Bite of Oregon 2017

This year, the Bite of Oregon 2017 food festival, which usually tastes place at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in August, has shifted to this weekend – Labor Day weekend September 1, 2, 3, and 4 – so it can be 4 days and has moved away from the dusty grounds of the park to the Rose Quarter.  The festival is still outside so you are still dining al fresco, but now boasts lots of shade, more tables, and it still benefits the worthy cause of the Special Olympics Oregon. Bite of Oregon  is a huge fundraiser for the Special Olympics Oregon which can help sustain the activities they offer of Special Olympics Athletes all year round.
Entrance of Bite of Oregon 2017 Entrance of Bite of Oregon 2017

As every year, expect to be able to progressively eat through various vendors who offer sample sizes ($4ish) and whole sizes of food you can purchase at Bite of Oregon 2017. With the more compact Rose Quarter location there is now a central area where you can imbibe at the Oregon Wine Pavilion with 7 wineries, 4 distilleries, or 28 beers from 14 different featured local breweries the Craft Beer Garden to enjoy along with your food.
Chicagoland Chicago style deep dish pizza

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Bite of Oregon 2014

Today is the start of the 3 day food event on the Waterfront Park known as Bite of Oregon 2014, running from Friday August 8 – Sunday August 10. Admission is $5 (but kids 12 or under are free! And they have several booths of games and Chef hat decorating and a Kids Entertainment stage especially geared for them). This grants you access to the Bite all day as it runs from lunch through dinner and then some, 11 AM – 10 PM Friday-Saturday and 10 AM – 8PM Sunday.

This will be my fourth year attending, as it is also for a good cause to support Special Olympics Oregon. And, it is a celebration highlighting food and drink, so of course I’m there. I thought I would share a few tips.

Your $5 is a small price for admission (which is good all day that day- they give you a wristband to show for re-entry). There are usually several booths giving out free samples (for instance last year I sipped various tastes of Cupcake Vineyards and ate a whole Chobani yogurt Flip container), and there is also plenty of seating, multiple stages for live music so something always playing, there’s a show with various culinary Iron Chef, Iron Mixologist, plus other chef competitions and demonstrations all day, two beer gardens, and a wine pavilion and even some representatives of the Portland food truck scene.

You need to purchase your various bites of food and drinks with cash once you are inside.  There are ATMs at the park, but just be prepared with cash when you come visit.

One thing I always highly recommend is to check out the Oregon Bounty Chef’s Table which usually has more complex flavors piled into affordable $4 bites. As an example, at past years I tasted what you see below: Duck Mousseline with Berry Chutney Tomato Confit Bread, Traegar Smoked Food Forest Farm’s Berkshire Pork Porchetta, Served Open Faced on House -made (gluten free) Focacceta Rolls Drenched in Smoky Pork Jus Topped with Nero and Ricotta Cheese (a mouthful of a description but mmm look at the photo!), a Pinot Noir braised Oregon beef on polenta with greens, Marion Berries on Nitro with Fruit Compote & Cookie… Did I mention these are $4?

Duck Mousseline with Berry Chutney Tomato Confit Bread at Bite of Oregon, taste from Oregon Bounty Chef's Table for $4 Traegar Smoked Food Forest Farm’s Berkshire Pork Porchetta, Served Open Faced on House -made (gluten free) Focacceta Rolls Drenched in Smoky Pork Jus Topped with Nero and Ricotta Cheese at Bite of Oregon, taste from Oregon Bounty Chef's Table for $4 Pinot Noir braised Oregon beef on polenta with greens from the Oregon Bounty Chef Table, thanks Oregon Beef Council at Bite of Oregon 2013 Dessert: Oregon Blackberry & Raspberry Commission's Oregon Marion Berries on Nitro with Fruit Compote & Cookie!. Bite of Oregon 2013

