Last night, I was lucky enough to score a ticket to one of Feast Portland‘s primary events, the USA Pears Night Market. The USA Pears Night Market brings a LOT of talent — both local AND national — throws them all together in one of the coolest buildings (er, courtyards) in downtown Portland, creating a street food fair akin to those in Southeast Asia.

Me being the person that I am, I meticulously studied the line-up for weeks ahead of time and actually highlighted which chefs I was most excited to visit. It was a really, really tough decision, but first up on the list was Aaron Franklin of Austin, Texas’s famed Franklin Barbecue:

Franklin Barbecue is NOTORIOUS for having crazy waits — people actually start lining up outside Aaron’s restaurant at 9AM, despite the fact that it only opens a few hours later at 11AM. It’s a known fact amongst foodies — local and national — that their barbecue almost always sells out before noon. Since Erlend and I got to the Night Market early, there was virtually no wait at Aaron’s booth and we were able to try a serving of his brisket almost immediately. After my first bite, I totally understood the long lines: the brisket is worth every minute of the wait. 
Also on the all-star line up and one of my personal heroes was Christina Tosi, head pastry chef of Momofuku Milk Bar and creator of some of the awesome layer cake recipes that you see on this blog:
Christina was offering up cake “truffles”; that is, bites of her famous layer cakes, compressed into portable, compact balls with several different flavors and textures. There were three flavors available that night — Pretzel Cake, Birthday Cake, and Chocolate Chip Cake with Passionfruit:
Interestingly, I’ve made both her Birthday Layer cake and Chocolate Chip Layer cake for this blog before — it was reassuring that both the Birthday Cake and Chocolate Chip Cake truffles actually tasted like the recipes that I had made at home!
In addition to the celebrity out-of-towners, there were a ton of famed local chefs in attendance. Portland all-stars like Nong Poonsukwattana of the beloved one-trick food cart turned miniature empire Nong’s Khao Man Gai, James Beard nominated/Top Chef contestant Naomi Pomeroy from Beast, John Taboada from local favorite/highly acclaimed Navarre, and of course, James Beard winner/heavyweight champion Andy Ricker from Pok Pok:  
And now, the food…

As a nod to the street fair scene, I noticed a lot of chefs using Asian ingredients/inspired dishes. There was a lot of flank steak, Chinese sausage, and fresh herb garnishes. The pictures above are just the beginning — there were so many other dishes that I didn’t get a chance to shoot because I was too busy stuffing my face!

All in all, the Night Market was a great experience: a truly unique event that allowed me to sample food from acclaimed chefs and restaurants around the country, as well as showcase the best culinary talent that Oregon has to offer. It was really awesome to see our Portland folks up there with the national heavyweights, and, in some cases, surpass them.

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