Few things have made me more stoked than getting invited to FeastPDX. Sponsored by Bon Appétit, FeastPDX is a four day graze/gorge on some of the best food in the country featuring wines from across Oregon and Washington. Not only is is amazing culinarily, but it is also amazing socially: net proceeds go to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Since its beginnings in 2012, Feast has donated over $162,000 to the fight against childhood hunger. The only thing better that a dope event, a dope event that does good.
I got in Thursday evening. My companion for the weekend/one of my best homies Meredith Leyerzaph and myself went to this party called Pork of Ages 2.0 at the Doug Fir. I was kind of whatever about the pork selections because they were all on white bread and I don't get white bread, but I was very into Evolution wines being there (you may recall I wrote about their Red Blend for Valentine's but probably not cause that was a million months ago but anyway, yeah I did). Evolution is the freewheeling sidecar of Oregon big shot Sokol Blosser. I love both these labels.
Evolution Sparkling + Bourbon + Blood Orange + Nutmeg zest = DELICIOUS TROUBLE
The next day I woke up and my stomach was fucked. Not even in a hungover way! Okay fine, maybe in a slightly hungover way. But I'm the type of person who is normally hungover and gets a headache and wants to eat everything, not the type of person who feels queasy for the next three days, which is sadly what happened. My body loves punishing me every time I travel, and of course this was the biggest FUCK YOU it could give me during a food festival.
This of course was not going to stop me from enjoying all of the epicurean delights at the Grand Tasting and wearing my new favorite jacket from CienneNY and looking very "professional media" like.
The Grand Tasting was my favorite event. I loved the diversity in the dishes, even though I only got pictures of the first two things I tasted because the crowd got WILD. Chicken doughnuts (yes, you read that correctly) and a really lovely ceviche. I am embarrassed to admit that Chipotle's barbacoa chili was my favorite thing I had, but it was really, really good. Luckily I was not the only sheepish attendee to admit the same.
DUMBEST MOVE EVER: I thought I recognized a chef from a restaurant I frequent in my neighborhood, but it was Gregory, as in TOP CHEF GREGORY. I went right up to him, hugged him, said it was nice to see him, introduced Meredith to him, ASKED WHAT HE WAS DOING THERE. He was really nice and never once was like, "I don't fucking know you, dude." Which he should have. I'm currently red just thinking about it.
I had a blast with the wines during the Grand Tasting. Started off with tried & true Sokol Blosser. Ponzi and soon-to-be biodynamic King Estate became new favorites. I also really enjoyed Stoller's selections, which tasted much younger and fresher than their traditional label would lead you to believe. My personal favorite of the whole weekend was Owen Roe Winery. Classic and clean with a progressionist flare, Roe's collection embodies the classic characteristics of Pacific Northwest wines without being predictable. A feat, especially in a sea of classic pinots, syrahs and chardonnays.
After the Grand Tasting, we stopped in at a trade event for Washington wines. To be clear, this was not a part of FeastPDX. To be honest, I was was in need of a wine break, but I had been invited and I registered, so I wanted to make a good impression. Upon arrival, I was skeptically grilled about my media credentials despite having a media pass and being invited. I never expect anyone to know about my site or me, but having to politely explain and defend VICE as a media outlet was too much. That combined with the pourers having less energy than a pile of damp mops led us to leave after a single glass.
Instead we drank our weight in the Hospitality Lounge and hung out with the Little Green Pickle crew, where everyone had fun and laughed at my jokes and didn't even mind Meredith bringing her dog! Not that I need people to laugh at my jokes or that I need to bring dogs (although both are preferred), it was just a stark and much appreciated contrast from our previous event.
That night I ventured off to Night Market alone, which I got to really late and accidentally wore heels to because I didn't fully read one of the itineraries (and was snottily scolded for). I never wear heels so it was humorous to me that the one time I did, it was to an event in a legit gravel pit. My stomach was still sour, so I only tried a few dishes. I was disappointed to see the same lineup of wines as earlier that day. BUT I SAW MEI LIN AND DOUGIE AND I WAS FUCK YESSSS! Dougie, Mei and Gregory were my favorites from last season... and that's when it hit me that I was a fucking idiot like six hours ago.
Still feeling icky, we stayed in and watched Modern Family because apparently I am old now and prefer hanging out with Pomeranians over people.