To give you an idea of the many offerings this year for the 2014 Chef’s Table, the Oregon Beef Council promises 18 Hour sous vide Oregon Beef Flat Iron Steak with Butter whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes and Herbs de Provence, and the Seafood Oregon Commission lists Oregon Black Sable Cod Hazelnut Smoked on a bed of fresh Herb and Yakisoba Noodle Salad finished with a Root Beer Rum Barbecue Sauce. And that’s just 2 of the 16 items! Here is a glimpse of some of what you can get for that $4 Chef’s Table ticket (you buy the ticket for $4, and exchange it for one of the Chef Table plates – this way they don’t ever handle money since it is a separate section. The tickets are only good for the Chef Table items).
Bite Of Oregon 2014, example of the 2014 Oregony Bounty Chefs Table food items

Make sure you come hungry… there are lots of other booths as well, and $2-$9 per item and offering some of the sights and aromas like these…

Bite of Oregon, grilling chicken Some BBQ in progress at Adam's Rib Smokehouse from Salem. The smell of smoke and meat is so intoxicating! At Bite of Oregon 2013 Rainbow of Lemonade... home of the free refill. At Bite of Oregon Bite of Oregon, strawberry shortcake Berry Ka Bob at Bite of Oregon

So my second tip is to make sure you first walk around to plan out what you want to eat and drink so you don’t find yourself too full once you come upon some amazing strawberry shortcake sundae like the above.

My next tip is bring the family and friends because then you can share bites together and try a larger variety of things. Though no judgement if you eat it by yourself, that’s cool.

Another tip is to make sure you visit the Wine Pavilion. One of the things I really like about the Bite of Oregon is that there are two dozen booths for tasting here. You don’t have to drive from tasting room to tasting room- they are all gathered here for you, and you can have sips for a tasting fee or just buy a glass in many cases to enjoy out in the sunshine/shade of the Waterfront Park boundaries of the Bite! Some of my favorite wineries like Macindoe Family Cellars and Rizzo Winery and Zerba Cellars will be there and you will not find their wines easily in stores, but they’ve brought it all to us downtown for this weekend.

Look for someone holding a bunch of “Age Verified” wristbands as you enter the Wine Pavilion (they are also located at the entrance of the two Beer Garden areas)- they will check your ID and give you a wristband that proves you are over 21 and can drink.
Rizzo Wines available for tasting at their booth at the Bite of Oregon

This year, there is also a special Wine Bar by SE Wine Collective and they have created several wines specifically for Bite of Oregon attendees, including the 2013 Collective Rose of Pinot Noir, 2013 “Bite of Oregon” Red, 2013 Collective Pinot Noir and “Bite of Oregon” White. The wine bar is located on the other side of the bite from the Wine Pavilion, so look for it near where the food carts are parked.
Southeast Wine Collective's Bite of Oregon 2014 collection. They have created several wines specifically for Bite of Oregon attendees, including the 2013 Collective Rose of Pinot Noir, 2013 Bite of Oregon Red, 2013 Collective Pinot Noir and Bite of Oregon White Southeast Wine Collective's Bite of Oregon 2014 collection. They have created several wines specifically for Bite of Oregon attendees, including the 2013 Collective Rose of Pinot Noir, 2013 Bite of Oregon Red, 2013 Collective Pinot Noir and Bite of Oregon White

There is a little area of various distilleries, and for my next tip I highly recommend you stop by Glaser Distillery and taste their delicious limoncello and award-winning coffee liquor. They are based in Roseburg, Oregon (as part of Glaser Estate Winery) but are working on opening a tasting room in NW Portland in the next half year. I find this news super exciting that they will soon be so much more convenient to replenish my bottle supply (they also offer a too delicious Butterscotch and Chocolate liquor). Their tasting room in Roseburg, where you can also taste wine, has a relaxing patio in the back overlooking a river, and on the front porch there was a skeleton… who came to supervise the tasting booth as I sipped a Limoncello and Ginger cocktail.
Glaser Distillery at Bite of Oregon 2014 Glaser Distillery being supervised by a skeleton at Bite of Oregon Glaser Distillery at Bite of Oregon 2014

