As I sat down to recap the Taste of the Nation event that The Wife and I went to Saturday evening, I decided to take a look back at what I wrote after attending the same event last year. What immediately stood out to me was that the three restaurants that had the memorable/standout dishes for me last year were not even at the event this year. I guess that since the food was again outstanding and we had a great time, I did not even notice they were missing!
There were some familiar faces there as I immediately recognized the same two gentlemen were at the Shipyard Brewing table again this year as they (told me they) have been for the last 6. How strange that I would recognize faces at such a booth (wink, wink). Stella Artois, Leffe, and Hoegaarden were again being poured but with so much other stuff to get to I did not feel the need to wait in the incredibly long line. Instead we took advantage of our VIP wristbands and enjoyed a bit of champagne in the roped off tables area (a fair trade I think).
The plan was to make our way around the room to sample the savory dishes before doing the same to get our hands on some of the dessert options. That would have worked perfectly well for me had there not been a second room that we had not thought about when formulating our plan of attack. By the time the first pass was done I needed to walk around and let things settle before even thinking about desserts. A few of the stand out dishes for me (from those I tried) were:
- Greek Tuna Tataki with Sumac, Onions, and Avocado Tzatziki (Kouzzina). Really interesting flavors on a well seared piece of tuna.
- Braised Short Rib, Sunchoke, Maytag Blue Cheese Mashed Potato with Garlic Thyme Brown Butter (Omni Orlando Resort). These potatoes were outrageously good.
- Seared Callote of Aged Strip Loin, Black Truffle and Foraged Mushroom Duxelle, Fois Gras Torchon, Madagascar Vanilla and Butter Poached Lobster with Bourguignon Sauce (Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse). Still drooling a little bit from this one.
Of course I did not get to sample everything that was there, but dishes like these made me feel like I did not miss out on anything. Next year I will have to do some training so that my stomach will be able to handle the increased workload for the evening.
Though I did not have much in the way of desserts since I hit the entrees so hard, there was one that The Wife and I agreed was just outstanding. The Slow Baked Apple Tart with Calvados Glaze (again from Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse) seemed like it was pretty work intensive to create, but it was certainly worth the effort.
The evening was a lot of fun just as we expected. The room was well laid out and even with the tons of people there it was very easy to move around and with all of the restaurants there was barely a wait for anything the entire evening. The live entertainment was really good and there were some really cool silent auction items available to bid on. The only disappointment for me was that I did not have a second stomach to fill.
If the other Taste of the Nation events are going to be anywhere near as enjoyable as the one here in Orlando was I would highly recommend going if you can. It is a really fun way to support some great causes while getting to experience some of your best local restaurants.
Already looking forward to next year!