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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Taste of the Nation


As we walked out of Distrito the first day of our visit to Philadelphia, we crossed paths with numerous homeless people begging for change or asking us to walk into McDonalds to buy them a burger. Maybe some of you have experienced this, but walking home, stomach full, wallet empty, I can honestly say I felt slightly guilty to have spent a significant amount of money on an unbelievable meal, when there are so many people hungry in our country today. After running into two, we were out of anything to offer. We can make ourselves feel better about seeing this everyday by reasoning that we will actively do some "good" in our food adventures. Despite our budget, we try to buy local whenever possible. We rarely eat meat, and typically grass fed or fair farmed or free range alternatives. But according to Share Our Strength's sources, nearly 17 million children go hungry each year in the US. Through event's like Taste of the Nation, Share our Strength hopes to end childhood hunger in the US by 2015.

Attending taste of the nations was like a food lover's dream come true. Where else can you sample foie gras stuffed cherries, popcorn cupcakes, beef tartare, and truffled mac and cheese all at one time? Where else can you sample drinks from some of the most creative mixologists under a single roof? Where else can you walk away having sampled all of this knowing that the money you spent is going to help fight child hunger? If you have an answer that isn't the Taste of the Nation event put on by Share our Strength, please let me know. I'll be there next! For obvious reasons, I'll only touch on some of the dishes or restaurants that were memorable, but keep in mind that I speak for both of us when I say everything fell somewhere along the tasty to sublime spectrum. 

Our first favorite dish of the evening came from Fish. We tasted a tuna sashimi on a bacon waffle, topped with a little whole grain mustard that was not only tasty, but after talking with the staff there, they apparently have a nice reasonable tasting menu to offer guests on Sundays (second set, right column, middle row). For something a little more fun Varga Bar offered the truffled mac and cheese I mentioned that is made with gruyere, fontina, and marscapone cheese with black truffles and topped with bacon (first set, top left corner). This was slightly more filling than the array of grape tomato and pineapple gazpachos offered (although they were quite tasty in their own right), and packed a ton of flavor. From Sole Food, located in the Lowes Hotel, we sampled a lightly fried squash blossom stuffed with all kinds of deliciousness including ricotta, lima beans, and anchovies (first set, top middle). I wish I could remember everything else that was in it, because the range of flavors and textures that danced across the palate was quite delicious. Everyone else apparently felt the same way, as when we got to their booth, there were only four left!
Daniel's favorites included a savory shortbread topped with apricot jam and duck prosciutto from Funky Lil' Kitchen (last set below, bottom right corner). We managed to devour  one of these each rather quickly, and will hopefully be recreating them in the very near future. From Lacroix, we tasted a foie gras stuffed cherry, topped with a smoked balsamic and sitting on a bed of toasted pine nuts (second set, middle row, right column), a perfectly balanced blend of flavors and textures. I can't help but mention that throughout the event, we  enjoyed various cocktails as well, the most inventive being the beet flavored drink (first set, top right corner).

If you take a look at the ticket costs and initially gasp, factor in the ability to sample amazing cocktails from some of the best mixologists in your area as well. Not to mention that tor dessert, we had our choice of a few unique cupcakes from Mugshots Coffee House & Cafe including a popcorn and margarita cupcake (last set below, top right corner and bottom left corner), as well as artisan gelato from Capogiro, and a delicious yogurt panna cotta from Eric Ripert's 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge (third set, middle row, left column).
And as if that wasn't enough to get you to go to your next event, you never know who you'll run into! We planned to meet up with Emily Malloy of Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, and after some back and forth phone and texting tag, finally met up about halfway through the event! If you've never read Emily's blog, not only should you do so (and soon!), but it's always neat to see how someone's bright personality shines through in their blog. Emily was as friendly and awesome in person as she is in her blog, AND if it hadn't been for her prompting, we would have missed the squash blossoms at Sole Food! And as if that wasn't a cool enough person to meet, guess who else we ran into?

Aaron McCargo Jr. who won The Next Food Network Star in 2008 and who currently hosts Big Daddy's House on the Food Network! We felt kind of silly asking to take a picture with him, but he was really nice and really cool.  
So now. What more reason do you need? You. You should consider clicking click over to the Taste of the Nation's website and see if there's an event near you. If so, GO!!!!! Even if you've already missed the event closest, consider looking at all of the other ways to contribute your time and your taste buds to this great cause. We will not only be attending the Great American Dineout (although we'll cross our fingers that more restaurants in our area get involved), but I'm also going to look into a bake sale sometime soon. See what works for you!

18 comments:

Sweet and Savory said...

What a fun time! A foodie's dream, right?

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Wow - a foodie's paradise!!! Lovely post and a great cause.

Patrick @ Appetite for Good said...

Great Post! It's awesome to support Taste of the Nation! Share our Strength is such an amazing organization with such a wonderful cause in fighting childhood hunger. I think its amazing and fantastic to go to see every cities Taste of the Nation as one of the best tasting events in the city. THey are all amazingly well done and all the top restaurants from each city come out to support such an amazing cause. its very heart warming to hear about other cities Taste of the nation.

Great post!

Debbie said...

Looks like a blast! Too bad I missed the Houston event

Rick said...

Those cupcakes look good. Wish I could have made it :(

baking.serendipity said...

What an awesome event!! So jealous I missed it!

Drick said...

truly amazing - what an event and an opportunity for such a great cause... great photos -appreciate you bringing us along....hey, have a great time in PC.... (sorry the water is a mess)

Stella said...

I will click over there right now.
p.s. Nice pic with Erin McCargo, Jr. I remember watching and liking him when he first came on the F.N.-

Belinda @zomppa said...

GREAT cause - they do such terrific work! (WHAT IS THAT GREEN BEING?? =))

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

What a feast. I am beyond jealous *sigh* Thanks for sharing your adventure. Btw Daniel - you look absolutely adorable!

Magic of Spice said...

Wonderful post...Ending childhood hunger, best idea ever! Everything looks great!

Cinnamon-Girl said...

This is such a great event! And the food looks absolutely amazing! I bet you all were stuffed... Cool that you met Big Daddy!

Gigabiting said...

If I had been in town I would have been there. Great event, great cause.

Moogie said...

When you were at my blog, you asked about the strawberry dishes. I bought them at TJMax. Hope you will be able to find them.

sweetlife said...

what a great event, how fun and delish...checking website..thanks

sweetlife

Jen Cheung said...

looks like you had a lot of fun :) this is giving me some ideas for my engagement party! thanks so much :)

jen

Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

Oh wow, what a feast for the eyes and belly. There are too many dishes there that I love the look and sound of to comment on them all without getting dull and running out of adjectives :D

My Little Space said...

Oh wow, NOW, this is what I call food! haha... Excellent!
Kristy

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