Food Porn From Taste of the Nation Laguna Beach

Soy garlic braised brisket, served by Brian Huskey of Formosa Cafe. Loved the carrot puree.
Soy garlic braised brisket, served by Brian Huskey of Formosa Cafe. Loved the carrot puree.
Anne Marie Panoringan

When friends invited us to attend Taste of the Nation Los Angeles, we couldn't say no to a collection of great restaurants all in one spot. Then I realized the Orange County event was around the corner, and covering it only made sense. While it was a much more intimate setting, the caliber of expertise was a home run. Chefs traveled from Hawaii, even Florida to prepare something special for this Share our Strength fundraiser that Edwin referenced last week. Here's the visual evidence.

Fork not required
Fork not required
Anne Marie Panoringan

Kicking off with our favorite gents out of Old Towne Orange, Greg Daniels and Wil Dee were serving and pouring to my heart's content. Of the two offerings from the Haven duo, we leaned towards their wild game pate-- a blend of antelope, wild boar and venison. It's served alongside blackberry mustard, roasted walnut oil, bourbon cherries, micro dijon and peppercress. With a handful of options on tap, we spent quality time drinking Noble Ale's English 101 and Man's Milk.

As cool as the other side of the pillow
As cool as the other side of the pillow
Anne Marie Panoringan

Nina Compton flew in from Miami to support Share Our Strength. More refreshing than her counterparts, she presented heirloom tomatoes, sea urchin and hamachi before pouring a cool gazpacho over them. A memorable seafood option from Scarpetta at Fontainebleu.

Seafood? Salad? A lil of both.
Seafood? Salad? A lil of both.
Anne Marie Panoringan

Most photogenic clearly goes to (no surprise) The Golden Truffle's Alan Greeley. Chef's Creole potato salad is artfully plated to showcase the main ingredient in his vinaigrette: crayfish. It's creamy, tangy and playfully savory-- messing with one's preconceived notions and imagination before it ever reaches your lips. Greeley is in true form with this dish.  

Meat and shrooms for hours....
Meat and shrooms for hours....
Anne Marie Panoringan

Crossing onto the mainland for the weekend, Alan Wong executes both a surf and turf selection. Short rib, however, wins our vote with its hearty depth of flavor. Peanuts offered texture that completed every bite (we're talking to you, Ludo). Shiitake and hamakua eryngii mushrooms screamed umami.

You don't mess with perfection.
You don't mess with perfection.
Anne Marie Panoringan

Last, but certainly not least, we admire the coastal presence of host chef Craig Strong. Studio's resident kitchen expert kept things classy via a precisely seared diver scallop. It keeps excellent company with pearl onions, olive oil, vanilla and vibrant sugar snaps. Our date dove into more than their fair share of seafood that night, raving about Strong's dish and stalking him into a photo.

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Montage Laguna Beach

30801 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

866-271-6953

www.montagelagunabeach.com


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