Stands for Share Our Strength, Taste of the Nation. It is held once a year and is a major culinary benefit which brings top chef's and mixologists together to donate their time, talent, and passion to end childhood hunger in America.I attended this years event, held in late May at the Chelsea Center with my dear friend Gary Tucker, senior editor at Food Arts Magazine. Over 50 restaurants were represented and the food was of such high quality I had a real problem stopping eating to take notes. Gary is much more of a pro, aways taking copious notes and often even do drawings of the food. But while tasting one of the dishes at a small table, while standing up amidst the crowd of surging, gobbling guests, someone managed to topple his prosecco all over his notes. Sticky bubbly doesn't do wonders for separating pages after drying but at least it didn't obliterate the ink on the page! I took no notes. I decided that like cream, whatever rises to the top of my memory is what I will blog about. Luckily, for two of these items, I was able to procure photos from the restaurants. The dishes that most impressed me were: From Ai Fiori: chef de Cuisine Chris Jaeckle's Ricciola: amberjack tartar, wrapped with transluscent cucumber, accompanied by uova di trota (trout eggs) IMG_0135.JPG From Casa Mono: Andy Nusser's pasta paella with squid ink From Public's: chef Brad Farmerie's spicy lamb sliders From Gramercy Tavern: pastry chef Nancy Olson's black out cake (so moist, tender, and chocolaty I had to ask her how she was able to cut it in such precise little squares (the answer was from the frozen!) From Telepan: pastry chef Larissa Raphael's perfectly delicious peanut butter mousse and chocolate with a delightful crunch of feuilletine, accompanied by tiny cubes of huckleberry gelée and peanut brittle ice cream--a harmony of complexities. Picture 008.jpg In addition to the virtue of contributing to a worthy cause, SOS Taste of the Nation gives the participants the opportunity to become acquainted with many restaurants with an eye toward future visits for a full course dinner. This past week I had an amazing dinner at Ai Fiori reminiscent of the impeccable European haute cuisine service. The veal chop was so meltingly tender and flavorful it had to have been cooked under sous vide. The chocolate budino was an exquisite melding of flavors and texture. I'll be going to another of the restaurants this coming week! If this interests you, put on your calendar for next April so you can purchase your tickets for the May 2012 event.