I received a media pass to Feast Portland. As always, all opinions are my own.
Another year, another incredible Feast Portland! Every September, culinary leaders and food enthusiasts gather from all over the country for the Pacific Northwest’s flagship food and drink festival. Every year, Feast gets bigger and better than ever. In its seventh year, Feast Portland featured 127 talented chefs and over 4,400 pounds of fresh produce generously donated by local sponsors. Over 20,000 attendees enjoyed 52 delicious events celebrating the best-of-the-best in the food and beverage industry. The 2018 festival alone raised over $75,000 for its charity partners Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Urban Gleaners. Let’s toast to that. Cheers!
I was lucky enough to receive a media pass to capture the energy and excitement of all things Feast Portland. I also covered Feast 2017, but that didn’t make me any more prepared for this amazing whirlwind of week. Some of you caught the real time Feast experience on my Instagram stories, but if you missed that, here is my recap of Feast Portland 2018:
80s vs 90s
In 2018, Feast said goodbye to The Sandwich Invitational and welcomed a new Thursday evening event: 80s vs 90s. There was no mention of mandatory throwback dress code, but this is Portland after all, and most attendees came decked in their best 80s or 90s outfits. Leg warmers, neon spandex, grunge checkered shirts, denim on denim… well done, Portland! Check out Gregory Gourdet‘s snazzy outfit in the pics below. This event was a friendly team cook off featuring 20 chefs and their 80s or 90s inspired creations. Obviously, the evening ended with an epic dance party!
Located in Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Grand Tasting is one of the best ways to get a taste of what Feast is all about. Your $75 ticket gets you up close and personal with over 80 vendors, from renowned chefs to the finest Oregon wines. As much as I loved nibbling on sweet treats from Petunia’s Pies & Pastries and saying hi to my friends at Portland Cider, the best surprise at Grand Tasting was when Patrick McKee of Perlot (formerly SouthFork) showed up with a vegan dish! Everyone expected something meat-centric from Patrick, but he choose to take an unexpected route. This late summer vegetable dashi with smoked tofu was something he had considered for our Veganizer collab, but didn’t put it on the menu. I’m glad to finally see that simple, but tasty dish come to life! Also, I’m glad I stopped by the Heritage Radio trailer to catch The Nightwood Society’s Michelle Battista and Food & Wine Editor Dana Cowin.
Night Market: Ring of Fire
The Portland sky may have been fifty shades of gray, but Night Market: Ring of Fire brought a splash of lively color and vibrant flavors to Ziddell Yards. New Seasons Market was serving up blue corn tostadas with beans and delicata squash topped with avocado and vegan queso. Meanwhile, Chris Bailey and the Portland Mercado team were slinging a vegan tlayuda. Traditionally made with pork, this version uses smoked carrot pastor. Please excuse the mess I made with the chili sauce, haha. For dessert, Wailua Shave Ice had the cutest mini shave ice treats. How cool is it that I happened to step into the DJ hut right as he started playing “Ring of Fire”?
Attending Smoked! as a vegan was terrifying. Not so much because of the smoky smells, but because of the sheer amount of meat on display. I even had omnivore friends tell me that was too much for them to handle as well. But I had to be there because the one and only Farm Spirit was making their Feast debut. Kei Ohdera brought some veg magic with a tasty grilled sourdough topped with smoked beet marmalade and delightful herb salad. I lost track of how many of plates I had. At Smoked!, I also had a chance to chat with the Willamette Valley Wineries association and learned that it’s safe to assume that any Willamette Valley wine is vegan. I also did a little good ole fashioned grape stomping before grabbing a smoked snow cone from Smith Teamaker.
Portland loves to brunch, so it’s no surprise that Brunch Village is one of Feast’s most happening events. It’s also the last of the main events, so I opted for a comfy leggings, t-shirt, and beanie combo to wrap up my Feast 2018 experience. The build your own bloody mary bar is always a main attraction at Brunch Village, but there are plenty of other brunch cocktails available if bloodies aren’t your thing. I snacked on not-so-basic avocado toast from Proud Mary and healthy bites from Bob’s Red Mill. Trevor Schneider aka The Cocktail Ninja was doing his thing at the Rekya Vodka booth, while Smith Teamaker had a long line for tea leaf readings.
At Feast, you’ll find some of the finest wines and spirits at the tasting events, but the Drink Tanks are the best place to explore beer, wine, and cocktail trends in a relaxed setting led by some of the industry’s biggest drink pros. This year, I attended panels on Italian wines, natural wines, amari and aperitifs, and mezcal. I’m no stranger to wine and spirits tastings, but this was the first time I’ve attended a tasting focused entirely on bitters. I did not wake up that day thinking I’d be sipping bitters. The two rules of Feast Drink Tank? Hydration and moderation!
Dinners, Fun-Sized Events & Classes
Not a drinker? Not crazy about crowded tastings? No worries, Feast has plenty for you too. From an exclusive zero proof dinner to an early morning 5k race, Feast 2018 offered a number of intimate dinners and hands on classes that go beyond the typical festival experience. I attended Emily Katz Macrame + Rose class, where we learned to knot our way to Insta-worthy macrame pieces on the magical garden patio at Blockhouse.
Save the Date: Feast 2019
And that’s a wrap! Mark your calendars for Feast Portland 2019: September 12 to September 15. Can’t wait to see how the festival continues to evolve next year, and I’m hoping we’ll finally see a 100% plant-based event at Feast in the near future. Fingers crossed. Feast schedules and tickets are typically available in early June, and tickets to the most popular events often sell out the day they go live. Make sure you bookmark feastportland.com if you don’t want to miss out!
Note: This post is in collaboration with Feast Portland. I received a media pass to the festival. This was not in exchange for a positive review and all opinions expressed here are my own.