Category Archives: Eats

Testing and Tasting Some Ethically Credible, Happily Edible Eggs

Prosciutto and eggs upon arrival to Stoneburner
Prosciutto and eggs upon arrival to Stoneburner

I’ve been playing a lot with eggs recently.

So it was with great interest that I attended an egg event for food writers last month. Vital Farms was in town to show off their Alfresco Eggs, with Jason Stoneburner serving them up for Saturday brunch at his namesake restaurant. I was curious to learn more about what Vital calls humanely, pasture-raised eggs, newly pushed in the Pacific Northwest with availability at QFC and Fred Meyer.

Breakfast festivities began with a video look, a la Portlandia, at the “girls” gone wild: hens from Vital’s 50+ farms around the country that are released from their coops each morning to run free on 108 square feet of pasture per bird. The “moving chicken spas” mean the hens essentially “engineer their own crop rotation,” in the words of Dan Brooks, Vital’s director of marketing & communications. This results in brightly colored (deep orange) yolks that come from the xanthophylls in the grass. But be forewarned: Other eggs can have such color (from marigold feed, etc.), so it’s not the tell-tale sign of a true pasture-raised egg.

I’m not convinced that Alfresco Eggs actually tasted better than the eggs more commonly available at the grocery store, but as Brooks inferred, consumers might simply find the pasture-raised eggs to be more (ethically) palatable. These eggs are free from use of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. Plus there’s the promise that the hens’ “salad-based diet” and exercise yield eggs with 25% less saturated fat, up to 50% less cholesterol, more Omega-3s, and significantly higher amount of vitamins A, D, and E.

It was great to finally get to Stoneburner for the first time, and the nice brunch treatment means a desire to return for more. Some of the egg dishes:

Meatballs with eggs
Meatballs with eggs
Pizza with eggs
Pizza with eggs
Omelette with mushrooms
Omelette with mushrooms
Perhaps the best way to eat fresh eggs: poached
Perhaps the best way to eat fresh eggs: poached

Meanwhile, I picked up some eggs at the store to try out on a few Asian dishes I like to cook at home. Here’s a look:

Miso ramen with ajitama: seasoned soft egg
Miso ramen with ajitama: seasoned soft egg
Fried rice with egg
Fried rice with egg
Biang-biang noodles with side of seasoned soft egg topped with XO sauce
Biang-biang noodles with side of seasoned soft egg topped with XO sauce
Mul naengmyeon with hard-boiled egg (perhaps the "worst" way to prepare fresh eggs)
Mul naengmyeon with hard-boiled egg (perhaps the “worst” way to prepare fresh eggs)

Seattle Lamb Jam (and an Oyster New Year “Appetizer”) Coming in November

Lamb Jam TourThe first weekend in November will be a fun one for food lovers, as the Seattle Lamb Jam takes place here for the fifth time. This is one of my favorite food events of the year, as (along with Cochon 555, which skipped Seattle this year) a single ingredient cooked in competition seems to bring the best out of the participating chefs.

Look for more ethnic influences this year than in the past, and be ready to judge your favorite dishes, as the event will again allow you to vote for the “People’s Choice” title. (I’ll be sequestered in the “professional” judging room!) There’s an exciting lineup of chefs, including Sarah Lorenzen of Andaluca—last year’s Best in Show winner for her fresh lamb sausage in socca (a chickpea flour crepe) with pomegranate tomato jam.

Lamb Jam takes place on Sunday, November 2, with general admission at 2:30pm. Tickets are $60, which gives you a chance to sample 16 globally inspired lamb dishes, taste Washington’s best brews and wine, mingle with local shepherds, and visit the DIY spice rub station to mix a take-home tin of lamb rub.

If you’re game, you can instead ante up $75 (in advance) to attend a “Curriculamb VIP Pre-Jam.” This entitles you to early entry, with an opportunity to spend time with Northwest shepherd Reed Anderson of Anderson Ranches and chef Holly Smith of Café Juanita as they offer a butchery demo, prepare American lamb appetizers, and provide home cooking tips and wine pairing recommendations.

Organized by the American Lamb Board, a portion of the ticket sales will benefit the University District Food Bank. Seattle Lamb Jam takes place on the waterfront at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center at Pier 66.

