Feast PDX Day 2: The Foodgasm Continues

You KNOW I meant to write out a detailed post sooner. Clearly, it didn't happen. Days 2 & 3 of FeastPDX were a hazy blur of food, fun, and drinks. Drinks with meat, even. It's taken a few days to wake from the Feast Food Coma and to remember what happened when.

And in case you didn't read it, here's my FeastPDX Day 1 experience.

Rookie Confession: I was poorly equipped for the marathon that was FeastPDX.

I was definitely prepared to take notes and was keeping my food intake to a minimum in order to maximize my sampling. What I hadn't counted on was how bad my feet were going to hurt. At one point on Day 2, I was standing in the middle of Target with a boot in my hand, limping around semi-barefooted, looking for socks and band-aids, cursing myself for not bringing more comfortable shoes. I might have been able to make it to more of the late night parties had it not been for my tootsies.

So, it's not because I'm old that I couldn't make all the parties. It was because of my poor shoe choices. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)  

Day 2 began with a Media breakfast at the Imperial. I arrived on time and saved a table in the back for bloggers I have never met in real life. While I waited for them, the food editor from the Portland Monthly came and sat down. She told me a little about herself while I guarded the other two chairs. We had a really nice conversation, but my eyes kept going to the next table that was having WAY more fun than me. Someone from the group asked if they could borrow a chair. I said I was holding them for some friends... who I later found out were at the next table having WAY more fun than me. All hugs broke loose when we figured it out.

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We were having so much fun chatting over Bloody Marys that I totally missed the first of the Speaker Series. But the drinks were incredible, so... 

After that, I headed over to the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting Presented by Alaska Airlines (aka "Bounty"). Imagine a huge tented farmer's market filled with food, drinks, savory ice cream, and spray on tattoos. I stopped in for a bit to taste some wine (as one does at noon on a Friday... duh), then headed over through a picture perfect park, up to Portland Art Museum to hear a panel of food stars talk about The American Experience Through Food.

The panelists answers were as thoughtful and complex as the dishes we have adopted and enjoy in the U.S.

Everyone was in agreement that modern conveniences of canned and instant foods from the post WWII days really did a number on how we eat. American food meant American cheese, casseroles made from cans of soup, but now the shift is back to whole food ingredients and slower cooking. Self proclaimed Beast, Naomi Pomeroy said she was raised by hippies in gardens and eating what was in season. She was farm-to-table when farm-to-table wasn't cool. Noting the change that is taking place in how we eat in America, Naomi said, "We've gone from a Convenience Culture to asking where the food is coming from."

The discussion lead to regional foods and how territorial people can be about barbecue and other food traditions, and that sticking to what is or is not authentic can be an impediment to creating good food. 

Then Hugh Acheson of Atlanta (by way of Canada) sort of ended the debate about there being one American Food with the example of Italian food. "Italians don't see their food as Italian food, but as the foods from various regions." In that same way "American" food isn't one way of cooking or one kind of food, but a variety of flavors, adapted by all those inhabiting the country in the different regions of the country.

Philosopher and Michelin starred chef, Christopher Kostow of Napa Valley took "regional" a bit further by saying, "You take an individual approach while incorporating the history of a region and by utilizing the artisans of the region."

My ultimate takeaway: When you talk about "American Food," you're really talking about the food that we have adapted from our various ethnic backgrounds, flavored by the bounty of the region and the diversity of the people in that region.  

After that thought provoking panel, I headed back to Pioneer Courthouse Square to Bounty. 

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Food stars were scheduled to do demos there on the KitchenAid Main Stage. I had one highlighted, and I am so glad I didn't miss it! Duff Goldman from Charm City Cakes was hilarious and incredibly entertaining! He made us some butternut squash waffles and almost made us some roasted squab. The pigeons of Pioneer Courthouse Square were dive bombing the demo stage and Duff was at the ready with his trusty knife. Don't worry, PETA Pals, no pigeons were harmed in the making of those waffles. It was just for yucks, which Duff got plenty of. And right on cue, just as the breakfast was completed, a few drops started to fall.

That was about all the rain I saw in Portland, by the way. The weather was perfect the whole time I was there. 

That night was the USA Pears Night Market at the Ecotrust Building. While most of the events were within walking distance of my hotel, this event required a ride on the street car.

