It's been a month since the 3rd Annual Feast Portland, and we've had plenty of time to digest all of the many, many meals (and drinks) consumed over that tasty weekend. All of the events we attended were impressively organized and of course, impressively delicious. As we sit and wait in anticipation of next year's festival, we made a pro's and con's list featuring a few of the main events, so that when it comes time to buy those coveted tickets again next year, you can decide exactly which ones to save your appetite, and $$$, for.
Pro: This was a sandwich competition, and since sandwiches are indisputably one of the greatest culinary inventions of all time, the event seemed promising. Sure enough, it delivered, and then some. The line up for the event featured a diverse group of chefs, some known for their traditional sandwich mastery and some who interpreted the term in an unconventional manner. Rick Gencarelli (Lardo) satiated burger fiends with a smokey pork burger, topped with dirty mustard, peach, American cheese, and arugula, while Bonnie Morales (Kachka) took home the judge's choice award for her open-faced sandwich stacked with smoked sprats, smetana, and egg served on petite butter-fried toasts.
Con: Of course the people's choice award went to the dessert sandwich, because of course it's sinfully delicious. The line for Tyler Malek's (Salt & Straw) ice cream sandwich was outrageous, and expected, since it was the only dessert sandwich in the competition. There's no denying that an open-faced ice cream sandwich made with grilled bread, Marionberry jam, peanut butter whipped cream, and Cap'n Crunch bits is worth standing in line for a little while, but it isn't really fair to the competition, or the patrons. Why not invite a few more dessert chefs next year so the feasters can have a little more choice and spend a little less time standing in line?
Pro: If you're not from the Pacific Northwest, you'll probably want to move here after eating your way through this showcase of the region's bounty. With such a quality selection of cheese, charcuterie, wine, beer, coffee, and seasonal produce here in the PNW, it's not hard to whip up something fresh and delicious almost any time of the year. The "pro" of attending this event as a local is the reminder that you are living (and eating) in one of the most vibrant tasting regions in the country, and if you're from out of town, the "pro" is the opportunity to sample the many local foods and spirits all in one place.
Con: The sheer number of participants was a bit overwhelming. Perhaps the planning for next year's event should include handy guide maps for Feast-ers. This would help with navigating the 100+ artisan, brewery, and winery booths.
Pro: This year's series was playful and imaginative, with dinners that appealed to both the low brow and high class Feast-ers. The new Sunday night event, Girls! Girls! Girls!, featured Kuniko Yago (Hinoki and the Bird), Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar), Naomi Pomery (Beast), and Johanna Ware (Smallwares). Some of the noteworthy dinners included: The Hot 10, Dessert for Dinner, and Pop Stars.
Con: You can only go to one each night! Also, the dinners are some of the priciest events of the festival, so budget accordingly.
Pro: This was the fastest selling event of the festival this year, and everyone that acted quick enough and bought a ticket would agree that it lived up to its expectations. It was such fun to try all of the street food inspired bites from laudable local and national chefs. Jami Curl (QUIN Candy Shoppe) teamed up with Union Wine Co. for a Pinot Noir-cotton candy concoction, while Nong (Nong's Khao Man Ghai) served her infamous Khao Man Ghai.
Con: Having so many ethnic enclaves in Portland's surrounding suburbs, it would have been appropriate to see some lesser-known chefs from establishments outside of the city center preparing street food dishes from their respective culinary backgrounds.
Pro: Ain't no party like a service industry party! The fun in the "official" after parties is squeezing up next to Michelin-starred chefs while waiting to order drinks at the bar. However, the unofficial after parties (of which there are many) are just as fun and often rowdier than the parties with closed guest lists. There's nothing like tossing back gin and tonic jell-o shots while watching a well-known food magazine editor sing karaoke to Alannis Morrisette in the wee hours of the night.
Con: You might wake up with a Sailor Jerry tattoo.
Pro: If pork belly is the unofficial food of Portland, brunch just might be the unofficial meal. This event spoke to the Portlander in everyone. Of course, we had to wait in line for all of the dishes, but there were people coming around and refilling our glasses with rosé while we scrolled through our Twitter feed reading reviews of each dish. Savvy Feast-ers waited in several lines before digging in, loading their plates with brunch offerings from LA's Egg Slut, and Portland's Mother's Bistro and Pine State Biscuits, and then found a nice spot to eat their food and watch the brunch cocktail competition.
Con: Waiting in line for brunch.