Food lust, punch bowls and eye candy: Share Our Stength's Taste of the Nation

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At last night's Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation gastronomic romp, thirty restaurants fed hundreds of bellies at Mile High Station as part of the non-profit's effort to end childhood hunger in Colorado.

Along with sensational foodstuffs, the soiree also pimped some of the city's best star-tenders, who battled in out in a spirited punch competition to raise additional donations to help the cause. Bartenders from Encore, Root Down and Linger, TAG and TAG | RAW BAR, Avenue Grill (pictured above), El Camino, Steuben's and Jonsey's EatBar collected nearly $900 in additional cash for Share Our Strength. The winning team was Root Down and Linger, who raised $256. TAG and TAG | RAW BAR raised $157 and El Camino took third place, generating $133. "It's safe to say that the Mile High Punch Out at this year's Taste of the Nation was quite the success," says Brian Melton, one of the tenders from TAG.

We were there, of course, to capture all the memories.

Tastes from Argyll and Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, which will open in September in the Baur's Ristorante space downtown. Rolled smoked salmon with creme fraiche from Black Pearl. The tatted princess of Breckenridge Vodka poured plenty of liquid at last night's Taste of the Nation, which was as much about libations as it was about food. Star-tender Bryan Dayton, who's currently consulting on the cocktail list at Madison Street -- and will reopen Oak at 14th, which was consumed by fire in March, in late August or early September. Ha-may-ka punch with edible flowers from El Camino. There weren't any food trucks at last night's culinary extravaganza, but there were street tacos, courtesy of the crew from El Camino. Cheese spread from Johnson & Wales University. Cauliflower panna cotta with smoked steelhead caviar and micro shisho from La Tour restaurant in Vail. Potent rum cocktails from Dancing Pine Distillery, based in Loveland, Colorado. Parmesan agnolotti, which chef Sean McGaughey, of Opus, paired with sweet corn foam and truffled popcorn. The big chief from Oskar Blues. Cauliflower soup with micro greens from Steuben's. Scallop ceviche from Strings. The TAG cocktail clan monkeyed around with puppets, while collecting donations to ensure that no child goes hungry. The culinary crew from Vesta Dipping Grill. Goat cheese and heirloom tomato crostini from Ale House at Amato's.

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