Just imagine - a chance to taste dishes from forty-five (!) of Boston South End's finest restaurants all under one roof. This is exactly what happened at the 20th annual Taste of South End at the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama (right in the South End) this past weekend.
The purpose of the annual charity event is to raise money and awareness for AIDS Action, an organization dedicated to providing prevention and wellness services for people vulnerable to the HIV infection.
On top of all the food sampling (and trust me, it's really hard to sample food from all 45 restaurants!), there was also a silent auction full of all sorts of cool experiences and items, a raffle for a Caribbean vacation, and cooking demonstrations!
Here's a summary of all the amazing food, wine, and activities at the event!
Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines greeted the VIP guests as they entered at 6PM.
Many different wines were available from many different wine and champagne sponsors, including The Hess Collection, Martignetti Companies, Carolina Wine and Spirits, Trinchero Family Estates, Treasury Wine Estates, Vineyard Brands, William Hill Estate Winery, and LaMarca Prosecco. Bryan tried several and enjoyed them. I ended up just drinking my Gloria Ferrer sparkling white wine before moving on to some beer. Boston Beer Company served different types of Samuel Adams beers. I tried the IPA, which was pretty enjoyable. It's not as good as my favorite craft IPAs, but it's not bad.
People milled around at their own pace, sampling all sorts of delicious creations from South End restaurants. Here's a look at what all the different restaurants were serving.
Chef Alan Rodriguez from El Centro prepared traditional Mexican stone bowls full of homemade guacamole, salsa, and chips. There were also chicken flautas, chicken empanadas, and chicken tacos.
Chef Jose Cardoza from Masa made a Smoked Brisket Taco with cranberry jalapeno salsa. I loved the tart salsa and how it cut the richness of the brisket.
Chef Marc Orfaly from The Beehive Restaurant made Fall Off the Bone Baby Back Ribs.
Chef Steve Brand from the Barcelona Wine Bar brought House-made Mozzarella (left), Hamachi Tartare with Avocado and Cilantro, and Chorizo with Sweet and Sour Figs (right). I love any freshly made mozzarella, and this was tasty.
Andrea Nordby and Amy Beeman from the South End Buttery had a lovely Lobster Mac and Cheese, as well as a lemon poundcake with raspebrry compote and fresh whipped cream (not pictured).
Chef Stefano Quaresima from Petit Robert Bistro made a beautiful White Truffle Cauliflower Mousse with bacon (I tried this and it was delicious). They were also serving Smoked Salmon over Salmon Rillette.
Chef Jatinder Singh from Mela Indian Restaurant brought Vegetable Samosa, Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, Naan with rice and mango jam.
Picco served an "Adult Ice Cream Float" with Lindemans Framboise lambic served with either homemade vanilla ice cream or chocolate sorbet. I loved this dessert. It brought back memories from high school when we used to go to the local Mr. Freeze in Ohio to get "Juicy Freeze", soft serve ice cream mixed with orange "pop" as we called it (or "soda" here in the East Coast). This version made with raspberry lambic is phenomenal and much better than any version I'd ever had in high school.
Chef Caleb Graber-Smith from The Gallows served a Broken Farro Porridge topped with molasses glazed pork belly, chicken skin + frito crumble, and Sriracha chips. I really enjoyed this dish with all its different components: the crunchy chicken skin, the spicy Sriracha, and the rich pork belly. I'm also a huge fan of oatmeal, grits, Asian "jook" (watery rice), and anything that resembles porridge. This was creative and fun.
Naun Rivera and Carol Kong from the Haley House Bakery Café served Vegetable Empanadas, BBQ chicken, and later in the night, Chocolate Chip Cookies. The chocolate chips cookies were super thin, chewy, and totally hit the spot.
Chef Zentner from Aquitaine bar á Vin Bistrot served a Lamb Tartare with preserved lemon and pistachio butter. I usually don't love the gaminess of lamb, but I found this lamb dish to be refreshing, light, and really good.
Chef Justin Winters from Cinqueceuto Roman Trattoria served a Crostini con Lardo, toasted bread with whipped lardo, with pear mostarda, and truffle honey.
Joanne Chang from Flour Bakery had Mini Coconut Cream Pies while Karen Akunowicz from Myers + Chang had Szechuan yuzu marinated Salt and Pepper Shrimp, lettuce cups, and fresh herbs.
Chef Brian Reyelt from the Franklin Café brought House Cured Salmon with bacon mayonnaise on crostini.
Chef Peppino from Da Vinci Ristorante made Ricotta Tortelloni with a sage butter sauce accented with white truffle and Parmiggiano.
Chef Lucio Garnica from Sage Inn made a Chia & Pea Pudding with housemade lardo and crispy potato.
Chef Evan Deluty from Stella made a Gnocchi with Tomato and Basil.
Chef PJ Sermos from Stephi's on Tremont made a Smokey Bacon Macaroni and Cheese.
Chef Erica Keefe from Five Horses Tavern made Tavern Chili topped with cast iron corn bread and manchego cheese.
Chef Michael Zentner from Gaslight Brasserie brought Crispy Pork Belly with Kimchi.
Chef Carolos Rodriguez from Spanish restaurant Orinoco brought three types of ceviche served on a huge ice sculpture.