Here's where I have to absolutely gush about Trimet. Except for nights when the Timbers play and the buses get all jacked up from people getting out of the stadium, public transportation in Portland is AMAZING! Someone told me that other cities and government agencies go to Portland to study their transportation system. It's like public trans in San Francisco, but less smelly and way cleaner.

Back to the USA Pears Night Market Presented by Snake River Farms... 

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This was basically a night time farmer's market but your ticket got you a taste of all kinds of delicious bites and potent sips. Oh and live music. There were crazy long lines for a few items, including Franklin's Barbecue of Austin, TX. Someone (who shall remain nameless because she's awesome) borrowed my media badge and went to the front of the Franklin's line to get us some brisket. I do believe we hold some sort of crazy record for getting to eat Franklin's that fast.

I sampled some good bites -- I also tried a coconut corn cake with braised pears and something saucy and pink on top, some liver mousse (it's good for you!) wrapped in a thin slice of carpaccio, dangerously delicious fruit flavored sake, and spicy jalapeño Milagro margaritas -- but the one booth that I came back to more than twice and later dragged other people to was Nuestra Cocina. Chef Benjamin Gonzalez made the most delicious carnitas I've ever tasted and he served it with a sauce made from tomatillo and finely diced jalapeño. I seriously could have eaten at that one booth all night. 

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After an hour of noshing, I got back on the TriMet and headed across the WIllamette River to the South East side of town. I would have been there in about 30 minutes, but because of the aforementioned "nights when Timbers play," I waited for 45 minutes at a freeway off ramp for a bus. I would have walked but I already told you about my rookie mistake and not bringing good walking shoes. I finally got to Aalto where I met another on-line friend IRL for the first time. Saying you "met on-line" sounds so lame, so we told people we met in prison before my sex change (it could happen!), and after a few hours of drinking even SPICIER margaritas than I had at the Night Market, I pulled out my handy dandy Tillamook Loaf Love Tour Tillaphone and ordered us some grilled cheese goodness for delivery.

Thirty minutes later, this really nice kid named Sam arrived with bags of grilled cheeses, as well as waters and yogurts for the next morning's breakfast. I mean, I don't really KNOW Sam, but I'm guessing he's nice. He brought us grilled cheese in the middle of the night. How is that not the height of nice? 

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I Cheese Tillamook. 

By cheese, I mean heart.

Too late for a TriMet trip back to the Crystal Hotel, I grabbed a Radio Cab and headed home... worn fucking out... looking forward to another day of feasting with new friends.

FeastPDX: Day 1

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I made it to Portland and I am eating my way through it! I'm also walking my way through it, so hopefully the calories balance out in the end.  

Getting There

Waking up at 4:45 isn't something I like doing, but when there's a flight to a food festival on the other end, it's not that bad.  Unfortunately, I still arrived too late to make my Alaska Air flight.  While the nice gate agent was working her magic to get me on another flight, I realized I the girl at the next window was someone I've been meaning to connect with, so I figured this was the reason I missed the flight.

Within a few minutes, I was rebooked on an Alaska partner, Horizon. They fly Q400's and are boarded by walking out onto the ramp and up the stairs into the plane. Being the wife of a biz jet and former Baja bush pilot, this was totally cool with me.  

 

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The fuselage on a Q400 is shorter and narrower, but with only two seats on each side of the aisle, the comfort level is the same as a 737. The other thing to be aware of is that there's only one potty, so you might want to make sure you "go" before you go.

Getting Around

Once I got off the plane and back into the terminal, I realized I hadn't figured out how to get to my hotel from the airport. I went out to the curb and saw an info booth. Naturally, I figured the person in that booth would be able to help me.

WRONG! 

Here's a tip, boys and girls: If you're an a-hole, working with the public is probably NOT for you. If you don't like helping people with their questions, then sitting at an info booth is probably not the right career choice. 

ANYway...

After a bit of walking around, I found a nice lady at the TriMet booth that gave me a nice welcome to Portland, some personal insights about the city, and directions to my hotel.She is clearly in the right job. Following her instructions, I took the red line to Galleria, and walked up and over a couple of blocks to my hotel. 

McMenamin's Crystal Hotel

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Turning the corner and seeing the sign to the hotel put a smile on my face. I love to stay in unique hotels and this one was definitely emitting the vibe. It was one of those old boarding houses turned boutique hotels and had at one time been a gay bath house. So there's that. 

