“The scale, the walkability and the pacing were great,” reflects cookbook author Matt Lee, who along with brother Ted demonstrated oyster and peanut stew on the festival’s main stage and guest cheffed a Sunday brunch at Higgins Restaurant and Bar. “A ton of terrific things to try and do, but not so many you felt torn in eight directions.”
Like the Charleston Food + Wine Festival, Feast Portland draws the nation’s top kitchen talents to a town with a culinary reputation disproportionate to its size. But Feast is a much newer affair, having debuted just last year. Still, a few sessions have already emerged as classics, including the Night Market (deemed “brilliant” by Matt Lee, the event features chefs such as Aaron Franklin, Hugh Acheson, Chris Cosentino and Andy Ricker riffing on street food for a global bazaar format) and the Sandwich Invitational.
“South Carolina chef Sean Brock raised the ante with fried bologna,” The Oregonian reported in its coverage of the competition. Yet Brock’s sandwich, pictured above, ultimately lost out to a pair of homegrown entries: Portland’s Laurelhurst Market wowed the judges with its smoked beef tongue and pardon peppers on a roll, and Country Cat won the audience prize for its lamb cheeseburger.
Country Cat’s Adam Sappington also contributed a brunch board to the Lee Brothers’ Sunday morning gig. “(It) blew some minds,” Matt Lee writes. Pictured left, the board featured “hams, deviled eggs, pickles and a cold Dungeness crab salad adapted from our Deviled Crab recipe that had pickled chanterelles on top.”
“Country Cat will be our first stop when we return, which we plan on doing soon,” continues Lee, who had never before visited Portland.
Although the Lees were surprised to encounter children leaving social dance school, an institution which never seems to pop up on Portlandia, Matt Lee writes, “We were instantly envious of the streetcars (which Charleston once had…), the spotlessly-clean plate glass windows and the wine culture — you definitely sense there’s a wine valley just a half-hour drive away.”