Share Our Strength’s 10th Annual Taste of the Nation!

by Janetha on August 4, 2009

in meals

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Last Sunday, August 2nd, I was fortunate enough to attend the 10th annual “Taste of the Nation” culinary charity event.  The great folks at Foodbuzz asked me to put my taste buds to the test and sent me up to Solitude Mountain Resort to sample the creations of over 40 top chefs. 

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I had never heard of Share Our Strength, the organization that puts this event together, nor did I know this event has been going on for ten years.  Where have I been?!  You can read about the event in detail here, as well as how the money raised it put to use on helping reduce childhood hunger.  It is really a wonderful cause and although I was able to attend the event at no charge, I would have no problem paying the entrance fee knowing that 100% of the proceeds go directly to the childhood hunger fund.  I thought it was really cool that the proceeds of the event were donated specifically to hungry children in Utah.  That made me fee really good!  We did purchase one ticket so Marshall could tag along.  Entry was $85 at the door.  I believe it was $75 for advance purchase and $125 for VIP tickets, which meant you had a spot at a table under one of the tents.

The event started at 12 noon and went for four hours.  Marshall and I arrived promptly at noon and rode the shuttle bus up to the location the event was held.  It was right next to the stream and the sun was shining, a perfect day to eat to our heart’s content.  And trust me, that is just what we did!

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We saw several people carrying chairs up to the location.  Once arriving the venue we realized these people had probably attended the event before and were wise to the situation, there was mainly only tables and chairs for the VIP area aside from a few sporadic tables for the general admission attendees.  We ended up just sitting on the grass, which worked out fine because it was such a stunning day.  I was definitely glad I opted to wear a long dress rather than a short one!  Next year we will be bringing our chairs.

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The venue was set up with the sponsoring restaurants on the outside of the perimeter and with the VIP tent, wine station and general admission seating area on the inside.  Marshall and I decided the best thing to do was start on one end and slowly eat our way through to the other end. 

I had eaten at several of the sponsoring restaurants but there were also quite a few I had never tried and also some I had never even heard of!  All of the restaurants were either in or near Salt Lake City.  I found it really remarkable that so many restaurants volunteered their time and food for such a wonderful cause.  The sponsoring restaurants that we had the opportunity to sample were:

  • The Aerie Restaurant at Snowbird
  • Bambara
  • Bangkok Thai
  • Biaggi’s Risotorane Italiano
  • Blue Boar Inn
  • Cafe Madrid
  • Citrus Grill
  • Fratelli Risotrane
  • Goldener Hirsch Inn at Deer Valley
  • The Grand America Hotel
  • The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institute
  • Les Madeleines Cafe
  • Liberty Heights Fresh
  • Log Haven Restaurant
  • Mandarin Restaurant
  • The Metropolitan
  • Pago
  • P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
  • The Red Iguana
  • Sage’s Cafe & Vertical Diner
  • Shabu
  • Spencer’s Steakhouse
  • Squatters Pub
  • St. Bernard’s at Solitude
  • Stein Eriksen Lodge
  • The Tin Angel Cafe
  • Tipica
  • Trio Cafe
  • Tulie
  • Tuscany
  • The Wild Grape
  • Viking Cooking School
  • Wildflower Ristorante
  • Z’ Tejas

I am fairly certain I missed one or two restaurants so if you were a sponsoring restaurant and you don’t see your name on this list please let me know! 

Long list, right?  I would be lying if I told you I didn’t eat items from 31 of the 34 restaurants on the list.  Hey, I went hungry and I left happy :)

Yes, I did take a photo of every single item I sampled.  But let’s face the facts, there is no way you want to see 40+ pieces of delicious food.  Well, maybe some of you do, but not all of you.  So I will go ahead and show you a few of the highlights!

Enjoy!

Huge pot of Paella at the Liberty Heights Fresh booth~

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the oysters were fresh and bursting with flavor, the shrimp was perfectly cooked and the rice was seasoned with just the right amount of spice.~

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People were literally lining up for this succulent Buffalo with Fruit Chutney at the Stein Eriksen Lodge booth~

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The buffalo was lean, juicy and flavorful and the chefs were lively and fun to talk to, I partially think the reason people kept coming back was for the witty conversation with these guys~

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Squatter’s had a great Carnitas Tacos assembly line going on~

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Along with a HUGE vat of savory pork for the tacos~

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Wildflower Risorante had what was definitely one of my favorites of the whole event, Polenta Bites with Creme Fraise and Red Pepper Jelly~

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These bite size pieces were an epic explosion of delicious flavors!  I will definitely be putting Wildflower on my list of restaurants I must try!

Aerie had an amazing Seafood Ceviche, the description can be seen below~

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The presentation was worth showing!~IMG_2507

Definitely a winner in my book, I will be taking a trip up to Snowbird soon to have a meal at Aerie!

