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Saturday, May 6, 2017

The 16th Annual Taste of Huntington Beach dazzled the senses yet again


The 16th Annual Taste of Huntington Beach came back strong again this year with a huge crowd of attendees to support the Huntington Beach Children’s Library. The aroma of delicious food tempted us all the way from the parking lot. Here is a look at some of the items we tried before heading home in a food coma.

Market Broiler presented a Seasonal Shrimp Salad with a Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette. It was such a colorful salad with the spring mixed green underneath shrimp. The shrimp had a flavorful seasoning on it, not overpowering and complemented the shrimp flavor. The salad itself could use a bit more dressing as the arugula is very assertive.

Stonefire Grill presented their Keen Green Salad made with quinoa, chopped spinach, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, avocado, parmesan cheese, and fresh pesto. They won 3rd Place in the Entrée Category. It had a spring look to it with a vibrant green color courtesy of the spinach. The flavor was just right letting each ingredient shine through – earthy quinoa, sweet sundried tomatoes and artichokes, and herbaceous pesto.

Suzanne’s Catering presented Short Ribs with Roasted Garlic and Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes and Mascarpone Stuffed Strawberries with Pancetta. Her Short Ribs came in 3rd Place in the Appetizers Category. The short ribs were wonderful with tender texture and a rich flavorful sauce. The mashed potatoes were creamy but could use a bit more garlic and gorgonzola to punch up the flavor. The strawberries were beautiful and I can see these as passed hors d’oeuvres at a spring wedding or corporate event.

The Pizza Press presented The Chronicle made with extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella, imported artichoke hearts, grape tomato, red onion, crimini mushroom, chevre, roasted red bell peppers, and finished with fresh basil and basil pesto. It was vegetarian but had a lot of great flavors from the fresh ingredients to tempt even a carnivore like myself. The great thing about The Pizza Press is that you can choose one of their preset menu pizzas and then customize it to your liking. I would use the The Chronicle as a base and add sausage or some other meat to it.

Watertable at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa presented Salmon Crudo. They won 2nd Place in the Best Decorated Booth Category. This was my pick as most beautifully presented dish. I just loved how orange the salmon was with thick fat stripes throughout and the contrast of the herby red pepper topping and green cucumber underneath. It was also a great bite with the rich fatty flavor of the salmon played well with the herbaceous flavors.

Ritter’s Steam Kettle Cooking presented New England Clam Chowder and Ritter’s Famous Chicken & Sausage Pan Roast. The clam chowder was amazing and won Simon Majumdar’s 2nd Place Best of the Best Category! I been on a search for a good, creamy, and flavorful clam chowder since Jimmy’s in Seal Beach closed and I think I’ve found it. It had a creamy texture with the flavors I look for in a good clam chowder – celery, potato, and briny clam.

The chicken & sausage pan roast was good as well and won 2nd Place in the Entrée Category. It is a tomato cream based creole dish with Cajun trinity served with rice. It had a thick gravy-like consistency. The dollop of rice in combination of the pan roast reminded me of an étouffée minus the crawfish. I love me some Cajun food!
 
Slater’s 50/50 presented The Original 50/50 made with a 50/50 blend of beef and bacon patty, pepper jack, sunny side up egg, avocado mash, and chipotle adobo mayo on a brioche bun. If you love yolk porn, this burger is a must! The patty itself was to die for with the juicy beef and smoky, salty bacon flavors. The sunny side egg added a richness from the yolk. The avocado mash added a creamy element. The brioche bun holds up nicely to this juicy, messy burger with ease. It was a finger-licking good burger!

Solita presented a Halibut Cheek Taco cooked in coconut draft beer, chipotle infused atop a blue corn tortilla while successfully defending their title of Most Enthusiastic from last year. It had striking colors from the reddish-purple beets, green pepitas and cilantro, and blue corn tortilla. The halibut had an almost scallop-like texture which was nice, but all the accompaniments overtook the delicate flavor of the fish with the beets and chipotle being the main flavor profile.

Old World Restaurant presented Reuben Egg Rolls, Flat Iron Pork Sliders, and German Apple Pancakes. The Reuben Eggs Rolls were made potsticker/empanada-style with corned beef, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese, deep-fried and served with house made 1000 island. It was an interesting twist on the reuben sandwich and one could definitely snack on this while drinking beer.

Flat Iron Pork Sliders are grilled sliced flat iron pork served on a pretzel bun with Jaegermeister BBQ glaze and cole slaw. This was a great take on a BBQ pork slider. I had not had flat iron pork before and it was very meaty, but they had me at the pretzel bun!

German Apple Pancakes won 3rd Place in the Desserts Category. The aroma of cinnamon and apples was amazing, but I thought it was a little too sweet.

Bahama Buck’s Shaved Ice presented Jolly Rancher with Jolly Rancher Sprinkles and Strawberry with Dark Chocolate Sauce. Jolly Rancher is a great one for the kids as it packs a sweet and tart punch plus the colorful Jolly Rancher sprinkles. Strawberry with Dark Chocolate Sauce reminded me of a chocolate-dipped strawberry. My mom would go crazy over this one!

Duke’s Huntington Beach presented Sashimi-style Hawaiian Onaga (redtail snapper) with yuzu, truffle oil, and nori cracker. They won 3rd Place in Most Enthusiastic Category. This was my favorite dish of the day! It was the truffle oil aroma that actually led me over to their table and I was not disappointed. The onaga was soft and succulent with a fresh, clean taste. The truffle oil added a nice flavor yet did not overpower the delicate flavor of the fish. The nori cracker added a crunching texture while added a taste of the sea to the dish.

Rita’s presented Key Lime and Mango. Key Lime was very light and tasted exactly like key lime, not super sour and not super sweet, just right. Mango is a favorite of mine. I got this flavor as my birthday present for being part of Rita’s Rewards. It tastes exactly like the mango fruit as if you pureed the juicy flesh and froze it.

Pete’s Sunset Grille at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa presented Shaka Poke made with ahi, mango, ponzu, fried garlic, and sesame seeds atop wonton crisp. It was very pretty, but being from Hawaii, I do not care for poke that has any time of fruit in it. It is a mainland thing and I just can’t get my taste buds on board with this. But, the hubby liked it.

SeaLegs presented a meatball. It had a Mediterranean/Greek flavor profile with the dill sauce and cucumber. It was pretty tasty!

St. Marc Pub-Café presented an Apple Pie Bacon Beignet. They won 1st Place in Simon Majumdar’s Best of the Best, 2nd Place in the Desserts Category, and 2nd Place in Most Enthusiastic Category. This was an amazing dish with a sweet and savory play of flavors. The crispy, sweet, salty bacon paired nicely with the lightly sweet, soft, fluffy beignet. Great for breakfast and/or dessert!

With another amazing Taste of Huntington Beach completed, we waddled back to the car. We fell into a soothing food coma when we got home with tasty bites dancing in our heads.

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