9 Favorite Bites from Feast Portland 2015
Portland, Oregon, should be on any food fanatic’s radar. If you want to sample food from more restaurants than you could ever possibly visit over a single weekend, plan a trip during Feast Portland, the city’s annual food festival. Feast celebrates all the great eats and drinks the city and region has to offer, plus tastes from more top chefs and restaurants across the country. Portland in September is gorgeous and green, perfect weather for walking off the food (and wine, and craft beer …) you've consumed. We just returned from the fourth annual Feast and can confirm that the festival’s name couldn’t be more appropriate. Here’s just a handful of our favorite bites.
Prosciutto di Parma with Plum Conserva and Smoked Olive Oil (Jenn Louis, Lincoln/Sunshine Tavern, Portland)
This was our favorite bite at the Grand Tasting, so good that we managed to squeeze in dinner at Louis’ restaurant Lincoln later that same evening to taste more of her food.
Lamb Pelmeni with Adjika Butter and Pickled Pears (Bonnie Morales, Kachka, Portland)
We expected to see more pears in dishes at the street-food-inspired Night Market event, since USA Pears was a sponsor. This one didn’t feel forced — the pickled fall fruit added just the right hint of sweetness to Kachka’s thimble-sized Russian lamb dumplings.
Gobi Manchurian (Troy MacLarty, Bollywood Theater, Portland)
We’ve never tasted a better version of this addictive Indian-Chinese mash-up. Bollywood’s cauliflower was boldly spiced and expertly fried, a feat to pull off when cooking hundreds of portions outside at a food festival.
Kanom Jeen Gang Nuea: Southern Thai-Style Noodle Curry with Grilled Beef, Jackfruit and Betel Leaf (Earl Ninsom, Langbaan, Portland)
Langbaan boasted the longest line at the Night Market, and for good reason. Ladled to order, their fragrant curry was spicy, sweet, sour and funky, all the hallmarks of truly great Thai food.
Grilled Chicken Khao Man Gai with Thai Mushroom Salad (Nong Poonsukwattana, Nong’s Khao Man Gai, Portland)
Chef Nong emerged victorious on the food cart episode of Chopped, so we were psyched to try her signature chicken-and-rice dish at Smoked, a new Feast event this year. The comforting plate of smoky, crisp-skinned chicken, fluffy rice and tangy pickled mushrooms did not disappoint.
Prosciutto di Parma on Chocolate, Hazelnut Romesco, Ricotta Chevre, Sherry-Maple Marinated Radicchio (Elizabeth Falkner, Falk Yeah! Productions, Brooklyn)
In the hands of talented Iron Chef contender Elizabeth Falkner, salty prosciutto, rich chocolate and bitter grilled radicchio play beautifully together. The hazelnut romesco was so good we wanted jars of it to take home.
Smoked Snickers Bar with Marionberries and Smoked Honey (Tyler Malek, Salt & Straw, Portland)
After lots and lots of grilled meat, we were thrilled to see this creative Portland-based ice cream shop’s tent at Smoked. Their inspired take on a classic Snickers ice cream bar involved nougat laced with smoked honey, marionberry ice cream, candied peanuts and housemade magic shell. Malek sprinkled smoked salt on top for a final smoky touch.
Spicy Black Bean Pork, Turnip Cake, Small Egg, Berry Bean Bao (Patrick Fleming, Boke Bowl, Portland)
Of all the options at Sunday’s Brunch Village, this Japanese offering from the city’s popular ramen spot was the most unusual . An unctuous black-bean-and-pork sauce tied together the little slice of soft and crispy turnip cake and a chewy, berry-and-bean-filled bun. A hard-boiled quail egg was the perfect finishing touch.
Mini Doughnuts with Blackberry-Lavender Jam (Nate Snell, Pip’s Original Doughnuts, Portland)
There’s always room for pastries and sweets when it comes to brunch, especially when it’s the perfect one-bite doughnut. Pip’s served these little airy pockets of perfection topped with either raw honey and sea salt or blackberry-lavender jam, which had the perfect level of floral notes. If only they bottled the jam!
We know it’s not a bite, of course, but with all that food, we needed something to wash everything down. The offerings of wine and beer at all the events were plentiful, but the Imbibe Drink Tank talk on Pinot Noirs piqued our palates and broadened our minds, making us even bigger fans of Oregon wines. Each flight included predominantly Oregon wines from top producers like Elk Cove, Antica Terra and La Crema, with a few wildcards from South Africa or France thrown in for comparison’s sake. Sampling 10 great Pinots while nibbling on cheese and charcuterie is a pretty ideal way to spend a sunny Portland afternoon.
For more top Portland eats, check out Food Network’s Newcomer’s Eating Tour.