Five Senses of Feast

 

Two years ago while visiting Portland with my parents my ears perked up at something I heard on the radio. I only remember sound clips: Sandwich. Invitational. Feast. Portland. Bon Appetit. I was still relatively new to the Pacific Northwest at the time so it was a mystery that grabbed my attention instantaneously. I needed to know more. Upon further Googling I learned 2 things: 1) Feast was an annual multi-day festival held in Portland, sponsored by Bon Appetit, that showcased Oregon’s bounty and featured several renowned Chefs from around the nation. 2) I HAD TO GO.

Fast forward two years to 2017. On the morning of June 2nd I sat at my computer, cheek in hand, impatiently refreshing the page where I’d purchase tickets for the festival once they were released at 11am. The moment struck and after surmounting a delay caused by an overloaded server I was in. I scored tickets to four events: Late Night Adventures in Takeout, The Grand Tasting (like a deluxe weekend costco sample experience), No Kilts Required: American Single Malts and—the piéce de résistance—Tillamook Presents: SMOKED (A BBQ PARTY, YA’LL).

June, July, and the early days of September crawled by, but finally it was time to pack up the Mazda3 and zoom down to Portland for Feast. The weekend unfolded in what I can only describe as a sensory extravaganza. One that I’m going to try and recreate for you now.

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Feast looked like –

  • A series of electric parties across the city accented by thematic mood lighting that gave every event charisma. My favorite was the neon, untraditional at a BBQ event.
  • Crowded, enthusiastic gatherings of all kinds of people—friends and strangers, groups and soloists, from different places, of different generations.
  • A tie-dye of stains on my shirts from who-knows-which saucy snacks.
  • A never ending sea of artistically composed dishes created by chefs whose home restaurants are peppered around the US.
  • A list to which I was always adding, documenting names of new restaurants I otherwise may have remained oblivious to.
  • Caramel colored splashes on my collar from that last whiskey cocktail I shouldn’t have had.

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Feast sounded like –

  • The ubiquitous hiss of raw meats sizzling on grills.
  • Exclamations between guests about which dishes were worth standing in line for—guiding my next move.
  • Bumpin’ music adding to the energy of the night accented by the percussion of iced bourbon cocktails being shaken in both fists by the boisterous bartenders.
  • Soft speaking between members of a restaurant’s staff underneath the tents.
  • The wise words of innovative chefs being interviewed by Bon Appetit’s Adam Rapoport.
  • Clattering of metal stock pots and pans. The metal clapping of tongs.
  • Joy during a time of political turbulence—laughter, casual conversation, excited statements punctuated by each new bite.
  • The low, slow groans of indigestion around 2am.

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Feast felt like –

  • Oregon’s warm September sun, it’s chilly twilight breezes.
  • The crunch of my first air fried dumpling, and the contrasting soft textures of regional cheeses.
  • The delicate balance of my wine glass in one hand and two small paper plates in the other.
  • Warmth from open faced grills.
  • Fumbling with utensils: chopsticks, forks, spoons, skewers.
  • The constant pressure of my finger on the shutter button of my camera.
  • Conflict because my stomach was full but MORE THAN ANYTHING I just wanted to keep eating.

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Feast smelt like –

  • Competing smoky scents from the forest fires of Jolly Mountain and the plumes dancing skyward from the charcoal grills.
  • Complex combinations of spicy aromas characteristic of single malt american whiskies.
  • An amalgam of currently-being-cooked dishes—fermented, peppery, sweet, mesquite, fruity, floral.
  • The perfume of Febreeze inside of a suburban mom’s lyft vehicle.

 

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Feast tasted like –

  • Fruit-forward wines from all over the pacific northwest.
  • Sweet baked goods and fragrant berry jams from local vendors.
  • Unique combinations of sweet and savory ingredients that I would’ve never thought to combine like brussels sprouts and pomegranate seeds.
  • Umami.
  • A just-been-torched s’more donut from Blue Star that was crunchier than I was expecting.
  • The spicy, moist brisket from Langbaan served in a pool of spicy gravy poured from a hot silver kettle, and decorated with flowers that packed a peppery punch that you can’t even imagine.
  • Very high quality hot dogs with very high quality pumped cheese.
  • The kind of tastes that left an impact on your palate, and lingered even after you brushed your teeth—more like a fond memory than an annoyance.

