As usual, see report linked below for more pictures and more depth.
I really enjoyed myself at Taste of the Nation. This year I set out on my own most of the time and had tasted everything I was allowed to within the first hour and a half, even while taking pictures. That allowed me to work off some of my many tastes by doing laps up and down the stairs looking for my friends, which I never found until it was over, eating more of the ones I liked best.
I wish my pictures would have come out better. My rechargable batteries are needing to be replaced and the low light meant I had to use flash a lot. Plus, there are just so many people.
I think that dessert items translate best to the tasting format. They generally have stronger flavors and your tongue is quickly engulfed in their essence. I think many of the places could learn something from that and try to intensify their bites, like chefs do for degustation menus. It's too easy with all those flavors for something to come across blah that might have been decent to good if you'd sat down with a whole thing of it.
A few of my favorites:
* Tuscany Grill's baby octopus and runner beans with mint, fennel, chili, and orange vinaigrette.
* Genoa's rosemary-caramel and pine nut tart.
* Paley's build-your-own sundae with banana ice cream.
* Viande/Simpatica's house-cured prosciutto, fragrant like a meaty truffle.
* Higgins smoked pork neck with its web of fat with a little piquant pickled chard or fiddlehead ferns.
* The fresh masa and spinach tortillas with avocado salsa and pickled onions from La Calaca Comelona.
* The foie gras flan with veal jus, mushrooms, and truffle.
* A certain patissier's Pierre Herme macaroon temporary tattoo