Don’t miss stopping by the cider section either – the Atlas Cider company is offering super refreshing apricot and blackberry cider that you will probably walk away having bought a pint of after a taste. After getting that 18 hour sous vide Flat Iron Steak, I enjoyed it with their apricot cider. If you haven’t had Reverend Nat’s Hard cider, try it out too!
Atlas Cider Co at Bite of Oregon was selling their ciders in bottles as well as by the pint of apricot or as you see here, blackberry cider Atlas Cider Co at Bite of Oregon was selling their ciders in bottles as well as by the pint 18 Hour sous vide Oregon Beef Flat Iron Steak with Butter whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes and Herbs de Provence from Oregon Bounty Chef's Table courtesy Oregon Beef Council with Atlas Hard Cider apricot cider Reverend Nat's Hard Cider booth at Bite of Oregon Reverend Nat's Hard Cider booth at Bite of Oregon

If you decide to visit one or both of the two beer gardens, may I recommend something to go with your beer? Such as these Mt Angel Sausage Company homemade European sausage or the food cart The Angry Unicorn‘s Unicorn burger, made with “Unicorn meat” a magical meat with ground bacon, strips of bacon, cheddar on a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut
Bite of Oregon 2014, Mt Angel Sausage Co homemade European sausage Bite of Oregon 2014, participating food cart The Angry Unicorn and their Unicorn Burger, 's Unicorn burger, made with

Besides the truck looking adorable, the Dannon booth is also giving out various samples of from their yogurt line if you are interested in trying a different yogurt flavor or type of yogurt for free.
The Dannon truck is adorable at Bite of Oregon 2014 Samples of various Dannon yogurts at Bite of Oregon

For the lactose intolerant or even just to try because this is a healthy good alternative, try So Delicious Dairy Free brand booth. They had free samples of their almond milk, coconut milk, and a surprisingly tasty Cococcino coconut milk ice coffee latte made with organic coconut milk and fair trade coffee. They also had dairy free coconut milk ice cream sandwiches and a mocha almond milk fudge bar samples they were giving away!
So Delicious Dairy Free products being sampled at Bite of Oregon, including almond milk and various coconut milk flavors So Delicious Dairy Free Cococcino coconut milk iced coffee Latte, made with organic coconut milk and fair trade coffee So Delicious Dairy Free dairy free coconut milk ice cream sandwiches and a mocha almond fudge bar So Delicious Dairy Free Almond Milk dessert of mocha almond milk fudge bar

My last tip is to make sure you save room for cake from Gerry Frank’s Konditorei from Salem. Although you could share the cake, you could also choose to take the cake home for later if you’d like. That $6 gets you a very generous slice of that extravagant cake that comes in flavors such as Birthday Cake, Raspberry Lemonade, Caramel Pecan, Coconut, Champagne, and more.
Gerry Frank's Konditorei Extravagant Cakes Et Cetera comes from Salem to downtown Portland thanks to Bite of Oregon Gerry Frank's Konditorei Extravagant Cakes Et Cetera comes from Salem to downtown Portland thanks to Bite of Oregon, and offers cake for $6 a slice Gerry Frank's Konditorei Extravagant Cakes Et Cetera comes from Salem to downtown Portland thanks to Bite of Oregon, and offers cake for $6 a slice Gerry Frank's Konditorei Extravagant Cakes Et Cetera comes from Salem to downtown Portland thanks to Bite of Oregon, and offers cake for $6 a slice including flavors like Birthday cake Gerry Frank's Konditorei Extravagant Cakes Et Cetera comes from Salem to downtown Portland thanks to Bite of Oregon, and offers cake for $6 a slice including flavors like the raspberry lemonade cake Gerry Frank's Konditorei Extravagant Cakes Et Cetera comes from Salem to downtown Portland thanks to Bite of Oregon, and offers cake for $6 a slice including flavors like this Truffle cake Gerry Frank's Konditorei Extravagant Cakes Et Cetera comes from Salem to downtown Portland thanks to Bite of Oregon, and offers cake for $6 a slice including flavors like this Caramel Pecan cake

