Fruit Beer and Cheese

I attend lots of different beer events all throughout the year, but don’t usually post about them- most of the time I might do a promotion post just to get the word out for an event I think needs to be shared, but not a recap. Untappd is my main beer outlet.

I also have been purposely avoiding writing about my favorite beer bar, which is like F and my Cheers, because we don’t want it to get too crowded. However, I really enjoyed a recent event at The Upper Lip, and thought I would share anyway to give props to what an amazing beer event it was and to encourage more like this from them or from anyone!
Breakside Brewing / 10 Barrel Brewing Fruit Beer event at The Upper Lip with cheese pairings by the awesome Steve of Cheese Bar

Perhaps when you think about fruit beer, you think of just a bunch of girly beer that tastes sweet and like juice and not much like beer at all. I hope not- and I think that the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, now returning for its 4th year, has helped a lot with that misconception.

I thought I would write this post about the beers at this event I just attended, just to reinforce that fruit beer is awesome, and what it can entail.

This event was a Breakside Brewing / 10 Barrel Brewing Fruit Beer event at The Upper Lip with cheese pairings by the awesome Steve of Cheese Bar. I have enjoyed many a Breakside beer and been to a few of their events since they are here in Portland, but 10 Barrel Brewing is harder to get as they are based in Bend and their fruit beers don’t usually make it here to Portland. Even better, with the price of admission, besides getting tasters of 8 beers we would also get 4 cheeses that were specially paired!
Breakside Brewing / 10 Barrel Brewing Fruit Beer event at The Upper Lip with cheese pairings by the awesome Steve of Cheese Bar

The first pairing was Fresh Ladysmith a cow cheese from Samish Bay, WA. I’ve had this cheese several times- not just because Steve seems to love pairing it, but because it just goes well with so many beers. During Thanksgiving I saw it at a co-op in San Juan WA and bought a 1/2 pound that was gone by the Sunday we were heading back. I also really enjoyed many of their other cheeses while at the The Wedge Cheese festival.

The Fresh Ladysmith was paired with the Breakside Gooseberry Wheat and the Breakside Peach Pale.  The Gooseberry Wheat was a wheat ale with pureed Oregon gooseberries from Oregon Fruit Products and had a subtle tartness to the wheat beer. Meanwhile, the Peach Pale offered a lot of hop flavor (specifically Citra and Amarillo) and had a nice peach nose but I didn’t detect much peach flavor.
Upper Lip Fruit Beer with Cheese Bar beer and cheese pairing, Breakside Gooseberry Wheat was a wheat ale with pureed Oregon gooseberries from Oregon Fruit Products and had a subtle tartness to the wheat beer. Paired with  Fresh Ladysmith a cow cheese from Samish Bay, WA Upper Lip Fruit Beer with Cheese Bar beer and cheese pairing, Breakside Peach Pale offered a lot of hop flavor (specifically Citra and Amarillo) and had a nice peach nose but I didn't detect much peach flavor. Paired with  Fresh Ladysmith a cow cheese from Samish Bay, WA

Next was the pairing of Pastorale from Sartori of WI, a sheep and cow milk cheese with the Breakside Kriek with Brett and the 10 Barrel Strawberry Crush. In this berry face-off, the 10 Barrel was the winner with its strong fresh strawberry puree flavor and it is so sad that this was a one-off keg made exclusively for this event. I hope they made more of it. A lot more. This was my favorite beer of the event.
Upper Lip Fruit Beer with Cheese Bar beer and cheese pairing, Breakside Kriek with Brett, pairing of Pastorale from Sartori of WI, a sheep and cow milk cheese Upper Lip Fruit Beer with Cheese Bar beer and cheese pairing, 10 Barrel Strawberry Crush with its strong fresh strawberry puree flavor and it is so sad that this was a one-off keg made exclusively for this event. I hope they made more of it. A lot more. This was my favorite beer of the event. Paired with Pastorale from Sartori of WI, a sheep and cow milk cheese

The next cheese pairing was Adnatou from Black Sheep, a WA sheep and cow cheese. This was paired with the Breakside Beaujolais Avec Brett and the 10 Barrel Apricot Crush. Both of these beers were amazing- the Beaujolais Avec Brett is a strong ale with a bit of sourness thanks to being fermented wild yeast  and bacteria and use of Oregon grown Gamay grapes. It was really enjoyed by some at my table, while I was hoping for a bit more sourness. Meanwhile, the 10 Barrel Apricot Crush was my second favorite beer of the event with its complexity of flavors.
Upper Lip Fruit Beer with Cheese Bar beer and cheese pairing, Breakside Beaujolais Avec Brett is a strong ale with a bit of sourness thanks to being fermented wild yeast  and bacteria and use of Oregon grown Gamay grapes. Paired with Adnatou from Black Sheep, a WA sheep and cow cheese Upper Lip Fruit Beer with Cheese Bar beer and cheese pairing, 10 Barrel Apricot Crush. Paired with Adnatou from Black Sheep, a WA sheep and cow cheese

