For four days, Portlanders and out of towners lined up in booths, in waterfront parks, and under tents for Feast Portland. A Sandwich Invitational, Night Market, and new event Smoked took each day into night in the PDX sun, and there was no shortage of great food to write home about. Here are six of the most worthy mentions.
1. Kanom Jeen Gang Nuea: Southern Thai Style Noodle Curry with Grilled Beef, Jackfruit and Betel Leaf – Earl Ninsom, Langaan (PDX)
Standing in line is terrible. But after tasting the star of Night Market from a restaurant that is nearly impossible to get into, I understood the appeal and happily queued up. The dish featured Snake River Farms beef, grilled and tenderly topping a nest of toothsome noodles with a curry ladled out a little at a time over jackfruit. I had three, each after patient waiting for what I knew would be amazing.
2. Pork Pastrami, Pickled Turnip, Hoisin BBQ, Chinese Crepe – Gregory Gourdet, Departure (PDX)
While we’re on the subject of lines, the spiraled human centipede at the Sandwich Invitational was surprisingly well-behaved, considering it took nearly 1/6 of the Thursday night affair to get to Gregory Gourdet’s crepes. Made to order, they were tender and sweet and salty, and worthy of a Top Chef runner-up. Making things feel even more TC, Gourdet over-achieved by offering up a bon bon with peanut butter, banana, and Valrhona chocolate. He won, of course, for judge’s pick.
3. Lamb Pelmeni with Adjika Butter and Pickled Pears – Bonnie Morales, Kachka (PDX)
A generous helping of tiny lamb-filled pelmeni was an early bite at Night Market but one of the best. The little dumplings were stuffed with tender balls of flavorful lamb, and dolloped with a lightly spicy, creamy adjika butter. Little fresh and vinegary kicks came from pears (USA Pears was the main sponsor for Night Market).
4. “Egg Dip” slow roasted pork shoulder, whites and herbs in a warm baguette. Served with an egg yolk dipping sauce. – Alvin Cailan, Eggslut (LA)
That’s it, I know Portland is the “put an egg/bird/pickle on it” capital of the world, but LA has been throwing down the challenge flag for a while. Alvin Cailan’s Eggslut crew made a hedonistic crowd with their fatty, meaty, yolk-coated masterpiece at the Sandwich Invitational. Special props go to the to-order breakfast sandwiches they offered up at the Bon Appetit house party. They were so good, we saw Adam Rapoport exchange numbers with Cailan and make plans to meet up in LA.
5. Grilled Snake River Farms Tomahawk Chop with Heirloom Tomato Butter & Marinated Corn Salad – Adam Sappington, The Country Cat (PDX)
Fresh and summery but comforting, the steak dish from The Country Cat was a visual masterpiece. Scratch that: The enormous tomahawk chops grilling to perfection on the many-grated grill were a masterpiece, as were the still heavily-meat-thick rib bones the cooks handed out to a few lucky attendees of Saturday night’s Smoked event at The Fields (raises greasy hand).
6. Turkish Eggs – Brad Farmerie, Saxon + Parole (NYC)
Brunch Village took over the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting space at the Pioneer Courthouse, but with 1/10 as many represented stalls and lines that mingled like Medusa’s snakes. Among those most responsible for the cozy coil was Saxon + Parole, which had a tank of sous vide eggs and plenty of OCI students there to crack them open to order. Guests were admonished to ditch the spoons sitting nearby in favor of baguette rounds. The dish was smoky and unctuous and creamy and elicited the most satisfied sounds of the festival. Although, that could be because we were finally out of a line…