Union Square transformed into an eating extravaganza this past weekend at SF Chefs as over 200 of the city’s finest chefs, winemakers, brewers, and mixologists strutted their stuff. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the number of restaurants to try in this culinary powerhouse of a city? At SF Chefs we got the chance to try bites from places we’ve had our eyes on. Here are highlights from the Saturday Afternoon Grand Tasting: AQ Restaurant & Bar had one of my favorite dishes of the day with their Peaches and Burrata served over almond butter and smoked ham. The peaches were at the height of summer ripeness, lush and juicy, accented with sweet woodruff, a leafy green whose oil has a vanilla-fig flavor. I’ve been wanting to try AQ for some time now and this just sealed the deal.
Chef Adam Hinojosa from Per Diem wowed us with his Ricotta and Egg Yolk Ravioli dusted with prosciutto powder, and served in a lemony pork jus over a bit of heirloom tomato jam. The pasta dough was a bit undercooked, but props to Per Diem for going all out on this...not an easy feat especially when catering for a crowd this size. Kara’s Cupcakes is always a crowd-pleaser, and this was no exception. On Saturday, Kara’s offered up mini sweet treats of rich Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Filling and Chocolate Ganache Frosting and Sweet Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Frosting. They’re little so you can have two...or three. Fatty pork is a requisite for any tasting event, and The Ahwahnee did not disappoint with its crispy Pork Belly over pepper sauce. Café Des Amis had one of the most creative offerings, serving up Petits Farcis a la Provencal, rounds of roasted zucchini stuffed with smoked eggplant and veal ragout, and topped with cherry tomato and anchovy. The bite was meaty and savory, light and fresh at the same time. I’m a sucker for sardines, and Perbacco’s Chef Staffan Tarje must know it. His Cured Local Sardines over Olive Oil Potato Puree was well balanced, with a bit of crunchy radishes and a lively wild fennel salsa verde brightening it all up. Pizzeria Delfina brought some cool respite to the hungry masses in the form of Gelato in Brioche -- ice cream sandwiches, Italian style. And let’s not forget about the cocktails. Campari made a "mistake” really work with its Negroni Sbagliato: Campari, Vermouth, and Prosecco (instead of the usual gin). This Masala SKYY concoction was also dangerously tasty. It was an exotic combination of SKYY Infusions Coconut, coconut chai tea syrup, lemon, Angostura bitters, and seltzer. Not only does SF Chefs satisfy your appetite, it gives you the opportunity to meet the talented folks behind the food. It’s rare to have so many of the city’s best chefs all under one roof, and it was great to see them mingling, signing books, and up on the demo stage. As we’ve said before, it often seems as if the celebs in this town are the ones wielding knives. SF Chefs brings our city’s A-List front and center, and accessible to their adorning fans. SF Chefs: Food | Wine | Spirits July 30 - August 5, 2012 San Francisco, CA This post was published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on August 6, 2012.