By Andy J. Gordon and Jenny Peters
When the Masters of Taste rolled into the Rose Bowl in early April, the gourmet food, wine, beer and spirits extravaganza was actually there for a purpose. Masters of Taste raises funds for Union Station Homeless Services, a nonprofit organization committed to helping homeless men, women and children rebuild their lives. All proceeds from the inaugural event went to the charity.
Guests wandered across the field of Pasadena’s iconic sun-drenched stadium, as it served as a grand setting for an array of amazing food and tasty beverages. And happily, guests found shady areas and comfortable lounge spots dotted throughout the majestic bowl’s grass field at this well-organized affair.
There was so much good food that it was hard to know where to begin. Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern’s watermelon BBQ pulled pork on a bacon zucchini johnny cake was mouth-wateringly amazing. Osawa prepared a melt-in-your-mouth ahi tuna with wasabi aioli on rye bread. BierBeisl Imbiss had delicious bite-size pork-belly treats. Hyde Sunset served delicate braised beef cheeks with peas and sunchoke puree, crispy shallots and pea vines. Sol Mexican Cocina offered flavorful spicy shrimp tacos.
Refreshing beverages were (naturally) needed to accompany the dynamic food offerings. The event had a multitude of excellent choices. The Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay was bursting with notes of apple and pear, while the Jamieson Ranch Vineyards’ Chardonnay was crisp and luscious with just a touch of oak.
Golden Road Brewing served their thirst-quenching 329 Lager. Leffe Blond Belgian Pale Ale was another good choice. Bootlegger’s Brewery offered up their tasty Old World Hefeweizen. Among the many spirits companies on hand pouring their top-shelf drinks, our favorite was the new tequila from Desmadre. They served their blanco and reposado neat, but the watermelon jalapeño margaritas were a very popular hot yet sweet choice.
No food event can be a success without decadent desserts and Masters of Taste did not disappoint. Alique Gourmet Toffee had a variety of incredibly yummy choices, including a spectacular white chocolate gourmet toffee. Choctal had amazingly vibrant vanilla and chocolate ice cream flights from around the world. Butter Cake Shoppe prepared mini cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies that kept people coming back for more.
The inaugural 2016 Masters of Taste was a real winner, showcasing many fine area restaurants and premium beverage producers while raising money for an important cause. And experiencing it in the midst of the grandeur of the Rose Bowl made the event feel extra special; and made us want to mark our calendars for next year’s experience.
Photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon 2016© and Masters of Taste