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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UPCOMING: Holiday Giving Guides for the Hungry People in Your Life

When I was in high school, scouting out unique holiday gifts was one of my specialties. I could cross the threshold of Target’s big red doors with a mission in mind and be back out in 10 minutes flat, arms full of thoughtful randomities sure to make someone in my friend group (or my mom) shimmy with excitement.

As I’ve gotten older (and more aware of expectation and whose taste is what) it turns out that gift hunting has lost a little bit of it’s sparkle. It’s not quite the exciting quest that it used to be, in fact, I think we can all agree that sometimes it can get a little frustrating. There have been desperate moments when I’ve walked into, what I’ve deemed is, the last store of my sad attempt to find a gift for someone and have picked something up, sighed as I settled on something mediocre, and felt guilty that I didn’t start shopping in September like I meant to.

And let me tell you something else, there’s truly nothing like quickly, softly whispering, “There’s a gift receipt in there if you don’t like it,” to really get someone excited for what awaits them in your haphazardly wrapped package. My favorite part is the hyperbolized excitement they show afterwards to prove how stoked they are for the thing you have ~blessed them~ with.

For those of you also feeling overwhelmed, clueless, like you’re blindly combing the shelves at the Very Posh Store That You’ve Always Meant to Go Into for the perfect something…these upcoming seasonal gift guides are for you. Of course, it’d be worth mentioning that these are for the people who hold my same interests near and dear to their hearts. Those interests, of course, are the consumable kind: food, cocktails, coffee, restaurants, cooking, recipes, kitchen supplies (ok, less consumable), etc. I’ll be listing them all!

Another thing that’s happened since I’ve gotten older is that I’d rather receive an experience, like an outing or a trip, than a thing (unless that thing is a mandolin slicer because SHE is currently burning a hole in my Amazon wishlist). That means I will not only be sharing my ideas for things you can buy for someone, but also things that you can do together.

The holidays shouldn’t be all about gifts, but I hope the ones you do give are received graciously and produce imminent hunger pangs.

Be on the look out for the first one next week!

PS: Throughout the holidays I’ll be posting some of my recommendations for where to eat and drink around The Emerald City as well. Stay tuned!

Current Favorites: Food Podcasts

I feel like my ~life mantra~ for my 25th year could be many things, but one possibility is definitely, “so many podcasts, so little time”.  I’m the person who hears about an interesting podcast and recklessly subscribes. This is good because I’m constantly discovering new, awesome podcasts to consume. This is bad because I always have the little red numbers on my iPhone home screen, reminding me of all the OTHER podcasts that I’m currently neglecting. I’m like a hoarder.

(For example, RIGHT NOW IT SAYS 35)

Recently I’ve been exploring podcasts of more tasty nature, and they have been consuming much of my attention span. From learning about the culture, history, and science of food to getting excited about a new restaurant or ingredient to being inspired to try something exotic…they always leave me feeling excited to hear more.

I know I’m not the only one. It’s 2016 and we all like podcasts at this point, right? So take my advice and check out some of my favorites. You won’t regret it. (You will, however, be hungry).

gastropod

 

Gastropod – https://gastropod.com/

Listen if you love: Food, science, history, Irish accents

Where to start: https://gastropod.com/everything-old-brew-again/

 

spilledmilk

 

Spilled Milk – http://www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/

Listen if you love:  Comedy, eating, stories, and cooking tips peppered with inappropriate jokes.

Where to start:  http://www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/2016/03/24/episode-220-frozen-pizza/

splendid

 

The Splendid Table – http://www.splendidtable.org/

Listen if you love: Current events surrounding food, food trends, food facts,  history, stories, recipes, etc

Where to start: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/american-public-media/the-splendid-table/e/584-field-goals-44920137

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Gravy – https://www.southernfoodways.org/gravy-format/gravy-podcast/

Listen if you love: Southern food, storytelling, and history (specifically a history of the American south).

Where to start: https://www.southernfoodways.org/gravy/mexican-ish-how-arkansas-came-to-love-cheese-dip-gravy-ep-32/

eatthis

 

Eat This Podcasthttp://www.eatthispodcast.com/

Listen if you love: food, travel, food news, kitchen tips

Where to start: http://www.eatthispodcast.com/it-is-ok-to-eat-quinoa/

 

Also try: KCRW’s Good Food, Burnt Toast, and Radio Cherry Bombe

Each of these podcasts puts a different spin on being a “food podcast”,  and if you’re looking for something different to listen to I’d definitely recommend giving them a listen, or taking a leap of faith and doing a blind subscribe. Many of them even come with a newsletter and all are available in your local app store or podcast app.

