I was beyond excited for this year’s Taste of the Nation. My experience at last year’s event proved quite memorable, demonstrating that it was, quite possibly, the best food and wine event in Portland. All the top restaurants from across the city, many of the top wineries and breweries in the area, and a handful of shining spirits on hand to ensure that guests didn’t leave dissatisfied – and all for a good cause.
This year was no different. Taking place at Jeld-Wen field – curiously in the halls, rather than the green field itself – the Share Our Strength fundraiser welcomed yet again a strong following of hungry supporters, excited to revel in the rows of bites and imbiberies, despite the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.
Over fifty restaurants offered bites at this year’s event, from Otto to Irving Street Kitchen. Carefully balancing my plate, camera, and wine glass, I had a chance to taste the Asian steam buns with lemongrass pork and shrimp sausage from Boke Bowl, spicy chicken bao from Departure Restaurant & Lounge’s Gregory Gourdet, Clyde Common’s chilled spring soup, Beaker & Flask’s inventive pork cheek pastrami and pea puree from chef Anthony Walton, a mini meatball pucchia from James Beard nominee Cathy Whims, beet tartare from Portobello Vegan Trattoria, a pickled watermelon salad from Smokehouse 21, and a whole array of sweet things, including a killer sea salted caramel brownie from Saint Cupcake (I took two for the road). Standouts included the steam buns, bao, brownie, and the mini Reggie from Pine State Biscuits.
Even though this event only comes around once a year, food insecurity is an ongoing struggle for many. Support Share Our Strength, as well as hunger organizations in the Portland area and beyond, including TOTN beneficiaries, the Oregon Food Bank, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, St. Vincent De Paul, and the Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank.
*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender