It just keeps getting better! Our second annual Taste – held April 23-26, 2015 – was even tastier (if that’s possible) than last year’s event. The four-day festival kicked off with a VIP reception at Bar Lusconi with James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Andrea Reusing of Lantern. Next, it was on to the Durham Armory for the Grand Taste Experience where guests sampled food and drinks from the area’s best chefs and beverage makers like Il Palio’s Teddy Diggs, Acme’s Kevin Callaghan, TOPO Organic Spirits and Carrboro Coffee Roasters. On Friday, it was a gorgeous evening for our Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner at Sarah P. Duke Gardens where Chef Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood Joint and Chef John Eisensmith of Six Plates Wine Bar teamed up and presented four courses. Cider maker Chuck Flynt Foggy Ridge Cider from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains personally paired each course with one of his delectable ciders and educated diners along the way.
On Saturday, at the Burger Smashdown at Fullsteam Brewery, chefs from Mattie B’s Public House, Tyler’s Taproom, Al’s Burger Shack, Buns and Only Burger cooked up burgers and a side. Tea Cup Gin played live music that afternoon and Rise Donuts were dessert for those that still had room. That evening, five of Durham’s best craft cocktail makers shaked and stirred drinks at the Artisan Cocktail Dinner at The Cookery. Tim Neill of Bar Lusconi and Peccadillo, Olivia Gray of West End Wine Bar & Billiards, Crawford Leavoy of Piedmont, Brad Weddington of NanaSteak and Shannon Healy of Alley Twenty Six served up their most interesting cocktails. Guests nibbled on bites from the kitchens of Revolution and Piedmont and local DJ Dae Emerson kept the tunes coming. At Sunday’s Roots of North Carolina Dinner at Watts Grocery. Chef Amy Tornquist based her menu on dishes that have been cultivated and perfected in North Carolina over the past two centuries. Marcie Cohen Ferris, the author of The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region, enlightened diners with the history of North Carolina cuisine with wine pairings by Piedmont Wine Imports and live music by the Haw River Hocketts.
It was an unbelievable lineup, which reflects the breadth and quality of our local chefs and food purveyors. We’ve had our fill of our local food scene – but don’t worry, next year’s series is already in the works. Check tastetheevent.com for updates! And don’t forget to pick up a copy of Taste: The Triangle’s Ultimate Food Guide!
Prior to the Grand Taste Experience at the Durham Armory, James Beard Foundation award-winner Andrea Reusing of Lantern hosted a VIP Reception at Bar Lusconi.
Chef Andrea Reusing (center) with Grace and Mattie Beason.
Guests at the VIP Reception were able to get a sneak peek of Andrea Reusing’s new menu at The Durham Hotel, where she is opening a restaurant/rooftop bar this year.
Merge Records co-founder and member of rock band Superchunk, Mac McCaughan.
Tea Cup Gin supplied the tunes at the VIP Reception.
Il Palio’s Teddy Diggs was just one of the Chapel Hill and Carrboro chefs represented.
Chef James Clark of Carolina Crossroads had his pastry chef wife Marcey Clark next to him during the Grand Taste Experience.
TOPO Organic Sprits’ Estaban McMahan and crew served up refreshing cocktails that evening.
Lauren Zedek, Amanda Oakes and Anne Heymann.
Taylor Fish and Morgan Poteat sample ONE Restaurant‘s tequila passion fruit shot (in an egg!) with mochi doughnuts.
Eschelon Experiences‘ Tara Zechini with Jenna Parks Olender of Southern Bride & Groom.
Matthew Blaisdell and Christine McKeown of U.S. Foods.
Arin Lowe, Leah Fulkerson and Leann Jocius.
Matt and Meredith Powers
On Friday, guests at the Foggy Ridge Cider Dinner enjoyed cocktails out on the terrace at the Doris Duke Center in Sarah P. Duke Gardens prior to dinner.
Passed hors d’oeuvres included this smoky eggplant spread and roasted beet Fatayer.
Mattie Beason made cocktails with Foggy Ridge Pippin Gold Cider, Byrrh, Crude Bitters Cucumber Shrub and soda water.
Guests had the option of either Marriage or Sycophant bitters by local Crude Bitters for their cider cocktails.
Saltbox Seafood Joint‘s Chef Ricky Moore prepared the first course for the cider dinner: a carrot-vanilla soup with fattoush garnishes and sumac creme fraiche.
Foggy Ridge cider maker Chuck Flynt explains his choice pairing the first course with his First Fruit cider.
Six Plates Wine Bar Chef John Eisensmith made the second course, an olive-oil poached N.C. monkfish with smoked cheddar grits, asparagus, romesco, crispy shiitakes and lemon rosemary salt.
Guests chat between courses.
And for dessert … Chef Eisensmith’s lemon-blueberry pound cake French toast with cider-poached apples, ginger caramel, sage creme anglaise sphere and spiced pecans.
It’s a hard job picking the winner of a Burger Smashdown. Judges (from right) Washington Duke Inn’s Food and Beverage Director Don
Come Saturday, Fullsteam Brewery
OnlyBurger won People’s Choice with their Texan sliders of Piedmontese chuck topped with braised brisket, pepper jack cheese, an onion ring, pickled jalapenos and brisket jus, served on a Neomonde Bakery bun with a side of pickle chips.
Tyler’s Taproom won Judges’ Choice with their Old West Burger, topped with cheddar, bourbon barbecue sauce, onion strings, smoked bacon and garlic aioli.
Fullsteam‘s Sean Lilly Wilson with Shannon Media President/CEO Dan Shannon.
On Saturday night, some of Durham’s best craft cocktail makers joined forces for our Artisan Cocktail Dinner at The Cookery. Did you know you can now buy Alley Twenty Six’s tonic around town?
Tom Martin and Erika Stinson.
Tim Neill of Bar Lusconi and Peccadillo made a Spritz cocktail for the evening featuring Campari, Cinzano Rosso, Cava, soda water, olive and orange peel.
Melissa Cox and Rachael Leblanc
Our Taste weekend wrapped up with our Roots of North Carolina dinner at Watts Grocery. Chef Amy Tornquist created a menu based upon and inclusive of dishes that have been created, cultivated and perfected in North Carolina over the past two centuries.
Marcie Cohen Ferris – the author of The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region, published by UNC Press in September – gave a narrative of the history of North Carolina cuisine.
Braised Pork Belly with Sorghum Apples and Sweet Pickled Rhubarb.
Amy and her team prep the next course.