The last pairing was the Smokey Blue cow cheese from Rogue Creamery OR. I admit I actually started with this cheese and its beers because I had really been curious about these two beers the most. The beers here were the Breakside Smoked Apple Ale and the 10 Barrel Cucumber Crush. The Smoked Apple Ale was a mix of smoked malt, freshly pressed apple juice, and apple pie spices but I guess I built it too much in my head as I was disappointed by how subtle the flavors were.
Upper Lip Fruit Beer with Cheese Bar beer and cheese pairing, Breakside Smoked Apple Ale was a mix of smoked malt, freshly pressed apple juice, and apple pie spices
On the other hand, the Cucumber Crush was all you would expect it to be in terms of being super light and refreshing, like cucumber water but so much better because it’s a BerlinerWeiss beer (all 3 10 Barrel fruit beers here, and all the beers of their Crush series, are Berliner Weiss style which then have various fruits added). I would drink this all summer long if I could get it.
Upper Lip Fruit Beer with Cheese Bar beer and cheese pairing, 10 Cucumber Crush was all you would expect it to be in terms of being super light and refreshing, like cucumber water but so much better because it's a BerlinerWeiss beer (all 3 10 Barrel fruit beers here, and all the beers of their Crush series, are Berliner Weiss style which then have various fruits added). Paired with Smokey Blue cow cheese from Rogue Creamery OR.

This was a fantastic event- I loved that it offered tastings of beer with cheese pairings, and it was incredible to be able to get access to 10 Barrel Crush series beers. The event was ticketed and sold out, which allowed us plenty of room up stairs to enjoy sitting at a table and chatting with other beer and cheese aficionados in a relaxing atmosphere without the usual loud “wooooos” or lines of a normal beer fest. No worrying about balancing a drink and cheese here!

There is a confirmed rumor first published by Brewpublic and then confirmed by Eater that 10 Barrel will be opening a pub here in Portland in the former Mellow Mushroom space by mid-summer, and I eagerly hope that the rumors turn out to be true!Of course depending on what they do with the space whether it’s mid-summer or end of this year or who knows when we’ll have to see.

I should also let you know that this coming Saturday the 26th that Bailey’s Taproom is holding their annual Germanfest- check out the beer list and see if you are interested! Usually I am torn between attending Germanfest and the Eat Mobile food cart festival, but this year they moved Eat Mobile to Sunday the 27th, so I will be at Germanfest this year. This 4th annual GermanFest will feature German style beers brewed by Oregon breweries as the name suggests, with general admission beginning at 2 PM and until close (you purchase beers as you order them, no admission fee). There are a few advance entry VIP tickets for $20 (which is what I got). These tickets include five tastes but also allow entrance two hours earlier from 12-2 PM, providing a less frenzied experience as well as guaranteeing a seat somewhere in a far less crowded bar. I also like to bring a cheese plate with me to enjoy the beers, but as Baileys doesn’t serve food you can also feel free to order Santeria Mexican food from next door.

If you are interested in trying some fruit beer, also check out the taps at Breakside Brewing as some of these beers are available (check out the video below that highlights how they made the fruit beer in partnership with Oregon Fruit Products).

Finally, be sure to look forward to the Portland Fruit Beer Festival- tickets for this June 7 – 8 event are already on sale at $20 general admission Saturday 11am-9pm or Sunday 11am-6pm, or $30 VIP admission on Friday 4-9pm and limited to 400 VIP guests + supposedly a few special tappings.

The festival will be held Burnside Brewing at 701 SE Burnside again. Burnside Brewing will be open, so you can still get a cheese plate to compliment your beers, or my personal favorite their cohiba cigar and/or beer cheese curds on their menu!


Portland Fruit Beer Festival June 7 - 8, 2014

Aren’t you inspired to have some cheese and beer now? I am just writing this post! If you would like some tips on pairing beer and cheese, check out this great post “Cheese and Beer Pairing Tips From Steve Jones of Portland’s Cheese Bar” from Serious Eats with pointers from Steve while at this event himself (and also photos from this event!)

What kind of fruit beer would you want to try?

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Breakfast Casserole Recipe

This Breakfast Casserole is a perfect way to whip up something hearty and savory for a brunch potluck, and this came to mind immediately when I wondered what to make for Easter, besides corn niblets in butter and mashed potatoes to go with some ham guests were bringing. This recipe has sausage in it so is not vegetarian, but you could substitute for it as long as it is something seasoned well.
Breakfast Casserole Recipe - cooked celery, onion, Aidell's chicken bacon pineapple sausage, a layer of Emmenthel swiss, and then roasted broccoli before adding the 3 eggs/1 cup milk.

I’m sad to report that my refrigerator/freezer seems to be dying a slow death. We hope that maybe we might be able to repair it, but since this came with the house when we purchased it, who knows how old it is and maybe it’s time to replace it.

One of the great things about this breakfast casserole recipe is that it’s really more of a guideline than rule. You can throw all sorts of things into it and it will still be great- which is useful when you have things chilled instead of frozen in your freezer and you want to start using everything you have before it goes bad.
Breakfast Casserole Recipe - cooked celery, onion, Aidell's chicken bacon pineapple sausage, a layer of Emmenthel swiss, and then roasted broccoli before adding the 3 eggs/1 cup milk.