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The most creative taste of the day definitely went to this Citrus Tuna Tartare in Squid Ink Cornet from the Blue Boar Inn~

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Look how fun these are!  They looked like little ice cream cones of fabulous tuna, and yes, they tasted as good as they look!  Very creative, I was impressed. IMG_2515

The next taste worth showcasing was the winner of Best Steaks in Salt Lake City Weekly’s “Best Of” competition for 2009.

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Spencer’s featured this little number~

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The meat was tender, the slaw was crisp and the flavors paired together fabulously.  I have heard a lot of good things about Spencer’s and now I know why!

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The Tin Angel Cafe is a spot I drive past often but have never actually eaten at.

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This is what they were serving up~

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And these two sweeties were the cutest helpers at the whole event!~IMG_2553

See those meatballs there?  Yeah, I ate mine before even taking a photo because the smell was so tempting, I couldn’t resist.  This meatball single handedly (Wait, meatballs don’t have hands!  What am I talking about?!) took first place for the best taste at the whole event.  For real.  It was the most phenomenal meatball ever to pass through these lips.  And trust me, I have eaten many a meatball!  Tin Angel Cafe is now at the top of my must-try list.

Z’Tejas is located at The Gateway and I have eaten there a plethora of times.  Their booth was probably the most lively and exciting.  The definitely scored points with the huge ice sculpture~

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And the fruity margaritas~

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The lively chefs at the booth~IMG_2559

And the delicious tacos~IMG_2560 

Z’ Tejas is always a good choice.  While I wished they were serving up my favorite dish of theirs, the Pasta Diablo, these tacos were quite scrumptious and you could tell the crispy shells were made from scratch and very fresh.

Bangkok Thai is another favorite restaurant of mine.  Obviously, since I am in love with Thai food!  The first go around past the booth they did not have anything out but I made sure to go back and sample what they had to offer~

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The Thai Chili tasted remarkably authentic and the cod was cooked to perfection~not dry at all and not under cooked. 

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This was the last of my savory bites…so you know what that means, on to DESSERT!

I don’t even know where to begin with the desserts.  There was a big dessert tent with several different chefs offering delectable sweet bites, here are a few photos I took~

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This thing was fan-freaking-tastic! It was a drink and the tart from the apricots paired with the vanilla bean and creme fraiche was genius!IMG_2582

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Marshall and I ate our way through several of these sweet treats.

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And the winner of the very best dessert at the event?

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Peanut Butter Mousse on Chocolate Crisp Cake

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It may not look like the prettiest but it definitely tasted the best!  It. Was. So. Good.  The only thing I went back for and had two of

This was made by Cathie at the Viking Cooking School~IMG_2591

I made sure to tell her that this was the best thing I ate the whole time!

I may have mentioned this previously, but there was an all-you-can-drink wine station as well as a beer tent, I did not photograph these spots and now I am wishing I did so I could show you all.  Since we are not much for drinking it did not even occur to me that I should photograph the drink stations, my bad!

I did enjoy a glass of white and a glass of red~both tasted nice but I do not drink wine enough to have any type of educated opinion.  I will leave that to the wine connoisseurs! 

The only down sides to the event?

  • Several booths were running out of food very early.  We were only there until 2 PM and around 1:30 many booths were sorry to inform us that they were out of a specific dish.  Next time I plan to survey each booth before snagging any bites so I know what I don’t want to miss out on in case it is gone!
  • Long lines~but this goes without saying and cannot be avoided!  The very best tastes had the longest lines, they were not too horrific to stand in though.
  • Lack of tables~yes, the VIP tents had tables, but there was a lot of general admission attendees and a lack of tables for them to use.  Sitting on the ground made it difficult to set your drink down because the ground was bumpy and not stable.  We dealt with this just fine but I believe it would have been more enjoyable had there been a spot to set my glass.

So only three downsides?!  And two that weren’t very critical?  I would say this even was a huge success and I will definitely be going every year from here on out. 

A few more photos taken~

There was a silent auction and 100% of the proceeds were donated to fighting childhood hunger in Utah.~

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Live band, complete with kilts!~

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Some views of the action~

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Some views of the beautiful scenery~

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The Plethora of Auction Donors Sign~

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The glasses each attendee got to take home~

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And two very full attendees!~

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Upon leaving, I snapped a photo of this thank you banner~

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Finally I want to say Thank You Foodbuzz!  This was such a fabulous experience and had Foodbuzz not asked me to attend I would never have even known about it!!  It is safe to say we will be back next year :)

Also, if you are interested in donating to Share Our Strength’s efforts or want to find an event near you just visit their website!  I can assure you that you will not be let down.

Hope you all enjoyed my review~I will be back later with regularly scheduled blogging sans capitalization and proper punctuation :P

xo. janetha b.

