Friday, April 13, 2012

Taste of the Nation 2012

Wednesday night I had the incredible fortune to attend Charlotte's Taste of the Nation.  I've mentioned the event in the past, but briefly, it's a culinary event featuring nearly 30 of the Queen City's best restaurants.  Food and beverages are endless, a live band provides the entertainment, and a live auction raises thousands of dollars.  In addition to the money raised by the live and silent auctions, 100% of the ticket sales go directly to Share Our Strength and funds their mission to end childhood hunger in America.
The event was held at the Wells Fargo Center Atrium.  I had just enough time after work to run home, change, pick up my "plus one" (one of my fellow ortho residents) for the evening, and head Uptown to the big event.  

As soon as you entered the atrium, you were inundated with smells of the prepared dishes.  Before digging in to the food though, we started with a drink.  The bartender suggested I model the pink sunglasses that matched my dress as well as the pink-colored liquor in the drink I had selected (a vodka-infused pink lemonade).

I also tried one of these, which was pretty good.  While there seemed to be enough liquor to make drunks out of the whole city of Charlotte, I sipped on water for the rest of the night.  I knew 5am would come all too early the next morning and while I did plan to be in a food coma, a hangover was not in my plans.

You'll see lots of photos with meat and seafood.  While it's rare that venture outside my vegetarian diet, I had decided to fully enjoy the event and try every item that peaked my interest.
Rocky River Grill's Roasted Pork with Caramelized Onion Jam

A Giant Wheel of Parmesan Reggiano

One of my favorite dishes of the night.  The lobster chunks were huge!

The shrimp were perfectly cooked and wrapped in a salty country ham.

Shredded Beef Taco and Watermelon-Feta Salad

I was more than a little excited when I discovered a display of sushi.  I could have planted myself there and eaten all night long.  Yum!
Enso Asian Bistro
Wagyu Beef Tacos and an Assortment of Sushi

Sushi chefs hard at work.

Hot Sauce provided entertainment while we gorged ourselves on food.  Notice they are dressed as chefs.

I didn't try the pork panini in the foreground of the photo, but  the dessert in the back was excellent.
Lemon Souffle Cake with Raspberry Coulis

Whole Food's Zucchini and Squash Salad with Mozzarella and Balsamic Reduction

As the evening continued, the crowds grew larger.  Surprisingly, there were never any lines for food.

Johnson and Wales University provided hand-crafed pastries and chocolates.

Another Johnson and Wales creation
Pork Belly and Crab Spring Roll
(I passed on the pork belly, but enjoyed the spring roll)

This was another of my favorites.
The freshness of the sashimi paired with the  tangy fruits was an excellent combination.

Chilled GA Peanut and NC Ramp Gazpacho with She-Crab Salad
Halcyon Flavors from the Earth

Fern is a locally inspired vegetarian restaurant that has recently opened in Charlotte .  I've really wanted to dine there, but haven't had the opportunity quite yet.  After this unique dish, I'm even more excited to dine there.  Unfortunately, I was enjoying their creation so much, that it went unphotographed.

Amelie's French Bakery brought a variety of sugary treats that were all equally delicious.
I might have even snuck a salted caramel brownie into my purse to enjoy later!

An impressive chocolate sculpture.
What an incredible evening!  While the pictures may seem to display plate after plate of food, more than half of the restaurant's creations went unphotographed.  As those of you who know me well would attest too, this girl loves to eat!  Snapping pictures, while fun, does hamper the speed at which I can get food to my mouth.

If Taste of the Nation comes to a city near you, I would highly encourage you to attend.  Where else do you have the opportunity to enjoy high quality beverages and plate after plate of fine dining dishes, all while supporting a notable cause?  I'll certainly be back next year!

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