When I did the inventory of my freezer, I knew that by doing a breakfast casserole besides using the eggs, cheese, and milk in my refrigerator section, I’d be able to get rid of one of the frozen half loaves of bread I tend to squirrel away because I can never eat a whole loaf. I added in some frozen Aidell’s chicken bacon pineapple sausage (yes, egg AND chicken together!) and a partially used bag of frozen broccoli. I also used some leftover parsley and celery from a DIY 3 day juice cleanse from last week, and the other half of onions and a jalapeño from a guacamole recipe (I’ll be sharing that at the end of the month in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo post on a guacamole bar!).

Topped with green onions and parsley, this hodge podge of getting rid of misc things was still really tasty and all came together! You can use any combination of vegetables and meats you’d like (such as ground meat or bacon).

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 loaf of old bread (a few days old so it is a bit harder), chopped into 1 inch cube pieces
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 diced large chicken sausages or 1 pound ground sausage or seasoned meat
  • 1 diced jalapeño
  • 3 stalks of green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli, cooked. I roasted mine in the oven with simple salt and pepper at 400F for 40 minutes
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of your choice, divided in half. I often use cheddar or pepper jack but this time I used Emmentaler Swiss
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (I used low fat)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish and distribute the cubed bread.
    Breakfast Casserole Recipe, starting with as base of some bread, nice and seedy and a few days old
  2. In a large sauté pan, sweat the onions and celery in the olive oil until the onions brown slightly. add in your meat and finish until the meat is cooked and browned. Pour the contents of the pan over the bread and let absorb the flavors. This is when I roasted my broccoli and chopped the green onions and jalapeño and shredded cheese…
    Breakfast Casserole Recipe - sweating the cup of celery and onion Breakfast Casserole Recipe - cooked celery, onion, and the diced Aidell's chicken bacon pineapple sausage
  3. Top the dish with the jalapeño and a big handful of the green onion. Then add in a layer of 1 cup of the cheese, followed by the broccoli. You can fold everything together, but I left it in layers.
  4. In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs and milk together and then pour into your casserole dish. Cover and let refrigerate overnight (or at least as many hours as you can) so all the flavors have a chance to marry.
    Breakfast Casserole Recipe - cooked celery, onion, Aidell's chicken bacon pineapple sausage, a layer of Emmenthel swiss, and then roasted broccoli before adding the 3 eggs/1 cup milk. Let  refrigerate overnight to marry flavors Breakfast Casserole Recipe - cooked celery, onion, Aidell's chicken bacon pineapple sausage, a layer of Emmenthel swiss, and then roasted broccoli before adding the 3 eggs/1 cup milk. Let  refrigerate overnight to marry flavors Breakfast Casserole Recipe - cooked celery, onion, Aidell's chicken bacon pineapple sausage, a layer of Emmenthel swiss, and then roasted broccoli before adding the 3 eggs/1 cup milk. Let  refrigerate overnight to marry flavors
  5. When it’s time to bake, preheat the oven to 375 F. Top with the remaining 1 cup cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes until the egg has risen and a skewer through should come out clean.
    Breakfast Casserole Recipe - cooked celery, onion, Aidell's chicken bacon pineapple sausage, a layer of Emmenthel swiss, and then roasted broccoli before adding the 3 eggs/1 cup milk.
  6. Remove the dish from oven and top with the parsley. Let cool for 15 minutes at least for it to firm up before cutting to serve.

I love that the breakfast casserole has your breakfast egg, but is also packed with lots of veggies here. You can add color by using red and orange bell peppers, squash, your call. You could use spinach or kale or cauliflower or any number of vegetables. Depending on how many veggies you put in, you might adjust your egg/milk ratio- this had a lot of veggies so I used 6 eggs, but other versions have called for 8 or even 12, which also means that this is easy to scale up for a big group.

I used sliced up sausages, but you could easily used browned ground meat instead, or even a lot of crumbled bacon! As I said, this is a great, very adaptable recipe once you know the basics of the bread (and you can use any kind of bread you’d like- including croissant bread!), eggs, milk, and then meat and vegetable additions per your taste.
Breakfast Casserole Recipe - cooked celery, onion, Aidell's chicken bacon pineapple sausage, a layer of Emmenthel swiss, and then roasted broccoli before adding the 3 eggs/1 cup milk

What would you put in your egg casserole?

Signature

Higgins Restaurant

A recent dinner at Higgins Restaurant was a revisit of how smooth the experience was, from the high quality food to the high quality service. As you would expect from one of the founding pioneer restaurants that defined Northwest cuisine by emphasizing the local seasonal ingredients available regionally here and is a strong supporter and promoter of sustainable cuisine, the food here changes often based on what is available and fresh. Yet, what I’m sharing below from our meal is typical of the kind of excellent experience you will have here.

