Sometimes the best parts of a trip are those that are unplanned. When we were driving to the Marriott Downtown Waterfront, we discovered that The Bite of Oregon food festival was taking place directly across the street from our hotel. I consider myself a "foodie" and love trying new things, but I had never been to a food festival. We were celebrating my birthday on the trip, so I picked the festival for our first meal in town.
The Bite of Oregon entrance fee was only five dollars a person. The vendors are cash only and although all of the sample prices were reasonable, we spent close to a hundred dollars trying everything. There is a bag check at the entrance and bottled water is not allowed. This wasn't such a huge deal, except for it was hot at the event, so staying hydrated is a must.
We kicked off our gorge-fest at The Original Shrimp and Crab Company.
The staff at The Original Shrimp and Crab Company were super nice and asked us about Los Angeles. Apparently I had the right answer when I declared no love for any particular Los Angeles sports team. I think if I had said the Lakers, I would have been kicked right out of the event! Dan and I shared a crab melt, which was probably the best thing that we ate at the festival.
Our second course was a stick of enormous chocolate covered strawberries from the BerryKa Bob booth.
The cutest booth was definitely The Honey Pot Sweet and Savory Pies.
Beyond being adorable, The Honey Pot has delicious food. We shared their flight of mini sweet pies.
I've heard tales of places that offer tastings pairing cupcakes and wine. Unfortunately, this just seemed to be advertising the idea and not offering a sample.
Just as we were getting completely parched, we happened upon one of the beer gardens. Prior to our trip, I had read that Oregon is known for its great beers and is a place that takes beer very seriously. I was eager to sample the local offerings.
We tried three beers. Out of the three, the one that I really enjoyed was the Raspberry Wheat from Cascade Brewing. It was sweet and light, great for summer. I can't remember the other two samples, but they were not very good. Dan disliked them enough that I ended up drinking a majority of all three beers. I had a great afternoon!
We learned that the lottery in Oregon helps fund new companies. We tried their food samples. I don't know much about it, but it sounds like a smart thing to have some of the lottery revenue going towards helping local businesses.
Castello Cheese is amazing! We had a sample of brie with honey that was fantastic. If it had not been free, we would have paid to fill up on cheese. We wanted more, but didn't want to look greedy.
We saw a very impressive balloon hat.
The Rouge Farms booth gave us the chance to try beer crust pizza. It was okay, but in a sea of unusual food options, it wasn't a very special thing to picked to fill our limited tummy space. This was our one regrettable food choice. We had a slice of the salami with oyster mushrooms.
Pretty much anything with animals is a win. We sampled the FatDog Inc. spicy pretzels, which had a cat on the packaging. Smart branding to appeal to both dog and cat people!
Portland was crawling with Car2Go branded blue and silver Smart Cars. There are cars that you can rent by the minute and drop off anywhere in your neighborhood when you are done. It seems like a popular idea for a city where public transportation is so good that people don't necessarily need to own a car. The Car2Go company fills in for those occasional times when the convenience of car is helpful. Dan and I have two Smart Cars and I can vouch for their excellent trunk space. They may look small, but we have loaded them up with huge hauls from Ikea with no problems.
If I return to the event in the future, I will plan out my visit better and include some of the chef events. Something called Iron Chef Oregon has to be good. Maybe the challenge ingredient will be doughnuts from Voodoo?
On the opposite end of the beer garden, we found the wine and cider section. My favorite beverage of the day was a cider sample from the Portland Cider Company. The cider was so sweet that it almost tasted like a dessert. I am remiss in remembering the name of what I drank, but I would definitely seek out the Portland Cider Company and try their products until I found it. I wish that we had skipped the beer garden and gone straight over to the wine/cider area. The area had several wineries offering dollar pours.
One of the biggest food surprises was the Fish People Seafood booth.
The Fish People sell seafood entrees in pouches that are ideal for camping. I don't camp, but I like the idea of fancy camp food. I'd probably buy their products and make them at home. They were that delicious. I'm going to look for their products the next time I'm at Whole Foods.
We picked a lemon crepe from the Crepe Chalet for our final sample. It was light and sugary.
I snapped a couple of last pictures as we left the festival feeling stuffed and tipsy.
The Bite of Oregon is over for 2013, but if you have a chance to attend future events, I highly recommend it. Bring loads of cash and a big appetite!