Each of the four main tasting events at this weekend’s Crave Food and Drink Celebration features 12 to 15 chefs.
And, of course, if you go, you will want to try samples from each one.
Here are the top 12 dishes – three from each main tasting event – that I’m most excited about sampling at this year’s festival.
6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, $85 per person
Dungeness crab from Brian Clevenger of Vendemmia in Seattle. Vendemmia specializes in handmade pasta and seasonal Italian fare. Here, Clevenger pairs Dungeness crab with charred octopus, avocado, preserved lemon, fennel, olives, creme fraiche, snap peas and endives.
Smoked salmon from Grant Hinderliter of the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla. Dining at this historic hotel is a real treat. This sample offers a true taste of Washington: asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon with crab cream brulee.
Foods from Around the World
6 to 9 p.m. Friday, $65 per person
Tamales from Los Hernandez Tamales in Union Gap. This humble eatery in the Yakima Valley specializes in pork, chicken and seasonal pepper jack-and-asparagus tamales. Felipe Hernandez adapted his sister’s recipe and opened up shop with his wife, June, in 1990. I used to live in the Valley and try not to pass up an opportunity for these tamales, which won a prestigious James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award this year.
Summer chicken from Aarthi Sampath of Kukree in Seattle. This popular food truck boasts “the flavor of happiness.” It specializes in sandwiches, salads and bowls with inspiration from around the globe. This particular dish features lemon harissa, lentil pilaf and a cucumber-fennel salad.
Flank steak from Travis Tveit of Iron Goat Brewing in Spokane. The young chef has been elevating the offerings at this popular downtown brewery. Here, he prepares balsamic-marinated flank steak with chimichurri, pickled red onion, goat cheese and micro radish greens.
Fire and Smoke
6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, $65 per person
Pork souvlakia from Nikiforos Pitsilionis at Black Cypress in Pullman. Grilled and skewered meat – easy to hold and eat – is perfect for food festivals. The line for this dish was really long last year. I went through it twice. I’m looking forward to going through it again.
Montana bison pemmican from Wilson Wieggel of Big Sky Resort. Pemmican is a mixture of dried meat and fat, traditionally prepared with large wild game by native peoples of North America. This modern version includes huckleberry-chai gastrique, crispy parsnip, beet chip and herb salad.
Northwest steelhead poke from Matthias Merges of Folkart Restaurant Management in Chicago. The Pacific Northwest meets a variety of Asian influences in this dish, which features Thai curry, Korean kimchee and Japanese nori or edible seaweed.
9 a.m. to noon Sunday, $50 for adults or $35 for children ages 6 to 12
Fried chicken sandwich from Shane Clark at Honey Eatery and Social Club in Coeur d’Alene. Clark is the opening chef at Adam Hegsted’s new Honey, known for its fried chicken as well as spotlighting its namesake ingredient. This dish features both. Fried chicken in served on a waffle with soft scrambled egg with herbs and honey chili.
Cured rainbow trout from Chris Silor at Farmhouse Kitchen and Silo Bar in Ponderay. Opened last summer, this restaurant – another from Hegsted – specializes in barbecue and Southern-inspired dishes with an Inland Northwest bent. The cured rainbow trout comes with fresh dill, fennel, hard-boiled egg, red onion, horseradish, watercress and creme fraiche on grilled sourdough.
Avocado toast from Doughlicious Bake Shop. Hegsted’s baking outfit is offering an interesting take on phenomenon that is avocado toast: brioche toast with prosciutto and avocado ice cream.