On Thursday evening, I was privileged to attend the annual Taste of the Nation event to benefit Share Our Strength, an organization that aims to end childhood hunger in Boston and across the nation by 2015. Signs around the room with facts about the prevalence of childhood hunger in Massachusetts reminded us of the purpose of the evening and the work that remains in eradicating childhood hunger.
Over three dozen Boston restaurants and food purveyors participated in the event, putting out quite the spread of food. I brought my mom along with me to the event, who was in town for CupcakeCamp. Together we sampled the dishes and greeted several of Boston’s most renowned chefs.
One of my favorite desserts as well as one of the most unique were the PB & J hobnob cookies from Craigie on Main pastry chef Jess Scott. The cookies were tiny salty biscuits, crisp from the addition of oats. They sandwiched a creamy peanut butter spread and housemade plum jam that oozed out from the sides when you bit into them. Creamy and crunchy perfection.
One of my favorite savory dishes was a salad of frisee, watercress, and chickpeas from Sel de la Terre. The standard version was topped with chicken sausage.
Wheatberries with chickpeas, raisins, and peas (topped with seared duck breast) from Hamersley’s Bistro.
A refreshing lychee sorbet from Gargoyles on the Square.
One of my hands down favorite bakeries in Boston is Blue Frog Bakery in Jamaica Plain. I was thrilled that they were in attendance and I may or may not have squealed when I saw what chef Brad Brown was preparing: build-your-own whoopie pies. There were four options for the cookie–maple, lime cornmeal, chocolate, and vanilla, and three flavors of filling–chocolate, vanilla and maple. It didn’t end there. You then had a choice of toppings including sprinkles, chopped peanuts, coconut and chocolate fudge sauce.
Being the indecisive eater that I am, I started off with a half maple, half chocolate whoopie pie with maple frosting, a touch of coconut, and chocolate sauce on the side. I was wary about maple overload, but chef Brad assured be it would be great. And it was. The filling was impossibly light and fluffy, perfect against the thick cakey cookies. And because I don’t know when I will ever encounter a create-your-own whoopie pie bar again, I went back for seconds. This time I went for lime cookies with vanilla filling and a hefty coating of coconut. Once again, delicious. Brad, can you please offer these regularly at the bakery? I would make the trek down to JP way more often if you did.
An elaborate dessert display from the students at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. One of my favorites were the key lime pie lollipops, visible on either edge of the display.
Even though it was still unpleasantly cold outside, inside the Hynes Convention Center, it appeared that spring had sprung. Spring produce made an appearance in several dishes that evening. Above, a strawberry-rhubarb compote topped a prosciutto purse with cloumage cheese, frisee, almonds, lemon vinaigrette, and balsamic from The Blue Ox.
Many thanks to Susan Frechette, Share Our Strength MA, and to the many restaurants and sponsors of the event for donating their time and efforts to create an enjoyable evening to support an extremely important cause. To learn more about the work of Share Our Strength, visit their website here.