You notice the focus on celebrating freshness and the best ingredients right away with even the bread service, which comes with perfect bread- crusty crunchy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside- that you can enjoy with organic extra virgin olive oil.
Higgins Restaurant bread service, which comes with perfect bread- crusty crunchy on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside- that you can enjoy with organic extra virgin olive oil

Try to start with the famous Charcuterie board of artisanal cured meats and pickles. It’s justifiably reknown – it superb in offering an array of flavors and textures upon its giant marble board, as what you would expect when you hear Chef Greg Higgins has loved charcuterie since he was a boy and has books in his library on charcuterie that daties even to the 17th and 18th centuries.
Higgins Restaurant- Charcuterie board of artisanal cured meats and pickles Higgins Restaurant- Charcuterie board of artisanal cured meats and pickles

I was supposed to come in for Portland Dining Month to try the special menu they were offering, but was persuaded away as soon as I heard the specials. I started with the first special appetizer of Mushroom risotto balls with truffle and hedgehog mushrooms that came with fresh greens that only needed the barest whisper of dressing. The greens tasted as if they were just picked and cleaned just an hour or so before. It really embodies the spirit of what Higgins is all about.
Higgins Restaurant- dinner special appetizer of risotto balls with truffle and hedgehog mushrooms that came with fresh greens that only needed the barest whisper of dressing Higgins Restaurant- dinner special appetizer of risotto balls with truffle and hedgehog mushrooms that came with fresh greens that only needed the barest whisper of dressing

My special entree was the Pork Schnitzel, served with cauliflower and cheddar polenta and broccoli rabe. It was as gigantic as it looks, turning into dinner that night and the next. The next day it was wonderful to be able to look forward to going home after work to finish off the other half of this entree.
Higgins Restaurant- pork schnitzel with cauliflower, broccoli rabe, pickled onions, and cheddar polenta Higgins Restaurant- pork schnitzel with cauliflower, broccoli rabe, pickled onions, and cheddar polenta

One of the great things about Higgins is not only their great beer and wine selection so that I can enjoy fine wine while he enjoys fine beer paired with our dishes (they even have both a wine and beer sommelier), but we appreciate that they always have 2 vegetarian options to choose from. This night it was the Chickpea crepe with Mughal shiitake & oyster mushroom curry, garbanzo bean salad, horseradish tofu sauce and toasted almonds. Just as it sounds, it had great flavor that meant you did not miss the meat at all, and is an equal rather than lesser entree to all the other dinner entree options.

Higgins restaurant is an enduring Portland classic for a reason, and continues to execute and service beautifully, showcasing Northwest Cuisine reliably and always dependable for a refined meal. Dining here is much like listening to a classical music piece – timeless fine dining.

As an aside, Higgins also just announced their “Spring Tribute” menu for April 29 through May 1 (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) during their 5-9pm dinner service. The Spring Tribute menu is a fundraiser towards the James Beard Public Market, a vision towards making a daily year-round farmers market along the Portland waterfront, sorta similar to Pike Place Market in Seattle (Chef Greg Higgins is a board member of the JBPM).

The menu is offering five courses featuring James Beard’s own recipes for dishes like Sorrel soup with Fireside oysters, Asparagus in Ambush, Baked Oregon Chinook with Dungeness Crab, Bay Shrimp and applewood smoked bacon, Roasted Champoeg Farms pastured chicken stuffed with Coteghino sausage, and Warm Rhubarb Grunt with French vanilla ice cream. Geez, that sounds good. Wine pairings from Basel Cellars, Willamette Valley Vineyard, Broadley, and Northstar will round out the meal. Reservations are $125, which includes wines and gratuity. For reservations call (503) 222-9070.
Higgins on Urbanspoon

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Taste of the Nation 2014 is coming! +2 Tickets Giveaway!

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary Taste of Taste of the Nation media preview event, but I am not being compensated for this post. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own. Thank you to Lisa Hill PR for providing the Taste of the Nation tickets for the giveaway.

Have you heard of Taste of the Nation? It is a series of food and wine events that have been taking place in 50 cities across the United States since 1988. The goal of these culinary events is to raise money for Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the US. Together, we can make the goal of no kid hungry a reality.
Taste of the Nation: Great Chefs, Greater Impact

Most of Share Our Strength’s work goes toward infrastructure improvements to create long-term solutions to the hunger problem, or towards grants to fund other non-profits. Most grants go directly back into the same community from which the money was raised.

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger in Oregon and across America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need every day. Did you know that Oregon has one of the highest rates of children at risk for hunger in the nation?

29% of kids in Oregon struggle with hunger, and 53% of Oregon’s students (K-12) are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. Fortunately, the No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals, and also teaches low-income families to cook healthy affordable meals through its Cooking Matters program.

This year, Taste of the Nation 2014 Portland edition falls on Tuesday, April 29 (2 weeks from now!) and is being held at the McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom and will be going directly to No Kid Hungry Oregon non-profit allies of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, as well as to Oregon Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul Society and Klamath/Lake Counties Food Bank.

There are two tiers of entry to the Taste of the Nation Portland.