If you’re having your piece of cake at the Bite, consider stopping by the Portlandia Ice Cream Parlor to add a scoops of ice cream to your cake slice. The ice cream in this booth has all been donated so all proceeds from this booth go directly to Special Olympics.
Portlandia Ice Cream Parlor at Bite of Oregon: The ice cream in this booth has all been donated so all proceeds from this booth go directly to Special Olympics. I had a scoop of salted caramel pecan and a scoop of strawberry cheesecake

Have a great weekend – what are you doing for fun this weekend?

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Photos from the Bite of Oregon 2013

I generally attend the Bite of Oregon to support Special Olympics, check out the Oregon Chef’s Table which usually has more complex flavors piled into affordable bites ($4 tickets this year), and taste wine. Here are a few photos from this year’s 2013 event, when I attended on Sunday.

Not pictured, us enjoying listening/watching Finn Doxie jam, which is why we picked Sunday as our day to visit.

Some BBQ in progress at Adam’s Rib Smokehouse from Salem. The smell of smoke and meat is so intoxicating! I feel like I could just stand there and smell it for hours. Clearly I can never be vegetarian.
Some BBQ in progress at Adam's Rib Smokehouse from Salem. The smell of smoke and meat is so intoxicating! At Bite of Oregon 2013 Some BBQ in progress at Adam's Rib Smokehouse from Salem. The smell of smoke and meat is so intoxicating! At Bite of Oregon 2013

Cupcake Vineyards had a tasting truck (offering samples of a few of their Cupcake whites and reds) and Live Deliciously lounge. I need to name my house this.
Cupcake Vineyards had a tasting truck (offering samples of a few of their Cupcake whites and reds) and Live Deliciously lounge. I need to name my house this. At Bite of Oregon 2013

Thanks for the free tastes Chobani, it was yummy, I love that there were such different combinations of flavors, and it was awesome to have a healthy snack.
Thanks for the free tastes Chobani, it was yummy, I love that there were such different combinations of flavors! At Bite of Oregon 2013

Oregon Bounty Chef Table, a dish of buffalo mac and cheese with grilled seafood cake, thanks Seafood Oregon Commission.
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Pinot Noir braised Oregon beef on polenta with greens from the Oregon Bounty Chef Table, thanks Oregon Beef Council
Pinot Noir braised Oregon beef on polenta with greens from the Oregon Bounty Chef Table, thanks Oregon Beef Council at Bite of Oregon 2013

Another bite from the Oregon Bounty Chef Table, thanks to the Oregon Potato Commission: Oregon Potato Confit Puree with Pomegranate Demi Glaze, Garnished with Braised Pork Belly and Baby Arugula
Another bite from the Oregon Bounty Chef Table, thanks to the Oregon Potato Commission: Oregon Potato Confit Puree with Pomegranate Demi Glaze, Garnished with Braised Pork Belly and Baby Arugula at the Bite of Oregon 2013

Dessert: Oregon Blackberry & Raspberry Commission’s Oregon Marion Berries on Nitro with Fruit Compote & Cookie!
Dessert: Oregon Blackberry & Raspberry Commission's Oregon Marion Berries on Nitro with Fruit Compote & Cookie!. Bite of Oregon 2013

Gabriel Rucker did a cooking demo on the day I went. He introduced that although his main restaurant is known for its richness and usage of meat, he always has one of the six dishes always be vegetarian. But, it is important to him that the veg dish always be delicious and equal to his meat dishes as well. Thus, for the demo he was cooking a vegetarian entree dish of bbq glazed celery root with beaujolais from his new cookbook, Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird which is releasing on September 17.