Elliott's PMS ILLUSTRATOR13If you’re lucky, you’ll also be at Bell Harbor the night before for the 22nd annual Elliott’s Oyster New Year. This popular event (moved this year due to the massive seawall project) is sold out, but perhaps keep your eye on Craigslist and elsewhere for tickets.

Elliott’s Oyster New Year features 30+ varieties of local oysters shucked to order at a 150-foot oyster bar, along with the famous oyster luge and a fresh seafood buffet. Over 75 wineries will be present, as well as a lot of local microbrews. Live music adds to the festivities, and proceeds benefit the Puget Sound Restoration Fund.

Meet Terra Cole, Purveyor of Meat and More in West Seattle

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Terra Cole customer interaction
Terra Cole butchering
Terra Cole rib eye
Terra Cole sausage
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Terra Cole bacon
Terra Cole pickles
Terra Cole olives
Terra Cole condiments
Terra Cole smoker
Terra Cole sandwich making
Terra Cole BBQ pork sandwich
Terra Cole pastrami sandwich

Take note of what's happening in Terra Cole on the big board.

Guest butcher Michael LaRoche (of Piggyback Deli) interacting with a customer.

LaRoche, in action.

Terra Cole sources some of the finest meats in the area.

Sausage selection includes hot Italian, chicken & chanterelle, and these: lamb merguez and chorizo.

These smoked marrow bones (from Long Valley Ranch) look pretty irresistible.


Terra Cole takes pride in its pickling.

There's also a variety of olives. If you've not had them, perhaps try the red cerignola olives.

The cool case is full of mustards and other condiments to take home. There are also sauces, if you don't want to take time to make your own.

Trace Wilson pulling pork shoulder out of the smoker.

And here's that shoulder in the pulled pork sandwich Wilson is preparing.

The "Pulled South Carolina barbecue pork" sandwich is delicious. The mustard-based sauce (Carolina Gold) makes it slightly tangy. The cole slaw (with beets instead of carrots) is a nice counterpoint, as are the pickled red onions.

Terra Cole's traditional pastrami is thin-sliced and served warm with some sharp whole grain mustard (excellent, and again made in-house) on rye bread.

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I’m convinced that every neighborhood needs a Terra Cole, which dubs itself a place for “Butchery & Fine Foods.” Open two months this week, this West Seattle store provides customers with a wide variety of high-quality meat, ideas of how to prepare the meat, products to help make that meat dish happen, and meat to eat on-site (or to go) in the form of a sandwich.

Most obvious upon entry is the butchery side of Terra Cole. The showcase glistens with gorgeous rib-eye steaks, smoked turkey wings, and veal bratwursts plus other housemade sausages. (So much of what’s sold at Terra Cole, like the sauces, marinades, and condiments, is made in house.) Approach the counter, and you’ll likely get asked if you’re looking for something for dinner or suggestions of how to prepare a particular piece of meat.

But what you’ll also quickly notice in the industrial setting is a scattering of tables up front, and some seating toward the back. This should clue you in to the deli side of Terra Cole, less obvious since its base is the side counter, not the front. There are a half-dozen sandwiches on the regular menu, ranging from smoked pork loin on peasant levain to lamb merguez sausage on hobui flatbread. It’s here that you’ll find the cold case of sides sold by the pound, including an assortment of pickled vegetables, olives, and a number of salads (such as smoked potato, black bean, and cole slaw).

You can round out your meal with one of the unique sodas from the cooler in the front corner of the store. The Green River Soda, which unlike most of the other things at Terra Cole is not local, comes from Chicago and is not often found outside that area. Co-owner Tim Mitchell will tell you that the soda is an homage to his Midwest childhood.

Prices are reasonable and the quality is quite good, with the deli menu under the command of chef (and culinary director) Trace Wilson. I especially enjoyed my pulled South Carolina barbecue pork sandwich, served on a potato bun (with cole slaw and pickled red onions) for just $6.50. It’s definitely one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve had in the Seattle area.

A final aspect of Terra Cole is what you don’t see. The workers will enthusiastically tell you that if you don’t see something, just ask for it. They’re more than willing to cut meats to your specifications, and to special order anything you don’t find in the showcase, from offal to more “exotic” animals like buffalo, crocodile, and kangaroo. While there’s already plenty of pickling and smoking already happening, look in the future for more forms of preparation/preservation, including expansion of the charcuterie program.