  1. General Admission at $85 allows admission from 6:30pm – 9:00pm
  2. VIP Admission at $150 allows access starting an hour earlier from 5:30pm, including exclusive access to special participants only during that early hour from restaurants like Multnomah Whiskey Library, Paley’s Place/Imperial/Penny Diner, Pok Pok, Renata/Project Grace, Tasty n Alder/Tasty n Sons, The Country Cat, and Xocolatl De David. VIP ticket holders also get complementary parking and an exclusive VIP gift bag.

A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of potato latkes with steelhead pastrami, sour cream, and dill from Imperial A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of potato latkes with steelhead pastrami, sour cream, and dill from Imperial
Example sample bite, potato latke with steelhead pastrami, sour cream, and dill from Imperial, with Chef Vitaly Paley and Imperial’s Executive Chef Benjamin Bettinger themselves behind the table- direct from their hands to yours!

During General Admission time, there are more than 20 restaurants that are donating their resources in order to provide food samples for you to all you can eat try. There will also be a silent auction.

The theme this year for the samples that are being prepared is “What My Family Ate” which translates to many chefs preparing favorite dishes from childhood.

I was invited to a Taste of the Taste of the Nation event and some of the example tastes we tried to give a feel of what you might get at the actual Taste of the Nation Portland included

  • elegant taste from Renata/Project Grace popup of My Pharm Rabbit Terrine with Giardinara Aioli
  • the complex flavors of a smoked halibut pea and garlic soup from Irving St Kitchen
  • the earnest sample of Lardo’s menu with a mini version of their griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli (which was easily accomodated into a griddled mortadella salad for one guest who is gluten-free)
  • my favorite sample bite of the evening the potato latke with steelhead pastrami, sour cream, and dill from Imperial
  • Boke Bowl offered a unique taste with their Crawfish and Pork in spicy black bean sauce over rice tots representing their mashup of west and east flavors.

A taste of Taste of the Nation- example taste of pea and garlic soup from Irving St Kitchen A taste of Taste of the Nation- example taste from Lardo of Lardo's griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of Crawfish and Pork in spicy black bean sauce over rice tots from Boke Bowl

Also participating at Taste of the Nation 2014 are more than 30 beverage providers, including

A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of the JRG 2010 Red wine from Pamplin Family Winery A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste of Moet or Newton Red Label Chardonnay

At the media event Taste of the Taste of the Nation, I sampled

  • refreshing Volcanic Mineral water to cleanse my palate between tastes of food,
  • a really great American Whiskey Ginger cocktail by Bull Run Distilling made with their new Temperance Trader American Whiskey that is perfect for mixing with drinks (along with ginger beer, ginger liquor, and some mysterious homemade citrus blend!),
  • a take on the Negroni with Aria gin, the first gin I might even consider drinking on its own because of its complex layering of flavors varying from herbaceous to citrusy to savory all together!
  • I also tried a few tastes of wines, such as the JRG 2010 Red wine from Pamplin Family Winery, a taste of Moet or Newton Red Label Chardonnay, and the volcanic soil wines particularly The Fire or The Flood (both Pinot Noirs, one vibrant and forward, the other smooth and elegant) from Chapter 24 Vineyards.

A taste of Taste of the Nation- Volcanic Mineral Refresher water to cleanse your palate after tastes A taste of Taste of the Nation- American Whiskey Ginger by Bull Run Distilling, made with Temperence Trader American Whiskey A taste of Taste of the Nation- a take on the Negroni from Aria Gin

100% of ticket sales go to programs that feed Oregon’s hungry children.

No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in five children struggles with hunger.

29% of kids in Oregon struggle with hunger.

221,000 low-income children in Oregon receive free or reduced-price school lunch. But did you also know summer presents a time of uncertainty for kids without consistent access to food. With school out of session, kids who rely or free or reduced-price school meals find themselves without the safety net of those meals.

Currently only 16% of children eating free or reduced-price school lunch are getting summer meals.

With support from the campaign, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon is expanding the number of summer meals sites and conducting outreach to help families learn about the availability of free summer meals. The success of last year’s event helped provide more than 2,000 extra meals for kids across Oregon.

Come be part of the solution to ending hunger.

That leaves me asking you- have your purchased your tickets yet to this incredible event?

Maybe you’re hesitant because of the ticket price. Let me break it down for you- it is going to be 2 1/2 hours of dining that includes samples like I showed above- and you will be completely full, possibly rolling out at the end. Each of those tastes are just a few bites, but multiply it by each restaurant and you have just had 20 small tapas!

A taste of Taste of the Nation- example taste from Lardo of Lardo's griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli A taste of Taste of the Nation- example taste from Lardo of Lardo's griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli
The earnest sample of Lardo’s mini version of their griddled mortadella with provolone, marinated peppers and mustard aioli

Also consider that the taste samples that are from amazing top restaurants and top chefs in Portland. Think of how many meals you would have to have in order to try 20 restaurants- but you will be able to do that at this one event.

