This past Monday marked the Montclair Rotary Club’s Fourth Annual Taste of Montclair. This charity event (all proceeds benefited organizations such as Toni’s Kitchen, the Human Needs Food Pantry and the Salvation Army) was a party to be reckoned with, not to mention a food lover’s paradise. It was the ultimate cocktail party with over 45 participating local restaurants that showed off their unique flavors and cooking styles. The appropriate catch phrase for events like Taste of Montclair should be “Go hungry or go home”. Thank goodness I was part of the hungry crowd!
My dining partner in crime for this event was my best friend. It was a great excuse for a girl’s night of pure indulgence. We were greeted at the event’s doors with the upbeat sounds of Furiosity (the band for the evening). As we started to hum some classic party tunes we slowly made our way around the busy tables. One of the things I love most about these types of events is observing the sheer creativity that some of the restaurants bring to the table (quite literally!). Some eateries are able to transform a 3 foot table into a true miniature representation of their establishment. For instance; Jam’s by Kim’s “pantry” full of homemade jam’s or Le Salbuen Café Market’s farm to table bites that were surrounded by natural wood displays and fresh vegetables. These set-ups captured the essence of their products and guests could visually identify this at first glance.
The crowd grew steadily as the night went on however; I never waited for more than five minutes at a tasting table for food and our little duo always managed to find some standing room at a cocktail table to munch on our dishes.
While the entertainment, visual displays, and room set-up were all a success, what I really came for was the food! I would love to say we got to try a bite at every single table but I think our stomachs’ might have burst. We did however; get to ALMOST all of stands. On the honor roll for me was Terre a’ Terre’s unique approach to macaroni and cheese with wild boar and bacon as one variation and lamb marguez with preserved lemon as the other. Another favorite was Fin Raw Bar and Kitchen. The calamari on their crostini was extremely fresh. I enjoyed Brick Lane Curry House’s stuffed naan and the crispy wafer topped with short ribs and blue cheese at….was another dish not to be passed up! My friend fell in love with Ah Pizz’s fried goat cheese balls stuffed with ham. Her and a few other happy customers gushed over it being their favorite dish of the night (I personally don’t like goat cheese so I did not partake). When it came to sweets there were two standouts. First is Asalt and Buttery’s famous macarons. They aren’t exactly new to me as I have already done a write up on their bakery for Behind the Plates however, they are tried and true. I have yet to taste a macaron that can stand up to their remarkable work. The other sweet spot that was a pleasant surprise and new introduction was Yalo and Me. They were making Nutella and fruit stuffed crepes. The concept may not have been revolutionary but it was nothing less than a big hit with this crowd (put Nutella on anything and people will come!).
If you were looking to have some alcohol you had a few options. Unfortunately, I made an instant misstep in my drink selection. Upon arriving I ordered a glass of wine only to a few steps later land in front of Warren Bobrow’s table. After entertaining us with his Azariah Crane cocktail concoction’s interesting back story and glazing over his medicine cabinet of medicinal goodies we were informed that we could have bought a ticket to try his epic drink at the bar. I promised myself I would go back after my wine but never made it. I can only hope to catch him at the next event. Thankfully, I did not miss out on the Blue J Syrups paired with Jersey Artisan Rum tasting. They were refreshing and the combinations were inventive.
It was a pleasurable evening that set the scene for any type of occasion that may have led you there whether it be networking, date night, or like us just a friends’ night out. If you missed this year’s now I recommend you mark your calendars for next March. It’s a great evening with a great cause behind it . This year’s event raised $30,000!! For more information on the Montclair Rotary Club you can visit their website: http://montclairrotaryclub.com/
REMINDER: It’s Montclair Restaurant week through this Sunday, March 15th. Be sure to get out and enjoy some great meal deals at participating restaurant.
Some more Event Photos:
…all for the love of the dish