Gastronomic Pilgrimage: Feasting in Portland

Get yourself to Feast Portland this fall with our guide to eating your way through the city’s premiere foodie fest.

Photo by Aubrie LaeGault (@aubrie.legault)

Oregon is a respected food and wine destination year round, but for a gastronomic pilgrimage of epic proportion, Feast Portland might just be mecca. The annual four day food festival will celebrate its eighth year September 12-15, 2019. With Bon Appetit as a major partner, the event draws renowned chefs from all over the United States, plus a few international guest appearances (Canadian Jeremy Charles and David Thompson from Bangkok are on this year’s list). 2018 hosted a total of 52 events, 127 chefs and 20,373 hungry attendees. The purpose of Feast is to not only celebrate the revolution of the state and city’s food community, but also promotes a charitable mission, raising $445,000 since inception for Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and redistributing food products through Urban Gleaners.

Photo by BJ Oudman.

The events are organized into main, fun-size, dinner series, drink tank panels and classes. The five main events include Big Feast, held both Friday and Saturday afternoon. This event, being held in Waterfront Park this year, not only showcases local artisan products and food samples but is where you will find the largest wine tasting of the festival (beer, cider are generously poured too) . The other main events are all outdoor evening soirees.  Thursday night “Versus” seems to hold the underdog card, but is well worth the ticket price. Six years of sandwich invitational was morphed into the theme “versus” in 2018. Last year’s 80s versus 90s was highlighted by era appropriate music pumping out of the loudspeakers as attendees decked out in vintage outfits chowed down on remixes like foie gras pop tarts and frito lay lamb nachos while Salt & Straw churned out honey ice cream in a oaxaca cheese stuffed waffle cone. 2019’s theme is slated to be west coast versus east coast.

Photo by Edible Canada.

Friday night is Night Market, always inspired by global street food, with 2019 focusing on Southeast Asian cuisine. The crowd chills along the south waterfront, mesmerized by Buddha bar beats spun by a DJ suspended overhead and the rainbow coloured lights illuminating the plethora of bridges spanning the Willamette River. Smoked is always a quick sell out for Saturday night, when a cloud hovers over The Fields Park in the Pearl District as chefs stoke live fires for this carnivorous feast and gnawing on a tomahawk bone is considered a status symbol.

The main events are rounded out with a legendary Sunday brunch. The Bloody Mary bar alone is worth the ticket price, but an opportunity to carb load on treats both sweet and savoury, comes a close second.

Photo by Feast Portland.

But Feast is not just all about food and booze, with the number of wellness related opportunities increasing. Bon Appetit’s 5kish run, yoga classes and tea tasting help to balance out guilty indulgences. Last year’s Zero Proof dinner, hosted by 6 abstaining chefs, sent a sobering statement when it sold out within minutes and 2019 promises more family friendly events.

This year’s schedule of events will be released on June 6, with ticket sales opening on June 7. Many events such as the dinner series and Smoked sell out within minutes, so make sure to get ready by planning ahead at Feast Portland!

Where to Stay:
If you’re in Portland for Feast, or any long weekend getaway, a stay at the Duniway captures Portland’s charm, quirks and all around cool vibe. It has a NYC boutique hotel feel, but with more uncontrived character. It never veers on the side of too odd, and never on the side of something that’s not unique, which makes it perfect for Portland. Also the beds are deliciously comfy to snooze in post over-indulgence at Feast.

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