Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2010 Taste of the Nation - An Unforgettable Ride from Start to Finish

Last night was a big night for me.  After many months of working hard for Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation--a premier tasting event with over 40 restaurants, mixologists, famous food visionaries and more--I'm happy to report that it was a big success.  I've never seen so much culinary talent in one room and the event was literally buzzing with the greatest minds (and palates) in the food industry.

My role in the event included diligent planning, fund raising, as well as activities that I enjoy most - blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking and various other social media shenanigans.  Yep, I was the official Social Media Chair for the event planning committee, and besides enjoying this role to the fullest, I think it fit me quite well.  But most important of all, I enjoyed working my booty off for a great cause - Share Our Strength's mission to end childhood hunger.  All ticket sales went to this noble cause and we proudly raised a generous amount of funds.

Here are my highlights from last night's event.  I hope it inspires you to either lend your time to a cause you believe in or to attend Taste of the Nation next year and support Share Our Strength.

What a setting! NYC's Grand Central Hyatt served as the home for Taste of the Nation this year.  The space was not only large, it was beautifully renovated and allowed the event to be spread out across four different rooms--a large anteroom where the desserts and coffee were served; two smaller side rooms, one of which was the VIP area and the other housing most of the restaurants; and most importantly, the grand ballroom, which held a gargantuan stage with a live band, many food tables, mixologists as well as the large auction table where people bid on different luxury items.  And although there were about 1,300 people who attended Taste of the Nation this year, the space never felt too crowded, allowing all the guests to thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Wow! Where do I start? There were so many amazing and talented chefs and mixologists on-board that it was hard to choose a favorite.  So instead of doing that, I'll share with you some of my culinary highlights that made a deep imprint in my mind (and stomach).

The Meatball Shop - Located in the VIP area, this is the very first item I tried and it made quite the impression.  Meatballs are generally a comforting food, so starting the night off with a spicy pork meatball on a bed of creamy polenta was the perfect way to treat myself after a long, arduous day of setting up for the event.  I quickly saw that I wasn't the only one with this sentiment, as people flocked to their table and made some pretty effusive remarks to the effect of "yum, yum, yum."

Rick's Picks - I love pickled food and Rick's had some inventive options including Smokra (smoked okra!) Rol-ups with Finnocciono that were the perfect pairing of meat and veggies.  I loved the bite-sized presentation and also ventured to try another pickled nibble, the Phat Beet Happy Appys (aka a pickled beet crostini) - another YUM!

Sigmund Pretzelshop - Eager to try their hand-rolled pretzels with various toppings, I immediately fell in love when I bit into its soft dough topped with whole grain mustard and horseradish beet mayo.  It was an all-inclusive delight of sharp flavors on fluffy, comforting dough.  We were lucky to meet the founder, Lina Kulchinsky who was laid-back and friendly, even exchanging a couple of words with us in her native Russian.

Gramercy Tavern - Oh my sweet g_d! We couldn't believe the deliciousness on this table with Chef Nancy Olson's famous (and under-the-radar) monkey bread.  A cross between a cinnamon bun and dulce de leche cake, this was the most exquisite treat of the night with a gooey caramel topping and dough that made you weak in the knees.  Everyone who tried this went back for seconds, and they ran out of it by the end of the night.

Blue Hill - One of my favorite restaurants of all time, their impeccably fresh ingredients, sourced from their farm in Pocantico Hills, NY are what makes every dish produced here so special.  At Taste of the Nation, they surprised us with a rhubarb-strawberry sorbet with mint.  It was light, refreshing and a perfect palate cleanser.  I especially loved the chunks of wild strawberries that were interspersed in it.

Papabubble - How did they do that? I was truly amazed at the skill that these artisan candy makers demonstrated.  Lisa and I watched their candy pulling presentation, where they hand rolled huge globs of sugar and carefully formed them into signature candies with gorgeous little hearts in the middle. I was so fascinated by the process that the head Candymaker, Chris let me cut some of them personally (see above picture).  It was definitely harder than it looked, and I had a wonderful time helping out.

To find out more about this event, or to get involved in helping Share Our Strength, click here.


  1. i <3 how you incorporated your account of the event into your standard reveiw format. congrats on a smashing success... v. proud of you!!!

  2. Did you make it to this event?

  3. Thanks Kimberlah - it was an incredible event.

    Oldsnuggler - no Taste of Queens for me this year, I was too pooped after TOTN.

  4. It was amazing !I enjoyed it tremendously.
    Dear Foodista, thank you for getting me involved.
    You did a fantastic job for the event and at the event. Kudos to you.

  5. Thanks Mom - glad that you enjoyed everything. I had a fantastic time spending the day with you :)

  6. the foodista read my blog! i'm so honored. :) i've heard about you before! wish i knew which other bloggers were in attendance.

    awesome post! i almost made an impulse decision to do VIP...kinda wish i did...

  7. Thanks Brian! We should meet up sometime for a group review. Email me at critic@foodistanyc.com and we can work something out :) Have a great weekend.



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