On a chilly January day Maryland’s hospitality and tourism industry gathered together with local government officials for an evening of local tastes, cocktails, and conversation. This 27 year tradition has been hosted by the Restaurant Association of Maryland and is commonly known as the Taste of Maryland Legislative Reception. The event not only showcases some of the best of Maryland’s food and beverage scene, it also acts as a platform for discussions about the future and challenges of our local restaurant and tourism industry. I was lucky enough to be a guest of Zauner & Mtimet, a Baltimore law firm that works closely with the Restaurant Association of Maryland to represent their member’s worker compensation needs.
The evening featured 26 restaurants, multiple Maryland wineries, and local beer from Evolution Craft Brewing Company. Attendees had and array of mouthwatering selections to choose from including Blackwall Hitch‘s Chef Jonathan Seningen’s red beet & apple ravioli stuffed with whipped goat cheese and garnished with shaved fennel, pistachio, and a vanilla beet reduction. The dish was creative, interesting, fresh, and made me want more. Preserve‘s Chef Jeremy and crew kept to their polished and sophisticated down home inspired bites with sauerkraut cakes topped with Ham hock rillettes.
Many restaurants in attendance decided to stick with their signature dishes. Miss Shirley’s blackened shrimp and grits not only looked amazing but had a nice balance of spice from the shrimp and sweetness from the roasted corn emulsion. Galway Bay Irish Pub served their Shepard’s Pie as well as their Irish Whiskey Tomato Soup, while filling it was perfect for the brisk January night. Harris Crab House decided to keep things cool, fresh, and local with fresh shucked oysters with a variety of fixings including a dirty martini mignonette. They were the go-to table for oyster lovers and even partnered with The Oyster Recovery Partnership to ensure the evening’s oyster shells would be put to good and responsible use.
The sweet side of night included Cakes Plus who proudly displayed Maryland themed cakes and served moist mini cupcakes lightly dusted with edible glitter. Bruster’s of Annapolis brought in a unique variety of ice creams including a Boston cream pie flavor and a Buckeye inspired creation. The evening wouldn’t have been complete without some take home swag. Main and Market (previously Main Ingredient) sent attendees home with a bag of muffin minis. Middleton Tavern and Obrien’s gave out coupons for free oyster shooters, while Miss Shirley’s inspired us to get cooking with new orange oven mitts.
Overall, the evening was a real treat. I left Taste of Maryland with a full belly, new connections, and feeling very proud to be part of Maryland’s Dining and Hospitality Industry.