Saturday we brunched with my long friends Fanny & Jacob at Tasty N Alder. We crushed fried chicken sandwiches, radicchio salad, lemon ricotta pancakes and one tiny potato doughnut. Because seriously I mostly ate doughnuts on this trip. But for real, I would stab someone (not to death or anything, but just like with a fork maybe) for another one of those fried chicken sandwiches.
After, we went to a European feelin' little wine bar called Marmo. I loved the Ca' De' Medici Lambrusco. Refreshing and surprisingly juicy for a Lambrusco, it was the perfect digestif after the massive amounts of brunch we had stuffed in us. We also had the Conti de Buscareto verdicchio, but its herbaceous qualities came off a little too musky for me after the Lambrusco.
I once again went out alone that evening, but this time I had a plan. I was going to go early, get in, take photos and bounce to a party. I took the Karaoke Bus because that seemed like the Portland thing to do. Carrie Welch, one of the co-founders of Feast and Little Green Pickle, KNEW EVERY SINGLE WORD TO SALT N PEPA'S "SHOOP". It was MAGNIFICENT. Her and her partner, Jannie Huang (co-founder of Little Green Pickle and creative director of Feast), are fucking badasses.
I ran into Smoked with purpose and vigor. I immediately grabbed more Owen Roe wine, who were showcasing their sharecropper's Coop wine and a personal fave, Ex Umbris. Even with getting to Smoked at a decent hour, the lines were already entangled around the tents like constricting snakes of hungry-ass white people. Lo and behold, I run into an acquaintance from Charles Smith wines who introduces me to this dude David Smith and it turns out David Smith is a literary agent and knows everyone, so for the next three hours I was crushing BBQ and champagne next to Chef John Tesar's shortribs setup. I also finally got to smoke some weed, which made Smoked what it needed to be for me.
Exhausted from approximately ten glasses of champ' and miles of melt-in-your-mouth meats, I attempted to rally for the afterparty. I hadn't even partied the whole time I was in Portland and that made me feel lame and old, two things I only kinda am.
Meredith and I headed off to a party aptly named The Big One, mostly so I could stalk Dougie, which I successfully did for five minutes before realizing they were out of booze and had to go. I physically could not drink anymore pinot noir. I needed a cocktail, stat. Tired and fending off meat sweats, I had to call it a night. Not even offers of cocaine from friends of friends who claimed "But it's good this time!" could change my mind. I would say this files me under the "Lame & Old" category but I have a strict policy of not doing drugs (with anyone who says "But it's good this time!").
Back at the hotel, I still wanted a cocktail. Too bad the Sentinel's hotel bar turns into a straight up club at night with a line around the block so I said NOPE. I called room service but at 11:10PM, a terse old woman said in so many words: No fucking way. Kitchen closed. I said this is preposterous! Someone is paying good money for me to be staying in this hotel god damn it!
In a "put together" version of my pajamas, I tried to sneak in the bar around the back but was caught by a bouncer who had no sympathy for me begging for a Moscow Mule.
This is my only complaint about the Sentinel, this bar situation. It's absolutely ridiculous! How can you deny your guests access to Moscow Mules! Ludicrous, I tell you!
The next morning was Brunch Village. I'd had enough tiny plates of food to hibernate for the whole winter and I don't even really like breakfast foods, but I had to go. It was BRUNCH VILLAGE. THE GEM OF FEASTPDX. I did what any logical person who doesn't really like breakfast foods does at brunch and drank everything possible instead. And got some doughnuts. Because who doesn't love doughnuts? ESPECIALLY ONES WITH JELLY! GAHHH I LOVE JELLY DOUGHNUTS SO FUCKING MUCH! These Pip Original's Lavender & Blackberry and Honey & Sea Salt doughnuts we little bites of pure joy. I wish I had fifteen of them in front of me right now.
At this point, I really just wanted to sit down and eat a meal. A full one. Meredith came and picked me up and we went to Woodsman Tavern for that Moscow Mule I'd been needing, shrimp cocktails and cheeseburgers. The food was great, although my favorite part of this afternoon was watching a golden retriever jump into a milk crate on the back of a moped and speed away.
I then went to the airport and curled up in a corner until my flight, in which I proceeded to befriend the old man next to me and question him relentlessly about him being a Scientologist.
Overall, FeastPDX was awesome and I had a really really good time. Perfectly curated with the right amount of skill, flavor and fun, Feast is serious enough to bring heavy hitting culinary professionals and casual enough for those of us who don't understand molecular gastronomy. If you love food and wine, start planning for 2016! Hopefully I will see you there.