As he prepared it for us, he talked about how his philosophy of food focuses on playing with the flavors of of salt, fat, and acid, and how he thought Katz vinegar was a game changing ingredient. At home, he’s surprisingly simple- just one cooked item, and a salad are his go to meal combo, and he adores radishes. Besides the steaky celery root slices, he also did demo preparing a grilled curry lamb chop with watermelon and radish salad, based on a watermelon showing up the restaurant so he decided to “wing it”. Oh, Gabe, you and your bird thing (his restaurants are Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro). You can get a glimpse of the lamb in the middle photo below… which later would end up on the floor when it decided it didn’t want to stand up to sear on the grill!
Gabriel Rucker cooking a vegetarian entree dish of bbq glazed celery root with beaujolais from his new cookbook, Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird. Bite of Oregon 2013 He also did a grilled curry lamb chop with watermelon and radish salad, based on a watermelon showing up the restaurant so he decided to wing it. Oh, Gabe, you and your bird thing (his restaurants are Le Pigeon and Little Bird). Bite of Oregon 2013 Gabe Rucker layering flavors at Bite of Oregon 2013

 

Seeing Gabe reminded me I have it on my wishlist to return to both Le Pigeon and Little Bird Bistro- I haven’t been back to either for probably a couple years. Anyone else interested in joining me?

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Bite of Oregon: Day 2 (Sunday)

There are always survival strategies for food festivals. Back in Chicago, for Taste of Chicago, being the monstrous mess it was in terms of being spread out and full of so many people, it meant planning ahead to map what food you wanted, in order of how much you wanted the item and based on location, estimating the ticket cost (you paid for food in tickets), finding people to share items which were not available in "bite" portions who had the same taste, bringing your own beverages, and planning off times such as on a weekday and eating times (not so crowded that you had to wait in really lines, not so dead that food was just sitting around).

It's understandable to charge an admission fee- but payees want to see the admission fee well at work at the event- and remember they might be comparing multiple events offerings/costs. Particularly, Bite of Oregon comes after the Oregon Brewer's Festival, which in comparison has no admission fee but does require a one time $5 mug purchase if you wish to drink. For Bite of Oregon, the $8 per day is in otherwise high. Tip number one, there are always coupons and free passes given away by radio shows. This year they had a deal on Groupon even and did a two for the price of one weekend pass, which worked out for me to buy two admissions, and I went two days, which spread out the cost of admission to $10 for two people on Friday and me again on Sunday (and I could have gone Saturday but was too full and tired, so that is on me). Those seem like pretty acceptable costs, especially given the benefit to Special Olympics. The fact that the line for those paying at the door was moving twice as fast as the line of those who had prepaid- not so great. Oh, and try going though the gates on the waterfront side, not the street side where everyone who parked/public transited came from.

Second, the best part of the Bite has been the Wine Pavilion, not the food, because there is very limited representation of different restaurants and of those restaurants, even a smaller amount offering interesting foods that you couldn't just get anywhere else. Unlike other festivals where there are many wine booths and no place to just sit and relax, the atmosphere of the Bite allows you to get tastings and talk to the winemakers at your leisure because of their setup. Taste at a few booths, come back after eating a bit, or go sit in the shade for a while to chat, etc. No one is too intoxicated because drinking a lot is the not the main goal of the Bite, even if it's the Bite's best offering. For the chance to see this many winemakers in one place that includes tables and chairs and even several tents for shade, and several spread out bathroom locations (ok, still honey buckets) at a location easily accessible by public transit, the admission here isn't too bad. I created a "prioritized vendor list" to the wine area, even those I had visited before to see what new bottles they were now offering. And, the area is so small that there isn't a need to worry about mapping locations like the OBF.

