This year I finally had the opportunity to attend Taste of Cambridge, an event that brings together over fifty of Cambridge’s finest restaurants. Attendants pay one ticket price and have their pick of small plates from each restaurant. All proceeds benefit the TOC’s charity partners. I went as a representative of CitySprouts, one of the beneficiaries of this year’s event, the other being the YWCA. CitySprouts manages gardens in all of the Cambridge public elementary schools and aims to inspire teachers, students, and families with a hands-on connection to the food cycle, sustainable agriculture, and the natural environment. CitySprouts has a great looking new website that explains the garden program in detail in addition to the other services that CitySprouts offers.
The event organizers aimed to make this year’s Taste of Cambridge a zero-waste event, meaning that as much waste as possible would be composted or recycled instead of going directly to the landfill. You can read more about the TOC’s commitment to minimizing waste here.
Summer bean and radish salad with garlic scape-sherry dressing from Chez Henri.
Chocolate Symphony cake from Finale.
Peanut butter sorghum sandwich cookies from Hungry Mother.
Orchard fed, bacon fat braised pork belly with creole mustard coleslaw on brioche buns from Bukowski Tavern.
As I am not a consumer of meat, I didn’t try the pork belly, but as you can see from the picture, it looked insanely good. I’d heard about Bukowski’s before, often with regards to their monstrous beer selection. I was able to spend a bit of time talking to Bukowski’s chef Aaron Parsons about his food philosophy and how he sources his ingredients. Turns out, a lot of the ingredients come not only from area farms, but from friends and relatives of Aaron’s. Aaron is a huge proponent of responsible and sustainable food production. I have to say, I usually associate pub or tavern food with a much different food philosophy and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Aaron brings his food principles to tavern cuisine. I’m curious as to why Aaron does not advertise his food philosophy more. His is the kind of philosophy that would draw me as well as several other people to a restaurant that I would not have considered otherwise. On the one hand, it is extremely popular at the moment to not only source local and sustainably produced ingredients, but to publicize it, right down to listing the specific farms on the menu. Conversely, publicizing a specific food philosophy (and including farms on the menu) is deemed pretentious by some and I could see where that sort of practice diverges from the traditional tavern image and crowd. I’m excited to go to Bukowski’s both to ask Aaron more questions, and to try a fig and goat cheese salad that he is working on for when figs are in season. And Aaron, please put a menu online. I can’t find one anywhere. K thanks.
Grilled shrimp and strawberry on a bed of fennel with a honey pepper vinaigrette from Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.
Vegetable jap chae from Koreana.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder with charred tomatoes and spicy yogurt from Casablanca.
Bruschetta from Bambara.
Uh, the entire bakery from Lyndell’s.
Earl Grey (dark chocolate ganache with tea and bergamot) and Trinidad (dark ganache with honey, Caribbean spices and chopped hazelnuts) chocolates from Burdick. Later on, they also brought out fig, cherry, and pistachio marzipan.
Strawberry rhubarb crisp served in a biodegradable bamboo husk from Henrietta’s Table. This was possibly my favorite dish of the evening. I’m a sucker for fruit crisp and this was a good one. Neither the fruit nor the topping was overly sweet which allowed the flavor of the strawberry and rhubarb to take center stage. The rhubarb was cooked al dente which made for a nice textural contrast to the softer strawberries and topping.
Rice, chicken tikka masala, and aloo chole from Cafe of India. Below, saag paneer.
Arancini from Amelia’s Trattoria.
Lizzy’s Ice Cream. Waltham, MA represent.
Oh yeah. There were beverages too. Pinot Noir, Viognier, and Reisling from Cono Sur.
Rhubard and hibiscus tea soup with buttermilk foam and hobnob cookie from Craigie on Main.
Asparagus soup from Ten Tables.
Watermelon sherbet from J.P. Licks. This sherbet was delightful. I rarely opt for a watermelon flavor because it is so often cloyingly sweet and artificial tasting. This however tasted like exactly what it was: real watermelon with milk and cream. It was light and refreshing and could almost be a palette cleanser. This is one of their July flavors, along with Cucumber, which I had last summer and am excited to try again soon.
Chicken rillette with freeze dried corn from Lord Hobo.
Roast pork tacos from Ole Mexican Grill.
Butternut squash arancini with sage cream sauce from Tavern in the Square.
Seared sesame crusted duck breast with carrot ginger puree, dou mai salad, and mango vinaigrette from Whole Foods.
Ceviche from Summer Shack.
Someone’s going to have to help me out with this one. I didn’t note down where this was from, but it was a corn cake topped with burrata, duck, and a strawberry rhubarb compote.
Lobster roll with house-made potato chips from Atwood’s Tavern.
Taste of Cambridge was held in the courtyard of the Charles Hotel which made for very pleasant spacious setting. I had such an excellent time helping out, spreading the word about CitySprouts, and enjoying the amazing food that Cambridge has to offer. I finally had the opportunity to sample the food from restaurants that I’ve known about or had heard of but had never been to. It was also a great opportunity to talk one on one with the chefs and restaurant owners and learn things you might not have known even having been to these restaurants. Best of all, it was a chance for people to enjoy outstanding food and drink while benefitting two extremely worthy Cambridge organizations.