Portland's Taste of the Nation (mini-recap coming later; we're still in recovery) may have boasted nearly 50 restaurants, but tastes from the five deemed "GEMS" — Beaker & Flask, Beast, Genoa, Gruner, and Thistle — required ponying up an extra $50 per ticket. So what did a fifty buy (aside from early admission and some added breathing room)?
Clockwise, starting with the egg: Recent ELLE centerfold Chris Israel offered up a pickled egg with horseradish-based filling; from McMinnville's Thistle, it was bite-sized duck preparations served several ways. James Beard-nominated Naomi Pomeroy was personally on-hand to dole out her lamb with cherry jam; Beaker & Flask's trio of crostini included liver mousse with pickled asparagus (and jumping over one, a ridiculously amazing mackerel escabeche); on the spoon is Genoa's tortellini, swimming in a veggie-based broth.
Seven rich bites = Half a Benjamin.
Access to Taste pre- crowded clusterf*#k = priceless.