Portland Indie Wine & Food Festival: Recap

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Here in Portland, we appreciate the little guy—we have bumper stickers reminding us to

Irving Street Kitchen Chef Sarah Schafer (photo by Drew Martig)

love our farmer, our brewer, our baker. Last Saturday, the Portland Indie Wine & Food Festival highlighted this kind of attention with yet another successful event (its sixth, to be exact).

Co-founders Lisa Donoughe of food public-relations firm Watershed Communications and Catherine Healy of Flint Design Company rounded up 51 wineries and 17 of Portland’s best restaurants to remind us of the greatness that can come from the little guy. The event was held in the stunning Bison Building in inner Northeast Portland, with high ceilings and lots of natural light. The space seemed to be made for such a tasteful, classy event.

So, what qualifies as an indie winery? This kind of winery sells wines that are produced in small batches, so small in fact that many of these wines haven’t seen grocery store shelves nor Portland’s wine lists just yet. Wines made this way feature attention to detail and quality, and all are filled with heart. On Saturday, it was evident that each wine-maker, whether it was the 37 festival alumni or the 14 new guys on the scene, were all just grateful to be sharing their wines with Portland. Here are some of the highlights:

Dion Vineyards served a memorable and refreshing Pinot Gris that took a nice break from some of the heavier reds being poured.

Trinity Vineyards had a 2007 Syrah, which had silky mouthfeel and just enough tannins.

Utopia poured their 2008 Ribbon Ridge Estate Pinot Noir, which was reminiscent of dark berries with a complex body.

White Rose Estates stood out with their especially rich, jammy 2008 Dundee Hills Estate Pinot Noir.

Although the wineries were certainly the stars of the event, it’s hard to ignore the list of fantastic restaurants present, all headed by the actual owners and executive chefs. Some of the food standouts were:

Irving Street kitchen’s chef Sarah Schafer offered up a well-seasoned meatball made from veal, beef, and pork in a sauce au poivre. A smear of creamy polenta added texture to this heavenly bite.

Metrovino’s chef, Greg Denton, definitely deserved an award for the most unique, flavor-packed bite: He prepared a tender goat confit atop crispy flatbread with spiced goat’s milk yogurt and a strawberry mint salad.

Cheesemonger and owner of Cheese Bar Steve Jones cooked up melty grilled cheese with cheddar and earthy mushrooms.

Biwa’s Gabe Rosen served up refreshing lettuce wraps filled with braised pork bo-ssam and Japanese pickled vegetables that were a nice break from heartier dishes.

Simpatica Dining Hall & Catering’s Jason Owen served a crostini topped with a rich bourbon chicken-liver mousse and a tangy pickled rhubarb.

The Country Cat Dinnerhouse & Bar’s owner and chef Jackie Sappington brought dessert first (and likely many trips following that) with Ovaltine ice cream studded with salted caramel pieces.

Lastly, chocolatier Julian Rose from Moonstruck Chocolate Company brought two kinds of luxurious truffles—one dark chocolate and one light.

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