Finally, don't plan to really get full here. I expect to try different tastes at the Bite, not have a meal's worth. I know it's advertised as Bite of Oregon, but when you see there are actually only 13 restaurants, 5 food carts, and 8 dessert booths, and of those 20 are from Portland, and realizing that just like many street food festivals restaurants are inevitably going to pick what's easy and cost efficient in this kind of outdoor atmosphere rather then what best exemplifies their restaurant/is tasty… so you need to set your expectations realistically. There's going to be the pizza or stir fry in a chafing dish or grilled/bbqed standbys that are usually forgettable, and lower the tasting list even more. It's sort of sad to think that event the Spring Beer and Wine Festival had more diverse offerings. I didn't even need to write anything down food-wise.

What drew me back to the Bite was the Oregon Chef's Table tent, and this is where you should look for offerings next year too. There, a few restaurants hold a shift of 4 hours or so offering some examples of what is served at their restaurant. Everything is in a taste portion, a la Top Chef style during their episode challenges. This was the only authentic representation of exploring new food that the Bite had (besides an offering of a few food carts, which is nice for those who don't work downtown or come late night to catch these carts- though honestly, the Food Cart Festival was a better example of taste exploration then this, offering more variety then the Bite).

Take my Sunday visit. Here is what I had.

A taste of the award winning chili  by Bill Hess, the Southern Oregon Regional Chili winner. Ok, maybe two tastes. And, this was free.

During the rest of my brief two hour snack visit, I sampled three interesting taste portions, and all were from Oregon's Chef Table for $3 and I didn't even have to buy a happy hour drink.

 

From Alu Wine Bar and Restaurant, a house smoked salmon with radicchio and kumquat salad with a tamarind reduction and poppyseed lavosh. Although I appreciated the nice mound of smoked salmon in the portion, this was a bit of a mess to eat in this atmosphere. You can't really get this all together in a bite.

 
From Soluna Grill, an ambitious concept considering this venue, their taste portion was oregon mushrooms, caramelized shallots, bacon, and roasted garlic corn flan. This looked beautiful, though the flan was a bit bland without making sure your forkful had the other accompaniments on it as well. And, as long as you assembled your bitefuls strategically, it was pretty tasty though a little on the saltier side for me.

From Pitxi Restaurant and Wine Bar, my favorite Oregon Chef's Table offering, a duck mousseline with berry chutney. This was a great snack in the bright summer sunshine, simple to prepare and assemble (and thus smart), but with bold flavors melding both rich savory and fresh tartness well in a package that works well for an outdoor summer festival like this.

 

I still give a hand to these Oregon's Chef Table chefs for rising to this mini-Top Chef challenge. And, maybe Bite organizers should hang out with organizers of the Food Cart Festival, of the Portland Monthly/Deschutes Beer n Burger, and this week, the Deschutes Street Fare, for some event planning advice, and how to get restaurant vendors to step up to showing their signature fare. Really, I can see the logistical argument being difficult on how to get restaurants several hours away from all over Oregon to camp here for a weekend feeding masses of people who probably will not make it to their actual location and make it worth their while to market to them… unless it was wrapped up much more obviously and neatly into a coastal or dessert or central oregon staycation or long weekend trip, those "zones" on the map aren't cutting it.

And honestly, we don't need all fancy restaurants or gourmet tastes to be added- even just a lot of ethnic restaurants offering examples to open up tastebuds to different cultural cuisines that some may not have ever tried. You might not commit to walking into for dinner but a taste of something you've never had of… isn't that what this is supposed to be about, some food exploration? Why not even go "International" instead of "Oregon"?

You can get a good experience out of anything- you just need to set your expectations and plan according to what is the most realistic return on your resources. I can see Bite is trying to grow, thanks to the addition of Food Carts this year and partner with Groupon- I hope they continue to think long and harder for next year. There's potential, but probably only so much patience by those coming to give the event another try while waiting for the Bite Organizers to understand and deliver to their audience.