And, I haven’t even mentioned yet the ability to try those fine wineries, mixed cocktails, beers and cider and other non-alcoholic beverages. You know how a flight of wine might cost you $10-15? You can do that at least 2 or 3 times with the wineries.

Also consider these are wineries that you would be driving all over in order to visit their tasting room, but now they are all gathered all together conveniently for you!

We are so fortunate to live in a city with so many amazing purveyors of food and drink so that we individually can enjoy the bounty of Oregon. However, there are others who are not able to have consistent access to food, much less enjoy the deliciousness that Portland offers. Events like this both allow you to explore the wonderful many local businesses in the food and drink industry while also doing good with your money by contributing to the effort in also feeding others.

A taste of Taste of the Nation- a taste from Renata/Project Grace popup of My Pharm Rabbit Terrine with Giardinara Aioli
Elegant taste from Renata/Project Grace popup of My Pharm Rabbit Terrine with Giardinara Aioli

If you enjoy food and think of yourself as a food lover in any way, I personally find it part of our duty to also give back in fighting against hunger- to be thankful of what we are able to enjoy while also being aware not everyone is blessed with the access we have.

I also mentioned that 100% of the ticket sales go directly to the programs to fight hunger right? Directly to them.

To help support the Taste of the Nation, I am going to give away 2 general admission tickets! Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter! Since the Taste of the Nation is in 2 weeks, this contest is running just until next week April 22 so that you will know whether to buy your tickets ASAP or not!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to hear more, listen to the Right at the Fork podcast with Sarah Schafer from Irving Street Kitchen talking about hunger in Oregon (plus they share some touching childhood food memories by some of Portland’s best chefs).

I hope to see you at the 27th Taste of the Nation! It’s also on my birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate it then by enjoying deliciousness while giving back at the same time. I’ll be Tweeting and Instagramming away with #nokidhungry and #portlandtaste.

For other fellow bloggers’ coverage, check out

If the ticket price is still too dear, you might also consider volunteering to help at the event- you will still have to purchase a ticket to attend the event but volunteering can earn you a discount. I’ll also be posting a blog post covering one other event, Share Our Strength National Blogger Bake Sale on May 2, and details of the Portland edition.

Also feel free to learn more at the No Kid Hungry campaign at their official website and also Twitter @NoKidHungry.
No Kid Hungry Logo, Share Our Strength
You can also check for the latest on Taste of the Nation Portland at Twitter @PortlandTaste and see photos from last year’s event, including much much better photos of the incredible food at their Facebook album of 2013 TOTN PDX

See you there in 2 weeks, right?!
Tuesday, April 29
McMenamins Crystal Hotel & Ballroom
General Admission at $85 allows admission from 6:30pm – 9:00pm
VIP Admission at $150 allows access starting an hour earlier from 5:30pm
Tickets on Sale – Please note, all attendees must be 21 years of age.

Disclosure: I attended a complimentary Taste of Taste of the Nation media preview event, but I am not being compensated for this post. I will always provide my honest opinion and assessment of all products and experiences I may be given. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own. Thank you to Lisa Hill PR for providing the Taste of the Nation tickets for the giveaway.

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Reverend’s BBQ

I don’t get out to the Sellwood neighborhood often – most of the time it’s to do a stop at the Portland U-Brew to get ingredients for homebrewing with a stop at Dairy Queen for a Blizzard afterward. But, when I heard that the people (Ben Dyer, Jason Owens, and David Kreifels) behind one of my favorite steakhouse/butcher shop in Portland Laurelhurst Market and also behind Simpatica Dining Hall with its kickass fried chicken and waffles brunch and Fri/Sat special dinners was opening up a bbq and fried chicken join called Reverend’s BBQ, I was intrigued.
Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave

When a group of PNWBA judges (we are all certified Pacific Northwest BBQ Judges- visit the PNWBA website to find out how you can become one too!) decided to visit, I was lucky enough to be invited to join in. Because we are BBQ judges, we have a pretty high standard for BBQ. We are trained on how to look at BBQ (based on taste, texture and appearance).

We also have judged at many competitions, meaning that we have been able to taste BBQ that has been especially cared and tended to in order to win prizes, so obviously have had a lot more love than what may be produced at a restaurant that needs to produce all that meat in larger quantities for its customers. So I try to give a little leeway on that knowing how much more needs to be produced and in a way that the restaurant can make a profit.

At the same time though, we do have certain expectations! I do realize that our visit comes as they have only been open for a little over a week, so there may be execution that is being worked out.

The location of Reverend’s BBQ is 7712 SE 13th Ave, in an area which is a like a little neighborhood downtown, open 4-9 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-10 pm Friday-Saturday. They want to cater to the local families here, and you can definitely feel that in the atmosphere that is cool but casual and friendly upbeat service. Many of the booths are big wooden benches to easily pile a family and maybe even two families into, although there are also some seats at the U-shaped bar (nice ones with a back!) as well a few high top tables with stools for adults.

Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave
There were a couple open tables when we arrived at 5:30, but a couple hours later there were people gathered in small groups waiting for a table to open up. If you really do live nearby, you might consider just doing takeout, though I wonder how they handle the sauces that are usually on the table (I assume they package some up in little containers for you).

The sauces on the table when you dine in are to allow you to “customize” what kind of BBQ flavors you want with your meat- Missouri-style sweet or spicy red sauces, South Carolina gold mustardy sauce, or a North Carolina vinegar-based sauce with caramelized sugar, vinegar, and black pepper as your options. I actually am a Carolina BBQ fan- so my favorite were the latter two sauces, but I am guessing the Missouri-style ones are will be the hits for most people.
Reverend's BBQ- The sauces on the table when you dine in are to allow you to

We shared two dishes of appetizers because there were only 3 to an order- specifically, three halves of Deviled Eggs with Brisket Burnt Ends & Picallilli, so not even two eggs, you get 1.5! I did like them, particularly the Picallilli, but I’m still wondering why 3 halves, is half an egg a tribute to the BBQ gods?
"Reverend's Reverend's BBQ appetizer of Deviled Eggs- Three Halves with Brisket Burnt Ends & Picallilli Reverend's BBQ appetizer of Deviled Eggs- Three Halves with Brisket Burnt Ends & Picallilli

The Picadilli is also available with their Chicken & Sausage Gumbo that comes wth Okra, Trinity & White Rice and is topped with the excellent picalilli, but I didn’t have any so can’t comment. Besides the deviled eggs other appetizer options included cold-smoked oyster shooters, beer battered onion rings with Ozark Sauce (those did look good as I saw it pass by on a server’s tray to another table), a smoked sausage plate with cheese and pickles, and fried zucchini pickles- with remoulade.

The 7 of us decided to order all of the BBQ meats on the menu, which are available by the pound. The other option would be to order BBQ Plates, which include your choice of one of the Meats, 2 Sides and white bread by request. I think ordering by the pound is a much better deal than the plates since they vary from $13-$16 for the plates, and for literally that same amount of money you can get a whole pound of the meat- the only thing the plates give you is a smaller portion of meat that you have traded for two small sides. Or, order by the pound and make your own plate- that’s what I would recommend personally – I mean look at my beautiful plate.
Reverend's BBQ My Meat Plate that included Smoked Pork Sparerib, Fried Chicken Boneless Thigh piece, Beef Brisket, Chopped Pork Shoulder and samples of the Smoked Sausage Trio Reverend's BBQ My Meat Plate that included Smoked Pork Sparerib, Fried Chicken Boneless Thigh piece, Beef Brisket, Chopped Pork Shoulder and samples of the Smoked Sausage Trio

The sides themselves include at $2.95 small/$5.95 large orders of Chopped SlawCollard Greens, or Creamy Potato Salad or at $3.95 small/$6.95 large orders of BBQ BeansMac & Cheese, or Seasoned French Fries. All these sides but the beans are either vegetarian or available vegetarian. We tried the small sides of chopped slaw (too fine a chop made it mushy), collard greens (tasted watery to me), BBQ beans (satisfactory, I did like the texture that bordered on a bit of creaminess but wished it had more depth of flavors) and the Mac & Cheese (the best of the four sides in my opinion- not very cheesy, but topped with potato chips!).
Reverend's BBQ: The possible sides include at $2.95 small/$5.95 large Chopped Slaw, Collard Greens, or Creamy Potato Salad or at $3.95 small/$6.95 large BBQ Beans, Mac & Cheese, or Seasoned French Fries. All these sides but the beans are either vegetarian or available vegetarian. This is the small size

Anyway, back to the meats. So we tried all the meats, and we will ignore the BBQ Surata Tempeh which is also there in case you decide to bring a vegetarian to a BBQ restaurant. Wait. OMG I totally have to do this to F, heh.

