2014 Taste of Perkins

peking duck fingers

When was the last time you closed your eyes because you tasted something delicious? Think about it. When your eyes are closed and you eat something, your sense of taste is magnified. You smell everything more intensely. The textures pop in your mouth, flavors either jolt you awake or make you remember a distant memory. When you eat your food without seeing it, everything is different.

As many of you know, one of my sisters is deaf-blind, so every day, she eats her food without seeing it. I get to experience a fraction of this at least once a year, at the Taste of Perkins, an annual fundraiser at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA. Guests are blindfolded and led to a tasting room, where volunteers help us eat little  bites, as well as sip on wine pairings. I’ve been attending this fantastic event for a few years (here is my first review three years ago) and this year, I even participated in a “Taste Challenge” on stage…

taste of perkins onstageThat’s Mary-Catherine Deibel (of Upstairs on the Square), me, Bryce MacKnight (Perkins’ director of food services) and Jonathan Soroff of the Improper for the Taste Challenge

I don’t remember everything we ate, except that the first bite had asparagus and the last bite was key lime pie (which I guessed quickly and accurately). I was so nervous eating in front of a crowd that I kind of just shoved things in my mouth and guessed the food as fast as I can!

I also had a little practice in the tasting room, where my friends and I tasted sweet and savory bites, plus four glasses of wine. We were actually blindfolded at the entrance of the ballroom, and then we were led by a volunteer to a table. Even though I knew I was with my friends and I could hear them right beside me, it was very unsettling not being able to see anything. I was scared I would knock over the entire table when I tried to sit down, or somehow dip my fingers into someone else’s plate, but thankfully there were no mishaps.

taste of perkins blind taste

These were the bites we ate at the tasting room, and we started from right to left (photo was taken from the point of view of a volunteer, who was standing across the table from the taster): smoked fish on a tarro cracker, mozzarella ball with pepper jelly and olive bits, tapioca caramel cups, and a marshmallow s’more. I guess my tasting strength is really in desserts, because I was able to name exactly what I was eating, saying triumphantly and with great enthusiasm, “marshmallow dipped in dark chocolate rolled in graham cracker crumbs!”

We also tried the delicious appetizers being passed around – the top photo is Peking duck fingers with a sweet and sour sauce, and there were many more throughout the night. A couple of my favorites:

 spring rollsshort rib grilled cheesebully boy rum

fresh spring rolls; short rib grilled cheese; and the special cocktail of the night was a “Perk and Stormy” made with local Bully Boy rum and ginger beer

 A few more pics from the night:

alaina bianca ashley jonathan soroff and bianca garcia
reclining chair bianca and pam at taste of perkins

with my friends Alaina and Ashley; right before the Taste Challenge with Jonathan Soroff; a beautiful reclining chair up for bids, made by Perkins students; and with Pam, one of my sister’s teachers during her time at Perkins

I had a really wonderful time at Taste of Perkins. I always say that Perkins changed my sister Monica’s life, and it changed my family’s life, and I will forever be grateful and connected to it. I didn’t even know this is possible, but every time I go to Perkins and attend an event like this, I love my sister even more. I think about how challenging it is to be blind (and deaf), and how amazing she is for being so cheerful and positive and persistent. In fact, writing this whole post is making me miss both of my sisters! So here’s two more personal photos:

monic eating ice cream sisters matching pajamas

The first photo is Monica eating her favorite strawberry ice cream at J.P. Licks this summer – when was the last time you were that happy eating ice cream?? And the second photo is my sisters and me in Japan last January wearing matching pajamas. My youngest sister, Patty, is a lawyer AND a yoga instructor. Yes, she is super awesome. Yes, I am very lucky to have two wonderful little sisters :)

Food does taste better with my eyes closed, but I admit that I felt scared experiencing even just a few minutes in the dark. I have so much respect and admiration for people who are blind and visually impaired, and for a school like Perkins that is helping them lead richer and more fulfilling lives. Taste of Perkins is an annual event, but there are many other ways you can support Perkins. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I hope my blog post today made you pause and be grateful – for your sense of sight, for family, for food, for inspiration. I know I am.

