I don't know if it was being in a new city, trying out new food, meeting new people or if it was just Feast in general but the whole experience was one I'll never forget.
When I was heading up to Portland for my pre-tour, I was slightly nervous. Having to spend the next days, like all day long, with a new group of people makes me anxious. What I quickly came to realize, was there was no need for that. Jason aka @jason_staats, one of the people on the tour, quickly became a friend and we spent the rest of the week together, eating, drinking and laughing. My first few days were spent exploring the wine country (willamette valley) that Portland has to offer and the food scene at Beaverton, which is a short drive away. There was so much there, that I wish we could recreate in our town. We have the space, we have the food, we have the people, LET'S DO THIS THING!
Willamette Valley was on the cusp of harvest season and the grapes were almost ready for picking. The winemakers were on edge because the weather determines when they harvest. Could the forecast call for too much rain, which would harm their beloved grapes or could they hold on for those extra couple weeks. They just needed a couple extra weeks to get to the right ripeness.
Each winemaker took us around their space, showed us the process they go through and explained how much work and thought goes into their wine. Learning about the process of wine making is fascinating, especially in a wine country that has such high standards. One of my favorite stops was Ponzi Vineyards. The sisters that took over the place from their parents, have built this amazing space attached to the vineyard, where tastings are taken to the next level. Highly recommend you visit, if you have the time.
In Beaverton we got a taste of culture and I indulged in every bite! I'll get into that in another post but we had so much food during our trip here and I need to go back to explore more.
After that non-stop tour, I was able to kind of slow down a bit, as we started into the Feast weekend. From their media lounge to large events and fun sized events, after parties, there was no detail that was overlooked. Each event was beautiful, thoughtful and mighty tasty! Every time I went to an event, I thought about what it would look like if we had it back here in Phoenix. These events gave us something more than just food. There was more than just rushing through to grab each sample or bite, there was a sense of sharing what the restaurant was about, there was an expression of what Portland is about. I noticed how people took their time, savored each taste and stayed at the event the entire time. I watched as groups of people danced at the DJ area at each event. The town was letting loose to the sounds of good beats and to the taste of even better food.
It's so hard to pick a favorite event out of the main ones because each one was special and unique in its own way. So I'll tell you what I liked the most about each one. The 80's vs 90's, almost everyone dressed up in their favorite era, there was great entertainment going on and the energy was contagious. At the Night Market, the food was super creative and the vibe was happening. At Smoked, I felt engulfed by the smoke, it was inviting, it was warm and it was good. The bites were comforting and the Chefs were clearly having a blast. Brunch Village, duh, it's brunch, you can't go wrong. And the Grand Tasting, had everything you could want.
The Fun Size events are always my favorite, no matter where I am. They are intimate and they help tell the Chef or Creator's story in a way that you can't get in a big setting. I was able to go to three of these, one about grilling with the Big Green Egg, we got to learn more about Chef Doug, who grilled us up some of the most amazing steak. The second one was all about Jacobsen Salt, which is now the only salt I ever want to use. I was amazed when we did a side by side taste of table salt and his salt, you should try this out yourself sometime. The last event was with Hestan Cue and their new burner that does all the work for you, basically. What an amazing new technology, I was blown away by everything this is and will be! If you don't know about it, you should check it out, this technology is going to change your life!
Food is such an amazing thing. It nourishes us, sure, but it brings us together. Feast Portland brought me together with some new people and allowed me to make new friends and experience a new city. I hope that if you have the chance, save your money and spend it on going to Feast Portland next year. I promise you'll be happy that you did. Pick one of the main events or two, do a couple fun sized events and then explore the town while you're at it. There's so much to see and do, you'll never want to leave!
Until next time Portland, xoxoxox and here's a couple facts you might find interesting:
Feast Portland 2018 welcomed 20,373 total attendees! More than 120 local and visiting chefs participated, as well as wineries, breweries, distilleries, cider makers, artisans and more, in over 40 different delicious events during the four-day festival.
Since 2012, Feast Portland has donated more than $400,000 towards ending hunger in our community. The total 2018 festival donation amount, benefiting Feast Portland's 2018 charitable partners Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Urban Gleaners
Mark your calendars for the eighth year of Feast Portland, September 12-15, 2019!