessert. The mason jar was more whipped cream like in texture than ice cream so this made a light and appropriate dessert that didn’t leave either of us overfull post meal. In fact the heaviest part of this course was certainly the double chocolate stout.

And...our growler
And…our growler

And we left happily with a full growler.

Overall, if you’re looking for somewhere with a casual (but not divey) vibe with splendid food and a generous beer list, then check out First National Taphouse. They’re apparently famous for their fried in duck fat chicken wings (which I am yet to try) and also have an enticing brunch and happy hour menu. I’ll definitely be back soon!

This post was sponsored as the meal for my guest and I was comped. With that said, the review is 100% my opinion and words. 

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

Feast Portland 2014 Strategy Guide: How to Stay Hungry, Awake, and Flossy

The countdown is on! One of the nation’s largest and most prestigious Food & Drink festivals is a mere 22 days away. Therefore, the time has come to begin your three week preparation to ensure that you will get the most out of the four most delicious days of 2014.

I attended Feast Portland last year and had the privilege of enjoying a plethora of tastings, main events, speaker series, classes, tasting panels, happy hours, and after parties back to back for four days straight between what was included in my Blogger Pass and additional events I purchased tickets for. This year however, I’ve ramped up my itinerary to include the Widmer Brother’s Brewing Sandwich Invitational presented by Dave’s Killer BreadUSA Pears Night Market at Zidell YardsOregon Bounty Grand Tasting presented by Alaska Airlines, and Tillamook Brunch Village along with numerous happy hours, socials, and after parties in between. So, yes, that is A LOT of beverage, even more food, and many hours of standing/walking/schmoozing/writing/photographing.

From my experience last year, I’ve decided I would like to share with you all some of my tips, tricks and strategies to ensuring that you get the most out of Feast.

Strategy #1: How to Stay Hungry

There will be a lot of food at Feast. Like more than you’ve ever seen in one place, and it will all be stuff that looks like an ad for Bon Appetit magazine’s Instagram feed. Yes, it’s overwhelming being surrounded by all your celebrity chef crushes handing you plates of foie gras lobster dumplings or lamb belly sandwiches.

Prepare yourself in advance. Don’t overeat during the next three weeks, but don’t starve yourself either because then your stomach will shrink and ‘Quel Dommage,’ only two bites of a Lardo mini sando will have you too full to move on to Bunk. And that’s just no fun, that’s how food FOMO happens. Instead, do that whole eating six times a day small meals thing so that you’re accustomed to feeling hungry more frequently. And in the days prior to Feast do the same, drink lots of water, get in your exercise and a whole lotta sleep.

Be Picky and don’t feel like you have to try everything. Go for the samples that you don’t get to have often, go for dishes that incorporate your favorite ingredients, or the ones that are so unusual and perplexing that they’ll be a conversation starter at your next social. Don’t stuff yourself until you can’t move and take your time- most Feast events last for at least a couple of hours so nosh at your leisure.

Wine. Alright, let’s be real here, we all know wine lowers your blood sugar and as a result you get that beautiful famished, “I can eat everything in sight x 5” feeling. And there’s really no better place to feel famished than Feast. So, yeah, go for it. Sip between events- not too much and stay hydrated but hey sometimes you need a little buzz to zing your appetite so you do get to try every single sandwich at Sandwich Invitational or all the charcuterie Olympic Provisions has on display.

Strategy #2: How to Stay Awake

Feast is an all day thing, like ALL DAY and a significant portion of the night as well. That’s a whole lot of hours to stay awake, alert, and actually feel that way. Last year on one of the days I attended an 8am media breakfast, the Oregon Grand Bounty Tasting at noon, a speaker series right after followed by a wine happy hour, then High Comfort at The Nines, followed by two afterparties- one at Chopsticks Express and another at Bunk Sandwiches. I got home at 3am; slept until 5pm just in time to attend a final Feast party at Departure. If you choose to also go balls to the wall on events, here is my advice:

NAPS are essential. I spent intermissions between events running home to power nap; if I had a morning event I’d go home after take a quick snooze then come back for whatever afternoon delight was going on. If there was time after that, yes I’d run home for another hour dream fest before going into the night. Nap when you can and sleep as full of a night as possible.

Stumptown. Coffee is essential; well- I know some of you do not drink coffee but Stumptown Coffee was certainly the main sponsor behind keeping my eyelids open for a significant portion of Feast 2013. Along those lines, do that in moderation and make sure to drink LOTS OF WATER. Keep a bottle on hand if you can and sip between noshes, booze and coffee so you don’t start to feel sluggish.

Don’t overeat too early or else, yes your body will want nothing more than to be a lump in front of your Netflix queue.

Strategy #3: How to Stay Flossy

Outfit Planning: Do this before, choose outfits that are comfortable, low maintenance, weather appropriate but also chic because HELLO this isn’t your neighbourhood potluck. My advice? Go glamorous with the accessories and opt for cute sheath dresses, A-line skirt and blouse pairings, leggings/jeggings with boots, a silky top and a utility jacket and avoid too much white. Also make sure your shoes aren’t going to be a pain in the arse because you will be standing in them for many, many hours.

Don’t Bring Too Much: Avoid heavy jackets that you’ll feel too hot in and inevitably have to carry around a market, avoid purses that are top handle or too heavy and invest in a camera strap or even one that you can put your iphone in and have around your neck. Last year I carried around a crossbody bag so I could have both my hands free and brought nothing except my phone, charger, wallet, keys, mini parfum, eyeliner, lipstick, Listerine strips, a pen and deodorant wipes. Trying to take photos at Feast is quite the feat with hundreds of patrons wandering around, having to hold on to a drink and a plate at almost all times while still trying to get the best angle. Pockets are also a MAJOR plus.

Freshen Up on the Regular: Most Feast Events will take place in glamorous locations (or at least near them), so go ahead and stop by the restroom, swab out running mascara- add a fresh coat of gloss to your lips and use a deodorant wipe to prevent smelling like the gourmet kimchi you just tried. Also if you do choose to nap at home between events, change your clothes and do a few rounds of mouthwash after sipping a cup of ginger tea.

Be Organized. Plan out the events you plan on attending each day; where they are, what time they are at. Figure out the best place to park, charge your phone, and when to take your nap breaks. If like me, you live out near Lake Oswego then also figure out how traffic patterns might affect your nap commutes and whether it would be wiser to take a snooze break at your office or a friend’s house that might be closer by. If I didn’t already max out my quota this fiscal quarter on spontaneously booking rooms at The Nines then I would have just booked one for the weekend out of the sheer convenience.

Take Advantage of the Opportunity. See one of your chef crushes? Say hi! If you feel flossy, awake, and still hungry then don’t reject invites to any other spontaneous Feast events that might pop up throughout the weekend. Socialize, meet other people in love with food and dining, bring your business cards…who knows you might even meet your next husband/boothang/platonic Tuesday night dinner date. Take lots of pictures but not too many that you’re missing out on the actual experience and do try to take the following Monday off as a recovery detox day.

Hope to see you there! For more information about the following, please see below:

Tickets/Schedule/Events Info/Sponsors

Volunteer Application

Hotel Packages/Specials

Air Travel Discounts

Fighting Hunger with No Kid Hungry and Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon

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