The Rose City tapped into the

TV feeding tube

this year, as Al Roker visited Hannah Bea's Poundcake, showcasing it for an October Food Network segment. Canada's Food Network filmed chef Lisa Schroeder's Mama Mia Trattoria for its new show

Opening Soon

, while other local food luminaries gathered at the Shogren House for a series of dishy TV dinners called

Head Table

(both shows aired in November). The food biz even nabbed the spotlight in Mark Setlock's hit one-man play,

Fully Committed

, which played at Portland Center Stage in April. At this rate, hamburger


can't be far behind.

Thanks to the phantom of mad cow disease, Portland rung in 2004 to the last, plaintive moos of more than 500 prematurely slaughtered Northwest cows and calves. After the last shot was fired, vegans and vegetarians opened scads of local eateries, chewing their way from former Earth Liberation Front spokesman Craig Rosebraugh's contentious fine-dining house Calendula to SmartMonkey Foods' weekly raw dinners. The revolution's casualties? Local animal-rights protesters axed foie gras from the menus of a handful of upscale eateries, leaving engorged-liver lovers with nothin' but mouths full of feathers.

Gossips had to swallow their words when The Oregonian bestowed its coveted "Restaurant of the Year" award on ripe's three-month-old restaurant, clarklewis, last April. The ballsy (some whispered premature) choice left many local chefs and foodies steaming. But a nasty citywide trash-talkin' campaign, which included a false charge that clarklewis owner Michael Hebberoy and Oregonian food critic Karen Brooks were authoring a cookbook together, backfired. The juicy gossip only lured more curious diners to clarklewis' gritty concrete locale--and sparked a building boom in the overlooked Eastside Industrial sector.

The Buzz That Was menu