The lobby is basically a check in desk and a few feet of space in which to stand. Walking down the hall to my room, I saw words to songs hand painted on every door. Mine was "You Keep Knocking..."

Funky. That's the word I would use to best describe my room. Not the nasty kind funky, but the cool, whimsical, fun funky.  In the corner was a crate filled with local snacks and drinks that I eagerly tore into, since I skipped lunch.

And then I had to pee.

Oh guess what, Sugar? There's no potty in your room! I remembered the age of the hotel and decided to venture down the hall. That's where I found the bathrooms. Two thoughts came to mind: A) I'm glad I packed my jammies, and B) I better not drink a lot of water before going to bed.

Hawk's View Happy Hour

The first event I attended was a happy hour at Imperial with wines from Hawks View Cellars. We were treated to some delicious apps and tasty regional wines. My favorite bite was a fried pork belly topped with grilled mackerel and a tartar cream. I'm not even kidding, I could eat a whole plate of that! The wine that I fell in love with was a WHITE Pinot Noir. Such a beautiful blend of the light fruitiness of a pinot grigio with the deep warmth of a noir. I wish I could buy a case, but they're all out. Next season...

I was bopping around, chatting up strangers, when all of the sudden, I heard, "Are you Sugar Jones?" Breathing a sigh of relief that I wasn't going to have to be alone at the party anymore, I turned to meet my companion for the evening, Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. Irvin is based in San Francisco, so we chatted about The City. Then he introduced me to Joe Yonan, the food/travel editor of The Washington Post who had some great advice for me about what direction to go in a particular subject. 

How lucky can one girl who needs food/travel writing advice get, huh? 

Widmer Brothers Brewing Sandwich Invitational

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We made our way over to Directors Park to eat some sammies and taste some brews. Widmer's Pear Cider is my favorite non-beer brew, so I was very excited to see that it was one of the three beverages they were pouring. Joe said that he wished there was more for him to eat, which was shocking for me to hear, being in the middle of all that food. But then he explained that he was a vegetarian, so I suggested we walk over to the Tillamook Table. They had three choices, but the one that wowed me was the Dark Chocolate Ginger with Tillamook's Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar.

MOUTH-GASM!!! 

Stay tuned for the recipe, my loves. 

The night ended with a late night Industry Welcome Party. I wish I could show you the pictures of all the wild partying and debauchery, but I couldn't hang. I went back to my super funky former bath house boutique hotel and fell asleep... tummy full... completely content. 

FeastPDX Day 2: The Foodgasm Continues

 

Going to Portland to FEAST!

Next week, I'll be checking off two items from my Life List. 

One is to "Eat my way through Portland." 

The other is to take cooking classes at Cordon Bleu. 

That's because next week, I'm heading up to FEAST Portland

 

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Presented by Bon Appetit, FEAST Portland is "a world-class event celebrating Oregon's bounty and the chefs and artisans who do some pretty amazing things with it."

There's a Best Butcher and Fish Monger competition, wine tastings, beer tastings, cooking classes, and after parties like they are going out of style! It's basically the South by Southwest of food in a city known for its food and foodies. 

There's really no way to prepare for a feast like FEAST. I mean, I have to pack, of course, and I have to make sure I have my schedule set and phone numbers of the people I'm planning to meet up with, but what I really mean by "there's really no way to prepare for a feast like FEAST" is that there's no way for me to get a second stomach.

Maybe I should just fast until I get to Portland. 

Like I mentioned at the top, besides eating my way through Portland, I get to take some classes at Cordon Bleu. One is a Sweet and Savory Condiments class (I do love me some mustards and ketchups) and the other is Salt Block Cooking. I have NO idea what Salt Block Cooking is and I don't want to know, so HUSH! Don't spoil the surprise for your buddy, Shoog!!

My Cordon Bleu grad daughter was going to come with me, but alas, she did not get the time off, which bummed me right out because I didn't think I'd have anyone to hang with while I was up there. Although I don't mind being on my own, three days of chatting up strangers (or mumbling to myself) wasn't really something I wanted to do. Thankfully, through the magic of Twitter, I found out that a couple of my on-line pals will be there and we're making plans to meet up IRL for some sessions and possible shenanigans!

And oh yes... there WILL be pictures! 

If you want to follow along on all the preparations as the event draws near, or as it's happening, follow the hashtag #FeastPDX on Twitter. 

~~~ 

 Disclosure: I am attending this amazing event as a guest of event sponsor, Alaska Airlines.