 

 

X Marks the Spot | Trove, Seattle

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Trove | Seattle

The first time I saw the big, red X was on the day that my office moved from Fremont to Capitol Hill. It hung proudly on a Pike Street facing wall next to several giant, almost floor-to-ceiling windows. The sun poured inside and I could see a sleek, white counter facing an open kitchen, something that looked like an ice cream truck in the corner and a menu boasting various dishes whose ingredients triggered my curiosity. “Trove?”I read out loud from the sign. What was this place?

After a few weeks of being in our new digs, rumblings about the restaurant could be heard in my office. “There’s Korean BBQ in the back,” someone said excitedly. “AND they sell parfaits!” I didn’t know what Korean BBQ was yet, but I did know that I had to go.


What you need to know
Trove is broken down into three* main parts:

  1. The Counter
    Asian-fusion will never have tasted so good as when you watch it being cooked over a giant flame. The air is thick with aromas that hold promises of imminent umami-bombs, and the menu items change regularly. Believe me when I say that you’re going to want to try the sauces that you’re offered by the chef.

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    Trove | Noodle Bar


  2. The BBQ
    While this isn’t your hole-in-the-wall Korean BBQ joint, it sure does make a strong case for itself. The quality of the meats at Trove is evident from the get-go, and the chefs are happy to cook them for you if you’re feeling a little timid about your tong technique. I’d recommend trying a variety of things from different areas of the menu. Our server (who was fantastic, BTW) was happy to help us in our selection of items, and gave us an honest opinion about how much food would be the right amount of food. He was dead on.

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    Trove | Korean BBQ

  1. The Parfaits I have had the parfaits at Trove more than I have had anything else. I will say this: if you don’t have a sweet tooth, these might not be for you. If this is the case please go inside and get yourself a sake. However if you fall into the Sweet Tooth category I’d recommend following your heart and trying as many as you can while the flavors last. They change them every season and I’ve hardly ever been unimpressed. Bonus: If you bring back the branded glass jar that they serve your parfait in you can get a dollar off your next one! (As if I needed more motivation to go back…)

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    Trove | Parfait


Still need convincing?

Here’s 10 Reasons You Should Go to Trove This Summer

1. Who doesn’t like to grill on the dinner table? It’s like the adult-friendly version of playing with your food

2. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S WAGYU TRI-TIPS. Honestly, they marbeled to perfection

3. The parfaits alone give you at least ~6 reasons to stop by. I tried the cookies and cream with homemade Oreo last weekend, and I had a taste of the Tea Lime Pie (with Matcha custard). Both were divine and I NEED to go back from the peanut butter cup…and the other Matcha one.

4. NOOOODLES. While the noodle bar’s menu changes pretty frequently, I’ve always enjoyed a savory, flavorful, and satisfying meal there.

5. AGAIN WITH THE PEA VINES. They had smoked cashews on them and a hint of a vinegar taste. A perfect side dish to our meat selection (My other favorites so far this season were at Ma’Ono)

6. THERE IS A  ALSO BAR. There’s an  international beer list, a great sake/shochu selection, unique cocktails (of which I want to try MANY), and six beer taps pouring cold, local beer. Happy hour from 4-6!

7. Because there’s not only meat to love, but also veggies dishes. The asparagus and mushroom entree was SO flavorful. Please eat as much of the sauce as possible.

8. Impress your date (or your crew) with a beautiful Asian fusion restaurant on capitol hill

9. Because a Netflix binge of 90’s movies is 300 times better with to-go noodles from their counter (pro tip: favorites right now are the rice cake/curry/kale, the Pad thai/ chipotle/pork belly/yu choy/chili peanuts, and the kimchi pork dumplings)

10. Because, truly, you’ve got to see what all the fuss is about:

Other restaurants in the Trove family include Revel and Joule. I could go on and on about both of them, but I’ll save that for another day.


Please feel free to send any hot tips my way, whether it be a hole-in-the-wall or a trendy place that lives up to the hype (in Seattle, OR ANYWHERE ELSE). Key items I look for on menus often include: Shrimp and Grits, Manhattans, Burgers with Creative Toppings, and Complimentary Baskets of Warm, Salted Tortilla Chips.

Follow me on instagram or snapchat to keep up with my never ending snack journey in real time!

instagram: @lacunningham  —  snapchat: lacunningha

Consume | Austin•TX (Food + Drinks Want-To-Do List)

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If I let my mind wander to Austin it skips the plane ride completely and instead takes a shortcut right through my insatiable appetite for all things Tex-Mex. I imagine the types of Taco-centric lunches I’d indulge in; what kind of spicy mimosa I might stumble across on a brunch menu; and how long my eyes would be closed during my first bite of Texas BBQ.

