Food lovers have had September 17-20 marked on their calendars for a while now, as that's when Bon Appetit's Feast food and drink festival returns to Portland for its fourth year.
But perhaps an even more important date is tomorrow — Friday May 15 — because that's when Feast tickets finally go on sale. Most of the main events sell out quickly each year, and according to co-founder Carrie Welch, there's a new event that is likely to be a big draw.
Instead of the usual Saturday night High Comfort event, chefs from all over Portland, the country and even the world will gather at the Fields Park in the Pearl District for Smoked!, a celebration of meats and vegetables grilled over open flames. Holding the event al fresco, Welch says, allows organizers feature more chefs and makes room for an additional 300 to 400 of you. Expect chefs from the culinary departments at Laurelhurst Market, Ataula, RingSide Steakhouse and Castagna to be offering up fire-smoked samples.
The rest of the festival follows the usual format, including the opening night Sandwich Invitational on Thursday September 17, Night Market on Friday September 18, and Sunday's Brunch Village, which wraps up four days of eating and drinking.
When we asked Welch which events were not-to-be-missed, she said they were all her babies, so choosing one or two would be impossible, but she did point to a couple of events that often fly under the radar but are well worth showing up for.
The Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting at Pioneer Courthouse Square gives attendees a chance to sample new products crafted by emerging nut butter-makers and chocolatiers. Welch says it's a great way to spend four or five hours wandering around, eating and drinking under the open skies in downtown Portland.
Welch also says the more hands-on events look promising this year, including Drink Tank, a tasting panel during which you'll be treated to margaritas as panelists discuss which qualities to look for in tequilas and mezcals.
And, of course, one of the things that sets Feast apart from other Portland food festivals is how it brings in top culinary talents from around the country and the globe. This year, visiting chefs include Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy in New York, Ollie Dabbous of Dabbous in London, Christopher Haatuft of Lysverket in Norway, and Alex Stupak of Empellon Cocina in Manhattan, plus many more. They'll be participating in collaborative dinners around the city each night, like Bon Appetit's Hot 10. You can check out the full lineup of events when ticket sales go live tomorrow.
Bon Appetit's Feast runs September 17 to 20. Get tickets and more information at feastportland.com.