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umbcinsightsweekly August 4, 2009 at 2:05 pm

This looks like a really cool event – so much food, wow.

buffmuffy August 4, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Amazing! That looks like so much fun!
I much giggled at your capitalization. I was like wait .. is she capitalizing and using punc? LOL.
Love you girly, and the desserts look amazing. i love the little edible flowers in that drink!
-muffy

Lindsay @ bananaandchocolate August 4, 2009 at 2:39 pm

What a cool event! All of that food looks amazing!

shiningeyes August 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Oh wow, incredible view with incredible food. I’m so envious!

Share Our Strength is such a great organization. I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it to their event in Miami.

veggiedollface August 4, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Are you finished making us jealous? haha Just kidding. It looks wonderful. & thanks for continuing to read :)

Therese August 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm

HOPY GOURMET FOOD!! What an awesome experience that looks like…not to mention for a good cause! I think it would have been hard for me not to just fill up completely on those amazing looking desserts.

Jenny August 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

what an honor! that’s great that you were able to be a part of such a wonderful cause — thanks for sharing the experience with us, love :)

April August 4, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Oh that dessert looks like it would have been my favorite too!

SHE-FIT August 4, 2009 at 3:47 pm

So fun! What a great opportunity.

Graze With Me August 4, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Everything looks amazing!!! I’m so jealous!
I used to work at a cafe that participated in one of these events called Taste of Fort Collins. It was generally the same idea. Working at the event, I was only 19 yet I got ahold of an over 21 wristband so it’s safe to say I had quite a bit of fun!!

It looks like you discovered a great new tradition! Have a great day. :)

Michelle August 4, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Oh my gosh, I can’t get over all those desserts!! Looks like a great time, it must have been so fun to try all those different foods!

lookingforserenity August 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm

WOW yummy :) looks like you had an awesome day! :D

Susan August 4, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Omg, I never even noticed you had abandoned your e e cummings formatting till you mentioned it!

Okay, my city is holding a smaller-scale event like this in September, and after reading this, I’m definitely going to fork over the cash to go! I would probably be all over those meatballs and raita too, and the ceviche! And of course the dessert with the PB mousse was the best ;)

Oh, and you look stunning all dressed up for that event – seriously!!

peanutbutterprerogative August 4, 2009 at 5:44 pm

wow, what an awesome event! and that peanut butter mousse cake sounds ridiculously delicious! thanks for spreading the word about such a great cause!!

julie August 4, 2009 at 6:22 pm

andddddddddddddddddddd i’m hungry.

wow. AND wow. I guess I’ll book my flight for next year to go with you. I’m sure Marshall won’t mind if I take his place..

what a great event :) and great coverage! woop!

Baylee August 4, 2009 at 6:29 pm

oh my goodness! you lucky girl! that event looks like it was tons and tons of fun…and very yummy as well! what a great organization!

Jamie Walker August 4, 2009 at 7:29 pm

mmmm….peanut butter mousse cake. :)

The desserts looks amazing!

Michelle August 4, 2009 at 7:39 pm

What an amazing opportunity! It looks like so much (tasty and delicious!) fun! :)

Em August 4, 2009 at 9:45 pm

OH my gosh. that looks like heaven with all that wonderful food! You lucky, lucky girl.

Anne K. August 4, 2009 at 10:01 pm

How fun! All the food looks great, and what a good cause. Oooh the desserts look divine–I love the one with deer on it, haha. The peanut butter mousse looks and sounds heavenly. Mmm! What a great opportunity–thank goodness for Foodbuzz!

balancejoyanddelicias August 5, 2009 at 4:42 am

oh… such a cool event! perfect for a foodie like you! :)

Holly (The Healthy Everythingtarian) August 5, 2009 at 9:20 am

FOOD PORN ALERT! oh my gosh, that looks like so much fun! i love your dress and your haircut – i always wanted bangs (aka fringe to the brits) but curly hair + bangs was one of the things that traumatized me as a young child. thanks mom.

okay, onto more important things: YUM, YUM and YUM! those tacos, desserts, thai…all of it looks sooo good and what a good cause. i’ve done work with share our strength before, and its an awesome organization.

thanks for reporting back and giving us a fabulous recap…much love to you miss janeth! happy humpday!

Allison August 5, 2009 at 10:27 am

OMG – CRAZY! THAT LOOKS AWESOME! I can’t even begin to say I had a favorite!

I really like Share our Strength – we’ve partnered with them through my work before – great company!

marisa August 5, 2009 at 11:58 pm

When I come to visit we definitely need to go to some new restaurants! WOW! Maybe I’ll just plan my visit to be during this event next year. What did Cafe Madrid have? The Ceviche reminds me of Costa Rica and the tacos look delish. And the desserts. Mwah.

Anna August 8, 2009 at 9:52 am

Looks like such a find event! My friend’s father actually owns P.F. Chang’s. Its a chain now. I’ve never been, but she keeps promising to take me for free. I’m excited to see that they are giving to charity!

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