Eating and trying new things is a part of traveling that really deepens the experience, and while I’ve never been to Austin before you better believe that I have a list that I’ve started compiling for when I get the chance to go. It covers all the bases from morning to night and even a little snacking in between. Check it out:

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And after all that I’m just here at a coffee bar eating a cold chocolate pastry and dreaming of doughnuts…

If you have any suggestions for Austin please let me know in a comment or email!

Speak to you soon,

x

Paleo Poser | Lifestyle Post

bakedeggsI want to start out this post by giving a shout to to anyone who has ever completed a successful Whole30 or Paleo diet program because that shit is hard stick to. Seriously, congratulations, I don’t know how you successfully said no to pancakes at breakfast (I don’t want to hear about your special flours right now) or how you decided you didn’t need french fries at 2AM after that halloween party with all the jello shots, but you did it. Kudos. Mazel tov. And I…didn’t.

I should preface by saying that, although I’ve adopted some Whole30 and Paleo principles to my life recenlty, I never really fully committed to one of the newest crazes. I left myself the salvation of brunch, occasional emergency burritos (gluten/dairy free of course) and the “I deserve this” chocolate chip cookie to interrupt a stressful day. I have, however, introduced a whole slew of new vegetables and fruits into my diet as well as cutting out most dairy, gluten and sugar (don’t revisit the aforementioned cookie right now.) I’m eating more meat than usual to get my protein fix and backing that up with an hour of working out every other day. I definitely do feel better and can tell the difference in my mood and overall being when I interrupt my healthy flow, so I think I’m going to keep this thing up.

As I write this, I’m sitting here (petrified that my old, tiny oven in my ancient studio apartment is probably going to catch my dutch oven on fire) deeply inhaling the aromas of apple porkchops wafting through my apartment so I thought I’d list out a few of my favorite Clean/paleo/whole30 substitutes and recipes from the past couple of weeks:

Breakfast– Last weekend one of my favorite new Seattle friends and I decided to make brunch instead of going out like we normally do on Sundays. We made these baked eggs , brought to us by Minimalist Baker and they were to diiiiie for. Another breakfast option I’ve been loving is a bowl with strawberries and walnuts topped with a splash of hemp/coconut milk. The Tempt brand has an unsweetened one that is everything to me.*

Lunch//Dinner – Pasta is such a quick easy meal when you’re eating like a normal human, but turns out wheat pastas/noodles aren’t as good for you as vegetables. One of my favorite pasta alternatives so far has been zucchini pasta. This recipe calls for fresh cranberries and pinenuts (how festive for fall, right?) but on my second batch I subbed for blueberries and slivered almonds and it was AWESOME. Highly recommend. The pork chops that are currently flooding my apartment with savory aromas and audible stomach growling symphonies can be found here.

*I know that with most of these programs you’re supposed to make your own milks/not have any at all but let me live a little, ya’ll. I’m new at this
**I’m not a dietician or really even good at dieting so take everything I just said with a grain of salt (but not too much or you’ll bloat, AMIRIGHT?)

Eating healthy doesn’t suck.  Pro tip: You probably will get sick less this cold season if you just give it a little extra effort. Sleep, Water, Excercise, Healthy diet. Do yourself a favor and feel better.

Milan, Italy | Photo Diary

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The moment when I realized I’d left my cell phone on the table was a moment that was full of emotion–first silently and then loud. Profanities bounced off the walls of our tiny AirBNB apartment as I paced and retraced my steps of the afternoon in my brain.

Finally after going through my mental rolodex of curses, I determined that the only place it could possibly be was at the tavern with the slightly-too-sweet tiramisu. We were all the way back across town in our apartment and for a moment I thought “I can do this trip without my phone.” Then reality swung a punch and I realized “no, you absolutely cannot you fool.”

With a pit in my stomach and eyes to the ground I saw the pavement blur by as began to run (with little to no dignity or faith and a shortage of breath) to where I hoped my phone still remained.  Back down into the metro I’d go, barreling onto the train and then back off again; speed walking under the shade of the duomo, across the piazza, down the narrow alleys and finally stumbling into the kitchen of the tavern.

I probably could’ve come across less panicked (it probably seemed like I’d left my child there) but the servers understood, even through my broken Italian, what was going on. After the longest two minutes of my life, the owner finished his phone call, reached behind the counter and handed it to me with a smile. I have never been so happy in my life. Bless you sweet, sweet Italian man. May you be forever blessed with lots of happy customers to your restaurant of checkered tablecloths and delicious lasagna. Please take care of your bee problem on the patio. Sincerely, Lauren.

