I received a media pass to Feast Portland. As always, all opinions are my own.
Another year, another Feast Portland. 2019 was my third year covering Feast from a vegan perspective, and this was the first year there were enough vegan bites for me to put together a list of #WhatVegansEat at Feast!
In the past, I was lucky to find one or two surprise vegan dishes per day. This year, I left some events feeling full and did not need to reach for a snack from my backpack. (It’s sad to have to pack snacks when you’re covering a food festival, but it is what it is.) I guess the third time’s a charm? I was lucky enough enjoy seconds and even thirds of some of my favorite dishes from Feast 2019. Is it enough for vegans to purchase tickets for next year’s Feast? Probably not, but my hope is that there will be an all-vegan Feast event not too long from now. Seeing more and more vegan bites at Feast, from mostly omnivore chefs, at a meat-heavy festival is yet another sign that times are changing. Vegan dishes always receive far more scrutiny than non-vegan dishes, so I appreciate all the love that went into these bites.
For my daily highlight videos of Feast 2019, check out my IGTV channel.
Here are some vegan food and drink highlights from Feast 2019:
East vs West
Every year, Feast kicks off festival weekend with a “versus” event. At last year’s 80s vs. 90s, there was nothing vegan other than a protein bar and a whole lotta booze. This year, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bowery Bagels was serving a vegan black and white cookie. Was it the best black and white cookie I’ve had? No, but the fact that they used the word “vegan” on their sign and black and white cookies are hard to find here on the west coast made my NYC heart beat a little faster. Burgerville teamed up with Coconut Bliss , Holy Kakow, Moonstruck Chocolates, and Color Kitchen Foods for The Magic Carpet Ride milkshake. After a bunch of cookies and milkshakes, I had a lil sugar high going. Thanks to Brooke for the hot tip that Wildwood was serving a chanterelle mushroom tart with smoked tomato and corn that’s vegan if you omit the ricotta. I desperately needed something savory to balance the sweets. I spotted an eggplant parmigiana, but it wasn’t vegan.
After Party: Dame
The cocktails were excellent at the Hoxton and Gado Gado after parties, but Dame was the after party I was most looking forward to. Every meal I’ve had at Dame has been delightful thanks to the top notch hospitality, the extensive natural wine selection, and of course, the very talented Patrick McKee in the kitchen. Patrick was serving up Italian comfort foods and made me a saffron pasta with mushrooms, tomatoes, and corn, finished with vegan cheese. I loved this pasta when I previously had it at Dame and again at the Feast after party.
I made sure to eat a hefty breakfast before going to the city run/walk on Friday morning as I didn’t think the media breakfast at Gracie’s inside Hotel DeLuxe would be vegan-friendly. That’s how it’s been in the past, which is no biggie as I like to take the media breakfast as an opportunity to network, and I had a lunch on my Feast itinerary. I nibbled on some fruit, but learned from Mikeala later in the day that the breakfast buffet had a tasty vegan crepe. I remember doing a quick scan of the breakfast items, but I missed the crepe!
Eem + Washington State Winemaker Lunch
The elaborate winemaker lunch featured Eem‘s signature Thai BBQ flavors paired with wines from three Washington state wineries! Every bite and sip was delicious. I can’t decide if the fried rice, smoked soy curls, or red curry was my favorite. Several folks at my table said that the vegan dishes were just as good, if not better, than the non-vegan dishes at Eem. I’m sure I will find myself back at Eem again soon.