Terra Cole seems to have all the ingredients to meet Mitchell’s mission of “giving people a restaurant quality experience that they have at home at their kitchen table.” Those who venture past the front counter will find the makings of a fine culinary experience to be had while seated right in the butcher shop.

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Where to Eat Chinese Food for Thanksgiving in Seattle (Are You Ready for Some Football?)

O'Asian footballThanksgiving is a terrific holiday, stable in always being the fourth Thursday of November and, for many, the start of a four-day weekend. There are numerous rituals to celebrate, like the gathering of friends and family, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, reflecting on what we’re grateful for (right?), feasting, napping, and — of course — watching football.

But let’s talk turkey. Unless the breaking of the wishbone is of importance, who cares about the bird? The traditional dinner is delicious because of the sides, not the main. Dry poultry takes a backseat when there’s sweet potato casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and more.

If all of that sounds like a bother, or still too bland, do as I do each year: celebrate Thanksgiving (and this year, Thanksgivukkah) at a Chinese restaurant.

I’ve repeatedly said that Seattle’s dim sum is inferior to what you’ll find north in Richmond, B.C., and that our area’s best Chinese food is at the Szechuan joints in Bellevue. Still, if you want to stay in Seattle, I have some suggestions, starting with dim sum at O’Asian Kitchen. The downtown location offers free parking on weekends and holidays and an upscale setting that will take you away from the chaotic crowds in the International District.

O’Asian is serving dim sum until its 4pm closing on Thanksgiving day. To fit with your NFL festivities, look for an item simply called “football” (pictured above) on one of the dim sum carts. Known as hum sui gok in Chinese (it roughly translates to “salty water pastry”), this football-shaped dumpling is dough (usually glutinous rice flour with wheat starch) that’s deep-fried, resulting in a crispy outer shell and a soft, chewy interior. The puff is fairly hollow, though it contains a mixture of ground pork, mushroom, and seasoning. It’s slightly sweet, and fun to eat.

Seven Stars Pepper chicken and chili hot potIf you’re looking for lunch or a later meal, I have several recommendations in the International District. Ton Kiang B.B.Q. Noodle House has roasted and BBQ pig and duck, but my favorite is the poached (free-range) chicken. Be sure to get the ginger-scallion sauce to go with it. Gourmet Noodle Bowl is a great choice for hot pot dining and other dishes. Both locations of Henry’s Taiwan will be open, with beef being my favorite item there. As for me? Being a fan of bolder flavors, you’ll likely find me at Seven Stars Pepper, saluting Szechuan dishes (like the chicken and chili “hot pot” pictured) as spicy-red as possible.

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An Evening With Stumptown Coffee (and Cocktails, and Wine)


Stumptown provides a unique setting for dinner.

Two of the three tables, set and awaiting guests.

Reception in the Stumptown store before the start of the sit-down dinner.

Alex Negranza, producer of "An Evening With," welcomes guests.

Coffee and alcohol at the ready.

Staff checking out the food and drink pairings.

Part of the evening's fireworks.

More cocktail-making.

Drinks. Plenty of drinks.

Coffee scales and timers, ready for action.

Chemex preparation.

The Aeropress builds muscle tone.

The McCracken-Tough team prepares the first course.

First course, plated and ready to serve.

First course: Chevre custard, persimmon, sherry reduction, nasturtium. (Coffee pairing: Ethiopia Mordecofe Reserva)

Second course: Smoked salmon roe, confit duck gizzard, black garlic, pickled apple. (Coffee pairing: Kenya Gaturiri)

Third course: Smoked sweet potato agnolotti, treviso, pine nuts, smoked idiazabal, brown butter. (Coffee pairing: Guatemala Finca El Injerto-La Cima)

Fourth course: Coffee-rubbed venison loin, chanterelles, sunchoke, pluot, chrysanthemum bitterroot. (Coffee pairing: Honduras Finca El Puente)

Fifth course: Fernet ice cream, candied fennel, blood orange segments, lavender mint, saffron olive oil cake with a chocolate shell. (Coffee pairing: El Salvador Kilimanjaro Aida's Grande Reserve)

Through the looking glass.


