FEAST Portland 2014

FEAST bannerI 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!

Why:

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.13148986-large

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!

DSCN0049FEAST Portland 2014:

Moving on to even more awesome things, let’s talk FEAST!

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DSCN0072And more FEAST!

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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:  (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

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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… =]

Sunday: Meeting Duff Goldman of TV show Ace of Cakes and bakery Charm City Cakes!
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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!

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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.

 

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Made My Way North: Vancouver, WA ᶘ ᵒᴥᵒᶅ

Sooooo, it wasn’t my idea to go to Washington this past weekend (I am a diehard PDX fan anyway), but one of my good friends had the great idea to check out the Vancouver Farmers Market on Sunday. So we did. And I saw things. Cool.

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Jk lol, I saw many things and I learned some stuff too.

On a side note, I recently went to the Beaverton, OR Farmers Market this summer and I gotta say, it was pretty amazing. I was there running a taste test booth for my work but I could clearly see in between my breaks that people are very serious about local produce. Almost everyone, young and old, brought several bags, totes, or boxes to load up on their market stay. The dedicated would arrive early and take the best goods and chat with all the local farmers and eateries and the whole place was packed. Like, jam packed. There was a great band that played covers of classic rock songs, a wide selection of prepared food stalls (I had pulled pork and a gravy smothered biscuit), and over 20 fresh produce vendors—not to mention the small section for local distilleries (cool!). So yeah, it was like your average farmers market: fresh, local, natural, organic, etc., etc…

…. So anyway, moving on to the Vancouver, WA Farmers Market….

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Was it similar to the Beaverton, OR Farmers Market you say? Did it wreak the same passion for locally grown fruits and veggies? Was it 10X as wonderful??

Sadly, no. Which was kinda interesting. But it’s a great story.

My sister and I arrived about an hour earlier than our friends (they were late! gasp!) so we walked through the market twice before they came. We saw a jam/cookie booth, some local produce vendors, local eats, kettle corn, mini cactus/succulent plants, a soap/candle place, and one wine booth. That’s just about all I remember because it was pretty small. These “farmers market” booths were in one part of this park in Vancouver. On the other side, a big gathering was taking place around a large stage, which was lined with small informational booths for the community. Turns out, it was “Recovery Week” through a local church that wanted to promote recovery from drug addiction. This became apparent as we were handed some nifty brochures on the event, passed by a free bible stand, and would overhear the word “RECOVERY!” followed by, “GOD!” being shouted at the rally near the stage.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed an amazing corn dog once my friends arrived …

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But really, it WAS amazing! It’s actually the first corn doggy I’ve liked so far! It was a hand-dipped jalapeño corn dog from one of the more popular stands (official name coming soon). Usually, I hate corn dogs because the batter is made too sweet or too cakey or because they cause reoccurring nightmares of my little ‘ole chubby self as a kid, but this one was p.e.r.f.e.c.t.* I bet it would even make Alton Brown proud <3

*even better with a polish sausage stuck in there

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Moving on with the market…

Another weird thing that I saw was a Papa John’s Pizza stand. I didn’t quite understand the relevancy of selling $2 pizza slices at a farmers market dedicated to local, farm-fresh foods. It made me feel weird to see more families flocking near the cheap pizza chain booth rather than promising looking stands like Thai and Greek foods ran by families. But who knows, maybe the Papa John’s was local or a delicacy in Washington (those Northerners are pretty weird…).

Also, these are some cute puppies I saw (๑>ᴗ<๑) the smallest one even jumped at me while I was taking a photo and rubbed his wet nose all over my lens!

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I had a really great time with friends, new and old, and a break from work is always a plus in my book. Of course, my experience at the Vancouver Farmers Market could be completely different from yours. Did you get to meet even MORE cute puppies? Found a finger in your corn dog?? Whatever your experience, whichever farmers market, I want to know =] Please post your comments, follow, and stay classy my friends!

-Lauren