I was hugely excited to get to attend Taste of the Nation, one of Boston’s biggest food events. As a relative newcomer I’m still getting to know the must-eat restaurants of the city and it was great to get a chance to try so much food and see so many different local restaurants.
Even better, it’s for a great cause: Share our Strength, who fight against childhood hunger. Taste of the Nation isn’t just in Boston, it’s (as its name suggests) all over the country. You can see if there’s an event near you.
I started out in the VIP room where bartender John from Drink was making the night’s specialty cocktail: the El Presidente. I generally prefer vodka or gin based cocktails but I’m trying to branch out. This drink was made with white rum, a great opportunity to try something new. And I loved it, not too sweet, nicely strong. It helped that our bartender really knew what he was doing and topped each drink with a little squirt of fresh orange oil. Yum. The Privateer rum was highly recommended.
Later on I also tried a Rumonade from Old Ipswich Rum from Turkey Shore Distilleries, and really enjoyed that one as well. Here’s their recipe:
Fill tall glass with ice and 2 oz Old Ipswich White Cap Rum
Fill 2/3 of glass with lemonade
Add a splash of cranberry juice and a splash of tonic water
Add 2-3 fresh mint leaves, shake and serve
If you’re more of a gin/vodka person like myself, you’ll be surprised how light this is. Not the overwhelming heaviness I usually associate with rum.
There was a lot to drink there. I had to limit myself. But luckily I stopped at the Bantam Cider table. Eric is a big cider fan and I know cider is a tradition in New England. Bantam’s local cider was just the right mix of dry and sweet. I’m going to have to hunt down a bottle for Eric.
As for the food, there was a lot to love. Some of the highlights:
- That meatball from Rialto with house-smoked ricotta and crouton. Perfectly moist, perfectly seasoned, so so tasty.
- Total comfort food from Trina’s Starlite Lounge: grilled cheese and a wonderful thick tomato soup.
- An AMAZING Korean-style Sloppy Joe from Myers & Chang. Now I see what all the fuss is about.
- Wonderfully salty rock-shrimp ceviche with avocado and cilantro from Harvest.
- La Morra’s lamb bruschetta with a wonderfully complementary bit of spring onion.
- Crispy gnocchi from 80Thoreau in Concord. I’d never heard of a crispy gnocchi, but it was heavenly.
Also excellent were these Pork Belly Sliders from Lucky’s Lounge. If I’ve learned anything from watching Top Chef, it’s that Pork Belly is a delicacy you must appreciate whenever given the opportunity, calories be damned.
The pickled veg was a really nice touch, a real mouthful of flavor. I hear Lucky’s brunch is something to write home about. I’m going to have to get myself over there.
I also got to see some stuff I’ve never seen before, like a drink from a “luge.” And I ate pig’s ear. Aren’t you proud of me?
By the time we’d made our way through the savory we didn’t have much room for the sweet. Luckily we hit ‘Wiches of Boston in the VIP room early. I usually don’t do sweet before I finish, but I’m sure you’ll understand why I was tempted.
Here at #TONBoston and I just ate freshly made Thin Mint ice cream from Wiches. You can hate me now.
— Jessica (@jessicaesquire) April 19, 2012
‘Wiches made their Thin Mint ice cream on site in a funky looking liquid nitrogen machine. Very cool.
We also made a stop to visit one of the event sponsors, Whole Foods. The team had Mango Bubble Tea (I LOVE bubble tea) and popcorn like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Observe Kathy:
More liquid nitrogen on display. The coolest popcorn I’ve ever eaten. Literally.
Thanks so much to the participants at Taste of the Nation for introducing me to so many restaurants that are now on my must-visit list. It was a fabulous night and I look forward to going back next year!
I was not compensated for this post. I attended Taste of the Nation with a complimentary media pass.