I had the amazing opportunity to attend FEAST Portland again this year and wow, talk about so many great memories! Just as promised, FEAST offered a smorgasbord of good eats from a wide range of Oregon vendors– 83 acclaimed chefs, 20 artisan food producers, 38 wineries, and 18 breweries, all over an incredible four days. While I didn’t attend “High Comfort” at The Nines Hotel or some of the awesome dinner series throughout Portland this year, I stuck around for all three days of the main event at our OSU booth: Grand Bounty on Friday and Saturday and Sunday’s Tillamook Brunch Village. I can’t express how happy I am to participate in one of the biggest food and drink festivals of the Pacific Northwest again and I can’t wait to share everything with you!
Shear happenstance and luck are two of the main reasons why I—a humble college intern at the Portland Food Innovation Center—received the opportunity to…ahem… FEAST like no other! Just like last year, Oregon State University sought to promote our artisan, student-made cheeses: The Beaver Classic, and what better place than what Thrillist National calls “the best food festival in the country!” The Food Innovation Center is a branch experiment station through both Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Since we are located in downtown Portland, a small walking distance from FEAST at Pioneer Courthouse Square, the college campus sent us the cheeses and we were put in charge of enlightening foodies that flock to this renowned event about The Beaver Classic cheese. It was at our booth, underneath a huge white tent that couldn’t possibly contain the smells of artisan foods wafting from every corner, where I stood, along with some of my co-workers, smiling and handing out our cheese. Of course, I gotta say something about The Beaver Classic, since it is, after all, the reason why you are staring at the tantalizing photo above.
The Beaver Classic: our flagship edible creation spawned from our very own creamery and dairy cows (unfortunately I don’t know their individual names) (and no, our cheese isn’t made from beaver milk). Driven by OSU’s popular fermentation and dairy science programs, students have come together (along with a generous donation from former president of Portland’s Sunshine Dairy, Paul Arbuthnot) to once again craft and sell their own cheese. This student-run venture has produced not only our most popular, The Beaver Classic Original, but also a variety of artisan cheeses like Swiss, Hop, and this year’s American Cheese Society blue ribbon winner, The Peak.
It was great to learn more about our cheese (since I’m a Food Science option, not Fermentation) and promote it at FEAST. If you are as interested as I am about The Beaver Classic cheeses, you can purchase The Original currently at local Costco’s (who knew!) and all varieties online—Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner folks!
Moving on to even more awesome things, let’s talk FEAST!
Ooooo…ahhhh. Yes, that’s how I felt too! It was quite the sight for my chicken-and-rice accustomed eyes…
But it was also unbelievably tasty—which seemed, as the days went on, to escalate into more complex and refined flavors, aromas, and textures. In comparison to last year I think FEAST’s vendors really pumped it up a notch for 2014, especially for Sunday’s brunch bonanza, which called for a completely re-arranged venue with light blue table cloths and a sophisticated Geoffrey Zakarian-esque vibe.
It was pretty crazy to meet vendors from all over Oregon, some big and some small! Here are a few most memorable moments:
–Sunday: Travel Oregon’s chocolate hazelnut macaroons (need I say more?!) were easily the best I’ve ever had. They were also cleverly stacked into a large square tower of awesome deliciousness (see Figure 7 above—aka photo 7).
–Friday: Sausage rolls from Pacific Pie Co. (although last year’s Beef & Stout Pie was to.die.for)—gently crispy on the outside and juicy, warm, and peppery on the inside. nom nom~
–Friday: Burgerville’s real blackberry lemonade. We seriously kept sneaking away from the booth to grab about five of these each time. Nothing compared to real crushed blackberries in tangy, sweet lemonade when working under a tent in 92°F weather! Of course, they started dwindling down their portions due to high demand (oops).
–Saturday: Widmer’s tap beers over a scoop of Salt&Straw ice cream!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!??!!??!?!!! This was one of the most innovative creations I tasted—I never knew about beer floats! Here’s some simple math and science in case you can’t conceive such a thing:
Equation 1: Olive oil ice cream + Widmer’s Official FEAST Beer: Krystal Pear = (｡♥‿♥｡) ~♪
Equation 2: Followed by the spontaneous reaction of: (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
–Sunday: The Parish’s deep-fried shrimp and grits (reference: third-to-last photo above and Equation 2). There were enormous lines during Sunday’s sold out brunch village but I “managed” to eat three of these almost consecutively. It combined soft and crunchy perfectly and had a great sweet chili sauce on the side. I have no idea how they made it but I really need to find out so you guys can try it too!
–Sunday: 7 Devils Brewing Co.’s fruity IPA. To the best I can remember, it was a fruity and aromatic passion fruit IPA straight from their brewery in Coos Bay, OR! Surprisingly, they only sell at their southern location so if you’re near the coast… =]
Yep. He was just hanging out after making delicious carrot pancakes and gingerbread waffles for the event and was open to photos and a small chat! He’s totally cool and exactly the laid-back and friendly person you see on the show. I think the best part was when you heard his signature laugh (greatest moment).
–Friday: Cacao’s drinking chocolate over a mini scoop of Salt&Straw ice cream and topped with chocolate candy clusters! If you haven’t tried Cacao drinking chocolate……………wow. DO IT NOW! You can even take a jar home and make it yourself. Yes, it’s basically melted chocolate that you drink, but what can be better than that?!
–Sunday: Whole Foods Market’s bloody mary garnish bar. On top of their already amazing bloody mary (not too spicy or sweet), they had a whole buffet of toppings– some of which were very over the top: chicken wings, sauerkraut, and whole pickled garlics?! I enjoyed mine naked thanks!
–Friday/Saturday: Scoring top schwag.
-Free bourbon Madagascar vanilla beans in a nifty glass tube from Kitchen Aid.
-Free steel whisk from Williams-Sonoma after entering in their giveaway (I didn’t win the cookware set though…).
-Four bags of Sahale Snacks fruit and nut mixes. I’m talking those 4 oz. bags that you find for like $6 a pop. These things are addicting yo. I say this because when I brought them home to my mom and sister, I never got to take a single bite, taste, or sniff of them (vultures…)! But no kidding, they’re mighty tasty.
-Two 22 oz. bottles of each Widmer Widberry wheat beer and Liquid Bread Dopplebock lager! These are huge! And heavy! I kept chatting up the server at Widmer when I made my rounds for their beer floats (ha, no surprise), and she kindly accepted my request for the display bottles (it was closing time! Gotta work my magic!).
In all, FEAST 2014 kicked 2013’s butt big time. I never had so much fun working (and eating) and meeting so many different people all at the same time. So many kind vendors and people were genuinely excited to learn about Oregon State University’s official cheeses made by students and I felt accomplished to support my school and Agricultural Sciences. It’s such a crazy feeling when you’re given the opportunity to just wander around a huge tent of passionate foodies sharing what they love. You don’t have to be a food expert to go to FEAST and that’s what I love. It’s a gathering between culinary artists showcasing what Oregon agriculture has to offer to novices, connoisseurs, brew guys, bloggers, farmers, and everyone! FEAST is like sharing a home-cooked meal with family. It’s warm, everyone has something to talk about or share, sometimes you meet new people, and best of all, delicious.
I hope you’re just as inspired as I am to cook, blog, socialize, eat, drink, and support Oregon or local foods from these photos and memories from FEAST Portland 2014.