Taste of the Nation Portsmouth event brought bustling white tents and the wafting aroma of magnificent cuisine to the Strawbery Bank Museum on Wednesday. The sold out food festival featured local top menu samples along with top shelf libations presented by the No Kid Hungry foundation, which battles child hunger along the New Hampshire and Maine Seacoast.
The vendor stations under the tent buzzed with constant activity as attendees flowed from one clothed table to the next, anticipation met with excited surprise at each consecutive sample presented. Amid the positive atmosphere of a worthy fundraiser, senses swirl by the sound of sizzling skillets and grills, the scent of spiced meat, the music of the live band and DJ, surrounded by smiling people, and tasting the best food of the area.
There were many popular samples but a few strongly stood out among their peers. Go to Dolphin Striker right now. They supplied the freshest Maryland style crab cakes with each herb and spice singing tones of decadent flavor, topped with an Olde Bay aioli. Nearby, Mombo’s booth shared a special treat of locally caught cod and smoked blueberry house sauce served with braised Asian cabbage slaw in a shortbread cup.
Advice to future attendees: First, get your tickets early. This event is always going to sell out. Second, it is important to pace oneself. It is remarkably easy to be swept up in the curiosity of tasting everything, however by the time half of the tent is covered, it is likely the average person is full and may have consumed two or three free alcoholic beverages. There are chairs outside of the tent where patrons were often viewed catching their breath and clutching a full stomach.
The event also offered a VIP tent experience which included a live jazz band, a Moulin Rouge burlesque stage show, and a few extra vendors inaccessible to the general admission, including Jim Bean handing out bourbon shots. The tickets cost a little extra for the show, but it is really paying for the elbow room. The main tent is quite congested and it is easy to get bogged down in the crowd, no matter how attractive everyone is.
Be sure not to miss next year’s event. Admission provides all the wonderful food one can handle and supports a great cause to prevent children from going hungry. No Kid Hungry – Go Orange!