Oregonians are fiercely proud of all of the phenomenal, local food & beverage items we have to offer. When we get the chance to show off, we go all in, with one ginormous FEAST for the senses, so that you can taste, smell, touch, see, and hear about our roots, our values, behind the incredible bounty our great state has to offer.
Feast Portland, a four-day annual food & beverage celebration of Oregon's bounty held September 19 - 22, was the quintessential showcase of the best our state has to offer. It highlighted our value in artisan foods and beverages, creative cuisine, innovative industry ideas, and passion for real, sustainable food.
Well done, Feast Portland. Well done.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing posts focused on the following different aspects of this second annual Feast Portland:
* Feast Portland Speaker Series (I attended some excellent, thought-provoking talks and have a lot to post on these!)
* My top picks from the Alaska Airlines Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting event
* Widmer Brewing Sandwich Invitational, Tillamook Cheese Comfort Call
* Basic Pig Butchery Class with Camas Davis
* Top Ten Tips for attending Feast Portland.
To start, here's a recap of some of the behind-the-scenes media highlights, plus some fun extra delightful details that helped make Feast extra special.
With media flying in from all over the country to cover Feast Portland, the unofficial festivities kicked off with a media check-in at the Westin Hotel hospitality suite. We were treated to our first of what would be many delicious spreads, this one full of fresh fruits & veggies from Feast partner Elephant's Delicatessen (perhaps to give our bellies a healthy layer before piling on four days of indulgent dishes!), as well as local Stumptown Coffee, and local beer and wine.
An incredible array of local vendors filled the media swag bag with goodies, including:
- national media sponsors Bon Appetit
- title sponsor Travel Oregon
- presenting sponsor Whole Foods Market
- event title sponsors USA Pears and Widmer Brothers
- event presenting sponsor Alaska Airlines
- platinum sponsors Portland Monthly and Travel Portland
- platinum drink sponsor Union Wine Company
- gold drink sponsor San Pellegrino, and
- partners Hot Lips soda, and so many more! Check out the full list of sponsors & partners at FeastPortland.com.
PALEY'S PRE-FUNK AT THE IMPERIAL
One of my favorite personal benefits about covering these events is meeting so many fantastic new people in the food & beverage industry, as well as fellow media. While in the hospitality lounge, I met Naomi Bishop, who writes for Serious Eats and The GastroGnome. Together, we headed over to Paley's Pre-Funk event at the Imperial. Poor Naomi learned the hard way how we locals find our way around: we just walk until we find what we're looking for (okay, maybe that's just me...sorry, Naomi!).
After taking the scenic route to Imperial, we were treated to an impressive array of appetizers prepared by Imperial's Chef Ben; an absolutely delicious IPA by Breakside Brewery (bright and citrusy but not overpoweringly fruity. LOVED this IPA!); and wines from gold drink sponsor Hawks View Cellars (more on them soon).
[Photo above: Chef Ben from Imperial prepared, among other appetizers: fire roasted gazpacho, herbs, brioche croutons / Albacore tuna, padrones, pistachio romesco / smoked trout salad, horseradish, apple crisp]
The Hawks View Cellars team, lead by co-founder A.J. Kemp, was on-hand to share their wines. My favorite was the refreshing 2012 White Pinot Noir.
[photo above: Hawks View Cellars 2012 White Pinot Noir]
Maybe it was because I arrived at the beginning of the Pre-Funk event, but this mellow gathering was a nice calm-before-the-nonstop-fun-storm that was about to take over the next few days. It was lovely to have breathing room to truly enjoy Chef Ben's creations and make new friends.
[photo above, from left to right: me / AJ, co-founder of Hawks View Cellars / Garret Peck, GM of Imperial / Naomi Bishop, writer of Serious Eats & The GastroGnome]
Given that Feast Portland spans four days, that it was spread out over several locations, and the fact that we writers were constantly overworking our hi-tech gadgets and needing to post, the Feast Portland Media Lounge was a welcome landing pad for sore feet and drained cell phone batteries. Thanks to Media Lounge sponsor Urbanspoon, as well as Pacific Foods, Kyra's Bake Shop, Elephant's delicatessen, Stumptown Coffee, Oregon Craft Beer, and Archery Summit Wines for keeping us media types well fed while we recharged and connected with one another.
[photo above: my fellow bloggers, writers, and reporters doing their thing in the Urban Spoon Media Lounge.]
[photo above: perfectly shaped, mouthwatering macarons in the Media Lounge]
[photo above & below: cupcakes from Kyra's Bake Shop in the Urban Spoon Media Lounge / photo above: smoothies from Pacific Foods at the Media Lounge/ mint patties from Seely Family Farm at the Speaker Series]
We returned Friday morning bright and early for a media breakfast at Imperial. Feast Portland's Co-Founder Carrie Welch, along with Imperial Chef Vitaly Paley, welcomed the group while we enjoyed a buffet of baked goods, savory dishes, smoothie shooters (probably the last low-fat item I ate for the next three days), Irish coffees, and Bloody Marys. This set the tone for what lay ahead of us: lots of eating, lots of drinking, lots of food/wine/beer talk, lots of story-planning.
What made Feast Portland special was the food, yes, but also little details that helped add to the event beyond the food & beverages. Two that stood out for me were the Lincoln Motor Company test drives, and the Pacific Foods Pedicabs.
LINCOLN TEST DRIVE
On Friday and Saturday at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Feast Portland attendees were treated to test drives by event presenting sponsor Lincoln Motor Company. Bee Talmadge from The Spicy Bee, Meghan Shamy from Mommy Travels, and I test drove the Lincoln MKZ. The surround sound system was reportedly developed by George Lucas. I don't understand why anyone would want that in their small vehicle, where there's little room for the sound to go, but it's pretty impressive if you're into that. It was a nice car, but I'll be honest: I had never been in a Lincoln before nor ever considered even test-driving one. While it's not my personal car cup o' tea (a little more spendy than what I'd invest in a car like that), I am glad that I had the opportunity to check it out because it is pretty swank compared to my original perception of Lincoln cars. Check them out for yourself if you get a chance. You might be surprised.
[photo above: Bee Talmadge test driving the Lincoln MKZ]
PACIFIC FOODS PEDI-CABS
If you were downtown at all this past weekend, you likely saw the Pacific Foods pedicabs shuttling Feast Portland goers to and fro. I thought that was a very smart move by both Feast Portland and Pacific Foods, as the rain did eventually decide to say hello a few times, and some of us were walking for hours in heels (not the smartest move on my part). The pedicab bikers were all incredibly sweet and helpful, and even though I've been in several pedicabs over the years, this particular group really helped add a fun dimension to this event.
More Feast Portland fun to come over the next few weeks. If you have any questions about the annual event, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them in an upcoming post and/or in the comments below. If I don't know the answer, I'll find out for you!
Does YOUR hometown boast about a certain specialty local food or beverage item that you're most proud of? I'd love to know! Feel free to leave your answer in the comments below. And if your hometown is in Oregon, tell me: what is YOUR favorite local food/beverage item?
FTC Disclosure: Feast Portland awarded me a Blogger Media Pass to attend the Grand Tasting, Speaker Series, Whole Foods Market Butcher Competition/Fishmonger FaceOff, the Basic Pig Butchery class, and media events. Tillamook Cheese sponsored Sandwich Invitational tickets for me and my husband. No coverage was required by either party. As always, opinions stated here are solely my own.