Sunday afternoon I had the chance to check out the first Taste of the Wasatch charity-driven food festival at Solitude Mountain Resort, gorging my way through a couple dozen dishes prepared by local restaurants. It’s the kind of tough assignment that makes me wonder why I ever got into this writing racket.
While technically it WAS the first Taste of the Wasatch, some of you might remember it as Taste of the Nation, the national charity which our local hunger fighters once worked with, but have since split from (again, technically speaking). Whatever the name, the mission remains the same: raisin money to fight hunger right here in Utah. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised through Sunday’s beautiful afternoon of utter gluttony go to Utahns Against Hunger, the Utah Food Bank and the Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership.
While hundreds drove up to Solitude Mountain Resort for the festivities (maybe thousands–I’ve never been been great at crowd-guessing–I know many of you couldn’t make it, so I’m here to fill you in on some of details. There were some pleasant surprises, some interesting misfires and a whole lotta top-notch bites to be had. When the worst thing you can say about a fundraiser is “I never need to eat any more gazpacho–ever,” you know you’re being spoiled rotten.
Here are some thoughts on some of the dishes from Taste of the Wasatch:
Game Goodness: The Aerie‘s wild mushroom and pepper-encrusted elk was melt-in-your-mouth tasty; the quinoa Waldorf salad it was served on was merely a distraction from that meaty morsel.
The Aerie's pepper-encrusted elk
Beet It: Considering my childhood aversion to those nuclear colored pickled beets that were served up in my elementary school cafeteria, I’ve come to love beets in the last few years. That served me well Sunday, where beets made for some of the best dishes of the day. Caffe Niche made a salad of local beets, green onion horseradish cream beet greens and mustard greens that was both delicious and different from the many other beet contenders. Eatery 1025‘s chilled beet soup was great, too.
Caffe Niche's beets
How About Just One Rib?: There’s always a much-needed dose of serious protein to be had at the Taste event, a welcome respite from the gazpachos deluge. I always make a point of hitting the The Glitretind at Stein Eriksen Lodge booth for their spare rib, and this year those ribs came with a barbecue sauce made from Utah cherries–unbelievably tasty. Pallet Bistro‘s Kurobota pork short rib delivered with frisee salad and Utah peaches was just as good. Communal, my Provo go-to for tasty grub, delivered teriyaki-glazed pork belly, and while it wasn’t a rib, it was an awesome bite of meaty goodness.
Communal's pork belly
The best of the rest: Chaia Cucina Catering‘s chilled local corn bisque with rosemary oil and candied almonds; Cucina Vanina‘s limoncello flan; Eatery 1025′s curried cauliflower; The Farm at Canyons‘ pork cheek corn dogs with heirloom tomato marmalade, mousse and micro salad with mustard vinaigrette; Frida Bistro‘s pistachio-encrusted seabass and Mexican risotto; J&G Grill‘s blue prawns with black pepper, sun-dried pineapple and pea shoot salt; Plum Alley‘s larb wrap and pickles; Tuscany‘s Brigham City peaches stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon; St. Bernard’s/The Yurt‘s grilled sweet corn skewers with chipotle and lime butter finished with queso fresco and Silver Star Cafe‘s grilled shrimp with lemongrass-infused carrot juice reduction with pickled red onion and cliantro salad.
The Farm's pork cheek corn dog
And believe it or not, one of my favorite dishes of the day was, yes, gazpacho! Credit for that goes to The Copper Onion, who also made a mean spicy corn salad on Sunday.
For more Taste of the Wasatch photos (your mouth will water even more), check out Salt Lake magazine Editor Marcie Young Cancio's gallery.
Dan Nailen has written about music, arts and culture in and around Salt Lake City for Salt Lake magazine, The Salt Lake Tribune and Salt Lake City Weekly since 1998. He's currently a contributor to saltlakemagazine.com, and you can find more of his work at SLCene.com.