It was a beautiful day at Friday’s Grand Tasting.
As you probably know by now, I only attended a couple of Feast events this year, while I was volunteering. Frankly, it was probably for the best because my work as a writer and editor elsewhere last week was nuts and would not allow for too much time off. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but it was an intense and busy time. Feast was a nice break—a chance to be outside, get some fresh air, and see a lot of delicious food and drink being enjoyed by happy people… including me!
The first Feast food extravaganza I experienced was the Grand Tasting on Friday, September 14. As you can see above, it was a gorgeous day with clear blue skies. Everyone was in a good mood as we prepared Pioneer Square for the gastronomes to arrive. Media was admitted first from noon to 1pm, and regular ticket holders entered at 1pm. I took a tiny break around 12:30 to get a little sustenance, and that was in the form of donuts from NOLA Doughnuts (Lake Oswego, OR) and a sip of pink lady kombucha from Health-Ade Kombucha (Torrance, CA). It was just the pick-me-up I needed.
Apple fritter on the left, double chocolate salted croissant-style doughnut on the right.
After helping folks who were curious about the event (What is this? What’s going on here?), helping Media line up and reminding them to get their wristbands, and assisting wherever else I was needed, and proceeded into the Grand Tasting as an eater. I took the advice of a couple of fellow bloggers and headed to the USA Pears table first to see what was up—turns out, it was slices of fresh pears! Seriously good, too, especially the Bartletts, which were sweet with a little tartness, and wonderfully juicy. It was so refreshing to taste this simple piece of fruit after standing for a long time. I felt this was an auspicious start to the tasting. They also sent me off with a cool cloth produce bag, which I’ve used since.
I’ll also reveal that I did not drink much alcohol—I know, I know, what was I thinking?!? Well, I was a little tired and I already have a pretty low tolerance for booze to begin with, so I didn’t try much in the way of beer or wine (I would never be the person to ask to be on your flip cup or beer pong team).
I did, however, enjoy the aforementioned kombucha, some nitro coffee from Stumptown (always a yum), and two drinks that really wowed me—the Sparkling Strawberry Honeybush tea drink by Smith Teamaker (Portland, OR) and a lemonade made with “pourable fruit” by Oregon Fruit Products (Salem, OR). Both drinks were clean, light, and fruity; the sparkling tea was new to me, and I loved it. I’m looking forward to stopping in soon and having another glass.
On the left, lemonade with pourable fruit by Oregon Fruit Products; on the right the Sparkling Strawberry Honeybush tea drink by Smith Teamaker (it’s sparkly because of CO2).
The savory side of things was in the minority compared to the sweets. A notable moment for me was trying poke for the first time, thanks to the QuickFish (Portland, OR) folks. I loved all the different flavors and textures. Two real standouts both included prosciutto—one was seared lamb loin wrapped in prosciutto with Castelvetrano olive, sponge cake, and sauce vert cooked up by Breville USA; the other was the hand-pulled mozzarella topped with black raspberry puree, pickled peppers and prosciutto cracklings, made by Rally Pizza (Vancouver, WA).
Lamb on the left, hand-pulled mozzarella on the right.
On the sweet side of things, there were plenty of offerings. A couple of real standouts were fruit and chocolate—first, a Boysenberry Crisp Concrete made of vanilla bean frozen custard, boysenberry preserves, and a brown sugar oat crisp topping, a recipe developed by Rally Pizza (Vancouver, WA) with the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission. The Whipped Mocha Bar from a Stumptown-Alma Chocolate (Portland, OR) blew my mind—it’s compared to a Three Musketeers bar but much richer, much tastier. The filling was super light, too.
Fruit and chocolate, two of my favorites.
On Sunday I volunteered for the “fun-size” event, Because Breakfast. Quite a different scene from the Grand Tasting, this felt more chill, more intimate. There were a handful of vendors—“small but well-curated” is a term I’ve heard used before and it was certainly applicable here.
The offerings were baked-goods heavy, but there were a couple of savory things. I was working and missed the corn pancake (I heard raves), but I was able to taste the crepe from Jehnee Rains and staff of Suzette (Portland, OR).
The crepe was filled with a fried egg, goat cheese, bell peppers, and tomatoes, then topped with creme fraiche, olive oil, smoked paprika, and parsley.
For me, one of the standout sweet items was the filled donut—I tried lemon curd—from General Porpoise (Seattle, WA). Tender dough filled with a tangy lemon curd. Other filings were a vanilla custard and chocolate
They went full on lemon with the lemony goodness—so tangy, so wonderfully smooth.
And then there were these financiers—little almond teacakes from Suzette. They were a sweet almondy miracle. I loved how the edges were caramelized and chewy and the middle was soft.
I could have eaten a dozen of these.
There were a couple of drinks worth the price of admission—one with alcohol, one without. First, there was a bubble tea from Tea Bar (Portland, OR) made from vanilla rose tea and perfectly cooked tapioca balls. Then there was a Blackberry Bramble from Ransom Distillery (Sheridan, OR)—the cocktail had Ransom Dry Gin, fresh lemon juice, and blackberry syrup over crushed ice.
Bubble tea and Blackberry Bramble—brunch drink perfection.
Probably the biggest surprise of the morning for me was the gluten-free sticky bun from Petunia’s Pies & Pastries (Portland, OR). Here’s what I wrote on Instagram: “The dough had a lightness to it, was nicely moist, and was at just the right point of sweetness for my taste. The pecans were crispy and caramelized, which made for a particularly delicious topping. I also loved the modest size. Would I eat these again? Yes, yes, and yes!”
I stand by my original statement.
So there you have it—my first Feast experience. I am looking forward to experiencing more of it next year.