Bite of Oregon: Day 1 (Friday)   Leave a comment

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.


Posted August 7, 2010 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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