Byline: Jan Gottesman
BOXBORO - Writing this on Wednesday evening, I can barely move.
The 15th annual Taste of Wachusett, the first produced by the Perkins School, had a new venue and lots of new vendors, but the food was up to past years' standards.
Well over 500 happy diners toured the Holiday Inn at Boxboro at any given time, in an atmosphere that resembled a large cocktail party. But, in this case, the refreshments were provided by 23 different vendors.
From the vegetable lasagna at Ristorante Via Alto 27, to the scallops with apple chutney on crostini from Sterling National Country Club, there was plenty of food and beverages to sample.
"What's your favorite?" was a question that was constantly asked. For me, there were a few samples that stood out. The seared ginger scallops with citrus reduction, from Hopkinton Country Club, kept me coming back for seconds (and thirds). The cavatelli, prosciutto and porcini in a parmesan cream sauce, from Creedon and Co. Catering, also scored high in my culinary report card.
For sweets, I thought the Baileys and brownie pie from Great American Grill, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Devens, was amazing, creamy and delicious. The gluten-free brownie, from Annie's Gluten-Free Bakery, was delicious and rich.
But the best sweet story went to Perkins School student Leanara Considine, who has been working since July to produce over 2,000 cookies for the school's display. Her favorite was the plain chocolate chip cookies with a flourish of purple flowers made from frosting, but I thought the macaroons - both chocolate-almond and apricot - were incredible. I wanted to try each of the varieties, but there were just too many. The fact that one student created them all - working an hour a day, creating dough and freezing it before baking up what amounted to a garden of beautiful creations - was unbelievable.
There was lots for spice lovers, from the jambalaya dished up by Hudson's Horseshoe Pub and Restaurant to the chili at Texas Roadhouse. The latter also served up pulled pork, as did Buffalo Wild Wings, which also offered boneless chicken nuggets with four different sauces, ranging from the midler honey barbecue sauce through the mango habanero. I have to say the spicy garlic sauce was a unique twist of heat and zing.
There were two different versions of lobster mac and cheese, one from Cyprian Keyes Golf Club and another from the Shriver Job Corps.
And the host restaurant, at the Holiday Inn Boxboro, dished up...