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Stumptown Coffee Roasters may not have been roasting green beans in Seattle last Sunday night, but its equipment made for a magnificent backdrop at a special pop-up dinner in the roasting facility—the first of its kind at the site. Despite the lack of roasting, there was plenty of coffee being produced in the basement of the 12th Avenue location that evening as An Evening With Stumptown Coffee Roasters meant a five-course dinner with coffee pairings and plenty of other libations.

With a particular interest in coffee, I was invited to attend, and I was mighty curious. Just how would they pair coffee with food? How much coffee could there possibly be, and how much would I dare consume? Will there be spit buckets? How late would a caffeine-heavy evening keep me awake?

Turns out I’d be drinking coffee until after 11pm, which is the time I left Stumptown (the event started at 6pm) with the party still going.

The setting at Stumptown was beautiful, with the space amazingly transformed. Three large tables, gorgeous lighting, fabulous ambient music loud enough to enjoy but quiet enough for comfortable conversation. (Restaurant owners, take note.) For his first production, “An Evening With” producer Alex Negranza got the pop-up setting as perfect as one could hope. Negranza (who has quickly accumulated extensive barista and bartending experience at places like Milstead & Co., Liberty, and Spur) is a motivator with boundless energy; his infectious exuberance was on display, spilling into friendly and efficient service from the teams of chefs, servers, sommeliers, baristas, and bartenders on hand for the evening.

Prepared by chefs from the McCracken-Tough team, the food was sure to be a winner, despite the inherent limitations of the Stumptown space. From the first (colorful) course of chèvre custard to the final lick of a spoon with Fernet ice cream, the food was fun and flavorful.

As for the coffee pairings? Unfortunately, a little unfocused. Coffee typically came too far ahead of the accompanying dish (on two occasions, servers picked up cups before the food even arrived), with small pours that quickly got cold and couldn’t be fairly “judged” against the paired food. I enjoyed sampling the varieties of coffee and watching the various preparation techniques (Chemex, Aeropress, etc.), but I didn’t become convinced that coffee could really pair well with the savory dishes served. For example, I found coffee to be jarring with the brininess of the salmon roe plated with confit duck gizzard. (The dish was initially envisioned with sea urchin, which might have been better with coffee.) And when dessert arrived, instead of the chance to drink coffee to counter the sweetness of the chocolate-covered olive oil cake, we were given a cupping experience. I watched as my tablemates took a slurp or two, and then quickly put their spoons down.

Part of the problem, I believe, was that the ambitious undertaking resulted in an overwhelming number of beverages. Each course came with coffee, a cocktail, and wine. (At one point, I remarked that beer might have been the best pairing for a particular course, inspiring some interesting discussion and debate.) As if there were not enough liquids, there was also consommé with a potential pairing of espresso (or punch) as an amuse-bouche, spruce granita with juniper berry DRY Soda as an intermezzo, and a Stumptown Gesha coffee as a going-away drink.

Still, a fun experience, and a building block for future “An Evening With” events. Given Negranza’s energy and enthusiasm, I expect future events to be equally exciting and even more polished. While there’s nothing solid on the schedule (you can follow “An Evening With” on Facebook), Negranza noted, with witty word choice, that he has a few ideas “brewing.”


Feast Portland Offers Food for Thought for a Second Time

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Feast Portland offered another year of pigging out, both culinarily and philosophically.

At the "Face Meat" class, we could do butchering and eating at the same time. Everyone got a plate of charcuterie from Olympic Provisions, with extra platters available!

Elias Cairo of Olympic Provisions demonstrates proper knife technique. "Away from the body to prevent a knife to the femur," he implored.

A classroom full of students facing the meat, fiercely.

The judges' award for best of the Sandwich Invitational went to David Kreifels of Portland's Laurelhurst Market for his smoked beef tongue sandwich with padrón peppers, aji pepper aioli, mint, basil, and picalilli. I agreed with the choice.

Also delicious, and worthy as winner of the people's choice award, was this lamb burger by Adam Sappington of Portland's The Country Cat. It's topped with Havarti cheese, smoked tomato jam, and iceberg lettuce slaw.

