It took everything I had not to devour the plate of octopus-shaped chocolate-covered cake bites when I first walked in to Monday night’s Foodportunity. With favorite Portland restaurants like Beaker & Flask, St. Jack, Serratto, and Lincoln, I had only paused for a small, early lunch in preparation of the plethora of dishes I knew would be available at the evening event. If only I could get to them.
“So great to see you,” a vaguely familiar someone stopped me within minutes of my arrival, shaking my hand and inquiring on my recent trip to Miami. I could smell the food at the other side of the room.
“Good, good,” I mumbled as my stomach rumbled. My willpower was caving, and the plate full of decadent cake mollusks from Artisan Cake Company sat only an arm’s reach away. Politely escaping the brief conversation, I darted to the side, elbowing passing guests in a mad dash to snag a plate of non-sugary sustenance. People started to shoot out from every direction, and I caught smiles from faces of both friends and strangers, making their way closer.
I held tight to my beeline.
Reaching for the colorful plate of savory white bean and octopus salad from Beaker’s chef, Ben Bettinger, I could see the smile across his face, the movement to begin a sentence, and I hurriedly shoveled the fantastically flavored bites into my mouth! Food at last!
And thus it began… My visit to the second Portland Foodportunity.
I made my way through the two ballrooms at downtown Portland’s Heathman Hotel as the evening progressed, chatting it up with event founder Keren Brown, picking up plates and delicious beverages from tables lined along the room walls. Friends and acquaintances continued to descend, offering the opportunity to catch up with favorite food folks from Stumptown to Seattle. The oxtail croquettes from new kid on the block, Aviary, were necessities according to the many recommendations, along with pork lettuce wraps from popular food truck Koi Fusion and perfect mushroom raviolis from Vino Paradiso. Sipping on one of my favorite cider beers – Crispin Cider – I also stopped to take in the evening’s social media discussion moderated by event man Mike Thelin, with panelists Greg Denton, Nick Zukin, and Carrie Welch giving pointers on making the most out of your restaurant’s social media following.
I was also thrilled to see Lincoln’s Jenn Louis on hand as well to greet guests as well. The 2011 James Beard Foundation Award nominee has been a busy bee, and currently in the midst of finalizing her next venture, Sunshine Tavern, in the city’s Southeast district. According to a recent press release, the new spot is set to open April 19th and will be part bar, part clubhouse, with 80’s video games and a simple “pub grub” cuisine.
You can check out my pics from Foodportunity’s first visit to Portland last fall. The always well-attended Seattle-based networking event brings together chefs, restaurants, media, public relations, and industry professionals every spring and fall.
Many more great things coming up on Daily Blender this spring, starting with a surprise feature next week with a favorite 2011 James Beard Foundation award nominee, as well as a giveaway from one of our sponsors. Also look for my exclusive interview with New Orleans chef John Besh the week of March 21st!
*Photo credit: Allison Jones, of Lemonbasil