When you stroll into Pioneer Courthouse Square for the Grand Tasting at Feast Portland, you get a bit of sensory overload. Giggles from eager women sipping rosé, the smell of something savory (bacon?) wafts toward you, the clink of glasses chimes, and dozens of food, wine, and beer vendors are assembled in every direction.
You immediately know you’re going to be in for a treat.
This year, the Williams Sonoma booth had a starring role in the Grand Tasting setup. Superstar food personalities like Matthew Domingo made magic happen in this little kitchen. He whipped up a killer lobster mac and cheese. The same day, Gregory Gourdet cooked up a spicy Brussel sprout dish that seriously made my eyes water (in the best way).
Each hour featured a new chef in this booth, whipping up something that makes you do a flavor happy dance, like these mixed nuts roasted in beef fat.
Another, though slightly more hidden, booth that made killer bites was the Nicky Farms table. I sampled antelope tartare made by Doug Adams – my first time trying antelope! What a splendid surprise that was.
In what was one of the most unassuming yet delicious bites in all of Feast Portland, Sisters Baking Company displayed some treats made with their Rain City Crunch squares – delicious, crunchy, chewy squares of granola, dried fruit, and nuts. They topped three different types of crunch with cheese and dried fruit. It was seriously incredible, and Rain City Crunch is definitely going on my shopping list. You can pick up some online from their store.
It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth. It’s actually incredible how many foodies I meet that aren’t that into desserts. To which I say, more for me. I loved tasting a few varieties of Nola Doughnuts La’ssants. Naturally, I had to photograph the incredible Cajun maple bacon, but the salted double chocolate was actually my favorite. They’re a rich, flaky, and utterly groan-worthy dessert.
But of course, the Grand Tasting at Feast doesn’t just celebrate food, the beverages are half the fun! I was shocked at the number of wineries and breweries who attended the Grand Tasting. If you’re a big wino, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth at this event. A to Z Wineworks had my favorite wine table setup of the entire event. The brass buckets and succulents fit in perfectly with the vibe of the event.
I was pleased to see more wineries pouring different varietals than simply Pinot Noir. While I love the bounty of Pinot Noirs that Oregon has to offer, after a dozen or so, I just don’t have the palate to discern the difference. There were Rosés, Chardonnays, and even sorts I hadn’t ever heard of to try.
I’m not ashamed to admit the cheese at Feast’s Grand Tasting kept me coming back again and again. I got to sample some of Oregon’s finest assembled by the Oregon Cheese Guild.
Along with a few other samples from around the state.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know about my love for Petunia’s Pies and Pastries. The first time I ever visited, I had no idea they were vegan and gluten-free. Even after trying a CHEESECAKE. Seriously, they’re really that good. It was awesome to get to try little bites of cupcakes and cookies from them instead of having to commit to a full-size dessert.
If you read my Feast preview post, you’ll know Eliot’s Adult Nut Butters was one of the artisans I was most excited to sample. They didn’t let me down. Somehow, after a few glasses of rosé, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes even better than usual…
Oregon berries also made an appearance, with an adorable little Instagram setup (not pictured) to frame these cute little Boysenberry Crisp Concretes
Needless to say, my first visit to the Grand Tasting at Pioneer Square was the perfect warm welcome to Feast Portland. You’ll laugh, eat, lose count of your drinks, make new friends, meet famous food personalities, and complain about your feet hurting. But you won’t regret purchasing a ticket.
See you next year, Feast!
Don’t want to wait until next September for more Feast? Give them a follow on Instagram for more pics and videos from Portland and Oregon’s food and beverage scene!
I received a complimentary blogger pass from Feast Portland to attend a few Feast Portland events. This pass was not given in exchange for my positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own.