I arrived early to wander through the main tent, stopping at each of the booths to have a quick chat with the chef and sample their creations. From crudo to bisque to steak, some were delicious and deserve special mention. These were the favorites:
- Bar Sugo - Chef Pat served homemade burrata with mortadella puree, black currant mostarda, and pine nuts and a touch of olive oil. The combination of the rich and creamy mortadella and Burrata was fantastic, and the flavors were elevated by the black currants, a great addition. The second dish, his tuna crudo with truffle oil was fresh with clean flavors and delicious.
- Barcelona - The Gazpacho Shooter highlighted the flavor of late season heirloom tomatoes with cucumbers and other spices. Barcelona's second dish folded mini-shrimp into a chick pea batter, seasoned with saffron, and fried. This combination was delicious and created incredible back notes. The last offering was freshly sliced Jamon Mangelica, a cured shank of a Hungarian pig. The texture was dense with deep flavor.
- Cava / Scena / 55 Wine Bar / Harvest - These four sister restaurants teamed to present three delicious selections. The first was thin slices of medium rare steak atop a potato crisp. The mild beef flavor worked great with the saltiness of the crisp. The second was Ahi Tuna...flat bread topped with thinly sliced tuna and finished with avocado purée. The combination was delicious. The final selection was shaved Brussels sprouts served with a risotto cake. The combination of textures and the slight bitterness of the sprouts offset by the risotto were fantastic.
- Char - Char created a full-flavored Latin delight with its salmon and tostone. The smashed plantain pancake was a great canvas for the tequila cured salmon. The presentation included mango Pico de Gallo that added a great sweetness to the dish.
- Fjord – Fluke is one of the under-rated and unappreciated members of any sushi menu and I was happy to see Fjord feature one of my favorites. I really enjoyed how the orange and peppermint worked with the mild fluke; it was a delightful and refreshing interpretation.
- Granola Bar – Their rendition of a Deviled egg benefited from the addition of candied turkey bacon that gave the dish a sweet and salty ending.
- Parallel Post – The second outstanding soup of the event was Chef Ali Goss' chipotle scallop bisque. This was a delicious interpretation that showcased a non-traditional mollusk, scallop, versus the traditional lobster or shrimp. This created a milder base, to which Chef Ali kicked it up with the inclusion of cayenne crumbs swimming on the surface.
- Spread – Chef Carlos offered a braised Octopus with chorizo on crostini. The octopus was quickly seared immediately before serving and then paired with a chorizo spread on crostini. The octopus was soft with a touch of char, which delivered the perfect level of spiciness to complement the octopus.
Surrounding the main tent were several defined areas, one dedicated to additional wine and beer selections, another devoted to burger and smoked meats and yet another for food trucks. Other than enjoying the pulled pork sandwich from Dinosaur BBQ, this was a very disappointing group of burgers, none worth mentioning.
Overall there were some clear winners in the food. It was a great day in the sun, listening to great chefs in the CTbites' Blogger Lounge and enjoying conversations with both celebrity and local chefs.