Taste the Future – A Review

16 09 2009

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What a gorgeous night it was for socializing and sampling the finest in local fare! I think it’s safe to say that Taste the Future may be my favorite event of the year for many reasons – so many stories developed in just one night:

Support What Works. Taste the Future is part of Support What Works, Columbus State Community College’s first-ever comprehensive multi-million dollar fundraising effort aimed at expanding private funding and investments in the college. This effort will expand scholarship opportunities, make critical investments and upgrades to college programs, and increase educational opportunities for students of all ages. Learn more about the campaign here.

Zero Waste in 2009. Taste the Future planned tonight’s event around the goal of Zero Waste. All materials were either recyclable or compostable, down to the plates and cups used, which were made of either sugar can or corn-made plastic Eco Products.

The Big Idea. While most of us were content to socialize and nibble our way through the evening, my friend C had a goal: she set out to eat at all of the establishments represented tonight – all 50 of them. Way to have a goal!

Social Media Gets its Just Desserts.
For the first time ever, social media was invited to cover the event alongside traditional media outlets and Columbus State projected our tweets onto a screen for interested guests to monitor.

photo courtesy of @bayinghound

photo courtesy of @bayinghound

Look closely at the upper left-hand corner of the screen. See that? It’s my tweet to C as she hit the midway point of her quest.

Vino Veritas.
This year’s wine selection was developed by Columbus State alumnus Bill Wolf. Eagle Eye wines are fruit-forward, unique blends that are also affordable. I especially enjoyed Voluptuous, which is full, luxurious red, best enjoyed with beef and pork.

People-Watching.
Other than the food, this was the other highlight of the evening. Walking among the rich and the pretty were WBNS 10TV’s Anietra Hamper, ColumbusFoodie and her adorable hubby, and Columbus Alive’s Miss Bella.

And the food? Funny you should ask. While I just don’t have it in me to eat at 50 restaurants in one night, I did eat to the point of having to put on stretchy pants once I got home. Now that the food has settled a bit, I have comprised a list of my favorites from tonight, though truthfully, I can’t think of anything I tried tonight that I didn’t like.

The evening started with a curried lamb rib with peach-ginger chutney from Bistro 2110 at the Blackwell Hotel.

Curried lamb rib with peach-ginger chutney from Bistro 2110 at the Blackwell Hotel

Curried lamb rib with peach-ginger chutney from Bistro 2110 at the Blackwell Hotel

The tender and meaty rib combined with the sweet and spicy chutney to deliver an unexpected one-two punch. I’m so used to lamb being served with mint jelly that this dish made my taste buds sing with sheer happiness.

The rib was then followed by a buckeye cheesecake tartlet, which was a mouthful of joy.

Buckeye cheesecake tartlet from Bistro 2110 at the Blackwell Hotel

Buckeye cheesecake tartlet from Bistro 2110 at the Blackwell Hotel

I’m not normally a dessert person because I just can’t stand a whole lot of “sweet” at one time. This, on the other hand, was just sweet enough and as far from cloying as you can get.

Next was Bel Lago Waterfront Bistro’s wonderful Heirloom Tomato caprese salad.

Bel Lago Waterfront Bistro's Heirloom Tomato caprese salad

Bel Lago Waterfront Bistro's Heirloom Tomato caprese salad

What’s especially impressive about Bel Lago is that they have a kitchen garden, so all of the herbs and vegetables used in this salad were picked this afternoon from their rooftop garden. The flavors are rich, yet simple and are what a salad should taste like.

I had been eagerly anticipating G. Michael’s Bistro and Bar’s offering for weeks and their low country shrimp and grits with andouille sausage,country raised shrimp,tomatoes and scallions, served on creamy stone ground grits don’t disappoint at all.

G. Michael's Bistro and Bar's low country shrimp and grits with andouille sausage; country raised shrimp, tomatoes and scallions, served on creamy stone ground grits

G. Michael's Bistro and Bar's low country shrimp and grits with andouille sausage; country raised shrimp, tomatoes and scallions, served on creamy stone ground grits

This dish is rich and complex, despite its rustic origins.

I admit it – I was intrigued watching Catering By Design’s chef, Alonzo Horn, at work in his makeshift kitchen on the grounds of CSCC as he prepared his wild mushroom sautee and puff pastry, topped with creme fraiche and drizzled with truffle oil.

Catering by Design's wild mushroom sautee, puff pastry, and creme fraiche, drizzled with truffle oil

Catering by Design's wild mushroom sautee, puff pastry, and creme fraiche, drizzled with truffle oil

Seeing his intense expression, I knew that I was in for a treat that I would not be able to find elsewhere.