I am so grateful to have had the chance to attend my first Feast. For every moment I was there I was filled with joy and was able to momentarily forget about daily stresses that often overwhelm me. It wasn’t just me, I was surrounded by other people who were just as I happy as I was. I already look forward to the next Feast I’m able to attend. Next time I’ll go to one of the suppers, I won’t miss the Night Market, and I’ll bring more than 2 doses of indigestion tablets.

 

To learn more about the festival check out their website at feastportland.com

 

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Head East | Weekend in the Appalachian Mtns

headeast WV45 WV29WV21 WV53  WV56 WV50WV39 WV24 WV19 WV44 WV34WV47 WV33WV41WV32 WV55For three days last weekend I was on a mountain high. Two of my best friends and I loaded up and drove to their family cabin in West Virginia to spend some time hiking, laughing way too hard and exploring the best ways we knew how. Trail after trail took us on winding routes where we got to be close with lots of wildflowers and lots of deer. The views from the top of the mountains we climbed, though they were hard to get to, were always well worth it. The earth is a breathtaking place, and sometimes I forget that.

The area we were in was the northeastern part of West Virginia, right in the thick of the Monongahela National Forest.  The hills were covered in lush, aromatic spruce trees that seemed to go on forever and in the mornings they stayed tucked under thick blankets of heather gray fog. There was so much to do within an hour of the cabin so here’s a little guide in case you’re up for some adventuring as well:

SENECA ROCKS
-Hiking, rock climbing and repelling are just a few things that you can do at this nationally renowned park. The hike up the mountain isn’t terribly hard, but it’s 1000ft of elevation that you’ll definitely be feeling in your thighs when you get to the top. Good news: even though you’ll be exhausted you can rejuvenate on the observation platform and chow down on a peanut butter CLIF bar (there’s a snack cart at the top). If you’re interested in climbing or repelling on the flat faced rocks, there are lots of instruction classes around and guided excursions as well. Seneca Caverns (all the cave photos above) isn’t far away and was so cool as well!

SPRUCE KNOB
-AKA The highest point in West Virginia. There are a lot of trails that vary in length around the mountain  (many of them with an abundance of wildlife running about) as well as one that goes to the top. When you reach it there’s an observation tower with a killer view, and if you explore around the peak of the mountain you’ll discover the coolest boulder garden that would be great for camping or just to stop and soak everything in.  There are plenty of other lower areas for picnicing and grilling as well.

CANAAN VALLEY
Blackwater Falls should be the first stop of your day. There are some trails on the grounds of the park, or you can just take the stairs down to view the falls.
-Get back in the car and drive about 20 minutes and you’ll arrive at Canaan Valley Resort State Park. In the winter it’s a ski resort, but in the summer it’s teeming with outdoorsy people who want to take the lifts up the mountain to the trails. We hiked the Bald Knob trail which was a 2.5 mile trek that took us through the most perfect forest I’ve ever been in and then opened up to the top of a mountain with breathtaking views. (We saw so many deer during our hike, it was crazy). I’d definitely like to return to this part of WV for some snow tubing and skiing.
-Don’t forget to stop off in some of the quaint towns that line your drive to Canaan Valley! We didn’t have a lot of time, otherwise I would’ve been all over their many antique stores and restaurants boasting home cooking (aka my weakness).

This guide is far from being complete, but it should be enough to get your wheels turning. GO somewhere. Explore more, ya’ll.

Tomorrow morning I’m heading to Charleston SC to indulge in coffee, southern cuisine and sunshine. I’ll be there through the weekend so be on the lookout for some beautiful instagrams! Follow me at @lacunningham

If you’re interested in seeing more of my photos from the trip feel free to take a jump over to my Flikr page (click on the About tab at the top of this page)

Thank you guys for reading/looking and being wonderful!

 

Speak to you soon!

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Renewal.

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Living in a constantly moving city it’s easy to forget that there are places where things seem to stop, even if just for a little bit. My parents and I adventured to Radnor Lake the other morning to just be still. Just to feel the easiness and tranquility of simply being outside.