 

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Bite of Oregon: Day 1 (Friday)

After a pretty intensely busy day at work, I dropped by on opening day of Bite of Oregon for an evening of a few food cart tastings and wine tasting at the Wine Pavilion.

My first stop once through the gate was PBJ’s Grilled, a cart that had wowed me at the Food Cart Festival and I just haven’t had the opportunity to visit the cart yet. They were offering three of the dozen gourmet upgrades of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that compose their cart menu. Just as the first visit, I still think how genius this is, and why haven’t more people in the US stumbled upon this? If cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, tacos and sliders have been transformed from comfort food childhood simplicity to adult nostalgic but more complex flavor combination profiles that reinterpret something we’ve taken for granted, why has peanut butter and jelly been left out? Thankfully, at least PBJ’s had taken up that gauntlet.

I started out with The Hot Hood, a $3 for 1/4 a sandwich taster of their toasted pbj interpretation which included black cherry jam, jalapeno, bacon, and peanut butter. Similar to what I thought when the Spicy Thai (which uses sriracha and curry to give its bite), there seemed no question on why jalapeno and bacon should be part of a sandwich except why shouldn’t I always add bacon! The bacon particularly gave a little extra crunch to what is usually a pretty smushy sandwich. I admit that when I make peanut butter and jelly at home, I always use crunchy versions of whatever nut butter I have, so I really like the crunch to go with the chew.

Also, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are very food porn-tastic in photos.

The other offering I tried was the Oregonian, this time between grilled challah bread were marionberry and Rogue creamery blue cheese and hazelnut butter. Maybe I had this twice even. Although I tried to sell this to others, they seemed afraid of the blue cheese, though at least on three tasters of this sandwich, they were careful to add only enough blue cheese to add a bit of savory creaminess and not let the blue cheese get strong enough to overwhelm the sandwich at all, and you couldn’t even smell it. It, along with the hazelnut butter, were more of just a little subtle highlight of support, as the marionberry definitely held the lead role. I like blue cheese, and having had blue cheese with a bit of berry topping often at wine tastings, I could have stood to have more blue cheese on my sandwich, though I understand the more cautious approach since many people don’t like it, thinking it’s salty or pungent.

 

This tastes better then it looks… though you might consider clicking and then select the full-size version of the photos to see the larger version of this photo anyway. Personally, I liked the Hot Hood better between the two. And, for Day 1, PBJ’s Grilled was my overall most tasty Bite winner.

The next stop was at Whiffies, which for this tasting created small pastry puff versions the size of my point and shoot camera (or basically half a hot pocket). They had their BBQ Beef and the Chicken Pot Pie when I visited. Both were ok- my opinion was that although the sizes were very taste-friendly, it changed the ratio of buttery flaky pie to gooey inside contents. The way to make this work is, similar to a samosa or empanada or the harder to find Thai curry puffs :D, make sure the inside filling is intense enough to balance out the fried outside shell… and in these sampler tasting portions, I don’t think it did. I still loved the taste of the deep fried pie container, but the fillings didn’t have enough flavor. I know at the Food Cart Festival though, when they just cut up their normal sized pies for sampling, the BBQ pie I had there had offered a lot more sauce and flavor, so I blame the smaller size here.

Actual size:

Filling close-up

Switching from chicken pot pie to BBQ Beef

Filling Closeup with summer sunshine making it look better then it tasted:

Not pictured were two other visits to food booths, sort of. We stopped at the Pie Spot, which offered pie holes and pie hole bites, and sampled the bourbon peach and pecan- bourbon peach won that round. From the Chef’s Table, which rotates various small plates based on what chefs are manning that slot on different days and times, Domo Dog offered the Major Domo Dog- smoked sausage, teriyaki onion, ponzo-mayo, flaked seaweed, sesame seeds, and red sweet sauce. The teriyaki really came through for a moist earthy sweet flavor.

