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Richard Larkin, Club President of the Rotary Club of South Pasadena, presents the wine glasses that were used during the wine tasting at the Taste of South Pasadena at the Canoe House which was the starting point of the event on April 22, 2015. The Taste of South Pasadena was an event that included multiple restaurants sampling out there dishes. (Daniel Valencia/Courier)
Richard Larkin, Club President of the Rotary Club of South Pasadena, presents the wine glasses that were used during the wine tasting at the Taste of South Pasadena at the Canoe House which was the starting point of the event on April 22, 2015. The Taste of South Pasadena was an event that included multiple restaurants sampling out there dishes. (Daniel Valencia/Courier)

Organized by the Rotary Club of South Pasadena, the Fourth Annual Taste of South Pasadena, hosted last Wednesday, allowed participants to sample food from select restaurants and enjoy Garagiste Festival wines.

Starting at 5 p.m., the Canoe House, a local restaurant of South Pasadena, opened its parking lot up for VIP wine tasting and live music from the band Blue Monday.

“Previous years we’ve done it at a private home,” said Richard “Rick” Larkin, Rotary Club President. “This year we decided to take it to the streets so it’s called Eat on the Streets.”

In conjunction with the Garagiste Festival, the Taste of South Pasadena was able to engage several wineries to give up their wares to the public. Nineteen restaurants also participated in the event.

Although only those who brought a separate VIP ticket were allowed to sample the wine, there were several food options that people could snack on, provided by the Canoe House, while they waited for the food tasting event to start at 6 p.m.

Some of the wines that were offered came from Ascension Cellars, Tierra y Vino, Vinemark Cellars, and Powell Mountain.

“Today is a sampling of a few of those wineries,” said Doug Minnick, one of the co-founders of the Garagiste Festival. “These are not wine you’ll find on the shelves at Ralphs or Vons.”

Another perk of hosting Garagiste Festival wineries was that most of the winemakers were there.

“I select special vineyards where I believe in their farming practices one of which is organic sustainable farms,” said Lora Maire Taylor, the owner and winemaker of Bellissimo Cellars.

Just before the start of the Food Tasting Event, Larkin honored two individuals with the Paul Harris Recognition, named after the founder of the Rotary Club, which is the highest honor the club can offer.

“The award was founded in his honor in 1957 to express appreciation for those who support the humanitarian programs of the Rotary Club Foundation,” said Larkin. “These programs include an array of programs that save and invigorate the lives of people around the world and enhance international friendship and understanding.”

The awards were given to Ron Buranaskorn, a middle school teacher who launched an interact program for his student, and David Yost, who is a generous supporter of the Rotary Club.

“I’m very honored and humbled,” said Buranaskorn. “I think there are a lot more people more deserving than I am, but it’s a great honor.”

Afterward, the club hosted a live auction. According to Larkin, the proceeds, including the money from the VIP Wine Tasting and Food Tasting, would be put back into the community, including scholarship programs, stray dog vaccinations, and grants.

At 6 p.m., participants were allowed to wander the streets of Fair Oaks and Mission, to taste all 19 restaurants that would be handing out a bevy of foods and drinks.

All restaurants were within walking distance from one another, but for those who needed help getting around there was a shuttle service that ferried foodies from restaurant to restaurant.

From Fair Oaks Pharmacy, famed for its retro interior and ice cream deserts, to Gus’s BBQ, named one of the best BBQ joints on the west coast, there were many different options to choose from.

While some restaurants stuck to the classics, such as pizza and pasta, others showed off their unique dishes. The Grassroots Natural Kitchen and Market piled quinoa salads, vegan chili, and beets onto a plate, showcasing the health-conscious food they are well known for. Heirloom Bakery offered people a choice of desserts as well as basil lemonade while Griffins of Kinsale served traditional Irish food.

“We participated last year so we were excited to come back,” said Joe Griffin, the owner of the Irish pup.

Griffin’s sentiment was echoed throughout the evening as participants meandered from restaurant to restaurant and servers shared their food with people who wanted to learn more about South Pasadena eateries.

“It’s awesome,” said Andrew Castro, a PCC student involved in the event.

Castro usually works as a host at Shakers, one of the restaurants participating in the event. That evening he served food until 9 p.m., but he said he had no regrets.

“A lot of great food going around,” said Castro. “A lot of nice people. Great times.”

 

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