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Fire Dancers, Coffee Cocktails, and Seattle Chefs at Feast Portland's Night Market

Joule and Ethan Stowell Restaurants represented Seattle in Portland on Friday night.

Chefs Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang at Feast 2014's Night Market
Chefs Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang at Feast 2014's Night Market
Jay Friedman

Friday marked one of the most popular events of Feast Portland: the Night Market. Supplementing a staple of Rose City favorites were chefs from around the country, ranging from New York City to Honolulu. Seattle represented with ten percent of the food booths.

  • Just a week after opening Trove, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi raced down the highway to skewer up spicy shrimp cakes. The spark and energy of the Joule days were evident in the chili sauce, with its notes of ginger, garlic, and lemongrass, making this a hot dish that sold out at the halfway mark of the event.
  • Across the way, Branden Karow, most recently the chef at Staple & Fancy and now the culinary director for Ethan Stowell Restaurants, stretched the notion of night market fare a bit by serving braised beef cheek BBQ sandwiches. Accompanying the meat: tasty crunchy pear slaw made with homemade pear vinegar. (USA Pears was the primary sponsor of the Night Market, and Stowell himself would be on hand the following day doing a reprise of the sandwich -- this time with pork cheeks -- as part of 3-course pear menu for USA Pears' "pop-up restaurant" at the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting.)
  • The most talked-about (and perhaps best) bite of the Night Market came from Brad Farmerie of Public and Saxon + Parole in New York City. His pork blood popsicles with chili jam and peanut powder, served with a side of crab salad laksa, was a dare-to-eat item for many attendees, with fascinating texture and bold flavor.
  • Gabe Rosen of Portland's Biwa dished out pork and shrimp water dumplings and shared news of plans to open a new place by the name of Noraneko. Japanese for alley cat, this "hidden alley"-like restaurant will focus on non-tonkotsu ramen, perhaps offering just karaage and gyoza as sides. It's the type of ramen restaurant that Seattle desperately needs.
  • Seattle salmon lovers liked what Los Angeles-based Jon Shook (of Animal and Son of a Gun) served up: salmon with jerk spice, grapes, palm sugar vinaigrette, and habanero. This dish comprised half of perhaps the evening's most popular pairing, as it went well with 10 Barrel Brewing Company's Cucumber Crush.
  • Actually, there were lots of opportunity for pairings, with 25 breweries, wineries, and distilleries adding to the revelry. In addition, alongside the Willamette River, framed by the Ross Island and Sellwood Bridges, Stumptown was doing coffee cocktails.

With all that drinking, diners were probably wondering whether the palm readers, fire dancers, and unicorns they saw were real. No unicorns, but a fantastic night market feeling with Asian influences and more as big-time eating to help fight hunger at Feast Portland.

—Jay Friedman

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