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Taste of the Wasatch 2013 Report Card

by on August 6, 2013


Solitude on the first Sunday of August is always the best place in Utah to spend a sunny afternoon, thanks to the Taste of the Wasatch. The event is a bit of a foodie paradise, gathering dozens of restaurants and thousands of culinary geeks at the mountain resort for a four-hour tasting, with all proceeds going to benefit agencies fighting hunger in Utah–this year including Utahns Against Hunger, Utah Food Bank and Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership.

The organizers, chefs, breweries and wine purveyors deserve a lot of credit for putting together what has got to be a logistical nightmare, but you would never know that by how smooth the entire production seemed for festival-goers.

Here are some of my personal highlights from this year’s event.

Favorite table decoration: Del Mar al Lago’s silver fish

One of my favorite new restaurants in town served up incredible Cebiche de Pescado and Arroz con Mariscos (a Peruvian paella), and broke up this killer statue to help draw people to their booth. It was Del Mar al Lago‘s first visit to Taste of the Wasatch.


Favorite proof my disdain for all things cheese might be misplaced: Whole Foods’ Goat Cheese Fritter with Wild African Honey & Berry Reduction, featuring Shephard’s Dairy Goat Cheese

Cheese in its various forms is not one of my favorite things. It’s a totally unreasonable childhood phobia that I’ve never really gotten over, and it’s what will keep me from every being a REAL foodie. But this tasty nugget brought me back to Whole Foods‘ booth more than once.


Favorite pleasant surprise: Pallet Bistro’s Caputo’s Bauernspeck-wrapped Hamachi with Pickled Jalepeno Watermelon Salad

I’ve never dined at SLC’s Pallet, which is clearly a mistake after delving into this tasty bite. Note the near-empty tray–that was pretty much the case all day after people got a sample. Pallet was one of many restaurants to find a creative use of Utah’s watermelon bounty.


Favorite pork of the day: The Glitretind at Stein Erickson Lodge‘s Extra Fatty Pork Shoulder Ribs with Utah Peach Barbecue Sauce, Local Corn, Heirloom Tomato and High West Bourbon Relish

Just read the name of that dish, and you can see how this effort by the always-a-favorite Glitretind crew rose to the top of several rib and pulled-pork efforts at this year’s event. Suffice to say, there’s no way to eat just one, or beat the chef’s sales job as he serves up the goods.


Best way to lure me into eating pate: Aerie Restaurant’s County Pate, Bread & Butter Pickles and Bourbon Gelee

At face value, pate is not really in my personal culinary wheelhouse, but the great thing about all the options at Taste of the Wasatch is that it allows you to try things you might never order when visiting a restaurant. It was pretty easy to dismiss my fear of pate when I got a taste of The Aerie‘s delicious effort.


Best touch of local lavender: Cena Ristorante’s Tuna Crudo with Capers, Fried Rosemary, Salsa Verde and Lavender

Okay, I’m not food photographer, so there’s no way this photo does any justice to the incredible flavors found in this one-bite explosion by Ceno Ristorante. I could have been happy eating a dozen of these, no problem. Just read that list of ingredients and put your imagination to work.


Best reason to order something besides kouing aman: Les Madeleines’ Laminated Brioche with Roasted Garlic and Pecorino Cheese

You don’t need me to tell you that Les Madeleine has an amazing array of baked delights at their Salt Lake City shop, but I’d never sampled this amazing brioche. Among all the proteins and Utah-grown produce, this was a melt-in-your-mouth blast of garlic and cheese in a flaky pastry that easily served as dessert–even with the amazing Utah Baker’s Dozen dessert pantry just a few feet away.


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