Courtyard at Willow Brook was a surprise for me – I knew that it’s a nursing home, but I had no idea that there is a restaurant on the grounds that is open to the public, or that they also cater events.

Pesto roasted vegetable bruschetta with balsamic reduction and smoked mozzerella from Courtyard Restaurant at Willow Brook

Pesto roasted vegetable bruschetta with balsamic reduction and smoked mozzerella from Courtyard Restaurant at Willow Brook

The next time I hold an event, I really need to call them and ask for the pesto roasted vegetable bruschetta with balsamic reduction and smoked mozzerella, which was a balance of delicate flavors that came together with an uncommon precision.

The next time Hubs decides to take me out for a date night, I’m going to insist on the Plaza Restaurant and Wine Bar at the Hyatt on Capitol Square so I can get the Lobster and Seafood Roll with Tarragon Aioli and Micro Celery. I have always loved lobster rolls, but this set a new standard. Rich, creamy, and satisfying with a hint of crunch.

Lobster and Seafood Roll with Tarragon Aioli and Micro Celery from the Plaza Restaurant and Wine Bar at the Hyatt on Capitol Square

Lobster and Seafood Roll with Tarragon Aioli and Micro Celery from the Plaza Restaurant and Wine Bar at the Hyatt on Capitol Square

My favorite dessert of the evening, also from the Plaza Restaurant and Wine Bar at the Hyatt on Capitol Square, was the Chocolate Pot du Creme Tart with Caramel and Espresso, which was both rich and gooey, but not overwhelming.

Chocolate Pot du Creme Tart with Caramel and Espresso from the Plaza Restaurant and Wine Bar at the Hyatt on Capitol Square

Chocolate Pot du Creme Tart with Caramel and Espresso from the Plaza Restaurant and Wine Bar at the Hyatt on Capitol Square

The liquid center of the tart reminded me of all of the things I love about chocolate lava cake, plus the crust was crispy like a cookie.

LA Catering’s team was a gregarious bunch, laughing and cracking jokes with the guests and genuinely enjoying themselves. Tonight’s offering was as lively as they were – grilled teriyaki chicken accompanied by a grilled vegetarian platter with fresh zucchini and yellow squash marinated in olive herbs, with roasted peppers.

One of the many friendly faces at LA Catering

One of the many friendly faces at LA Catering

Ready for something different, I checked out Barrio Restaurant’s chorizo bar, which offered something for every palate – whether you prefer sweet, spicy, or mild.

And then it occurred to me that, judging by tonight’s offering, I really need to find a job at Limited Brands. They served an Ohio grown apple flat bread with grapes, basil, Ohio blue cheese, and smoked chicken.

Limited Brands' Ohio grown apple flatbread with grapes, basil, Ohio blue cheese, and smoked chicken

Limited Brands' Ohio grown apple flat bread with grapes, basil, Ohio blue cheese, and smoked chicken

and accompanied it with Ohio sweet corn bread pudding with rosemary caramel sauce.

Limited Brands' Ohio sweet corn bread pudding with rosemary caramel sauce

Limited Brands' Ohio sweet corn bread pudding with rosemary caramel sauce

I’m not sure what is more impressive – the quality of the event, the amount of money raised for the college, or the fact that C actually did manage to eat her way through 50 restaurants in one night. Whatever it is, I still give the evening an A+.

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5 responses

16 09 2009
Columbus Foodie

Damn, you’re fast! Still working my way through editing all my pics. It was so nice to be able to take a few minutes to sit and talk with you tonight. 🙂

16 09 2009
Robb landon

Love this post. Great discriptions and photos. What an event -yes? I was blown away.

16 09 2009
guccigirl99

What an event, indeed. Thank you, Columbus State, for being a terrific host!

17 09 2009
sparklegem

I had a fantastic time tasting and tweeting. Props to CSCC for putting on such a great event with so many local chefs and restaurants. I loved the mushroom/truffle/pastry combo from Catering by Design, and will hit up Bel Lago for fresh stuff. Suisse Shop also had a fantastic layered cake of chocolate cheesecake, white chocolate mousse and chocolate cake. Great recap Sara, thanks for sharing. – Crystal (@sparklegem)

17 09 2009
Taste The Future | Taste Casting

[…] this myself. Thank goodness CSCC has the great culinary program, so we can Taste the Future!     Sara Barton:  Fresh taste is a priority at Bel Lago Waterfront Bistro – nearly all of the ingredients in their […]

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