Lisa Herlinger-Esco and Becky Burnett of Portland's Ruby Jewel served a dessert sandwich they called "The NW Club." Their description: "brown sugar cookies, marionberry caramel, hazelnut ice cream, chocolate and cocoa nib cookie, bacon, caramel ice cream, marionberry caramel, and another brown sugar cookie." Topped with a candied sage leaf, and optionally coated with hardening chocolate, this was a deliciously sweet ending to the Sandwich Invitational.

Here's the entrance to the Grand Tasting, held twice during the festival.

Needing morning pig, I enjoyed "The Elvis." Made with oats from Bob's Red Mill, the oatmeal has peanut butter, bacon, and banana.

For the second year in a row, I couldn't resist the chicken liver mousse that Olympic Provisions served at the Grand Tasting.

The Parish in Portland did some amazing things in pairing oysters with Texas Pete hot sauces. (I especially liked the oysters with dehydrated hot sauce, and found the oyster sorbet interesting.)

Since the Grand Tasting was more than one day, I'm adding one item to my "Top 3." Salt & Straw, perhaps my favorite ice cream in the Pacific Northwest, always amazes me. Here's their loaded baked potato ice cream, made with Russet potatoes and sour cream, and loaded with bacon chocolate crumbs, onion juice caramel, white cheddar cookie dough, and green sprinkles.

A grand look at the Grand Tasting scene. Chris Cosentino of Incanto (in San Francisco) is doing a beef heart tartare demo.

At the Night Market, Patrick Fleming of Boke Bowl did "Rabbit Three Ways" with seared rabbit confit, rabbit & fresh water chestnut dumpling, and rabbit dashi.

Back to Chris Cosentino, his contribution to the Night Market was "Beef Tongue and 5 Shades of Hay." Served raw, of course, and with sarcastic notes of warning on his table after health department insistence.

My final "Top 3" of Night Market was Nong's Khao Man Gai. It's now a Portland institution. I loved the packaging and respect the consistency she achieves with this chicken and rice dish, which feels very "night market."

Whole Foods Market sponsored a final face-off to their regional butcher vs. fishmonger contests. Everyone was a winner, as the event was free, with plenty of fabulous food. One of the longest lines was for the grass-fed beef burgers.

From the "can't we all just get along" department, the bacon-wrapped scallops proved that both meat and seafood are winners.

Here are the smart words I spotted at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school.

In the Roast Your Own Coffee class, Adam McGovern of Sterling Coffee Roasters introduced the Whirley Pop as an exciting piece of equipment.

The class roasting coffee beans in the Whirley Pops.

Coffee beans turn green to brown in front of your eyes.

The scene is set for the Beer Breakdown tasting panel.

Malt, hops, and other ingredients in learning about and making beer.

A variety of beers to sample in the class.

The panel in "The American Experience through Food," as part of the Speaker Series. From left to right: Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor, Texas Monthly (Austin, TX), J.M. Hirsch, panel moderator, Associated Press (New Hampshire), Naomi Pomeroy, chef, Expatriate and Beast (Portland, OR), Hugh Acheson, chef, The National (Athens, GA), Christopher Kostow, chef, The Restaurant at Meadowood (Napa Valley, CA).

My "Top 3" from High Comfort starts with this pho from Michael Voltaggio of ink, in Los Angeles. It contains noodles made from daikon, beef short rib, broth made from beef fat and knuckle, puffed beef tendon, herbs he brought from California, and dots of hoison sauce.

Also in my top three is this foie gras hot dog by Andrew Carmellini at The Dutch in New York. The dog itself is made with foie gras, duck meat, and pork, then topped with more foie, choucroute, daikon radish, and sour cherry sauce.

Finishing my "Top 3" at High Comfort is this seafood sausage from April Bloomfield of The Breslin Bar & Dining Room (and The Spotted Pig) in New York. It's made with line-caught sea bass, lobster, and shrimp.

Still enamored with ice cream, I can't help but include this raspberry-dipped cone by Portland's Tyler Malek and Salt & Straw. Inside is smoked ham ice cream.

