Holy smokes! Feast PDX ended a week ago, and I’m still not over it. I don’t think I’ve been this inspired in a long time. If I could shake all of my adult responsibilities and stay up for days straight to make jackfruit and beef curry, lamb dumplings, and honeycomb-and-parmesan-topped madeleines, I would be the happiest clam around. And I still can’t shut up about that Turkish egg.
I have a lot to share, but I’ll start at the top: Day 1 started with a welcome breakfast for media. Hotel Lucia, Imperial, and chef Vitaly Paley’s team created an outstanding, inspired spread. I was tickled to see things like herring apple salad and Georgian caravan tea on the menu — I grew up eating things like this in Lithuania, and deep down, I’ve always known it was just a matter of time before beets, horseradish, and sprats get their turn in the spotlight.
Day 1 continued with the Drink Tank: all three of them, to be precise. Somebody’s gotta go hard, ya know? The first panel was Shaken, Stirred, Buzzed: Why We Really Like Booze, which was just a fun, lively chat about drinking. Discussion covered hangover cures, day drinking, and whether sugary drinks or mixing beer and spirits really give you worse hangovers than anything else. The big highlight for me was Adam Rapoport choosing Budweiser in a can as his drink selection for the panel attendees (“It’s the king of beers! Says so on the can”), and also recommending drinking beer over ice. You see, my father is both a Bud fan and a beer-on-ice drinker. Both of these things have been making me cringe — and now the editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit is basically telling me that my old man was on the cutting edge this whole time. Touche!
The second Drink Tank panel was entitled I’m In a Cult. The topic: Rare beers with a cult following, and Crooked Stave’s Surette farmhouse ale, in all of its unabashed funkiness, gave me emoji heart eyes for days. If I had to narrow down my Feast indulgences to just five favorites, this would surely be in there.
Drink Tank numero tres, Margarita’s Moment, was all about that tequila. I’ve been seeing a lot of talk lately about keeping triple sec out of margaritas and trading it in for agave instead. Hometown fella Jeffrey Morgenthaler basically called BS on that — it may be delicious, but it’s a tequila sour, not a margarita. Also, agave syrup is basically high fructose syrup. I tend to have a live-and-let-live (or rather, drink-and-let-drink) attitude about these things, but Imma have to agree there.
After three Drink Tanks, mama was ready for some food —which brings me to Night Market, one of the biggest draws of Feast. It’s basically a big street food party in a gorgeous setting, with vibrant music and a view to die for. One of the best things I tasted at the whole festival (it probably ties with the Turkish egg I’ll tell you about soon) was from Kachka right here in Portland: Lamb Pelmeni with Adjika Butter and Pickled Pears. This was stunning. Perfectly cooked al dente pasta enveloping savory lamb, in a creamy, fragrant coriander/fenugreek/some other curryish spices sauce, with bits of crunchy pear giving it some acidic balance.
The things that make you go…
On that note, Day 1 ended with this gorgeous sunset. Someone (a party bus… it was a party bus) kindly rolled me home to rest before the next day.
Day 2 began with a casual brunch at Clyde Common with some of the rockstars of Little Green Pickle, the PR agency that helps make Feast so incredible. I don’t have many photos because it really wasn’t about that. It was a quiet moment before a busy day with some truly great people. Chef Carlo Lamagna put together a truly beautiful family-style meal: pastries, cocktails, and coffee to start, followed by heaping platters of perfectly-cooked steak and pork, shrimp and eggplant omelette, rice, and pickled ramps. Everything was so, so delicious. We ate, we talked, we played with the chillest baby who ever chilled.
Then, I headed to the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting for a little while. This is a huge showcase that sort of anchors Feast during the day, but Drink Tank kept me away from it for the most part. I got a chance to sample a few things, and I’m so glad I did. This ice cream from Fifty Licks? Unreal.
Speaking of Drink Tank: Soon, it was that time yet again.
The fourth panel I attended, Old McDonald Had a Brewery, was about a topic near and dear to my heart: farmhouse ales. I tasted some more incredibly funky brews, my favorite being Le Petit Prince by Jester King. I also promised myself to visit a true farm brewery one of these days (please hold me to it).
After sneaking off to recharge my phone and drink some coffee (my go-to activity between all the Drink Tank panels), I returned for the final event, Bourbon and Beyond: the New World of American Whiskey. Oh my. My favorites were Koval’s millet whiskey (so damn good) and Emerald by Ransom, a delicious recreation of the older styles of Irish whiskey, which also includes rye and oats in addition to barley. Oats! In your whiskey! It’s practically granola, right?
I chased my whiskey with snacks at the Sentinel Hotel media lounge, then went home for a quick nap before an after party at Loyal Legion (yeah, yeah, I’m old). I’m glad I made it out, if only for the steampunk negroni machine brought to us by Hendrick’s. That thing was ridiculous in the best possible way — and it made mighty fine negronis.
Sunday, the last day of Feast, began with Tillamook’s BRUNCH VILLAGE. Hello, lover! This was a similar set-up to the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting: same location, huge tents, many food stations, long lines. However, several winery folks were around to keep our glasses full while we waited. Bless them. Bless them so hard.
The longest lines were for Lardo’s brisket benedict, Boke Bowl’s pork and dumplings, and Saxon and Parole’s Turkish egg. All amazing dishes, and that brisket benedict was Lardo doing what it does best: delightful, thoughtful gluttony..
However… That egg from Saxon and Parole? Sweet baby Jesus. A simple ingredient, cooked perfectly, is the best showcase of a chef’s skills, and this one could not be improved. I will never have a better egg, and I’m okay with that.
It was so good I had to lie down for a bit. Stearns & Foster had set up a photobooth — in a bed. Brilliant!
After once again going home for a bit to unwind, I headed to the Sunday Sunset after-party at Departure. Gregory Gourdet and Team set up an incredible spread for us, and it was the picture-perfect way to celebrate the end of such a momentous, inspiring event. The views, the people, the food, the drinks — all amazing. I already cannot wait for next year, and I hope you’ll join me. Feast has been called the best food festival in the country, and while I haven’t been to them all (duh), I would say that’s probably true. Big, huge thanks to Mike and Carrie, as well as the entire Little Green Pickle team — you make magic happen!
One last thing: I have way more photos, because I can’t help myself around that much pretty-lookin’ food and drink. Here’s a slideshow of odds and ends that I didn’t get to in my actual post but are absolutely worth mentioning. Enjoy, and I hope to see you at Feast next year!