The equivalent of the foodie olympics is almost upon us… FEAST PORTLAND!
FEAST is one of the most anticipated events of the food calendar, especially for those local to the PDX area. This year they are celebrating their FIFTH anniversary with the most robust and extensive lineup of events yet.I am
beyond my mind excited calmly and casually cool about attending this year as part of the blogger media team. SQUEEEEEEE! I’ll be attending a couple of the media events as well as giving you the inside scoop on the Friday and Saturday Grand Tastings and the Sunday morning Tillamook Brunch Village. Each of the main events at FEAST Portland are centered around great chefs, local artisans, exquisite wines, restaurants, and cocktails. But for me, as a self-proclaimed brunch-lover, the Tillamook event has been pulled right out of my greatest food dreams. **Please note that the earlier squee was incredibly calm and cool.
To get prepped for this year’s coverage, I’m pulling inspiration and ideas from last year’s smorgasbord. My lovely beautiful talented hilarious best friend (love you BEZZIE!) gifted me a ticket to the 2015 where I definitely ate enough for two days worth of enjoyment. Here are some highlights of last year’s Brunch Village along with tips for how to make the most of it!
Take a bag.
It’s always a good idea to have a few bits and bobs with you in a purse or bag to be prepared. We’ll talk about a few of the items you might want to bring with you, but let’s be real—taking a bag is mostly about collecting some souvenirs and saving some of your FEAST swag. “Why yes, I will have a second one of those delicious individually wrapped cookies to save for later, thank you for asking!. “Thank you, that bumper sticker encouraging organic farming WILL look amazing on the back of my car.” A bag will help you keep your hands free for beverages while maximizing your swag, networking cards, and ability to take home any leftovers. If you’re looking for something simple yet adorable, THIS is my favorite grocery tote and my all-encompassing FEAST 2015 bag extraordinaire.
Take your camera.
Beautiful food will be everywhere and it will be important to have a camera on hand. FEAST is a stimulus for all of the senses and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many options and sights. Documenting will help you focus on the fun at hand AND give you plenty of memories to go over later to process everything you’ve done and learned. You also never know when you’ll run into a famous chef or the owner of your favorite restaurant who you’ll want to have that adorable selfie with. More than that it’s a great way to inspire an appropriate level of jealousy and convince your on-the-fence friends to join you next year. Try using buzz phrases like, “Greatest meal of my life” or “I can’t believe all these drinks are free” or the ever popular “Delicious AF!”. Last year I did pretty great with just my phone camera, but I will definitely be packing the official camera this yet.
Drink water and make a plan.
This is very important. Don’t skip meals prior to showing up at FEAST but do load up on the water. There are several wineries, cocktail purveyors, and bars that will be represented at each of the events. In order to take full advantage and sample everything, it’s important to stay hydrated. There are plenty of water stations at the event itself, but it’s not a horrible idea to bring a water bottle. When you first arrive, make a beeline for the first winery you see, grab a glass, take a lap, and make a mental plan for fitting in all of the rest of the food. Also, there’s no harm in starting with a dessert course. Or two.
Spend time exploring new brands.
It’s easy to gravitate towards all of the brands you already know. I know personally I’ll be spending some time visiting the local brands I’ve come to love and doing what I can to support those great people. However, you should remember to take some time to try new things and connect with new brands and makers. Last year I had the opportunity to sample the Townshends line of Tea Liquors for the first time as well as the single origin chocolate offerings from Ranger Chocolate. Spend several minutes at each booth asking questions, getting to know the makers and artisans, and really listen to the passions and story behind their product. It’s inspiring to hear what takes place behind the scenes and get a glimpse of where food-culture is headed.
If there is a photo bed you must take photos on the photo bed!
Last year guys, there was a photo bed. Like a photo booth where you get your souvenir picture taken for free except it was a bed. A really giant amazingly out of this world comfortable bed provided by Stearns and Foster. The camera was mounted in the air on a canopy frame and you had your own button to take the picture. There were props, really kind volunteers helping you (and not at all judging if you took more than one), and then you could print and email your photos to yourself later. To this day they are the greatest photos I’ve ever had taken. I have no idea if there will be a photo booth type item this year, but if there is you MUST do it. Or, to a larger point, be a joiner. Be brave and try all of the things even if it feels weird or odd. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity you should seize every moment!
Don’t be embarrassed to talk to chefs!
Just like the other artisans, the chefs are passionate individuals who are excited to to share their ideas with you. Just remember that during the event they are often working hard to put together their exquisite dishes as quickly as they can to serve everyone. That said, be respectful while they’re working and ask small questions and move through the line quickly. If there’s someone you’d like to have a longer conversation with it’s a great idea to circle back at the end of the evening once the grills are turned off and the lines have closed. Once they’re done serving they’ll have a bit more time for that hi-five and explaining how they make the Smoked Brisket Benedict that will haunt your dreams for the next year.
Have something to write with.
Definitely having a camera to document your foodventures is a must, but also a standard pen/paper is essential. Many of the booths will have business cards to hand out, but towards the end of the weekend many booths may run out. You’ll want to make sure you have a way to capture the website and contact information for your new favorite flavored salt company as well as write down the vintage of your new favorite wine. The same goes for many of the food dishes you’ll get to sample. When a chef shares his secret for the perfect poached egg or how they balance get the sauce just right, those will be tips you’ll want to remember. Sadly, you will likely NOT remember it later unless you have a way to document it in the moment. Pen and paper may seem cave-man-esque, but when your phone dies half way through the event (maybe because of all of those selfies I told you to take), you’ll be happy to have it.
Remember why we FEAST.
More than just a food festival to celebrate the bounty of the Pacific NorthWest, FEAST is about giving back to the community. This year they are continuing their work with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon who are committed to ending childhood hunger. Over the last four years, FEAST has donated $230,000 towards this amazing social outreach group. Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon are committed to reducing the number of instances of childhood hunger by connecting people to nutritional programs and helping to implement systemic changes to stop hunger before it starts. You can take a look at their current programs and find out more about their work a their website HERE.
Meet some new friends.
Last year (and this year!) I went to the Brunch Village event by myself. I don’t have too many friends that share my obsession for food. BUT! The food community is open and kind and you can meet and share a bite or glass with anyone. I met these two lovelies in the brunch line last year and I’m so sad I forgot their names. Who has two thumbs and didn’t have her pen and paper last year? This girl.
For those of you who will be attending this year, please get in touch with me so we can say hello face to face. I’d love to put some faces to names, cheers some wine, and get to know you. You can shoot me an email at thehappylittleapron [at] gmail [dot] com, direct message me on Instagram, or just leave a comment below.
For those of you who aren’t attending , you can follow along with me on Instagram and Twitter for live-updates on the events. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to see or hear about, I’d love to get your feedback. Let me know!
If you’re already drooling and ready for this year’s event, check out this #eggporn video from last year. Smoked-Brisket-Benedict.mov