In the past four years, Feast Portland has become Oregon’s most highly anticipated food event of the year. Mike Thelin and Carrie Welch founded Feast Portland with a mission to combat childhood hunger and the event has grown steadily.
Bon Appétit presents Feast Portland: A Celebration Of Oregon Bounty (aka Feast Portland) has become a creative enterprise designed to showcase Oregon’s culinary bounty. Net proceeds from Feast Portland are donated to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.
This year the event, which is a series of marquee venues and small cooking classes and chef’s dinners, added an outdoor event in the trendy Pearl District. “Smoked” was the name and The Pearl was smokin’ hot. The event has now gone down in foodie history as “the best Feast Portland event ever.”
We arrived in the Pearl District on the Portland trolley and, as we walked the block to The Fields Neighborhood Park, we noticed smoke rising and heard the rhythmic beat of amped up music. We entered the cool grassy park and were immediately drawn to all the prep, smoking and grilling in progress.
Smoky Rib Eye, Paella and More
I headed for a large portable barbecue filled with the largest rib-eye steaks I’d ever seen sizzling amongst licking flames. At another booth, two chefs heated a 5-foot wide pan for rabbit paella.
Talking with the chefs as they cooked was so intriguing, I barely noticed when Country Cat Dinner House, a restaurant known for huge down-home portions, started serving up bites of succulent Tomahawk Rib Eye chops with slightly spicy tomato chimichurri butter still warm from the grill.
We started tasting wine and sampling creations of chefs from Portland to as far away as Texas. Some of us headed for a generous tasting of Salt and Straw’s homemade smoked Snickers bar with smoked marionberry, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, smoked honey fluff and finished with candied peanuts! The creamy dessert topped with just enough crunch to keep the palate interested, had a hint of smoke.
Then it was time for paella followed by Hama Hama smoked oysters just out of an oak barrel smoker. Portland’s Urban Farmer Restaurant brought a huge translucent bong to create bong-smoked oysters.
There were plenty of places to get a glass of wine and talk with the winery owners too. There was also cider, beer and spirits and places to sit and enjoy the sunset with the libations. Yes, there were lines, but the venue made the wait, in the shadow of the old and new Pearl District buildings, a pleasant one
While the music created a party mood, the tasting and fun went on into the evening, and, as one volunteer later put it, “If I could go to only one Feast Portland event, it would be Smoked!”
Smoked was sponsored by the Oregon Media Group and they used the hashtag #OMGSmoked for the event. By the end of the evening we decided that it meant, simply, “Oh My God!” Smoked was that good.
Next year’s Feast Portland will take place September 15th – 18th, 2016. Get your tickets (single events or packages) as soon as they go on sale as events sell out.– Story and photos by Elizabeth Rose