Here’s a look at the Portland Monthly Country Brunch 2016 brunch bites and bloody mary contenders for the Bloody Mary Smackdown. I have previously recapped the Portland Monthly Country Brunch when I attended last year in 2015, the year before in 2014, and then in 2013. If you haven’t heard of this event before, it’s an annual event, now in it’s fifth year, that benefits Zenger Farm.
This year was the first one where the event setup did not have tables and chairs, which left people trying to find room to stand at the hightop cocktail tables or a few stone counters that were placed on top of garbage cans (so you throw your garbage into the center of it where the hole is). Of you were very lucky you might sit really low at a handful of round ottomans with a few end tables. It was that or awkwardly balancing their food and drink standing. The comfortable seating for everyone at previous events was specifically one of the pros for me, and now that advantage is gone. I was lucky in that since I had a VIP ticket that let me an hour before regular tickets, I was the first to grab a chair and part of a small low end table in a corner by the entrance, farthest away from all food and which I shared with a family that included 3 generations. The event is family friendly since you can buy tickets for food only, and those under 3 years old are free, but it’s hard to agree it’s comfortable for a family with next to no seating.
The lines for some of the food participants snaked through an entire section of the outdoor area – I’m not sure why they thought to put 5 of the 6 food participants all in one place as they tried to cook and plate dishes while the beverage booths and high tables but otherwise empty space took up the largest area, inside Castaway. Without seats, people tended to go as soon as they were done eating and drinking, so no more feel to relax and listen to the live music (this year by June Bugs) or a little dancing in front of the stage like in previous years. The June Bugs were fun, performing some folk rock interpretations of some modern pop songs now and then.
The main positive is as always that the bloody marys were carefully crafted and were done quickly with a lot if prep work done before. There was never a line of more than a half dozen people in the way to get a Bloody Mary. And, the photo booth station this year by BedMart and Phototainment did inspire some hilarious poses
The six restaurants and food carts offering brunch bites include
- Screen Door offered my favorite of the brunch bites, Portland Monthly Country Brunch 2016 – Brunch Bite by Screen Door of Shrimp & Grits, wild caught gulf shrimp sauteed with country ham, garlic, tomato, and white wine over parmesan spoon bread
- Broder always does a nice tablescape presentation whenever they are at these food events, which I appreciate. They brought warm fresh aebelskivers with lingonberry which you can watch them making right behind the table. Definitely my second favorite of the brunch bites.
- The Dump Truck had the longest line of all the food vendors where you had a choice of 2 dumplings from the menu of Mr Ma’s Special (a pork with green onion and ginger), Bacon Cheeseburger, Down2Earth (vegetarian with portabella and rice noodles with ginger), Potato Curry (vegetarian malaysian style with yellow curry), or the Dump Truck Breakfast with egg, jack cheese, seasoned sausage, red pepper and chive which is what I got to go with the breakfast theme, and since I’ve already tried the others at their usual truck location by SW 12th and Alder.
- Pip’s Original Doughnuts offered a sample of two of their mini doughnuts, a Raw Honey and Sea Salt doughnut and a Meyer Lemon and Pear Butter doughnut, a sample of either their Smoky Robinson Chai or Heart of Gold Chai
- Milk Glass Mrkt offered a nice break from the mostly sweet brunch bites with the Spring Kale Salad from Milk Glass Mrkt with Farm Kale Mix, French Lentils, Garlic Dates Pickled Red Onions, and Savory Granola Tossed in a Creamy Sunflower Dressing that was vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free
- Batter PDX Portland Monthly Country Brunch 2016 Brunch Bite of Maple Bacon Pancakes (although this is clearly a waffle…) from Batter Griddle & Drinkery
Meanwhile, the seven competitors for the Bloody Mary Smackdown (the vodka is from Crater Lake Spirits) include
- Raven & Rose (2015’s Judges’ Choice Winner) returns with the Full Bloody Irish that includes a Bloody Mary topped with Oregon made (Agrarian Ales) Irish Stout AND bites of a Irish Breakfast for garnish
Once again they won Judge’s Choice, and they were the People’s Choice winner too for 2016.
- Pizza Jerk just a stack of pizzas ready to be warmed in the oven and then serve as garnish for their Pizza Mary that has a slice of pizza chilling in a sauced up bloody mary that took cues from pizza tomato sauce.
- Grain & Gristle Bloody Mary Smackdown entry of the Beet’n to a Bloody Pulp with Pureed Beets, Tomato Juice, OJ, Old Bay, Portland Ketchup Company Vegan Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco Horseradish Pepper, Bacon Rim and Pickles Spear
- Besaw’s Maria en Verde, with under ripened green tomatoes used to make a green bloody mary garnished with a smoked oyster
- Boke Bowl presented the Boke Bloody Mary that feature stheir Hot Boke Sauce, Fish Sauce, Housemade Pickles, and Boke’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken (available spicy or extra spicy). I’ve been to Boke Bowl brunch before, and the one at the actual restaurant is pretty impressive in terms of garnish
- My Father’s Place Blood Sucker, a housemade bloody mary mix infused with cilantro and garlic and with lots of aleppo pepper for smokiness in the garnish
- Woodsman Tavern wins for most impressive display with their many many bottles of Bottle Conditioned Bloody Mary with Potato Vodka, Amontillado Shery, Tomato Juice, and Woodsman Secret Bloody Mix with a pepperoni stick
For dessert, or to relieve your palate from the spicy bloody marys, Crispin Cider offered Honey Crisp Floats with Crispin Cider’s Honey Crisp Cider and ice cream
To sober up, Coava Coffee was present with David Mancia coffee sourced from Honduras
Additionally, a booth from New Seasons Market sponsor offered Mimosa Gummies, made of orange juice, cava, and grassfed beef gelatin and non alcoholic beverage options of Urban Moonshine Digestive Bitters + Owls Brew Pink and Black Tea Minxer + La Croix Sparkling Water + Lime, and also an option of Urban Moonshine Energy Tonic + Hot Lips Ginger Soda
Most importantly, Sunshine Dairy brought Sandy, Sunshine Dairy’s newest fuzzy friend at only six weeks old and 90 pounds from an organic dairy farm.
If some of these bloody marys got you excited and thirsty, there is a new event this year, the Kachka Bloody Mary Bloc Party, that is happening this Sunday May 1, 2016 from 11 AM – 3 PM that also includes brunch bites and housemade bloody marys from
The cost is $30 ticket (buy your tickets here) and is good for a shot of Kachka Horseradish Vodka when you first check in to get your passport in your souvenir shot class. Then the passport is good for one mini bloody mary and one brunch bite at each of the five location with a closing rally at Bit House Saloon from 2 – 3 PM for your vote (votes must be in by 2:30 PM) to hear the winner of the “Best Bloody Mary on Grand.” The first 75 people to purchase a ticket, like myself, also get a Kachka Trucker Hat. I can’t wait to model mine during the event.
I’ll be there!
Do you enjoy bloody marys, and if so what is your favorite bloody mary joint in Portland? If bloody mary is not your brunch beverage of choice, what is?