I started the morning after Night Market with brunch at Higgins, prepared by host chef Greg Higgins along with The Country Cat's Adam Sappington, and done in collaboration with Charleston's (SC) Lee Brothers. Lots of rich dishes, including this Lee Brothers shrimp and grits with bacon.

Brunch ended with this Oregon corn meal cake (great texture) with fresh fruit salad and plum brandy chantilly cream.

Despite a stuffed stomach, I was excited to attend dinner at Levant with local host chef Scott Snyder and guest chef Michael Solomonov of the highly acclaimed Zahav in Philadelphia. Here they warn of a very filling meal ahead.

Scott Snyder playing with fire (or cooking eggplant).

The meal started with several passed hors' d'oeuvres, including these delicious baked eggs.

Simply incredible (masabache) hummus and laffa bread.

The meal included many cold and hot mezze. Two of my favorites are pictured here: beet and tahina salad (divine!), and twice-cooked eggplant salad. I also loved the crispy smoked lamb's tongue.

After squash soup, a sardine dish, and squab breast with (the cutest) confit leg (and nice wine pairings from Hawks View Cellars), the final savory course was spring baby lamb and harissa roulade, hearth-roasted herbed leg, charred eggplant, slow-roasted tomato, and nepitella tahigurt.

Pre-dessert was shaleb custard with sour grape compote. Pictured is spicy ginger molasses cake with moscato-roasted fig, and, to finish with my frozen fetish, burnt fig leaf ice cream.

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There was no sophomore slump for Feast Portland, which packed the same culinary punch as last year’s premiere event.

Wandering the halls of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, awaiting the start of a class, I stumbled upon a white wall inscribed with wise words from Plato: “Knowledge is the food of the soul.” The four-day festival was a feast for both the stomach and the mind, packed with a speaker series, classes, workshops, wine dinners, brunches, “Grand Tastings,” and three grand evening events. Not to mention numerous pre- and post-parties, most of which I found myself too full and tired to attend.

Like last year, the evening wine dinners typically paired an out-of-town chef with a local one. Jason Franey of Canlis cooked for one such dinner, and Renee Erickson, Tom Douglas, and Thierry Rautureau were among the other Seattle chefs I spotted during the festival. This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to Levant, where host chef Scott Snyder worked with Michael Solomonov of Zahav (in Philadelphia) in preparing an Israeli/Arabesque dinner with wine pairings from Hawks View Cellars. Some of the highlights of the four-hour affair (my last official meal of the festival, with stomach stuffed) are in the slideshow above.

The template for the larger evening events remained the same. (I wonder if Feast will change things up next year.) Thursday’s Sandwich Invitational (my full report here) kicked things off, offering an opportunity to try 15 sandwiches competing for awards—plus an additional three from Tillamook Cheese. Friday was the Night Market, a festive celebration of global street food. And Saturday was High Comfort (my full report here), an event in which chefs were asked to create “comfort foods pushed out of their comfort zone.” With local and national chefs participating, the range of the food was diverse and the quality largely high. In the slideshow, I try to choose my three favorite dishes from each of the three events.

The Grand Tastings provided opportunity to meet food-makers face-to-face, as well as to attend cooking demonstrations from popular chefs. I found three favorite bites, plus a fourth for good measure. My learning continued with educational sessions, as I attended a Beer Breakdown tasting panel, a Face Meat workshop on pig butchery, and a class called Roasting Coffee at Home.

Maybe most interesting was a Speaker Series panel discussion called The American Experience Through Food. The conversation about authenticity and regional differences in cooking (of barbecue and beyond) had me thinking about my obsession with ramen authenticity. In the same session, I was especially impressed with Hugh Acheson’s call for food to not become too “precious,” as he bemoaned the high price of beets and the low cost of fast food burgers, particularly in food deserts. Sitting in the discussion room, and throughout all of the Feast Portland events, I felt fortunate to be there (yes, disclosure: I was on a media pass) when others couldn’t. And I took solace knowing that in the bounty of celebration, the proceeds from Feast Portland again benefitted the statewide Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon as well as Share Our Strength, a national organization aimed at ending childhood hunger.

Hungry for more? Check out the 39 photos in the slideshow above, which include a couple of beef tongue dishes, plenty of pig, and some intriguing ice creams — including one called “Loaded Baked Potato.”

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