There will never come a day when Italy does not hold a special place in my heart. Since my first visit there in 2011 I’ve known that the Italian lifestyle is one I can get behind. Schedules are more relaxed, there’s always pizza (or calzones), sentences sound like songs rather than statements, being surrounded by centuries old architectures with one million stories to imagine, dinners that run late into the night, wine continually flowing and.. the men. The Italian men, ya’ll. My kryp-to-nite.

 

And next time I’m in Italy? The south. I’m aching to see the Amalfi coast, Sardinia, and the secret panini places hidden in alleys in the smallest towns. They’re always the best.

Speak to you soon!

 

x

 

Charleston via Iphone | Photo Diary

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1. My first impression of Isle of Palm was surreal. After being on the road all day ALL I wanted was the sand and the surf. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the salty air was the elixir that would get me through the rest of day.

2. Brunch at Toast! Of Charleston. I went to Toast twice; the first time offhandedly and the second was planned. My first trip there I was there during Sunday brunch. After doing a quick sweep of the menu I decided on a mimosa and a dish called Eggs on Meeting Street: a poached egg perched on top of a crab cake and a fried green tomato with remoulade and the most pillowy biscuit I’ve ever eaten…divine, okay? The company at Toast wasn’t bad either.

3. There was tile work everywhere in Charleston, especially on Kingstreet. Talk about a city with attention to detail.

4. Because, once again, I could not get enough of the beach. One of the best parts of the trip was just grabbing a quick picnic at whole foods and camping out on the sand until the sun went down. People watching was on point–but mostly I was excited about the puppy watching.

5. Black Tap coffee was entirely too charming and delicious. An iced coffee there was the perfect break to walking around in the hot sun all day (and also a break from a chapter in the story called: I locked my keys in my car. Woops).

6. Breakfast in bed because the berries were too vibrant not to capture.

7. Sunny flowers on rainy days.

8. My trip down to Charleston was a self proclaimed #coffeeroadtrip. I stopped at a stop in Chattanooga and a shop in Atlanta. The shop in Atlanta was called Octane and it was by far the smoothest cup of Ethiopian coffee I have ever had. Octane is a café and a bar, so needless to say I can’t think of any better place to be watching the World Cup right now.

9. I could’ve strolled down King Street alllllll day. And I did. And I got a really unappealing sunburn (pun intended)…(the pun is always intended you guys).

10. Another shot of the sunset over the sea at Isle of Palm. Perfection.

11. Milk and Honey was the other shop I stopped at on my way to Charleston. Before I had even gone inside I was in love. How can you deny such a cute store front? The inside was just as charming with the same honeycomb tiling and beautiful typography all over the walls. I’m crushing haaard on their branding. (And also their honey latte was the sweetest of treats).

12. Being on the beach alone was never lonely. No, it was really introspective for the most part. Just taking time to really absorb how the waves work and and massive it all is. It’s crazy. I recommend taking a personal moment or ten by the waves some time. You’ll get more sorting out done in your brain that you bargain for.

All of these photos were from my instagram which you can follow at @lacunningham!

I also updated my personal portfolio today and I would love for you to go take a look!

 

Speak to you soon

x

Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Map

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I remember someone once told me that if you want to know more about something, you should surround yourself with it; if you want to learn French, go to France; if you want to know about art, visit as many galleries as you can; and if you want to know about Bourbon-Whiskey, go to Kentucky. So (you better believe) I did.

On the way up to the cabin, since we would be driving through bourbon country, we decided to make a stop on the Bourbon Trail–AKA the region that America’s best distilleries call home. After much debate on where to start we decided on Woodford Reserve in Versailles* Kentucky(there was really no competition, let’s be honest).

*Pronounced “VER-SALES” if you’re a native and also if you don’t know what France is.

The tour through the distillery was about an hour long and took us through each stage of the bourbon process from cooking to consumption*. The Woodford distillery is the oldest around in the states; it was built some time in the late 1700s and the architectural style is so truly Scots-Irish you may forget you’re in Kentucky. After being up close and personal with such much bourbon, it’s a little bit hard for me to tell myself not to start a micro distillery…in my kitchen.

*My favorite part was the consumption.

After visiting my first distillery it’s now become a goal of mine to visit the rest on the trail. (Who doesn’t want to drink learn more about bourbon and the area that does it best?). To make that journey a little easier, for myself and for anyone else who wants to join in, I thought I’d make a little map. Bon Voyage!

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After a change of plans I’ll be leaving for Charleston tomorrow in the A M and making stops in Chattanooga, Atlanta, and who knows where else. Why not make a long drive into a real road trip, right?

 

Speak to you soon!