Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dining Al Fresco in Montavilla

In an earlier post I talked about an annual phenomenon in our little neighborhood, the Montavilla Farmers Market Banquet. (You can read it here: ) Yesterday was the 2010 installment of what is becoming a very popular event. So popular, in fact, that more than a dozen requests for tickets came in the last week...after the deadline and all 96 places had been sold. One attendee quipped that he could've scalped his ticket on the Stark Street sidewalk. I guess that's when one knows that one has "arrived".

This is the third year, and it seems it does in fact gets better each year. A new addition was the introduction of a vegan course, and surprisingly (to this carnivore, anyway), 23 of the 96 attendees chose vegan. Even the wine pairings included biodynamic and vegan options.

What is also becoming evident of this event's growth is the participation of so many local businesses and establishments. Almost every restaurant on the Montavilla strip between 82nd and 76th Avenues contributed to the menu or the effort, and seeing so many stellar chefs and servers engrossed in their art was humbling to this average food guy.

Of course it begins inauspiciously enough. The transformation of a gravel lot into an al fresco heaven starts early in the morning with the raising of the "big tent".

One of the truly unique aspects of the banquet, and perhaps of the Montavilla Farmers Market itself, is the community support and the legions of volunteers that help with everything from setting up the kitchen tents to the table settings. Here Joanne and Rebecca carefully fold the napkins to hold the silverware...especially against the wind that came up later.

John (pictured) and Ken were the electrical and lighting geniuses that helped create the ambience for the dinner.

Jeff Vejr (left) of Red, White: Green selected the five wines that were paired with the dinner courses, and served the wines with two of his pourers. Of special note is the contribution of some of the wines by Cooper Mountain Vineyards.

Table arrangements created by Tonia Stark included metal sculpure by Arnon Kartmazov, owner of K&K Forgeworks, who also lives in Montavilla.

Piper Dixon, of Kitchen Dances, a food booth at the Farmers Market, prepared the vegan options.

Who said a vegan dish has to be boring???

Twelve tables times eight people equals ninety-six ways to enjoy an kind of math!

Laura of Pastrygirl hams it up Joel. Pastrygirl provided the dessert course for the Banquet.

Kate is the Chair of the Montavilla Farmers Market board. One of the silent auction items was a growler of ale from Mt Tabor Brewing...brewed just a few hundred feet away

Portland City Council Commissioner Nick Fish, with Kate and Beth.

Beth and Adam Sappington (Country Cat Restaurant) confer about when to start the dinner.

Gretchan is the Manager of the Farmers Market. Here she is welcoming those attending the banquet and introducing other speakers.

Gretchan, with Kristin and Frank. Kristin (left) runs the Durable Dish Program for the market, which is the first of its kind in Portland. The program uses dishes and silverware that are washed at Thatcher's, one of the nearby restaurants. The program helps significantly reduce waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Adam of Country Cat plating one of the courses

The end product - Crispy Quinoa and Farro Cake with summer succotash salad.

The silent auction was a benefit for the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association.

One of the many lovely servers who were indispensible in making the evening a memorable one.

Michael Herrman of Buoy Larue provided the music for the dinner...something to soothe the sounds of traffic on Stark Street.

The meat course consisted of Braised Sweet Briar Farm Pork Shoulder with sweet corn grits and blackberries, by The Country Cat...awesome!!! The Observatory Lounge provided a fish course consisting of Grilled Ocean Trolled Silver Salmon with heirloom tomato salsa and roasted potato...also awesome! It was so good I forgot to take a picture of it.

...and to balance the meat and fish, a vegan dish was also served, Eggplant and Summer Squash Moussaka with roasted tomato sauce and pine nut cream.

The dynamic duo of Tonia and Vicki (Yes...a mother/daughter duo...can you tell who is who??)

Arnon and John, deep in conversation

Dr. Behrends and his wife. Without his generosity in allowing us to use the vacant lot next to his Montavilla Animal Clinic, our market and the banquet would not exist. Thank you!!

Kate, one of the owners of The Observatory Lounge.

Desserts, courtesy of Pastrygirl (I heard one describe it as orgasmic)

I will leave you with this final image, which I think beautifully summarizes the enjoyment of the evening. For more information, here is the website:


Anonymous said...

Delicious posting to go with a delicious evening!


Kristin W. said...

Thanks for the great write-up, Paul! I love your photos. You so artfully described a wonderful evening that was brimming with enthusiasm and community support!