The meats include

  • Smoked Pork Spare Ribs (ok technically these are available by the half rack or whole rack not the pound). It had nice smokiness, but I found my rib to be a bit overdone so it dried out and was a tad tough, and that cuts were not always even. I had been hoping for good quality meat for their ribs (after all Laurelhurst Market is also a butcher shop), but these are standard run of the mill.
    Reverend's BBQ Smoked Pork Spare Ribs Reverend's BBQ Smoked Pork Spare Ribs
  • Sliced Beef Brisket from Creekstone Farms. If you think these look a little fatty- you are completely right. They were really fatty, and the table talked about someone needs to teach them how to trim. Then we saw another table’s order of brisket and it looked MUCH better. Does that mean when you order you have to specifically ask for “trim the fat”? The meat itself tasted good- but the fat was just overwhelming for me, and I am a self-proclaimed lover of fat. In the back you can see what the downy Chopped Slaw side looked like.
    Reverend's BBQ- Sliced Beef Brisket from Creekstone Farms
  • Fried Chicken (boneless thighs or breasts – the thighs being the dark meat and breast being the white meat of course depending on your preference), pictured is what I went for, thighs. These were room temperature when I had them, which was disappointing because fresh hot fried chicken is so much better. I “fixed” that by dipping the chicken in sauce, which I usually don’t like because I would rather taste the chicken and the batter then sauce- same reason I don’t usually use sauces with really good fries. Especially given how good the chicken is at Simpatica, these didn’t measure up to that level. I wondered whether we were getting older food that had been sitting.
    "Reverend's
  • Carolina-Style Chopped BBQ pork shoulder was my favorite of the meats we had, and was fine on its own or with sauces, I thought it went particularly well with the Carolina sauces. You can see the North Carolina vinegar-based sauce with caramelized sugar, vinegar, and black pepper in the background of the photo.
    Reverend's BBQ- Carolina-Style Chopped BBQ pork shoulder was my favorite of the meats we had, and was fine on its own or with sauces, I thought it went particularly well with the Carolina sauce Reverend's BBQ- Carolina-Style Chopped BBQ pork shoulder was my favorite of the meats we had, and was fine on its own or with sauces, I thought it went particularly well with the Carolina sauce. You can see the North Carolina vinegar-based sauce with caramelized sugar, vinegar, and black pepper in the background of the photo.
  • Smoked Sausage Trio: includes a Louisiana hot link, French Montbeliard and Portuguese Linguica, all homemade by Laurelhurst. This was my second favorite meat plate of the meal, though honestly chopped pork and sausage also tend to be among my favorites when judging bbq too (the other are ribs)
    Reverend's BBQ Smoked Sausage Trio: includes a Louisiana hot link, French Montbeliard and Portuguese Linguica, all homemade by Laurelhurst

There are four salad options and also 6 sandwiches in case you want your meat in sandwich form instead, although there is no rib sandwich there is a burger, called the “The Good Reverend’ Burger” that includes Burnt Ends, Pimento Cheese, House Pickles, Iceberg, Mayo, and Crispy Fried Onions.

Menu  Side 1 at Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave Menu Side 2 at Reverend's BBQ in the Sellwood neighborhood, 7712 SE 13th Ave

They offer 8 draft beers which you can order by the glass or pitcher, several which are nice local selections (thanks in part to Travis Motter of Portland Bottle Shop), 5 bottled beers and a cider. You can decide to be Portland-y with options like Commons Urban Farmhouse Ale or Cascade Lakes 20th Anniversary IPA or the Travis Tap (this visit was a Occidental Dunkel) or simplify to Miller, Budweiser, or Bud Light. There are 3 house wines if you really really really misguidedly want a red, white or rose – and Virgil sodas and Sweet Tea. They cutely also list a Shirley Temple right on the menu as an option.

Finally, there are also 9 cocktails, 4 of which are draft cocktails. I tried the draft cocktail of the Sellwood Collins with Vodka, Aperol, Fresh Lemon, Fresh Grapefruit, Vanilla Syrup, Soda, which was refreshing and I liked that it had a strong line of Vanilla flavor to it, and the Pimm’s Cup with Pimm’s No 1, Fresh Lemon, Ginger Ale, Cucumber.

Not pictured is the sip I took of the Ward 8 with Rye Whiskey, Fresh Orange, Fresh Lemon, and House Grenadine and was my favorite of the 3 cocktails that evening. I’ve had better cocktails at Laurelhurst Market and Simpatica, and had been hoping for equally high caliber thoughtful cocktails, though a fellow diner did point out this is more family oriented and less scene-y than the other two.
Reverend's BBQ- draft cocktail of Sellwood Collins with Vodka, Aperol, Fresh Lemon, Fresh Grapefruit, Vanilla Syrup, Soda Reverend's BBQ- cocktail Ward 8 with Rye Whiskey, Fresh Orange, Fresh Lemon, and House Grenadine

Finally, we ordered 2 of the 3 desserts. Or really, our table ordered 4 of the Buttermilk Shortcake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream and 1 of the Smoked Salted Bourbon Caramel Nut Bar with whipped cream. Everyone loved the Strawberry Shortcake as the shortcake was light and not too sweet or dense so was very refreshing and a nice finish to the meat-centered meal. The Smoked Salted Nut Bar with Bourbon Caramel had mixed reviews- several people liked it, others tasted a tinge of bitterness from the smoke at the bottom crust of the nut bar.
Reverend's BBQ- Buttermilk Shortcake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream Reverend's BBQ Smoked Salted Bourbon Caramel Nut Bar with whipped cream

Reverend’s BBQ is a decent BBQ restaurant that will appeal to a general populace demographic, and maybe that’s what they are aiming for. I had been expecting more because of the other two restaurants in their pocket, but both are also more upscale while being Portland casual, while Reverend’s BBQ aims much farther on the casual line. Personally, I would like to see them pay a little bit more attention to consistency of what is coming out in terms of cut and temperature from the kitchen and making sure everything is seasoned well, but that may be because they are still new.

At least on this visit, I found nothing here that is crave-worthy or I think necessarily standing in line for or going out of the way – but I would also give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe try it a second time, if only to make F have that BBQ tofu and I would like to try that BBQ End burger with pimento cheese.

What’s your favorite kind of BBQ meat?

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