Premiere Night: Film Screening of Soul
By Meggyn Pomerleau
Upon hearing of a festival celebrating the culinary culture of Spain, La Ruta PDX: A Gastronomic Festival rapidly made it to my wishlist of events to attend this year. Spanning over a long summer weekend, it boasted an intriguing dinner series, industry-standard seminars, Tastes of Spain, innovative trade shows, and a gastronomy-driven documentary premiere.
While imbibing in vibrant cava from Suriol and Gramona and tapas from PLAZA DEL TORO, Tournant, and Ned Ludd, we were more than able to patiently await for the private screening of Soul to commence. Every dish was decadent, thoughtful, and precise. Servers passed around the offerings, and it was truly difficult to keep my hands off the trays. Finally, we were called in to be seated.
Co-presented by NW Film Center and introduced by producer Pedro Peira, the film details the explorations and visual research of Basque country 3-star Michelin chef Eneko Atxa while digging into the mind and technique of Jiri Ono in Tokyo, Japan. It starts out with a magnificent view of the Spanish coast and soon draws us into the quiet of すきやばし次郎 SUKIYABASHI JIRO, Jiri Ono’s sushi restaurant.
“We need to travel to be able to learn.” -Eneko
Entranced by Jiri’s seemingly ancient practices and methodic movements, I wanted to believe my food was prepared and cared for at the level of his perfection.
“You need to take time to enjoy food.”
Another intriguing point of the film was when we were taken to the Plentzi, the first reef wine cellar lying twenty kilometers below the surface. If this doesn’t inspire you to take better care or want to experience these simple yet lavish additions to our life practices, I’m not sure what will.
After the film, we rejoiced in Eneko’s Txakolina (fizzy white wine), the first pour in Oregon. We waded through laughter, bathed in the fragrant spices in the air, and captured the imagery in our minds. This is how we should celebrate food. This is how we celebrate life.
Tastes of Spain Meets Tastes of Portland
By Britt Mohr
Although I only had the pleasure of attending La Ruta’s Tastes of Spain sample extravaganza over the course of the weekend, this particular event made me wish I could turn back time. The air was festive and bright on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Director Park, and I could feel the synergy of the attendees and the chefs and artisans.
The event hosted more than 15 local and Spanish chefs and I must admit, I was overwhelmed. To this day, I curse my own stomach for not being able to fit each and every sample offered.
A piece of advice to those who attend next year: The sample sizes are very generous.
Bring a partner or take your time because your stomach will be filled to the brim by the fourth stall. There was a perfect balance of authentic Spanish cuisine/culture and locally inspired dishes. From the enormous shared pan of paella from Crown Paella to a whole roasted pig at Grassa, I was transported back to Spain. Locally inspired dishes were beaming with excitement to show how much Spanish food has inspired them. The most memorable dish was the chilled cucumber and almond soup by Eric Joppe with Olympia Provisions. Joppe chef jumped at every chance to explain the reason and process behind choosing his dish. It offered a freshness and brightness to the heartiness of surrounding Spanish cuisine.
Every dish was exceptional and what brought me more joy in my little slice of food heaven was the attentiveness and care each chef had at their booth. Speaking with an ease and friendliness, each area and dish had its own story paired with the spectacular entertainment and authentic Barcelona street art.
One might think that a sold-out event such as this would become cumbersome and overwhelming. Among all the chefs, wine tasting, and live entertainment, I had space to breathe, enjoy the weather and my delicious Spanish food.