Chefs Brian Poe and Yong Aldana from Estelle's made a Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo. This gumbo definitely had a nice kick to it, and overall was very satisfying.
Whole Foods Market brought Beef and Southern Pimiento Cheese with blueberry feta quinoa and toasted almonds.
Chef Evan Campbell from The Trophy Room made a Vegan Spaghetti out of roasted spaghetti squash, tomato, onion, arugula, pesto, and pine nuts; a Gumbo with chicken and andouille sausage, celery, red pepper, and okra; and Cauliflower Wings with a soymilk batter, hot sauce, blue cheese, celery, and carrots. I loved the spaghetti squash "pasta" - it had great flavors and just felt really healthy. I felt good after eating it.
Chef Rodney Murillo from Davio's Northern Italian Steak House made Gnocchi with a veal, beef, pork, and tomato Bolgonese sauce. This was hearty, savory, and comforting on a cold day.
Chef Andy Husbands from Tremont 647 and Sister Sorel made Mini Mac Sliders.
Chef Christopher Coombs from Boston Chops served his restaurant's Late Night Burger (available after 10PM!) which came with cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, carmelized onions, pickles and a secret sauce. This was an excellent burger. Bryan liked it so much he actually went back for seconds (!).
Chef Stephen Oxaal from B&G Oysters brought raw oysters from Virginia on the halfshell with a choice of a traditional cocktail sauce or a Procecco mignonette.
Chef Matt Mahoney from The Butcher Shop brought Lamb Rillette served on top of crostini with cornichons, whole grain mustard, and pickled onion. This was really nice.
Chef Jason Maynard from Mistral brought Focaccia with Beef Tenderloin, horseradish and arugula.
Chef Dolly Bourommavong from Metropolis prepared The Rigatoni with crumbled fennel sausage, veal glaze, chili flake, sweet marsala, and Parmigiano.
Chef Nadsa de Monteiro from The Elephant Walk brought three dishes, a Coconut Tumeric Rice that came with Nataing (ground pork simmered in coconut milk with garlic, peanuts) and Salade Cambodgienne (shredded cabbage, carrot, natural chicken breast, red bell pepper, onion, peanut, mint, and Asian basil tossed in tuk trey dressing). I love southeast Asian food and I really enjoyed the bright and complex flavors coming from this trio.
Chef Scott Herritt from Kitchen brought Housemade Swedish Meatballs.
The Upper Crust brought several of their pizzas.
Chef Yemtu Assefa from Addis Red Sea brought Spicy Lentils and Collard Greens.
Formaggio Kitchen brought three different cheese to try as well as a couple condiments to pair. Ekiola Ardi Gasna, a Basque sheep's milk cheese, MmBleu, a Spanish sheep's milk cheese, and Vacherin Fribourgeois Alpage, a Swiss cow's milk cheese.
Chef Donald Hernstrom from J.P. Licks brought three different ice cream flavors: Irish Coffee, Thin Mint, and a third one which I can't remember. Bryan tried the Mint Oreo, which had a lovely intense mint flavor.
Blackbird Doughnuts made a variety of cake doughnuts. This was a popular item and they were cleaned out before the night even ended.
DavidsTea brought two different teas, a blueberry black tea and an herbal tea made from oats, dried fruit, and toasted hazelnuts ("like granola" they said). I really enjoyed both teas, both the intense yet very natural blueberry flavors and the nuttiness of the oat tea.
At the end of the evening, there were a few cooking demonstrations. Chef Steve Brand taught the audience how to make homemade mozzarella (left). There were also fun games where you could win prizes. On the right is a game where you try to throw rings onto wine bottles. If you successfully get it around a bottle, you get to take home a bottle of your choice!
At the end of the evening, the AIDS Action Committee awarded Chef Gordon Hamersley a Heroes In Action award for his continual support of AIDS Action.
Finally, there was the drawing for the raffle. A lucky woman received a trip for four to the Caribbean Islands!
All in all, it was a fun event and I really enjoyed trying so much food from a neighborhood with which I am not that familiar. The South End has tons of really great restaurants. I just find that I don't make it out there as much as I could because it's not super easy to get to the South End from Cambridge.
We tried to sample everything, but eventually out stomachs cried "Uncle" and we had to stop. We were soooo stuffed. Of the bites that I did try, my all time favorite was definitely the Ice Cream Soda made from raspberry lambic from Picco. Bryan loved the burger from Boston Chops and actually went back for seconds on that one (!). He also picked the Ice Cream Soda from Picco as his favorite sweet dish. I also really enjoyed the Broken Farro Porridge from The Gallows, the White Truffle Cauliflower Mousse from Petit Robert Bistro, the Chicken & Andouille Gumbo from Estelle, the Trio from the Elephant Walk, and the tea from DavidsTea.
This was my first time here and I thought it was really fun. Thanks Taste of South End for giving me the opportunity to come!
Disclaimer: the Taste of South End provided me with two tickets to attend this event for free with a guest. They also provided two additional free tickets for a Giveaway that I conducted on an earlier post. All opinions are my own.
Taste of South End Boston
6:00PM - 7:00PM (VIP)
7:00 - 9:30PM (regular admission)
Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama
539 Tremont Street, Boston
Ticket prices: $100 for regular, $150 for VIP