Have a great week, friends! I’ll be back next week with a cheesy and carby recipe that’s perfect for Fall (and stretchy pants).


31 Responses to “2014 Taste of Perkins”

  1. #
    Mike @TheIronYou posted October 20, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I love blind tastings; it makes you realize how much we eat with our eyes.
    Sounds like you like had a ton of fun!

  2. #
    Sues posted October 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I love reading about your Taste of Perkins experience every year. Also makes me think a blind tasting would be a great idea for a cocktail party- it’s so true that tasting is so much more intense with closed eyes.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 20, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks, Sues. Yes, great idea for a cocktail/tasting party!

  3. #
    Michelle Lahey posted October 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    This sounds like such a wonderful event! I definitely would have knocked over the table, so I am impressed. ;)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 20, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks, Michelle. I was also worried about tripping on stage and I was THISCLOSE but somehow steadied myself haha

  4. #
    Marilyn Rea Beyer posted October 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Bianca, you were the hit of the night! Thank you for coming to Taste of Perkins. And thanks for being such a vibrant part of the event. MRB

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 20, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Hi Marilyn, thank you so much! It was truly my pleasure :)

  5. #
    The Squishy Monster posted October 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    This sounds awesome! And what a great spread, Bianca…thanks for taking us with you!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks, girl! I’m happy to share the experience :)

  6. #
    Michelle posted October 20, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    What a great event, and what great sisters!

  7. #
    Meghan posted October 20, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Your love for your sister and commitment to Perkins both always make me smile. I would love to go to this event next year!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      It would be great to see there next year! xo

  8. #
    K / Pure & Complex posted October 21, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    This seems like so much fun. I wish I could do a blind taste test. It definitely looks like a bunch of fun.

  9. #
    Daisy posted October 21, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    this event is so inspiring each year you post about it.

    and your sis always looks so cute and happy. :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Yes she is so adorable! Next time my family comes to Boston, I want you to meet my sisters!

  10. #
    Juliana posted October 21, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Oh Bianca, this is such a fun event…I have never been to a blind taste event.
    Enjoy your week :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks, Juliana. Enjoy the coming weekend!

  11. #
    PassTheKnife posted October 22, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I loved your post! This is a great idea, I have a cousin who is blind and they have a huge fundraiser party every year for retinal research, this would be a fun thing to do at it!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Thank you :) Yes, it’s a great concept for a fundraiser!

  12. #
    Amy (Savory Moments) posted October 22, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    This is such a great idea for a fundraiser and such a wonderful cause! I agree with other commenters that this would make a fun cocktail party idea.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks, Amy. Now I want to host a cocktail party… ;)

  13. #
    Kelly - Life Made Sweeter posted October 23, 2014 at 4:12 am

    What a great event! Loved reading about this. I’ve never tried a blind tasting but it sounds like such a great experience!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks so much, Kelly. Have a great weekend!

  14. #
    Joanne posted October 23, 2014 at 8:17 am

    What a wonderful event and for such a great cause!

  15. #
    Catalina @ Shades of Pink posted October 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Nice event and great food!

  16. #
    Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen posted October 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful event and experience! There is a restaurant in Toronto and Montreal called “Le Noir” (everybody who works there is blind) where you eat in pitch black and it follows the same concept that your other senses are heightened when you can’t see. I have not yet gone there yet but would like to someday!
    And the pictures of you and your sisters are amazing! You three have such bright smiles!!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      That is pretty cool. I hope you write about if you do get to go! And thank you for the compliments! :)

  17. #
    Choc Chip Uru posted October 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    This event must have been wonderful, I love what an awesome cause it is for!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 24, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks buddy! Have a great weekend!

  18. #
    Molly Galler posted October 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I was so sad to miss this event! I had remembered your recaps from previous years and desperately wanted to go. Love seeing you on stage with such megawatt stars! You go, girl!

Leave a Comment