I’m a little behind this week on the blogging, but I had an exciting week of food, starting with my excursion to Pastiche! I was lucky enough to be invited to celebrate my new friend Tiffany Herrera’s birthday at the Wisconsin Human Society’s annual “Feasting for Fido” event on Thursday night. It was my first time attending, and very appropriate, since I just adopted my kitten, Bebe, at the Humane Society last winter.

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B(I know, I know, you don’t really want to see pics of my friends or my kitten, but they’re all just so darn cute…)

I love a good charity fundraiser, and for the $50 entry fee, Feasting for Fido didn’t disappoint. With twenty local restaurants serving samples, plus wine from The Ruby Tap (www.therubytap.com) and a nice selection of beer, live music and let’s admit it…the adorable animals waiting to be adopted there was plenty to do and see to keep everyone entertained. I also really enjoyed the fact that the restaurants were asked to create a vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free option. Many had great success, and it was a lot of fun to see what they came up with!

One of my first samples was this adorable little polenta bone, topped with artichokes and goat cheese. I loved the idea of the grilled polenta, however it was not my favorite consistency – you couldn’t really cut into it with the fork and it became more of a finger food. Also, there was an award category for “Best Presentation” and this one did not live up to its competition – too bland looking on the plain white plate.

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My favorite presentation of the night was this one, from the Green Kitchen which is located in the Public Market (www,milwaukeepublicmarket.org). I loved their grass display, and they offered mini salads with samples of their dressings, as well as their custom sandwich spreads. It was all very fresh, tasty, and like I said, an attractive display that drew my attention.

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And now, my top picks for the evening (which, let’s be honest, did not coincide in the slightest with the actual judges picks!)

Third place: a curried zucchini and onion dish with quinoa and sweet rice served with a custom lemonade, made with kale and herbs. Flavors were great, presentation offered some variety- a very enjoyable treat!

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Second place: Quinoa meatballs served on a bed of spaghetti squash with marinara and shredded parmesan. This was magnificent, and I will attempt to recreate the meatball myself sometime soon. The texture and flavor was spot-on and they made a good decision with serving this on a tiny plate.

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And drumroll please, my first place pick was the chilled tomato soup with smoked paprika oil and a cheese crisp, made by Kil@wat. Historically, I am not a chilled soup fan, but this was perfection. The yellow tomato puree was extremely flavorful, and the smoked paprika adds a whole new dimension to the dish. I asked the chef for his secret, and although he wouldn’t give me the recipe, he did tell me that the roasting process for the soup took some time, and that a high quality smoked paprika made all the difference.

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You’ll note that I did not include any desserts in my post – I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I decided to use my calories on the savory dishes I love. The official winners of this competition were Mr. B’s in the category of best sample with a dessert option, Le Reve for best presentation with a huge variety of desserts, and Smoke Shack for People’s Choice, with an extremely spicy Korean tofu BBQ. The real winners this evening though, were the adorable cats, dogs, bunnies and other animals who will receive shelter until the right family adopts them. Congrats to the Humane Society for pulling off a wonderful event, and to all of the chefs who donated their time and resources to develop the stunning recipes we sampled.

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