“I’ve cried. I’m not gonna lie,” says Puerto Rico native Cristina Báez. “I’ve been overwhelmed with love.” The co-owner of Ataula and 180 Xurros is talking about the outpouring of support from Portland businesses for PDX Feeds Puerto Rico, the massive, seven-day roster of food and drink events popping up around town next week to benefit Hurricane Maria relief efforts. Báez spearheaded the effort with her biz partner/husband Jose Chesa.
December 4–10 brings a bonanza of opportunities to devour and support Puerto Rican culture, prepared, in part, by a cadre of islands chefs and baristas that event organizers are flying in to Portland for the week. Han Oak hosts an a la carte “Asian-Rican” night with fusion dishes from San Juan chef Paxx Caraballo (El Baoricua). Rue teams up with chef Mario Pagan for a four-course prix fixe dinner. Ataula throws down an entire Puerto Rican brunch with dishes like mashed plantain mangú, slow-roasted pork, and a’caballo from Baez, Caraballo, and Pagan, complete with tropical cocktails. Locals can sip Puerto Rican-inspired coffee drinks crafted by Puerto Rican baristas at Water Avenue Coffee, Stumptown Coffee, and Foxy Coffee.
December 7 brings the centerpiece of the week’s events, a big, public, Puerto Rican party complete with live salsa music and dominos at the Nightwood Society, the new food and design collective Baez co-runs with Michelle Battista. Baez will join all the visiting Puerto Rican chefs, baristas, and bartenders to serves dishes, bites, and coffee drinks galore. She’ll also host a panel discussion with Puerto Rican biz owners “opening up about what it’s like operating a business on the storm-ravaged island; how to survive and stay positive, and what’s next.”
In addition to all that, nearly 20 local restaurants—Aviary to Lardo and Little Bird—will serve Puerto Rican-inspired drink specials all week to raise funds. Honestly, you could close your eyes, walk nearly any direction in Portland next week, and stumble into a delicious opportunity to help support your fellow Americans.
“Knowing that basic needs are scarce [in Puerto Rico], and friends and family are hurting, I felt so helpless—I just had to jump in and do something, anything,” explained Báez in a recent missive. “Culturally, Puerto Ricans help everybody. We’re simply trying to do our part from far away, and we hope people will join us to make a huge impact.”
Check out the above video and website for a full schedule of events and more detailed info. All events benefit Cosa Nuestra Relief Fund.