The 29th Annual Taste of Collier proved to be a very tasty afternoon. Over 30 different Collier restaurants came out to showcase their best bites and to raise money for several local charities. I love an event like this because you can nosh for several hours sampling menu items from many of the areas finest restaurants without a huge financial committment. While dinner for two at a swanky restaurant in Naples can easily cost over $100, I spent a mere $50 for my daughter and I to “dine” at several high-end restaurants in the same afternoon!
We sampled food from almost all of the booths and these were the highlights:
The NY Strip Crostini with Truffled Cream Spinach from the Waldorf Astoria’s Strip House was amazing. The richness of the seared beef and creamed spinach paired well against the toasty crunch of the crostini. It combined several classic steakhouse flavors into one tasty bite.
The Lump Crabmeat Waldorf Salad from Aura, also at the Waldorf Astoria, was another hit. This was so delicious and refreshing. It had all the creaminess that we typically associate with a Waldorf salad, yet their play on the ingredients turned it into an upscale treat. Flavorfully dressed crab sat atop a thin julienne of granny smith apple and celeriac that had been lightly tossed with creme fraiche. The rich taste of the crab was perfectly balanced by the fresh crunch of the apple and celeriac. Mmmm… I fully intend to head over to Aura and have a full-sized portion of this baby!
The Greek Gourmet offered a fantastic baklava. The flaky phyllo dough was packed with walnuts, honey and a warm cinnamony-clove flavor. On over at Texas Tony’s BBQ Shack the ribs were finger-lickin’ good. They had the perfect smoky-sweet flavor and the meat literally fell off the bone.
My two favorite bites of the day…and the one’s I’ll be dreaming about until we meet again…
The Bison Chili from Agave - thick, delicious and packed with flavor. It was spicy enough to let you know that you were eating Southwestern food but not hot enough to mask the layers of flavor that this chili was built upon. It was rich and meaty, and I’ll be having a bowl of it for dinner sometime very soon!
The Baja Ceviche from Truluck’s was insane. It truly was the single best thing that I ate all day, and I know that it will be my summer go-to item. It was intensely flavorful and refreshing and the combination of flavors made it impossible to just eat one bite. I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that I ate two entire portions while I was there and took another two home with me…OK, I guess that’s a little embarrassing. The ceviche was chock-full of halibut, grouper, sea bass and shrimp. It was easy to detect the usual suspects of citrus, garlic and cilantro, but the sauce also contained several flavors that I just couldn’t put my finger on…probably because I inhaled it so quickly. It had a slightly spicy tomato-y bite that was off set by the cooling scoop of guacamole that was served on top. When I called Truluck’s to do a little follow-up bloggers research, they would only confirm the types of fish they used and tell me that the ingredients in the ceviche marinade were secret. Hmmm…guess I’m going to have to eat it a few more times to crack the code. Ahhhh…it’ll be rough, but someone’s got to do it. Anyone want to go to Truluck’s with me?