Another event like the Mohegan Sun Wine Festival has come along that was so awesome, I cannot possibly recap it in one post. Well, I could, but you’d get sick of reading about it halfway through. That’s the beauty of this blog – I can do things my own way, so I will be dividing my recap into a couple of posts – savory food today, and sweets and drinks tomorrow.
Taste of the Nation is an event I have been wanting to attend ever since I started reading blogs. I have seen my favorite bloggers attend their local cities’ Share our Strength food and drink tastings and have been jealous of the eats each and every time! Taste of the Nation holds tastings throughout the country (Connecticut has one in New Haven and Hartford, at different times of the year) to raise money (through ticket sales and silent auctions) that goes toward ending childhood hunger in America. Local food and drink vendors donate their time and resources, and each one sets up its own table and serves unlimited samples to hungry attendees. Event organizer Timothy Cipriano, who is in charge of the food at all New Haven Public Schools, was kind enough to give me the opportunity to go to Taste of the Nation: New Haven and cover the event for this blog! I was even joined by fellow CT blogger Marissa of Style Cusp. Don’t be fooled by her blog’s fashion-focus – she may be a Lucky Magazine blogger, but she’s also a true foodie!
The organizers did a great job creating a visually stunning display in Yale Commons, a Yale dining hall. After the decorators were done with it, it most certainly didn’t look like one.
I felt a little overwhelmed at first! But I’m an experienced tasting-goer, so I adopted my go-to strategy that aids me in trying as many different things as possible – only finish a FULL sample if the item is out-of-this-world. If I take a bite and dislike it, or like it and it’s just OK, ditch the rest to save room for more!
I picked up my press bracelet…
Grabbed a glass…
…and promptly headed into the tasting room. Today’s post is about the savory food though, so let’s save the drinks (and desserts) until tomorrow!
The above eggplant pancakes topped with cilantro yogurt from Barcelona Wine Bar were so good. I’d totally eat these for breakfast.
But Marissa and I both liked their other offering better these cauliflower “tarts” were topped with bacon and crispy onions. Now this tasted just like breakfast! It reminded us of bacon and eggs.
Marissa tried and liked the above scallops from Yale Dining Services. I wonder if students ever actually get these in the dining halls!
They were also serving the above stuffed chicken with risotto - how pretty is it?! – but I didn’t snag a sample of this for some reason that I do not understand.
Whole Foods Milford served chips and guac (I passed on that) and a spinach and mushroom quesadilla with jalapeno cream sauce. It was really good! We both enjoyed that one.
Ballin’ presentation right? Unfortunately the presentation was the better than the rum-topped carrot ginger soup in these shooters from La Cuisine Cafe. I liked the first sip, and the rum tasted really interesting with the ginger. But the following sips were a bit lackluster.
Their potatoes topped with short rib, though, were super good. I LOVE potatoes!!!
OMG. Caseus – I love them so much. I discovered them on a Taste of New Haven tour of Canal Quarter (seriously, hidden gems EVERYWHERE on those tours). And I had no idea that Marissa was as much of a cheese freak as I am (good thing she’s gluten-free and not dairy-free!) The above Brigid’s Abbey cheese is actually one of the two I’ve tried from Caseus before, but I was sure to grab another bite. Mmmm.
Those are bleu-cheese stuffed dates and I could have eaten them all night long.
This fabulous cheddar was Marissa’s favorite cheese.
I was partial to the Coupole goat cheese (obviously – and doesn’t it look like a brain?!) spread on a cracker with local preserves. Marissa and I agreed we could’ve just stayed at the Caseus table all night long. We even hit it for a second time later on.
We wanted to try the Oysters Rockefeller above, but this one was the only one left, so we decided to double back when there would be two available for us to try. Too bad that when we did, they had run out completely!
This shrimp cous cous was quite satisfying! The herbs used were so strong, maybe even a little too strong.
Certainly the most “exotic” thing I tried was this foie gras – AKA duck liver – from Bella Bella Gourmet. I did not like it, and not just because I knew it was duck liver. Couldn’t stand the texture!
This was one of my favorite things I tried the entire night – their duck pastrami sandwich on buttery, crispy rye bread. Pure heaven.
No pork belly tacos from Oaxaca Kitchen were available when we passed by their table, but I liked the presentation of their guacamole on the above cucumber, with radish and shredded carrot. Guac is whatever to me so I passed on this.
How cool is this cantelope from Thali?!
Box 63 was serving up some amazing eats – just look at that menu!
I sampled bites from a couple different sliders - the Hawaiian and the Coney Island. Both were amazing. The Hawaiian had grilled pineapple and the Coney Island had chili!
These were called Greek salads with grilled chicken, but Melissa and I were just interested in the grilled chicken skewers. We split one of these plates and each had one. Loved the sauce on there!
Marissa was so pumped to try this lobster risotto. I’m not a big risotto person but had a couple bites, quite good!
The above table’s presentation was amazing. This meat was topped with an apple chutney-like sauce. The apple paired so well with the medium to medium-rare meat. I could eat a whole entree’s worth!
Mmmm – bread and olive oil! Nothing better, right? This crusty good stuff from Chabaso Bakery was garlic-flavored – perfect for me!
Oh Plan B. I continue to be not a big fan, but I did like this goat cheese steak crostini (passed on a slider, already had one at the Mohegan Sun WineFest). Gotta love medium rare steak!!! And Plan B’s Glastonbury Twitter has been receptive to my issues with their lack of healthy sides – maybe some grilled veggies will make an appearance there someday!
I was starstruck by both this delicious veggie quinoa dish and its creator – Claire Criscuolo, RN and founder of Claire’s Corner Copia, an amazing healthy restaurant in New Haven that’s been a mainstay by the town green since its opening in 1975. I’ve eaten there before and adored it. It was so amazing to meet Claire and tell her how much I adore her restaurant. I had to “favorite” the below tweet from her a couple days later!
My favorite food is pizza, and I was wondering when I would get to sample some. After all, New Haven is a huge pizza town in America! I didn’t get to try any real New Haven pizza unfortunately (can’t believe there wasn’t any there!) but Skinny Pines Catering satisfied my pizza craving with some delicious brick oven, thin-crust slices. They don’t have an actual brick-and-mortar location, unless you count their truck that travels from event-to-event a brick-and-mortar location – that won’t stand still! I think it’s a really cool concept.
There weren’t a lot of slices available when I stopped by, but I had one that included caramelized onions and it was wonderful. Cater my wedding, please?!
Brownson Country Club of Shelton, CT has a pretty impressive culinary staff. Both of the dishes described above were amazing.
The monkfish with lobster essence mousse, frisse, sea beans, lobster, and truffle salt pictured above was one of the best dishes of the entire Taste of the Nation event – Marissa and I both agreed on that.
The steak tartar above was the last savory dish of the evening that we tried. Very good, but by then our tastebuds were getting worn out, so I don’t know if my review can do this justice!
And to think…I still have to tell you about dessert!
Which savory sensation would you have wanted to try the most?