I bumped into my friend Eric yesterday at Freddy Meyer and we got to talking food, and somewhere along the course of conversation he asked if Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation was worth the $75 ticket price.
"Of course!" I proclaimed, although I had to add the disclaimer that I've never actually bought my own ticket--the first year I went I was mooching off my then-cube farm's free sponsorship package, and last year my friend Leigh and I went as volunteer Garbage Girls. You can read my Riches-to-Rags Taste of the Nation tale by clicking HERE. It's a tearjerker, let me tell you, complete with gratuitous shots of me sifting through scads of some of the most gourmet trash in town. Michelle was conspicuously absent, you may notice.
This year, Leigh, Michelle and I are volunteering again, but we have been upgraded to Ticket Girl status, so if you happen to be attending Taste of the Nation Monday night, April 27, you will see us and you should say hello and slip us some St. Cupcakes cupcakes. In my humble opinion, it's worth $75 alone to stand at the St. Cupcake booth and survey the platters upon platters of miniature cupcakes, and know that you could eat them all and not get arrested, if you were a big, bold, rude, and fast enough pig. You wouldn't do it, of course, but the possibility is...priceless, really.
If you're a Taste of the Nation newbie, here's how it works:
*On Monday, April 27, 2009, (THIS MONDAY!) enjoy an unforgettable night of gorging yourself on some of the finest food and drink Portland has to offer. 100% of ticket sales go to Share Our Strength, to help ensure no kid in America grows up hungry. Yes, we see the irony in stuffing your own face to help hungry children, but as they say, there's more than one way to skin a cat. So for 75 skins, you can fight hunger by eating a lot. That's just how this works.
*There are three ticket tiers, depending on how fancy/spendy you'd like to be. The top two tiers get you in early, plus some other exclusive perks. What's the benefit of paying more to arrive early? Supply and demand, that's what. Last year, Toro Bravo ran out of pulled pork sliders by 6:30 pm, that's all I'm saying. However, in their defense, it was their first year doing TOTN and how were they to know they'd be so darn popular? It must have been a traumatic experience though, because I didn't see them on the lineup this year?
1. LUXE ticket entrance at 5:00 pm — $200
If you pony up for the LUXE ticket you get the creme de la creme of exclusivity perks: WAY less rabble crowding you as you're sampling Davis Street Tavern's smoked duck legs or Lucy Brennan's latest cocktail, reserved parking, and entrance to the LUXE Lounge WHICH HAS ITS OWN BATHROOM. This is not a small thing. Also, if you're single and searching and want someone who loves good food and is financially solvent, remember that It's Just Lunch is almost $2000, and this ticket is only $200, AND you can tell your grandchildren that you met over Bamboo Sushi's Meyer Lemon Oil & Spring Herb Crudo instead of through a dating service for desperate wealthy workaholics.
2. VIP entrance at 5:30 pm — $125
A VIP ticket simply buys you more time, and believe me, that extra hour is all you need to get first dibs on everything and then spend the rest of the time making multiple rounds to the St. Cupcake and Ruby Jewel booths.
3. General Admission at 6:30pm — $75
Still pretty cool.
4. Garbage Girl volunteer — $-10 (dry cleaning bill)
TOTN still needs volunteers, by the way. Click above to find out more.
This year, TOTN is being held at:
410 NE 17th Ave
Portland, OR 97232
You have be 21 or older.
For tickets call 1-877-26TASTE or purchase tickets online.
NOW FOR THE STOMACH CANDY...
