The Montclair Rotary Club has done it again! Monday night’s annual Taste of Montclair event took place at The Manor in West Orange, NJ. More than thirty local restaurants and celebrated chefs came together and showcased their talents for the charity event. I had the pleasure of attending for the second year in a row and I was once again blown away by these restaurants’ mastery of their craft. Before I get into the culinary achievements I was lucky enough to indulge in, I want to share the positive message that this event takes pride in spreading each year. One hundred percent of all ticket proceeds for The Taste of Montclair go to charities supported by the Montclair Rotary Club. Some of these include the Salvation Army, the Human Needs Food Pantry and Toni’s Kitchen. The Taste of Montclair raised thousands of dollars at this years event. The efforts of all those involved whom put together this night to support local businesses while benefiting a great cause should not go unnoticed.
attending guests were able to peruse through what seemed like endless tables of tastings and sips. There were two full rooms to work through! After eating my way through what I thought was the entire display, I learned that there was a whole other room to conquer. To say I left The Manor full is an understatement. While it would have been near impossible to try every single morsel that was offered I managed to make a huge dent in that goal.
I honestly can’t say that I tasted a bad bite the entire night, these chef’s really brought their A games. However; there were some standouts I have to mention. My first plate of the night came from Samba Montclair, a Brazilian restaurant. The dish was yucca gnocchi in a rich ground beef ragu sauce. I loved the Italian fusion concept and the flavors were delectable. Sputino Wine Bar has made it to the top of my “must visit” list with a pork cheek bite layered on top of aromatic truffled and cheesy polenta and crispy Brussel sprouts. While savoring my dish I swooned over the tapas style menu on display and mentally noted the things I need to try! Toast restaurant’s sweet potato hash and egg was a brunch meal dream. They’ve been high on my list to dine out at for a while and their tasting was a sweet reminder of why. Chef Jesse Jones merely teased my palate with his pulled pork strudel. As a private chef to many of the stars and no restaurant for me to visit, I was supremely disappointed to know I wouldn’t get to enjoy more of his food anytime soon. However; it was an honor to get to eat his creations at the event.
Jersey Barnfire Hot Sauce served a kicked up bacon mac and cheese that was just delicious (especially with extra hot sauce smothered on!). The best part about this tasting is that I have the recipe to share with all of you! You’ll get to have your very own little Taste of Montclair night in your own homes. Here’s the link: http://www.jerseybarnfire.com/#!recipes/cee5 (*There’s a few other fun bonus recipes here too!)
As for the beverages of the evening I really enjoyed the Jersey Devil Moonshine Pine Barrens Punch from Claremont Distillery. It was sweet, mild and fruity. Vital Dining had some of their fresh juices on hand. I tried both and they were equally refreshing and revitalizing. Lastly, the beer tastings from Cricket Hill Brewery of Fairfield, NJ were well received. Who knew we had such great brewers right in our backyard. I will be sure to be on the lookout for their beers in the future.
I rounded out the night on some sweet notes from CC Goodness with a few chocolate covered treats. Their concept is fantastic for gifts, group events and more. My final dessert tasting was the spiced blackberry sorbetto from Gelotti of Montclair (who opens their doors this Sunday). It was a fantastic way to end the evening. It was creamy, tart, and all around charmingly tasty.
If you missed out on this year’s event be sure to mark your calendars for next March (2017)! It’s a worthwhile experience and cause.
…all for the love of the dish