Food Festival

Portland Monthly’s Cowabunga Summer Food Festival Is Back July 12–14

A delicious weekend of barbecue battles, fancy surf 'n' turf, brunch bites, chef demos, and Northwest rock royalty performing Americana pop tunes at Rossi Farms.

By Kelly Clarke June 11, 2019

Flame on at Cowabunga 2018

Image: Jason DeSomer

The best part of every Oregon summer? Grazing though the freshest eats and drinks our great city and state have to offer. That’s the aim at Cowabunga, Portland Monthly’s three-day, all-you-can-devour culinary bender Friday-Sunday, July 12-14 at Rossi Farms. For the second year running, the Rossi’s bucolic veggie and fruit patch in outer Northeast's Parkrose hood will host a “farm to fork” lineup of chefs, butchers, farmers, food artisans, bartenders, and brewers, all bent on celebrating the best food and drink in the Pacific Northwest.

An outgrowth of PoMo’s long-running Country Brunch event, last year's inaugural Cowabunga hosted more than 2,100 hungry revelers. This year, the fest returns with even more opportunities to dive, mouth-first, into our local food scene, with a gala opening night “surf and turf” bash and a brand new “Farm 'N' Flask” cocktail competition. Bonus: a portion of event proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels People and Parkrose School District Youth Programs.

It all kicks off Friday night, with a classy Seared: Surf, Turf 'N' Frites soiree starring indie butcher Zeph Shepard of Proletariat Butchery grilling up meaty bites to pair with epic seafood from Bamboo Sushi and King Tide Fish & Shell. And the “frites”? That’s a nod to the fact that we’ve scored La Moule for this dinner too, pulling out all the stops with a “loaded frites bar.” Oh, ice cream icons Salt & Straw will be there too. No biggie. We hear there’s plans for karaoke in the bed of a Toyota pick-up truck brewing as well. 

Barn Bash revelers at Cowabunga 2018

Image: Jason DeSomer

Recover the next day with a clever lineup of chef demos and tastings in a farmers market-style setting at our mid-day Farm to Fork event. Kim Jong Grillin’s Han Hwang and Noraneko’s Gabe Rosen are just two of the pros slated to school attendees on cheffy matters. Plus, come thirsty for our first ever Farm 'N' Flask competition, which challenges local bartenders to craft bourbon cocktails incorporating farm fresh ingredients, as well as bonus sips from Water Avenue Coffee, Wild Roots Spirits, Copper & Kings brandy, and so, so many more. 

Saturday night is devoted to a true Barn Bash, staged at Rossi Farms' actual barn, and flaunting a pair of competitions judged, in part, by you. Worthy contenders like Rosa Rosa and Kim Jong Grillin’ bring the heat in our second annual BBQ Bites competition, on a mission to unseat last year’s Judge’s and People’s Choice winner Taqueria Nueve (we’re still savoring Nueve's 2018 pineapple-spiked lengua tacos…). Meanwhile, local breweries like Vagabond, Gateway, Pono, and Great Notion try to sway your People’s Choice vote for Best Brew with their excellent summer suds. And, Northwest rock royalty alert: Barn Bash also boasts live Americana pop tunes from Giants in the Trees, which features clutch musicians Erik Friend, Jillian Raye, Ray Prestegard, aaand Nirvana founding member-turned-Washington farmer Krist Novoselić on bass and accordion.

Fried Egg I'm in Love's killer breakfast sandwiches at Country Brunch 2018.

Image: Jason DeSomer

Still hungry? (Of course you are, you’re a Portlander.) Cowabunga caps off its gustatory glory with Portland Monthly’s eighth annual Country Brunch, home to an overwhelming parade of breakfast greats, from Fried Egg I’m in Love and Pip's Original Doughnuts & Chai to Besaw’s and Olympia Provisions. Also on the roster, the latest installment in the sippable saga that is the Bloody Mary Smackdown, where the city’s best bartenders wage tomato-juiced warfare, employing baroque garnishes of pickles, cheese, sausages, and fried chicken skin in order to capture your vote. (Olympia Provisions, Solo Club, and returning 2018 Judge’s Award champs Il Solito are just a few of the crack teams on board.) Plus, a new I-Scream Sundae Bar for the kiddos and everyone else who likes things sweet and icy.

Revved up and starving? Good. Tickets to Cowabunga 2019 are available now. Score your spot at individual events or, better yet, buy a pass to the whole darn weekend. We’ll see you there.

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