Making a list like this seems a little silly when just about every summertime event comes jammed with beer gardens and food trucks and wine tasting. But clear a little space on the calendar for a few of these outings, all of which focus on either food, libations, or an unstinting combination of the two.
JUNE (WHAT'S LEFT OF IT)
Eat Run Hope
Ethan and Angela Stowell's 5k returns with a new summertime date that ensures participants can stay warm without the aid of booze. The 5k at Magnuson Park benefits the Fetal Health Foundation and a new Nathanael and Gabriel Stowell Memorial Research Grant–worthy causes indeed. But the the accompanying food tent is insane. Here's but a sampling of who you might find inside: Tom Douglas Restaurants, Hitchcock, Wandering Goose, the Huxley Wallace Collective, Canlis, Revel, Taste at SAM, all things Maria Hines, La Bete, Terra Plata, all things McCracken Tough, Hot Cakes, Macrina, and Cupcake Royale. Bastille and Rob Roy are handling cocktails, Stoup and Alpine are pouring beer, and there will be wine, too. $90 for the 5k and chefs pavilion, $80 to just show up and eat.
Music and wine are forever intertwined in this state. So much so that we have a festival dedicated to winemakers fronting bands (and enough wine labels backed by musicians to fuel an entire spinoff festival). About 30 wineries will be pouring at Bell Harbor, food trucks will be plying revelers with jambalaya and grilled cheese and waffles on sticks. And, it benefits the University District Food Bank. $45
In three years this sweet little festival in Madison Valley has expanded into a legitimately rocking block party, one that benefits from all the great restaurants on the neighborhood's main drag. Booze will flow in the former Rover's courtyard, while multiple wine gardens provide vantage points for live music, stilt walkers, and a Marie Antoinette impersonator. The lineup of restaurants is great (Bar Cantinetta, Cafe Flora, Crush, etc.) but our first stops will be The Spoon Project, the ice cream outfit run by Harvest Vine's Carolin Messier. Frenchman at large Thierry Rautureau will be manning a grill, too. Food tickets are available in $10 increments; booze tastings are $20.
Ballard Seafood Fest
This annual conclave of grilled salmon, oysters, scallops, and fish tacos turns 40 this year, harkening back to Ballard's pre-condo days. And perhaps you've noticed Ballard is home to a few breweries? The companion beer festival within a seafood festival pours a score of great craft beer from around the state.
Bloody hell. Every year, Tamara Murphy coaxes some of the city's best chefs into a secluded field for a ritual animal sacrifice over flames. It may look like a Very Special Episode of True Detective filmed on location at Burning Man, but in reality Burning Beast is one of the year's most memorable food events, provided you're not a vegetarian. The only problem—the damn thing sells out within nanoseconds. So, uh, mark your calendars for 2015? Tickets usually go on sale in May; the Facebook page will show you the way. $99 and lightning-quick reflexes.
Planes, Trains, and Traveling Chefs
July 21 (and onward)
Once again, Matt's in the Market has invited some pretty incredible chefs from around the country to come cook with chef Shane Ryan. It's a tradition that began as an anniversary celebration and morphed into a series of dinners that pack major food nerd cred but still feel personal. This summer Chris Cosentino kicks things off; you might know him from his San Francisco restaurant Incanto, his love of offal, or his appearances on approximately 14,000 food TV shows. The dinner series continues with Matthew Accarrino of another superb San Francisco restaurant, SPQR, Toro Bravo's John Gorham, and Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman from Memphis's Hogs and Hominy. $150 per dinner, all inclusive ($125 for industry folk)
Seattle Street Food Festival
Last year's inaugural cavalcade of food trucks on Capitol Hill was crazy crowded. So the festival has expanded to two days this time around, each one packed with more than 50 food trucks, carts, stands, and other vendors. The list of foodstuffs hasn't been announced, but the organizers dropped a few hints about some alfresco dining pop ups, an Ethan Stowell-organized after party, and an event series with Hugo House. Ticket info forthcoming
Northwest Tequila Fest
It's an opportunity to appreciate a rather maligned spirit, one often associated with spring breakers, or relegated to an overly sweet margarita. Hopefully you can depart this gathering at Phinney Neighborhood Center with a firm grasp on blancos versus reposados versus anejos. And an appreciation for mezcal. Tequila is technically a type of mezcal, but this particular distilled agave spirit is in a smoky, addictive class of its own. More than 140 tequilas and mezcals will be pouring, to the tune of mariachi music and food from Poquitos, Agave Cocina and Cantina, and Mt. Vernon's Calle Tacos and Tequila. $45 and up
Seattle International Beerfest
We spend the rest of the year celebrating, rightly, the ridiculous amount of good beer produced in Washington. This weekend is dedicated to more far flung brews. It's a decidedly different vibe from locally sponsored beer festivals: it's huge, held at Seattle Center, and the crowd is less geeky and more beer-curious laypersons. $30 at the gate; $45 online
SEPTEMBER (HEY, STILL COUNTS AS SUMMER)
Cider Summit Seattle
Here's the dilemma of cider: It's making great leaps in the Northwest, but it's not always easy to get your hands on these small-batch wares. And the good stuff isn't cheap (nor should it be), so laying down $19 for an unfamiliar bottle or $8 for a pint feels risky. Hence the appeal of being able to wander around the South Lake Union Discovery Center, acquainting one's self with the region's craft ciders for just $25. Also appealing: comparing local ciders to the ones that hail from other cider regions like France, Spain, the UK, and, uh, Michigan. $25 in advance
Wild About Game
This one was always a puzzler to me until I actually attended. Basically it's a Portland vs. Seattle chef cookoff organized by a purveyor of high-end meats, set against a backdrop of beer, wine, and food samples that mostly hail from Portland. This means lots of cured meat and Salt and Straw ice cream. Oh, there's also the actual backdrop of Mount Hood, since it's held at Timberline Lodge. It's an unexpected combo, but 100 percent worth the drive. Repping Seattle: Jason Stoneburner, Il Corvo's Mike Easton, Shane Ryan of Matt's in the Market, and Loulay chef Rob Sevcik. They're taking on chefs from Ned Ludd, Toro Bravo, Ava Genes, and Bamboo Sushi. Tickets go on sale July 8
A mere three hours in the car can bring you face to face with chefs like Hugh Acheson, Jamie Bissonnette, Homaro Cantu, Dominique Crenn, Paul Kahan, Aaron Franklin, Pichet Ong, Paul Qui, and Christina Tosi. But before the name dropping gets obnoxious, it's worth mentioning that this national-caliber festival has plenty of food, too. Incredible food. The night market alone is worth the trip, but there's also a sandwich invitational and a host of dinners and highly edutaining panels with names like Negroni O'Clock. The dinner series pairs a big-name chef like the ones above with a Portland counterpart for the type of meal that can't be reproduced outside this weekend. If you're a hard core chef nerd, the trip, and the cost, are worth it. Varies