Taste of Cambridge 2011

Taste of Cambridge is an annual food festival, featuring over 50 restaurants. This year’s beneficiaries included Sommerville/Cambridge Salvation Army (providing emergency shelter to families in need) and the Cambridge Special Olympics Saturday program (which is geared to promote social interaction and self-esteem among its participants).  I love events that combine food and charitable causes!!

Two years in a row I read numerous blog recaps of the festival and felt like a loser for not getting my act together earlier to actually attend it (yes I get upset with myself for missing delicious food-centric events!). Also, I don’t spend nearly enough time in Cambridge (it’s just across the river and they have incredible restaurants… but somehow it’s a mental block thing. Why go “so far” when there are dozens of awesome restaurants right here in Boston? Silly logic, really, but my reality). SO, given all of this, I promised myself I’d be more organized this year and yet once again I was thisclose to missing it because it was scheduled to be on the same week as my NY business trip. Oy.

Luckily the stars aligned and the event was postponed by a week due to the rain (it’s outside! pretty awesome on a nice summer day), so naturally I quickly emailed the event organizer for some VIP tickets*. And then started drooling just thinking about all the deliciousness Adam and I were going to consume.

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It looks crowded but it didn’t seem too bad. Maybe my excitement just carried me on. Maybe this baby helped Winking smile [You get 4 drinks with your ticket]

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The best thing about events like these is that you get to taste food from so many different restaurants in the area. And if you can’t live without tasting it again, you can just go visit them some other time. So in typical Elina fashion (since I tried 1 billion things, almost), here are the highlights:

MMMMThe best of the bunch

Crispy Duck tacos from Upstairs on the Square

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It was the place with the longest line (that took like 2 minutes, nothing crazy). I LOOOOVED the melt-in-your mouth duck and all the pickled veggies. The tortillas also tasted super fresh!

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Winner #2 is another taco (tacos were mighty popular this night) from Casablanca restaurant – Morocco Taco (smoked lamb, fried baby chickpeas, preserved lemon, corn tortilla & charmoula <—don’t ask me that that is)

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Meatball sandwich from Stone Heart Pizza

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I am completely obsessed with this place. Their white bean dip and (of course) pizzas are to-die for. Everything is organic. And now this meatball sandwich. Wow. You don’t want to miss this place!! One of the girls took a picture of me taking a picture too, lol :lol:

DELICIOUS BITES – Definitely worth mentioning!

Deviled eggs with micro greens and melon (yes, melon) and shrimp from ??? (omg, blogger fail – anyone remember?) Edited to add: Russel House Tavern. Thanks for getting me straight, ladies :)

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The melon adds a mild sweetness. It totally works!

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Ole Mexican Grill’s Elote con Chile was a little heavy on the mayo but seriously as good as Toro’s!

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They had a little helper too! Smile

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Café Sushi summer vegetable roll with avocado, pickled daikon and marinated eggplant – topped with grape tomato, wasabi oil, balsamic and truffle oil – was outstanding! I’ve never heard of this place before but now I’m going to seek it out next time I’m in Cambridge!

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Sometimes just a piece of sourdough bread dipped in that perfect olive oil is pure perfection, which was the case with Olio Taibi organic Sicilian olive oil, bottled at Central Bottle. I need a bottle of this in my life!

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Amelia’s Trattoria Sicilian eggplant antipasto was surprisingly cold but big on flavor!

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Christopher’s Restaurant veggie burger topped with pesto and roasted peppers also stood out. The patty is made of mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, oats and a little egg. We (Adam, Shannon, and I) all liked it a lot!

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The guys at that booth were also hilarious!

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NO BUENO – waste of stomach space

Asgard Irish Pub and Restaurant offered a super dry meatloaf warlord in bacon.

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Jose’s Mexican Restaurant Chiles dona Reyna were cold and full of seeds. Fail.

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THE VIP area

It was a small area, which offered cocktails and pork buns (from a whole suckling pig previously roasted on premises )

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[These drinks were not counted towards the 4 on the ticket]

I chose Noir’s Little Taste of CambridgeBacardi, pineapple and ginger syrup, tea and brown sugar syrup, cayenne pepper and cayenne/sugar rim

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I don’t know if they normally have this one on their bar menu but they should! I just loved the burn on the lips from the cayenne/sugar rim, soothed by the smooth and slightly sweet cocktail. Awesomeness in a cup.

Temple Bar made the pork bunsHeritage breed pork slow roasted in a La Caja China served on house made steamed buns with spicy pineapple duck sauce

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Adam was dying of ecstasy. I was dying of fullness (it was delicious but I just couldn’t handle more than a bite at this point).

Overall the I think the VIP ticket doesn’t provide enough extra value for the additional $25 but of course it’s all for charity so you can definitely feel good about paying a bit more… perhaps with Noir’s cocktail in hand Winking smile

SWEET ENDINGS

I was getting FULL by this point so just a few bites of select few were tasted. Everything I’ve tried (although I really was super discriminatory) was delicious Smile

Veggie Galaxy had a ginormous table full of vegan desserts! Shannon and I split their cheesecake and double chocolate cookie. Yummm!

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I also couldn’t resist one of Craigie on Main’s hob nobs, which I tried at the latest Taste of the Nation event.

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[Although I do think it’s a bit of a cop-out for a famous restaurant to bring just dessert. I know it’s cheaper but don’t you want us to come to your place for the savory food??]

I couldn’t really breathe at this point but Adam and Shannon somehow found space in their bellies for some Lizzy’s ice cream. I had a teeny tiny taste of the strawberry sorbet which burst with real strawberry flavor, and the ginger and chocolate ice creams – both of which were creamy and delicious. I’m officially a fan! Open-mouthed smile

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A little dancing…

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Ok not really. I was ready to be wheeled out of there but this point.

Super happy bellies! What a fun event!!! Open-mouthed smile

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*I received 2 free tickets for this event. As always everything in this post reflects my own opinions and experience.

Any fun plans for the weekend? Mine will involved lots of eating, I can tell you that! Smile with tongue out

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