The 50th rendition of Foodies was always going to be an event for the ages. Thankfully, for the fervent, eating nomads of Worcester, we were not disappointed. Tucked away next to Mezcal Tequila Cantina on the ever-busy Major Taylor Blvd. is a small culinary “office,” meant to be the test lab for new dishes for all things Niche in the city and beyond: The Test Kitchen. The menu of the evening consisted of 6 different courses, one from each of the 6 Niche Hospitality Group’s restaurants. With a nose-to-tail concept, and using a locally sourced pig, Executive Chef Neil Rodgers and company created a unique and outstanding food tasting environment that was second to none. Foodies were treated to hand crafted cocktails, wines and beers that have not yet been offered in any of the existing restaurants.
Dinners were encouraged to talk to the chefs and bartenders to learn more about what went into the dishes and drinks, and maybe what the inspiration behind them were. It is widely known that certain wines pair better with certain foods, but not many people realize that beer and spirits can be used in the same way to enhance certain flavors and textures present in the dishes.
Being a cocktail party theme, Foodies also had a chance to mingle throughout the Test Kitchen and get to know some of the new faces joining us for the evening. Owner owner Mike Covino was always buzzing around, enjoying every chance he had to talk food and explain why foods were paired together, and how textures and flavors were combined in certain ways. It was refreshing to see an owner take as much time and have so much pride in what he does, while still being down to Earth and approachable.
While there were 6 total courses, each course had at least two different choices for the dinners to try. Whether it was the bloody mary inspired poutine or oaxacan chorizo tacos, Foodies were treated to sweet, savory, tart, rich, silky textures…and a lot of times, all in one, small bite. For me, the highlight of the evening had to be porchetta con pimenton. Trying to describe this dish is almost a disservice for those who didn’t have a chance to try it. It was the best pork chop you have every had, wrapped in the best, crunchiest bacon you have eaten. It was rich, and fatty (in a good way – the way marbling make a great steak), and the truest essence of pork.
With a focus on local sourced food, and a passion that exudes confidence, the Test Kitchen seems to be the jumping off point for some of the best food that the great city of Worcester has to offer. And frankly, if half of the items we tasted end up on the menu, the dining public will be extremely happy in the near future!