You know the saying “you snooze, you lose”? Well, I literally hit snooze too many times on the alarm I had set for my afternoon nap and arrived at Night Market later than I would have liked and missed some bites and photo ops. I went straight for dessert first and fell in love with Frankie & Jo’s miso oat milk ice cream with caramel and oat cookie. Next, I stopped by ShareTea for mango green tea before grabbing the delicious mieng jackfruit from Farmhouse Kitchen and the dahl papri chaat (minus the yogurt) from Bollywood Theater. In between bites, I sampled on many mini cocktails from my favorites like Aria Gin, Straightaway Cocktails, Townshend’s Distillery, Wild Roots Spirits… the list goes on. Eventually, I decided to brave the line for Kim Jong Grillin‘s hotteok, a Korean street food pancake. It was impressive that each one was made-to-order although it slowed down the line a lot. At one point, Kim Jong’s Han Ly Hwang showed his mom the crowd, and she looked so proud to see a line for her son’s food. The sun set while I was waiting in line, so I don’t have any good photos of the piping hot hotteok, but as the neon pink sign says, it was lit. ;) I missed the sticky rice from Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which I’m pretty sure was vegan, and I noticed that David Thompson included a vegetarian curry at his booth.
The Big Feast
In 2019, Feast said goodbye to Pioneer Courthouse Square and moved the Grand Tasting, now known as The Big Feast, to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. I’m loving this upgrade as there’s more space and more vendors. We were lucky enough to have perfect weather on the first day of The Big Feast. The second day… well, it was rather muddy and squishy thanks to the glorious Portland rain. Oregon Berries teamed up with Tamale Boy for a berry mezcal sphere, Mizuba Tea Co was serving fizzy matcha sparkling soda, and Kate’s Ice Cream and Hoss Soss partnered for a Thai tamarind sundae. Tan Tan Deli had a rice vermicelli bowl with hoison-glazed tofu, veggies, and “fish” sauce. Paul Linthacum was serving a refreshing watermelon 3-way (watermelon gazpacho, grilled smoked watermelon steak, pickled watermelon rind) at the Embassy Suites chef counter, and Sara Woods of Vaux was slinging Thai street corn with coconut cream. As always, Petunia’s Pies and Pastries had the most gorgeous spread of vegan, gluten-free treats, including a salted caramel cookie bar and mini ice cream sundaes. In between these bites, I sampled plenty of beer, wine, spirits, and kombucha. I caught the end of the Alternative Fizz: A Fresh World of Sparkling Wines Drink Tank and had an opportunity to chat with Humboldt Distillery‘s Abe Stevens before the Cannabis & Cocktails: Best Buds? panel. Humboldt’s Finest is an award-winning hemp-infused botanical vodka with a fresh, herbal flavor. Hope to see this unique vodka on cocktail menus soon!
Vegetables: A Love Story
Vegetables was my first Feast Fun-Sized event, and this was a 50/50 vegetarian/vegan event celebrating veggies! (I skipped Smoked, which was happening on the other side of town.) Reem Kassis of The Palestinian Table was serving an insanely delicious muhammara (roasted pepper dip), while vegetable wizards Sam Smith of Tusk and Joshua McFadden of Ava Genes teamed up for the perfect mini falafel sandwich. At the Pacific Coast Fruit Company booth, Lacy Larson‘s Chiang Mai-style eggplant served like a taco on nasturium leaf was as tasty as it was pretty. Modern Times and Oregon Wine Board had plenty of beverages flowing, while Tea Bar offered a matcha boba and Stumptown Coffee served a banana tahini cold brew milkshake. Kate’s Ice Cream had a lovely bite sized treat featuring her vanilla ice cream, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pistachio dust.
Confession: I’ve always been exhausted by the time Brunch Village rolls around. On top of that, as a vegan, this event is a challenging one to cover as brunch foods tend to revolve around eggs and bacon. After waiting in the rain for 30 minutes outside The Redd on Salmon, all I wanted was hot tea from Smith Teamaker to warm up and then a mimosa because it’s brunch time. ;) I appreciate that Nick Montgomery of Konbi took a different route from other chefs and served up carrot crudite with a tasty shishito and pistachio dip and finished with nori. And of course, Brunch Village would not be complete without stopping by the Reyka Vodka booth for a cocktail from Trevor Schneider aka The Cocktail Ninja.
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.