Wine-wise, I stopped at Rizzo, Girardet, Hillcrest, Palotai, Zerba, Spangler, David Hill, Capitello, and Duck Pond.

  • Don’t bother with David Hill- I perked at seeing ports, but they were terrible, too much alcohol.
  • I was forced to try Duck Pond and was immediately annoyed by multiple askings to pay for the $1 taster despite stating wanting to try more then one wine. None of the other booths were so pushy for immediate payment.
  • At Rizzo, ignore the whites, at least at this showing. The reds are interesting, and unfortunately this was the very first winery I stopped at and I remembered to start making notes after the visit was over.
  • Girardet has a ice-wine style called “Frostbite” that has the sweetness but not much complexity if you’ve actually had Canadian icewines like Inniskillin or Jackson-Triggs before.
  • Hillcrest has more of a traditional profile to its wines. What I remember most is that they actually still stomp down grapes the for one/some of their wines, but I also have a strong aversion to feet. I might try them again but I thought a lot of them were young for me though I really liked the winemaker
  • Palotai was showing some newly/recently bottled wines that have potential but need some growing up time- my favorite was the syrah with its black peppery nose and overtones in taste but is not spicy, a bottle I’m still thinking about (I didn’t immediately buy a bottle, as I wanted to think about it… and I’m still thinking about it. I tend to buy a lot of reds and we still have many in our “cellar”- this one is interesting and unique, but do I really need it?).
  • Zerba had an amazing malbec that outshone the syrah and syrah port we tried because of its complexity.
  • The goal was actually to try to appreciate some whites, and we finally found it at Spangler with their crisp Sauvignon Blanc that didn’t have a too sweet or grassy or acidic legs. Unfortunately, they only had their syrah and not their petite syrah that a friend had recommended (the syrah wasn’t bad though- I personally like them darker)
  • We were surprisingly blown away by Capitello’s New Zealand-grape wines, which were not afraid to hide their bell pepper overtones. I know many wineries think this is a “problem”, and perhaps that’s why Capitello offered both the New Zealand grape version and the more expected taste in the Oregon-grape version. Whatever. It’s just like wineries now thinking they don’t want to over-oak… and no one makes those super creamy and buttery Chardonnays anymore in extreme rebellion because Chardonnay’s used to always be that way, and now instead of being able to get both styles you usually find only slightly oaked (if oaked at all) and there’s barely a difference between it and pinot gris and blancs. Bah. I bought the most wines here- the New Zealand version of the pinot noir as well as the sauvignon blanc. Their cuvee pinot noir is beautiful though pricey- and is also the type that though is complex now, is going to mature into old-world classic beauty in the next decade or so if you are willing to invest the money and cellar time.

Today, after the cheese class, I might go again. I have my eye on mainly the Chef’s Table tent again because of Belly‘s offering of a pork belly dip with bacon jus. If I get there in time for Kenny and Zuke‘s pastrami reuben sliders, I might try a taste depending on the visual appeal and taste pricetag- I might save the experience for actually visiting their establishment instead (although when I did for the first time, somehow I got lulled away from the pastrami for their still quite delicious chicken salad and their bagels and cream cheese).

Sunday afternoon/evening at Chef’s Table is highlighted for me because of Pitxi’s Restaurant and Wine Bar’s offering of Duck Mousseline with Berry Chutney Tomato Confit Bread, and also Soluna Grill‘s Oregon Mushrooms, Caramelized Shallots, Bacon and Roasted Garlic-Corn Flan. I might try to reward H50 for having the balls to list as one of their booth options “nitro whipped sorbet in black peppercorn cone with balsalmic sauce”- unlike most of the other restaurant booths which often went the safe route of what is easily mass-produced in the booth environment.

I should note that when you walk in to Bite, the pamphlets list certain options being offered at the various booths. You should just know that just from these two carts, they serve what they want, so you should always stop and see what they are really offering rather then going off of the printings of the event guide.

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