Posted by: jillw in: Food/Beverage -

We may be a little biased, but we think Feast Portland is one of the best food festivals in the county. Trendsetting chefs and celebrated purveyors – from Portland and beyond – come together to showcase their skill, creativity and passion for all things culinary.

Fortunately for us – and for you – this foodie playground is conveniently located in our backyard. We can shift from media calls at our desks to a Grand Tasting in Pioneer Courthouse Square in mere minutes, spying trends that are sure to sweep the food & beverage scene in the months ahead and taking copious notes to catch you up on the Main Events.

Grand Tastings: From the Farm
A city block is hardly enough to contain this grand celebration involving more than 80 vendors plying the city’s foodies with all manner of food and drink. For Feast 2018, we found:

  • Local bounty mixed with global flavors – imagine sweet Oregon berries spiced with the likes of ginger or habanero.
  • Farm and fringe meet mainstream: bitters, rosemary, goat cheese, edible flowers – think farm and table comes to your Facebook feed.
  • Plant-forward seems here to stay, as we tried lots of vegan bites, and on the beverage side, Frosè and wines in cans were prevalent.
  • High-demand Instagram-worthy shots – a few brands really engaged with consumers by including fun backdrops. The 14 Hands booth was overflowing with Feasters waiting for a fun-sized Frosè and a picture incorporating their unique scenery. The Oregon Berry Farm took it a step further with various backgrounds, stickers and emoji cut-outs.


‘80s vs ‘90s: Beyond Big Hair and Shoulder Pads
Feast created a battle of the decades. Literally. For the first time ever, 20 of the hottest chefs from Portland and beyond participated in an ‘80s vs. ‘90s match-up that saw favorite foods from years past get an updated, artisan twist. All set to a soundtrack manned by two local DJs mixing ‘80s and ‘90s hits. Our favorites:

  • Black Pudding Toaster Strudel with Pineapple Jam & Foie Gras Icing
  • Frito Pie (eaten directly out of the bag, of course)
  • Dine-Oh-Mights (chicken fingers) with Pickled Vegetables and Fermented BBQ Sauce
  • Pimento Cheese and Ham Hot Pockets (courtesy of Mae chef Maya Lovelace)

The event included lots of Insta-worthy, themed and interactive sets to encourage social sharing – such as a Lexus revolving bedroom set and a giant Gameboy.


Sunday’s Brunch Village: Boozy and Beautiful
Portlanders are religious about Sunday brunch, and it truly takes a village to sate our appetites for this delicious meal mash-up. More than a dozen chefs and artisans were joined by breweries, wineries and distilleries for this year’s tasty and boozy event. Our top picks:

  • The “Make Your Own Breakfast Taco Bar.” It was all the talk and on nearly everyone’s plate. The line wrapped around the entire venue.
  • Another big draw: the biscuit sandwich with sweet coppa, egg and pimento cheese (we are just now realizing how much pimento cheese we ate last week).
  • The avocado toast, which had a fun twist and was pretty (Insta-worthy), healthy and delicious.
  • Alcohol-infused food, which trended throughout the village. Blue Star Donuts’ “Baba au Coffee Rum” donut was melt-in-your-mouth amazing! It was a super fluffy brioche filled with Coava coffee mousse and topped with coarse sugar. But there’s more… the pipette was filled with Eastside Distilling Hue-Hue Coffee Rum. YUM!


Night Market: Ring of Fire Flavor
The Night Market really came alive after dark, with a DJ spinning fire-themed tunes from inside his tiki hut platform, and 20 all-star chefs kicking their dishes up a notch with Pacific Rim flavors and ingredients. With its Ring of Fire theme, the Night Market was one of the hottest tickets in town:

  • Local faves – Tamale Boy’s duck tamale with mandarin mole and Lardo’s east-meets-west cheesesteaks – had lines snaking all the way back to Dechutes Brewery’s taps.
  • Island and Hawaiian-born chefs were stars of the market, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Ravi Kapur’s Liholiho Yacht Dog, with Spam katsu, kimchi and wasabi mayo on a King’s Hawaiian bun, drew long lines, as did Andrew Le’s Korean fried chicken with watermelon and roasted strawberries.


Smoked: Still Sizzling

Smoked delivered a cookout of epic proportions, in more ways than one. Twenty chefs descended on the Pearl District to work their magic with fire and flame. And while meat was the star of the show – from caveman-sized beef ribs and dry-aged American Wagyu beef tomahawk steaks to pickled and grilled beef tongue – there were some surprises. James Beard Award winner Nina Compton made a jerk corn that almost made us want to turn vegetarian.

Our personal favorite? Snake River Farms’ Wagyu beef grilled on the Big Green Egg’s kamado-style charcoal grills. It melted in our mouths! We’re already thinking about next year!


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