It’s one week until it’s here! The food holiday time of year in Portland – Feast week. It’s all starting Thursday September 15 and goes through Sunday September 18 2016. This will be my fourth year attending Feast, and here are my top tips for Feast PDX, ranging from what to wear to how to proceed through a food event and make the most of it.
Feast promises 4 days of belly busting events showcasing delicious eats and drinks. This is Feast’s 5th year, not only celebrating the bounty of the Oregon and the Northwest in food and drink, but also since its inception Feast has donated more than $230,000 to charity. Feast Portland’s charitable partner in 2016 is Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.
The main event kick off starts with Thursday, with the Sandwich Invitational (Sold Out) and multiple Dinner Series events (also Sold Out). Then, Friday is your best bet if you don’t already have tickets, as there are tickets still for the Friday version of the Grand Tasting ($60, which are the biggest value for your eating and drinking buck events – $12 an hour progressive sampling of all you can eat and drink for 5 hours!) and several Drink Tank events: see the full Feast schedule here. You can also check the Feast official Facebook page to see if there are any giveaways still open to win tickets.
I also wrote a previous post listing some of the Fab Five food that celebrates Feast but you can get even if you are not at any of the Feast events, and a portion of proceeds still goes to fighting childhood hunger. If you are attending a Feast event, here are my top tips for Feast PDX!
Tip 1: Dress Comfortably & have Easy Pockets or a Tote Bag
For all the main events, you will be visiting a lot of different booths as you are progressive eating through a food market. That means you will be on your feet a lot of the time. In some cases, you will be walking on grass (Smoked) or gravel (Night Market – make sure you have good padding in your shoes). So wear comfy shoes every time.
You will also be eating for several hours – so dress like this is Thanksgiving. This is not the time for your form-fitting dresses and skinny jeans. You want to dress in clothes that have a little tummy give.
If you are going to an evening event, think about layers as the weather will get cooler later. If you’ve got tickets Smoked, be prepared that the cooking aromas can permeate the air and your clothes will absorb it. In general you don’t want anything requiring dry cleaning!
I highly recommend wearing something with easy accessible pockets or have a tote bag. That way you can store your napkins or utensils or camera or phone while leaving your hands free to hold and eat food and drink, but also get to those objects easily. I don’t like to create a lot of waste at these events, so I will try as much as possible to use every last corner of my napkin and reuse my utensils.
If the weather says it may be rainy and you are attending one of the outdoor events, I recommend wearing weatherproof hooded jacket instead of an umbrella so you don’t have to juggle a food sample, drink glass, AND your umbrella. Plus, your jacket should then come with pockets!
Specifically for the Sandwich Invitational, it is easy to get really, really full on all those 15 or so sandwiches. My secret trick for big multiple station food events like this is that I only take a couple bites of each dish. But since I feel bad throwing the rest away when it’s so delicious I store it away in a few ziploc bags I have in my tote bag and eat it for lunch the next week! This doesn’t mean to go grabbing multiples of a dish unless it’s the very end of the event: have respect for letting all your fellow guests get a chance to try the dish too.
Limiting yourself to only a couple bites, or sharing with a friend, is pretty much the only way to try everything because there is too much for a normal appetite. Don’t feel like you have to eat and drink everything either.
By the end at all the events, don’t be surprised if some of the booths may have already served up all their plates either so make sure you go in the order of chefs or dishes you want to see the most so you won’t be disappointed you missed someone you really wanted to see. I particular like visiting the out of town chefs first rather then the hometown favorites (though I visit them too) since it’s a unique chance to try their food without having to fly to their city.
At Grand Tasting, one of my favorite booths, and which always has a line, is the USA Pears booth which the previous years have featured multiple special dishes and a different chef each day, so if you are attending go look for their booth to see how they have highlighted pears this year. Last year it was Chef Vitaly Paley and then Chef Brian Clevenger. A little birdie told me this year you may find Top Chef finalist and local PDX Chef Doug Adams sharing nibbles featuring USA Pears paired with sips from Chateau Ste. Michelle! Saturday will be Chef Brian again- you can get a peek at what he served last year below. Also, don’t miss out on the Travel Oregon section (for the past few years it has been towards the weather machine) which features various chefs from Oregon.
Tip 2: Use your Phone or Camera to take Photos for Notes
One of the best things about Feast is being introduced to so much new deliciousness. To help remember what you ate or drank, take a photo of them. The visual cue of seeing the descriptions (particularly wine bottle labels) when I look on my phone is so helpful later!
Don’t forget to bring a charger because all those photos (and if you are recording any notes on your phone) will eat up your battery. I have a portable external battery phone charger I always keep in my bag, as well as the wall charger attachment and if you are driving, for your car as well.
