Over 70 restaurants, wineries, breweries, and specialty stores participated this year and most of Boston’s big name Chefs were represented as well as many independent lesser-known places. No matter how hard I tried to remember all of them, I was only able to jot down about half of the dishes and restaurants I sampled. Some highlights include:
Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with curried couscous and vegetables from Hammersley's
Grilled Cheese and tomato soup from Trina's Starlite Lounge
Bacon and beer mac and cheese from Church
Baklava from Athans
Rock Shrimp Ceviche from Harvest
Squid ink lasagna from Tavalo
There were several additional dishes that stood out, including the lamb gnocchi from 80 Thoreau, white asparagus royale from L'Espalier, steak tartare from Stella, and clam chowder ravioli from Adrian's. The only disappointment was that Neptune Oyster (in the VIP lounge) ran out of oysters relatively early, and by the time I made it to the lounge they had already packed up.
There were also a ton of wineries, breweries, and restaurants handing out drinks. Some of the best were the martinis from drink in the VIP lounge, the Habanero watermelon margarita from Masa, and the wines from Joseph Mellot a French winery in the Centre-Loire region. The gentleman representing the winery was friendly, knowledgeable, and very generous with the wine! I sampled two sauvignon blancs, two cabernet francs, and a rose made from a pinot noir. All of the wines were delicious, and we learned the winery has won several awards and is ranked third in its region for excellence.
This year, one of the major differences compared to prior years was the large number of contests and prizes. I entered at least half a dozen raffles for free dinners and brunches, purchased raffle tickets for more free dinners, and won a bottle of wine in a ring toss game (for a $25 donation).
This year I stayed almost the full three and a half hours, which is something I've never done before. I could barely make the five minute walk home and collapsed into a food coma shortly after, which in my mind made the night a success! I enjoyed this year's Taste of the Nation as much as any I've attended in the past, it's for a great cause, and I'm already recommending it to people for next year!