La Ruta PDX: A Spanish Food Festival comes to Portland

The city of Portland provided the backdrop for four days of music, dancing, food and film as chef and restaurateur John Gorham and his team brought Spanish food to Portland this summer with La Ruta PDX! La Ruta or “The Route” is a Spanish food festival that took place on July 13-16th and this was its inaugural year.

Spanish food! In Portland!? Say what!? You could imagine my excitement…



Festival founder, chef Gorham wanted to take the people of Portland “on a trip to Spain.” The 4-day event was a way to say, “Thank You” to the people Portland for supporting his beloved Spanish restaurant, Toro Bravo which turned 10 this year. He also wanted to thank and highlight all the vendors and partnerships he has made over the years.

“This festival is all about human interaction. That’s where the magic is…” – John Gorham, chef and restaurateur / Plaza Del Toro


The fest was a combination of outdoor tastings, a trade showcase, various evening dinner series with visiting Spanish chefs, and premiere of SOUL, a Spanish documentary film featuring 39-year-old Eneko Atxa — one of the world’s youngest, three-Michelin-star chefs. After the film screening at the Portland Art Museum, we got to sample Atxa’s, “underwater wine” Txakolina being poured in Oregon for the first time.



Still from the documentary, SOUL. Scuba divers dive for wine.


Highlights from Sunday’s main tasting event included Spanish ciders, Estrella beer and 90+ wine samplings.


Portland’s local chefs got in the mix too…

Kachka’s Bonnie Morales’ served up Salt Cod Croqueta’s with marinated peppers, pea tendrils, and saffron sunflower mayonnaise…

Twisted Filipino’s Carlo Lamagna showcased a juicy, Pork Collar Adobo with marinated garbanzo and preserved lemon…

One delicious desert was Sarah Hart’s  Alma Chocolate which came in the form of Smoked Paprika Caramels and Cheese and Marcona Stuffed Figs

I even discovered anchovies that I actually liked! Marche‘s Rocky Maselli presented a bright, Anchovy Crudo with tomatoes and fennel. He explained that most anchovies are cured in salt for preservation — that’s why most people can’t stand them! But these were not salty AT ALL. So fresh and super delicious, I may have had 3 or 4 of them!

The most delicious anchovies!

The most delicious anchovies!


Watch the video for a sampling of all the fun I had at the festival, and check out the gallery below for more pics.

Thank you to Renee and John Gorham for inviting me and my family to attend! Looking forward to seeing what you have in store at La Ruta next year!


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