[Note: upcoming event dates at bottom]

Chris Angelus, the creator and tireless force behind the long-running Portland Food Adventures dinner series, recently invited me to one of their posh events. Departure, Gregory Gourdet’s slick Kubrick-wants-dinner restaurant above the Nines Hotel, was something like the twentieth dinner PFA has held, and many of the patrons were repeats. The format is simple: twenty-plus ticket-holding guests reserve seats, enjoy a private menu prepared by the chef of a highly-regarded local eatery, do a little chef Q&A if the spirit moves them, and leave with a set of gift certificates to local spots the chef recommends. The greatest pleasure of my evening, perhaps before even Gourdet’s powerful and stylish Asian dishes, was the company of so many devout and knowledgeable local spectator-diners. To my left and right were experts on the vagaries of local north Vietnamese cuisine, diners who had been with Genoa since its inception, ortolan smugglers, and the like. Conversation seems to come easy and remain spirited at these events, where food lovers can share their interests with well-vetted new friends.

Despite what seems like a high ticket price, I consider it, like Taste of the Nation or Cochon 555, a very good value for money, especially when the approximately $40 worth of gift certificates each guest receives, along with generous libation, is factored in.

Angelus has scheduled his next event at June on June 21, and then in late June/early July, a “V.I.Pig Lardo Grand Opening Party” at the celebrated Lardo cart’s new brick-and-mortar location. Tickets go quickly for these events, so an early reservation is recommended. Check out their site for an impressive roster of past locales.