2009 Restaurant Participants
Waffles served aboard the St Vincent de Paul Mobile Bus
Salumeria di Carlo
Meyer Lemon Oil & Spring Herb Crudo of MSC Certified Wild Alaskan Salmon atop an English Cucumber Disc
Deviled Crab Salad in Endive Leaf Boats
Roasted Leg of Mutton with Bitter Greens and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Al Forno Ferruzza
Sicilian-style Pizza including New Haven White Clam and Margarita; Stromboli; Scarpetta - local seasonal heirloom vegetables seasoned and prepared in the traditional Sicilian style
Alberta Street Oyster Bar & Grill
Causitas Moradas y Solteritos - Traditional Peruvian preparation of fresh lime flavored potatoes with savory fillings: purple potatoes with shredded chicken and aji amarillo; yellow potatoes with garden fresh vegetables
Mole Guerrerense - Autentica’s homemade Mole sauce with 8 kinds of peppers and nuts, served with white rice
Baker & Spice
Vanilla and Chocolate Shortbread; Rhubarb Danish
Dungeness Crab on Endive
Bread & Ink Café
Belgian Sugar Waffles with Bacon, Brie and Basil
Pecan Blondies Layered with Chocolate Mousse and Topped with Sugar Honeycomb
Celilo Restaurant and Bar
House Charcuterie, Smoked Fish and Vegetable Terrine on Lavash Crackers
Grilled Monterey Bay Calamari Salad with Poached Kingfisher Potatoes, Castelvetrano Olives, Wild Greens and Piment d’Espelette Oil
The Country Cat
Pulled Smoked Duck Legs on Mushroom Crackers with Mascarpone Cream Fava Beans
Downtown Cupcake Brown - Miniature devil’s food cupcakes topped with fudge frosting
Davis Street Tavern
Seared Muscovy Duck Breast with Apricot Chutney on Brioche
East India Company
Crispy Baby Vegetable Samosas with Mango Ginger Chutney
Eleni’s Estiatorio / Philoxenia
Lahano Salata - Thinly sliced cabbage, shaved fennel and toasted almonds; tossed with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and smoked paprika
Salmon Tartare with Absinthe and Crème Fraiche Hazelnut Macaroons
Grilled Rosemary Lamb Sausage with Baby Field Greens
Frittelle Siciliano - an assortment of Sicilian street fritters
Higgins Pig and Pickles
La Calaca Comelona
Grilled Asparagus Salad with Hazelnut Tangerine Vinaigrette
New Seasons Market
Linda Brand Crab and Bay Shrimp Salad on Endive; Local Artisan Cheeses
House-made Charcuterie and Dessert Wine
Cannellini Beans with Olive Oil Poached Albacore Tuna
hicharron con Salsa Verde - fried pork rinds with a jalapeno salsa; and Tostadas de Salpicon - chilled beef salad on a tostada with radishes, cucumber, cilantro, lime and chile
Paley’s Place Bistro & Bar
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Fig Bellinis; Cold-Smoked Marlin-Wrapped Asparagus
Por Que No
Chocolate Blini with House-made Wild Boar Bacon, served with Citrus Marmalade or Huckleberry Mousse
Boudin Blanc Corn Dogs with Spicy Creole Mustard Sauce
An Assortment of Miniature Ice Cream Sandwiches
Russell Street BBQ
Barbecue Babyback Pork Ribs from Carlton Farms; Frito™ Pie Shooters
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Filet Mignon - The most tender cut of Prime beef, cut generously and broiled expertly to a melt in your mouth tenderness
Hundreds of Really Cute Cupcakes
Mussels Rellenos with Chorizo - Baked stuffed mussels with fennel, parsley, chorizo and toasted bread crumbs
Escabeche with Bay Scallops or Prawns; Miniature Lemon Tarts
Spring Vegetable Pakoras, Grilled Naan Bread and Seasonal Chutneys
Chilled Asparagus Soup with Lemon and Crème Fraiche
2009 Beverage Participants
Be an amateur MIXologist! Learn how to mix your own drink from 4 of the cities best bartenders. Hosted by MIX magazine and Lucy Brennan from Mint/820 featuring spirits by Brown Forman & Aviation Gin. A new bartender will be featured each hour.
Bartenders for the MIXology station:
* Jason Boyok from Mint/820 - Herradura tequila
* Leslie Bucher from North 45 - Jack Daniels
* Kristin Strother from Saucebox - Aviation gin
* Sean Skvarka from Departure - Finlandia vodka
Belle Pente Vineyard
Cara Bella Winery
Carlo & Julian Winery
Cooper Mountain Vineyards
Elk Cove Vineyards
Foris Vineyards Winery
La Bete Wines
Lange Estate Winery and Vineyards
Left Coast Cellars
Oak Knoll Winery
Torii Mor Winery
Willamette Valley Vineyards
Witness Tree Vineyard
Youngberg Hill Vineyards
Young's Columbia Distributing
Captured By Porches Brewery
Full Sail Brewing
Salivating? Buy your ticket to Taste of the Nation NOW!!
Or win two tickets here by telling Portland superbartender Lance Mayhew your most nightmarish food, cocktail or wine experience.
Okay, that made me really hungry. I am heading to the food carts.