I always wonder how some of our local fundraising events are going to keep getting better and better every year.
Bite of the Bay is setting the bar pretty high.
I remember leaving the 2011 version thinking that all the restaurants had really stepped up their game and brought outstanding 'bites" for the community to sample. So naturally, going into last week's event, I wondered how they could top 2011.
Once again, I left saying 'I can't believe it, they were all great.'
Autumn and I both agreed that it was the best overall food they've had at the event -- and the other years have all been very good.
Another good thought upon leaving was that next year they are either going to have to have more tables, or The Mill is going to have to build a bigger conference room to hold the event.
The Bite is getting huge and really packing them in.
The Bite of the Bay participants this year were Rodeo Steakhouse, Millers at the Cove, Northwest Smokehouse, The Mill Casino-Hotel, Porta, La Costa, Ciccarelli's, Black Market Gourmet, and Benetti's. Providing the 'sips' were Ninkasi Brewery out of Eugene and Anindor Vineyards.
I'm not even sure where to start when it comes to my favorite 'bites' of the night. There was the halibut-salmon slider from The Mill, the Rodeo eggrolls and barbecued ribs from Rodeo Steakhouse, the jambalaya from Black Market Gourmet, or the pate from Ciccarelli's.
Rodeo Steakhouse and Miller's at the Cove both made fabulous debuts at the event. Rodeo was a late replacement and came up with two very nice offerings. The Rodeo eggrolls with the dipping sauce were very good, and the ribs were exactly as I remembered them from the restaurant. They had everything but the bones (and the mess I always make with the sauce).
Millers at the Cove brought three offerings, their green chili, clam chowder and their no-mayo cole slaw. I didn't run into anyone who hadn't liked the green chili.
While I don't go out of my way to find pata on a menu, I like finding it at events like this when where I can just get a sample. The prosciutto-wrapped duck pata that Ciccarelli's presented was rich and full of wonderful flavor.
A few months ago, Chef Jardin Kazaar took third place in a jambalaya contest up the coast and he brought his recipe to Bite of the Bay. It had just enough spice to be spicy, without being over-the-top hot.
It's always interesting to see what some of the best chefs in our area will bring to events like these. After this years gastronomical wonders, I can't wait for next year.
Little Italy, formerly Mamma Mia at the Pony Village Mall, has now opened in its new downtown Coos Bay location at 160 Second St.
Their new hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.