In order to see what is happening and hot everyday at Feast, you can check the hashtag #feastpdx and for handles see on Twitter @FeastPDX and follow on Instagram Feast Portland to also see what everyone is talking about. Maybe that’s how you’ll know to hurry and get into a particular line for a food dish before it runs out. If you yourself do share, make sure you tag #FeastPDX too!
Having cell phone juice is particularly important if you want to make sure you have enough for your phone to ride Trimet with their online app or be able to call a cab or Uber or Lyft for a ride.
Portland Transportation Options
You can use Google Maps to help find your transportation options (they are hooked up pretty well, and you can also use trimet.org’s Transit Tracker to look up the stop # and see how long until the bus/Max appears – it’s only $5 for an all day pass). You can purchase a pass using cash or credit card at the Max stops, cash only on the buses, or on your phone using credit card via the Trimet Tickets app (iPhone and Android). You flash your ticket to the bus driver, but for the Max you only have to show it to the fare inspector.
It is very difficult to wave down a taxi – you are better calling one if you aren’t convenient to major streets like Broadway or Burnside near downtown where there are lots of hotels that have taxi stations that they might be heading towards.
- Uber or Lyft: Use UBER app (iPhone, Android, Windows phones) or LYFT app (iPhone, Android)
- Portland Taxi Cab Company: 503-256-5400
- Radio Cab: 503-227-1212
- Broadway Cab: 503-333-3333
- Green Cab & Green Shuttle: 503-234-1414
- Union Cab PDX: 503-222-2222
Tip 3: Talk to Strangers, and Smile!
Since everyone around you is a food and drink lover like you and me, we can ALL surely be friends. Start conversations with strangers! Something as simple as “What are you having? Where did you get that?” or “Did you have a favorite sandwich/sample/wine/etc” is a great conversation opener. This can help give you a heads up on something you try that you didn’t know about. There is a lot going on at each event, so to make sure you see everything so talking to people in line or while by a cocktail table eating is fun and a way to get the scoop of what’s hot.
When you’re at a booth, make sure you flash a smile to whoever is working to show your appreciation for them being on their feet prepping and serving food and drink samples to the crowds. Ask all the questions you’d like with the various vendors (stepping to the side so others can still get to samples), and thank everyone you see working hard to keep the event clean and running smoothly and your plates and cups full!
If you really like their food or product, make sure you give them that feedback, ask where you can find their product. If you have a social media account, let them know how much you enjoyed it on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Doesn’t everyone like hearing a compliment and validation that their hard work was enjoyed?
Tip 4: Go with Friends, go Alone, just GO!
Being at Feast is sort of like being able to talk to anyone and everyone rooting for your same sports team at a game – but here the game is FOOD.
That means you also don’t worry about going to any event alone. I have gone to food festivals alone and with friends – and both have their pros and cons. Of course, going with friends means you can share the excitement before, the experience during, and the memories after. In some cases, you might even strategize with friends by waiting in different lines and coming together to share samples.
Going alone also has its pros in that you are much more likely to meet new people, and you are able to move faster through food stations. You will naturally get full over time, so the faster you can eat the more you can try before getting to the uncomfortably stuffed point. On your own, you can make your own calls about how you want to proceed through the food areas based on your preferences at your pace.
I hope my Top Tips for Feast and links to previews to get you in the feasting mood are helpful to you. Here are links to my previous posts from Feast 2015 and 2014 for an idea of the incredible bites of previous years:
- Brunch Village 2015 Recap
- Aaron Franklin’s Stumptown Coffee Cookout 2015
- Recap of Night Market 2015
- Recap of Brunch Village 2014
- Feast 2014 Dinner Series: Recap of State of the Art Dinner
- Feast Sandwich Invitational 2014 Recap
- Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting at Feast 2014 recap and guide from my Fri visit:
For more Feast tips, check out the perspectives of my blogger friends like
- Martha Chartreuse post on What’s In My Bag and her lovely ideas for what to wear via an outfit for Night Market, outfit for OMG Smoked, and an outfit for Brunch Village
- Urban Bliss Life Feast 2015 Recaps
- Platings and Pairings Feast Portland 2016: Newbies Guide
- Rachel Jane Lloyd on Feast Portland Tips and Tricks: 2015
- Salt.Water.Coffee. post How to Take Care of Yourself Before, During, and After and her latest 2016 Pre Feast Guide
Maybe I’ll see you at Feast? Don’t be shy about coming to say hi!
Disclosure: I was granted a Blogger Pass for Feast Portland 2016 for blog post and social media coverage but I am not otherwise being compensated. Even before I was given the Blogger Pass I already had tickets for some Feast events that I paid for myself. 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.