Hiking the trails, there were signs of spring everywhere. Tiny green arms reaching towards the sun; it’s sparkling reflection off of the once frozen lake surface; and branches snaking through each other, dotted with fuchsia buds which held the promise of a bloom. Spring made an appearance, and we were there to bear witness.

BB23BB8BB21BB13The thing about spring is that, for me at least, it’s natures reminder that all things can and do start fresh again; everything does in due time.

I often find myself indulging in the traditions of spring cleaning and clean eating and making things anew in my priorities and goals for the year, being careful not to step on toes of dreams I had before but instead develop them further and mold them into the person I’m becoming, rather than having them stand stiffly with the person I used to be.

The buds were a solid reminder that it’s okay to begin again, because new beginnings are beautiful and the final result is even more glorious.

Here’s to new beginnings, friends.

 

 

Speak to you all soon,

 

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ZARA | Spring Fashion Inspo

HELPFUL INFO TRUF 1403116000_1_1_1_web 1402008000_1_1_1_web TRUF2 1403111000_1_1_1_web 1402015000_1_1_1_web 1402014000_1_1_1_web 1403109000_1_1_1_web 1402001000_1_1_1_web 1402021000_1_1_1_web1403124000_1_1_1_web 1402013000_1_1_1_web 1403113000_1_1_1_web 1403120000_1_1_1_web 1402016000_1_1_1_web 1402006000_1_1_1_web1403125000_1_1_1_webALL PHOTOS VIA ZARA.COM

Last night I was inspiration hunting for a photoshoot I have the privilege of styling today. The story I developed for the shoot is titled “Runaways in San Tropez.

[PICTURE THIS]: It’s the 1990’s. Three Parisian twenty-somethings longing for a holiday at the sea finally escape the buzz of the city by fleeing to the south of France. They desperately want to fit in with the effortless elegance of the glamazons gracing San Tropez with their presence, but no matter how hard they try they can’t completely subdue their draw to all things grunge.

I want it be a juxtaposition of the glamourous style of the sixties (think: Audrey Hepburn) with, say, the staple styles of the 90’s (Drew Barrymore & Kate Moss circa 1994). Thus, when I ran across these Zara lookbooks (both their women’s line and their Trufaluc line) I was truly smitten.

(I should’ve just called this post Parentheses)

The silhouettes of these looks aren’t only something I hope to channel in my styling today, but also in my personal styling throughout the upcoming seasons. It’s hard to go wrong with solid colored, staple pieces…especially cropped ones. The whole Parisian closet movement is about all those things? Right?

The nineties shouldn’t be a period of fashion that we shake our heads at, but instead one that we nod to with a peep of skin, a good cut and a straight, maybe even slightly oversized, silhouette.

I, on the other hand, will be striving to look like a member of the Babysitter’s Club at all times. If you guessed Claudia, you’re right.

 

 

Speak to you soon!

 

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Nashville Guide: 12th Ave. South (Eats & Drinks)

12Smap_2HELPFUL INFOOne thing I can say, with confidence, about Nashville is that there is no shortage of places to get amazing food and drinks (beer, coffee, cocktails–everything). Another thing I can say with confidence is that there are a lot of different neighborhoods; trying to compress all of the them into one city guide would’ve been an overwhelming whirlwind that you never would’ve forgiven me for, so instead I opted to break things down into more digestible bits.

You can take that entire last sentence as a pun, and I won’t be mad about it.

I wasn’t really sure where to start with this tour-de-food, so I opted for my own neighborhood of 12 South. This area is located super near to Belmont University and Vanderbilt, and is about a five minute drive from downtown. I feel like every time I walk down the street there is a new restaurant, coffee shop or food truck parked on a corner that I didn’t notice the day before, and you don’t even need to think twice about if it’s going to be good. It just is.

Something cool about this street in particular is that there is such a wide variety of styles and types of cuisines. From Lebanese to pizza to BBQ–it would take a damn picky eater to not find something that made their stomach grumble. Most of the restaurants around here thrive on being farm-to-table, a lot of the product being sourced locally, and you can definitely taste the difference.

12 South feels a lot like the show Cheers–feeling at home usually only takes about one visit. Don’t be surprised if your second time around people already remember your name.

Unless it’s because you did something shameful. (We’ve all been there.)

 

Speak to you soon

 

 

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