Last Saturday, Portland Monthly‘s Country Brunch event was back! Six Portland chefs prepared bites of their favorite brunch fare while seven bartenders duked it out for “Best Bloody Mary” in the second-annual Bloody Mary Smackdown presented by Absolut. When entering, you receive a punchcard to sample each of these (shown in the order I sampled everything ,which was quite a feat but I felt compelled to gave a thorough report for you)…
Bloody Mary Smackdown presented by Absolut:
- Samayyah Sharif of Pine State Biscuits presented a housemade bloody Mary dressed with Texas Pete hot sauce and Pine State’s proprietary okra pickles that were pickled for… a long time. I wish I remember, but I remember being really struck by how long of a time it was. And then I drank all the other bloodys and don’t remember. Sorry 🙁
- Olympic Provisions provided by Jess Hereth an Olympic Mary with House Mary mix, vodka, and a pickles and of course their excellent salami as part of the garnish. It was hard to resist just picking up an extra skewer.
- Circa 33 and adorable Spencer Conger delivered an OMG Bloody Mary with their “The Experiment #3” with a Pan-Asian style Bloody Mary that included lemongrass, togarashi spice, fish sauce, freshly grated wasabi, tami, galanga root, and a little chili and a dried shrimp. Seriously, OMG. This was my personal favorite of the bloody marys I had. The seat I was able to grab so I can drink, eat, and take these photos was near his station so I watched his nimble fingers preparing these delectable drinks during my brunch.
- Genies Cafe Horseradish Bloody courtesy of Nadia Mihalik included their house infused horseradish vodka and Genies bloody mary mix garnished with an olive, pepperoncini and celery, and a jalapeno infused salt rim
- Florida Room (Church of the Bloody Mary) by Patty Earley concocted the Holy Ghost with Clear Mary mix that was filtered and garnished with honeydew or cantaloupe for a citrusy take on a Bloody Mary
- Le Bistro Montage Steve Dodge created the Bloody Miles with house-infused andouille sausage, Absolut vodka, horseradish, celery salt, lime, Worchestershrie, Tabasco, other spices and garnished with Spam gave me a smoky drink that set my mouth on fire in a very pleasant way. At this point, I had to make my way to the Whole Foods garnish station for some shrimp and mozz balls so I could taste what was coming next… I could see why this won Judge’s Choice.
- Irving Street Kitchen (Defending Champion) Michael “Fresh Mike Miller and Pete Koptiu” won People’s Choice with their Irving Street Bloody Mary
Featuring for country brunch food:
- Kevin Atchley, Walt Alexander and Brian Snyder of Pine State Biscuits, whose sample was Ayers Creek cornmeal crusted Carolina catfish mini biscuits with vinegar slaw and sweet pickle remoulade.
- Kate McMillen of Lauretta Jean’s showcased their bounty of baked goods all over their station, and it was hard to resist picking up an extra biscuit. But, they gave a pretty generous brunch sample that was a whole balanced plate. This included Buttermilk biscuits with country sausage gravy, seasonal dressed greens, and mini-tart-cherry pies in an all butter crust.
- Chef Dee of Genies Cafe were making their Classic Bene, with housemade Canadian bacon topped with a cage free poached egg and famous homemade hollandaise sauce on an English muffin
- Gregory Gourdet of Departure served up his Crunchy Fried Chicken with corn and coconut milk biscuit with papaya slaw and chili glaze, and a bonus of Blueberry + Asian Pear Crisp with candied ginger I was feeling a bit too light headed from the Bloody Marys I had enjoyed to squee, but it definitely crossed my mind but thankfully my physical body was too slow. Instead, I returned and savored the extreme crunch and pops of bright flavors of this fried chicken biscuit. I picked this at the same time I had the Circa 33 Experiment #3 Bloody Mary and was in heaven.
- Patrick Fleming of Boke Bowl brought my personal choice for favorite bite, Boke Eggs & Bacon with fried quail egg with pork in black bean sauce over rice tots.
- Scott Dolich of Bent Brick provided the end to my brunch with Corned Beef Hash Sausage with duck fat potatoes and fried egg sauce, and helped us cool our palates with some Aquavit slushies
Guests could add additional garnishes to their Bloody Mary thanks to Whole Foods, who provided a station with inspiring natural ingredients for skewers, while another station had sweet bites next to a Blue Moon beer station for those who wanted a beer pairing instead of a Bloody Mary. Finally, everyone could finish off their meal of brunch and bloodies with a special Zenger Farm – inspired herbal ice cream by Ruby Jewel (I was seriously too stuffed to even partake, but it looked awesome) as well as enjoy alternate refreshing beverages from Blue Moon beer, Stumptown Coffee, or Joia natural sodas that included one that was Pineapple, Coconut & Nutmeg, and another of Lime, Hibiscus, and Clove, and in the background wonderful country twang entertainment by Caleb Klauder Country Band
100% of net proceeds will benefit Zenger Farm‘s new Urban Grange, an 8,960-square-foot facility on the farm for classes, business incubation, and events for its ongoing efforts to connect Portland communities to fresh-grown food. Zenger Farm is a working urban farm that models, promotes and educates sustainable food systems, environmental stewardship, community development and access to good food for all. There is an article about Zenger Farm’s commitment to community and connecting people to the food ecosystem from the ground up (literally) at the farm level here from Portland Monthly.
Portland Monthly Magazine always puts together amazing events, bringing exceptional food and drinks and setting up a gorgeous atmosphere in terms of decorations and entertainment. Every event I’ve attended has been fantastic and positive. They had many of their magazines splayed out on the table (I already subscribe) and is definitely worth getting the print edition so you can thumb through their beautiful photos. I also love their Eat Beat, and you can rely on them to help point you towards the best in Portland. I mean, just look at my experience from this- such an embarrassment of riches, they are so cool. You can see more photos at their slideshow of the party pics.