Burners fire up for Feast Walla Walla

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WALLA WALLA — Feast Walla Walla, the community’s food and drink festival, is serving up a bigger helping of events this year.

The traditional foodie field day will kick off next month with a sit-down dinner the night before Feast, officials announced.

The dinner will be around a mega-table under the super-sized tent that spans First Avenue between Main and Alder streets. A special menu crafted by local chefs and paired with Walla Walla wines will be served. More than an entree to Feast, the $95-per-person dinner will double as a fundraiser for student scholarships at the Wine Country Culinary Institute at Walla Walla Community College and the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.

The addition this year helps fulfill the original vision for Feast as a weekend-long extravaganza of food and drink during what is traditionally a slower time of year for visitors.

“It’s actually always been a desire for a weekend full of fabulous events showcasing everything that Walla Walla has to offer,” said Jennifer Northam, events and public relations manager for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.

It’s also a chance to possibly diversify the audience. People who may hunger for something different than the traditional Feast event, or perhaps want to sink their teeth into a five-course meal with local wine pairings. The dinner will be limited to 120 tickets.

For the main event: A packed house of food and drink vendors.

Fifteen eateries and 35 wineries/breweries/cideries have already signed on to serve, Northam said. Another several are on waiting lists inc ase the 240-foot-by-40-foot tent can be configured to fit them.

The event, sponsored by Banner Bank, showcases hospitality with historic downtown as the backdrop. It runs 1-4 p.m. April 13. The timeframe allows visitors to sample what the Valley has to offer, with time left for chefs to get back in their kitchens for dinner and for guests to continue eating and drinking their way through their favorite places.

The $50-per-person tickets provide each participant with a commemorative wine glass, a plate and 10 event tokens that can be traded for samples of wine and food. Additional tokens are $2. An onsite wine shop allows guests to buy bottles on the spot.

A few items on the menu this year: wild boar bratwurst from The Marc, hand-crafted salami and cheese from Cugini Italian Imports, Asian barbecue pork tacos and couscous salad from Salumiere Cesario, a Reuben tart from Weinhard Café and polenta with lamb ragú from T. Maccarone’s, to name a few.

The event will also feature works from artist Squire Broel, a Walla Walla painter, print maker and sculptor who casts his work at the Walla Walla Foundry.

The Feast Walla Walla tent will go up the evening of Thursday, April 11. That stretch of downtown will be closed until Feast is over.

That Friday will be the Chef’s Table on First, featuring a menu from chefs Antonio Campolio of The Marc and Dan Thiessen of Wine Country Culinary Institute. Chef Michael Kline of Walla Walla Bread Co. will assist. A reception ahead of the dinner will allow guests to visit with 12 local vintners.

The menu includes butternut squash soup with spiced cider foam and cinnamon Greek yogurt and Lostine Cattle Company New York steak with savory onion and bacon bread pudding, braised Brussels sprouts with a cambozola brandy emulsion. Wines have been selected by the chefs to pair with the courses. Wines are from L’Ecole no 41, Long Shadows Vintners, TERO Estates, Woodward Canyon and the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center’s own label.

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