As usual, Angela Moore and Jared Rasic were hungry. Thankfully, the Bite of Bend rolled deep with meat-laden food carts, cheeses, and brief smatterings of vegetables. Moore's history writing the Source's CHOW section and Rasic's love of all things edible laid the basic foundation for a surgical strike against anything served in a dish, on a skewer, or, even in their bare friggin' hands. While there were multiple vegan and vegetarian options available, Moore and Rasic went straight for the animal flesh.
Following a stint as a judge in the Bite of Bend's Bartender Brawl, Rasic started the day with a mild hangover. Jon Weber had taken home the trophy for best bartender, but Rasic felt like a winner, albeit a winner with a headache. Moore was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to serve as a judge in Central Oregon's Top Chef competition. But her deadly and somewhat curious appetite needed immediate attention, so she and Rasic sampled a few food carts before her judging gig began.
Starting at American Monster Noodles, our intrepid eaters discovered the first of many $2 bites to be found throughout the festival. The Wild King Salmon Tartare proved to be a perfect base layer for liquor, which they found nearby in the Mixology corral.
Despite their hard-won knowledge that drinking too hard and too fast would only lead to ruin, they powered through a few shots of locally-made spirits from Crater Lake Distillery, Wild Roots Vodka, Brody's Spirits, and Professionals Spice Whiskey before Moore made her way to the Top Chef stage. Pronghorn and Global Fusion went head-to-head, using the secret ingredient of trout to impress three judges with two dishes. When Global Fusion failed to plate one of their dishes in the 45-minute time limit, Pronghorn was declared the winner.
Still hungry, Moore and Rasic raced to taste every other bite they could get their hands on. They tried Num-Nums' $2 Pork Belly Steamed Bun, then moved on to a bite-sized Philly Cheesesteak from Philly Style. Next came a massive plate of ribs, watermelon and chicken from Cody's Catering and Cook Shack. As if on cue, the clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the sun shone through the clouds. Moore declared that the ribs were divine, and Rasic started speaking in tongues.
Rasic noted that all of the food in his belly seemed lonely, and liquor seemed like the perfect flat mate. Thankfully, the Mixology Department was within stumbling distance of Cody's. The tea-infused spirits from Thomas and Sons raised their spirits enough to allow a few more food stops.
Will full bellies and breath like your drunk uncle at a family reunion, they made the short trek to Himalayan Bites, each step well-planned and poorly executed. Fortunately, they found seating amid a sea of German tourists and gorged themselves on Sha-momo, a handmade dumpling stuffed with meat, scallions, garlic, ginger, onions and Himalayan spices. The Bites were so good, Moore and Rasic lamented the fact that they couldn't fit more of them into their bulging stomachs.
Of course, there's always room for dessert, so Moore and Rasic managed to make space for frozen yogurt (twice), shaved ice (twice), five small cakes, caramel corn, cotton candy, a few candy bars, some gummy worms, some diabetes, a heaping helping of heartburn and at least one minor seizure.
Feet swollen, eyes glazed and wallets empty, they decided it was time to waddle away from the entire affair. But, for $2 a Bite, maybe they could just go back for a wafer thin mint. Or a scoop of shaved ice. Or...."Oooooooh, is that pizza?"