I recently paid my first visit to the Masters of Taste, which is an outdoor food and beverage festival held on the humongous field of Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.  I loved having so much room to roam around, which is very different from the usual foodie fest, where we’re all crammed in. (And, on a very weird note—this was the third time that I was on that iconic field in the past month and a half! After not even being at the Rose Bowl at all in well over a decade!!! As SNL’s Keenan Thompson so eloquently ponders, “What’s up with that?!”)

Photo by Alice Farinas.

Photo by Alice Farinas.

Masters of Taste featured tasty tidbits and a surprising variety of drinks from over forty restaurants and other culinary and beverage purveyors around town.  And to make it all a bit extra-exciting, there was a mid-day thunderstorm thrown in the mix!  With hail!  It was crazy out there, but we all got through it relatively unscathed.  (I’ll tell you how I stayed dry-ish during it towards the end of this review.)

The crazy weather at Masters of Taste.  Photo by Karen Salkin, as is the big one at the top of the page.

The crazy weather at Masters of Taste. Photo by Karen Salkin, as is the big one at the top of the page.

Being the picky eater that I am, (who often eschews creative eats,) I had to bring along one of my Royal Tasters, Alice, an assignment that, believe me, a foodie such as herself was more than happy about.  But it turned-out that I didn’t even need an extra palette because there were more than enough treats that I was thrilled with.

We really enjoyed the majority of dishes that we sampled, but, as always, we did have our favorites. Here are our Top 5:

~ The pork soup from Ramen Tatsunova was the absolute best thing that I tasted that day!  If ever they open a branch near me, I think I’d eat the soup for lunch every day!

~ Since I’m back to eating more healthfully than I have for the past few months, (thank goodness,) I was grateful for the Hawaiian Blast Wellness Bowl, featuring organic hemp granola and tons of fruit, from Milk and Honey.  As the chef correctly told everyone there, it was the best-for-us item we had all day!

If you look closely, you can actually see the lines of hail in this pic!  (Click on it to blow it up.) Photo by Karen Salkin.

If you look closely, you can actually see the lines of hail in this pic! (Click on it to blow it up.) Photo by Karen Salkin.

~ Alice and I both agreed on how tasty Church & State’s chilled pea soup was.  When I was handed a shot glass of it at their booth, and found-out that it was cold (as opposed to hot,) I wished I hadn’t already accepted it.  But, to be polite, I took a teensy sip, and guess what?  I loved it!  And the tiny croutons made it extra scrumptious.  I made Alice try it, too, and she deemed it to be “smooth and silky.”

We ended our time there with two fabulous desserts that hit the spot.

~ Icy Rush doled-out petite popsicles in a quartet of flavors, but we had eyes for only the Mexican chocolate.  Alice said it was “malty and creamy, and just sweet enough,” and lauded “the light flakes of chocolate” throughout.  I was just able to mumble, “Mmmmm!”

Photo by Karen Salkin.

Photo by Karen Salkin.

~ I was so glad that we stopped by Choctal on the way out. They did my favorite presentation of the day.  Instead of just handing us bite-sized tastes of their ice creams, they served them on horizontally-long plates, in flights of either chocolate or vanilla.  Each spoonful was on top of the picture of the flavor it was, so we didn’t have to wonder what it was that we had just sampled.  And they were all delish!

Lupe Molina working on a VIP guest's back, under the canopy. Photo by Alice Farinas.

Lupe Molina working on a VIP guest’s back, under the canopy. Photo by Alice Farinas.

On top of all the foodie fun, Massage Envy was doing chair massages for the VIP visitors all afternoon long. And, besides doing great work on our sore muscles, the second best part is that theirs was the only area that was…under a canopy!!!  After we signed-up, we were told to come back when we estimated, time-wise, that it was our turn.  Luckily for us, Alice and I were headed back over there just as the raindrops began to fall.  And two therapists became available as we arrived!  So, we got to be protected during the entire ten-minute duration of the worst of the storm!  It was actually fun and cozy under there, with all of us screaming at the thunder together!  Alice and I were both grateful that we had fabulous females work on us, who are both from the same location in Glendora.  Lupe Molina worked on my many back knots, (I’m surprised she didn’t break any fingers on them!,) while Diana Hsu relaxed Alice’s sciatica problems.

And the icing on all of the cakes is that 100% of the proceeds from Masters of Taste 2017 will directly benefit Union Station Homeless Services, which is a nonprofit organization committed to helping the homeless rebuild their lives.  What a worthy cause! Having that knowledge definitely made the food taste a tad better, and it also put a little thunderstorm on an open field of play into perspective.

Hope to see you all there next year!


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