Kick Off The Summer With A ‘Taste Of’ Event In Your Town

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on May 23, 2012

Writing a successful food blog definitely has its perks.  One of these perks is working regularly with marketing groups and event co-ordinators who may call upon you to attend their events, eat the food from local restaurants, drink alcohol and then write about it…

Yes, I know…it’s a tough job but someone has to do it…

I have been writing this blog now for over 2 years and have been attending many of these festivals with friends and family for the pure enjoyment of the event. But, I must say it’s even more fun when you are called upon to do it as part of your job.

I was recently invited by Pamela Kahn, CEO of Forsythe Advisors to attend the Taste of Arlington in Ballston where they were celebrating the 25th anniversary of this event with over 40 local restaurants in attendance. The event is strategically located in the business district of the Arlington area, and a section of Wilson Boulevard is closed off right in front of Ballston Common Mall for the event.

Because it takes place in the business district, parking was really easy. There are many garages within walking distance of the event but if you can get parking in the Mall garage and cut through the Mall to get to the event, then that’s the way to go. I paid $1 for the first 3 hours and the location was safe and secure.

These events are always a fun time and always cater to the entire family, so if you attend one in your neck of the woods, make sure to take the kids with you.

This was the first time I had attended this particular event in Arlington and was surprised at how well organized it was. Pamela told me to show up at the will call booth where I could pick up my tasting pass. I went to the booth and she was right, they welcomed me with big smiles and made check in very easy, so kudos to the event team for a job well done.

This is what their tasting passes looked like this year…8 free tickets for any food booth, and they also had one for the beer and wine companies that were in attendance too. I was offered one of those passes also, but decided to be good since I had a long drive home.

After walking in I strolled around to get an idea of where everyone was and to see how long the lines were for the food…some were a little longer than others, but seemed to move along fairly quickly.

My first stop was the Lebanese Taverna because I just love Lebanese food, and I have frequently visited the Annapolis location because I am such a huge fan of their food. Their offering was a lamb kefte (finger shaped meatball otherwise known as kabob) served in a tender pita bread with one of the best hommos dressings I have ever had, and I eat a lot of hommos…it was truly delicious.

Next I stopped off at Rabbit restaurant, where I met Chef Malachi Broadnax whose delicious rendition of the Cuban sandwich was filled with tender braised pork shoulder, ham, pickles, cheese and dressed with a Dijon aioli…this one had me wanting more but I managed to press on to the next destination.

The Chefs at the Rustico tent were having way too much fun…what’s not to love about a bunch of happy go lucky guys who love what they do and also put out a delicious product. Executive Chef Matt Heimbauer was such a great guy and told me all about his delicious offering that day which just happened to be one of the most delicious veal meatballs I had ever had. He buys his veal from a small organic farm in New York, and I must say it was super moist with just a little spice in a really delicate marinara sauce…something I know that everyone would love.

The Carribean Breeze restaurant really out did themselves this year. Their offering was a fall apart tender suckling pig served with a side of saffron rice and green pigeon peas. If you’ve had Caribbean food before you know that some items are tough to make on a large scale. Growing up with many Cuban and Puerto Rican friends, I have had my fair share of this type of food and I know that the rice can be disastrous if you don’t know how to make it. I am glad to say that these guys really know what they are doing and this was another booth I had to really pull myself away from.

The desserts I managed to try were equally delicious. The first stop was the Corner Bakery, which has over 130 store locations nationwide and are well known for one of their cakes called a Cinnamon Cream Cake. Today their offerings were chocolate chip cookies, mini fudge baby bundt cakes and mini banana baby bundt cakes. All were delicious and moist, but it was obvious that the products were made with a mix. I guess you can’t mass produce baked goods on that level without using some kind of basic mix for your products. Nevertheless, although not a scratch baked product, everyone still seemed to be enjoying all of the offerings along with their homemade lemonade which really hit the spot on this warm and sunny day.

My next dessert stop was Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream, and I was lucky enough to make it in time to try my favorite flavor…chocolate! The ice cream was really delicious with everything you would want in your ice cream. First, ice cream needs to be smooth and creamy. This will tell you that there’s a good amount of butterfat in the product and just raises the yummy factor exponentially. Next, if it is a chocolate ice cream like it was here, it’s important for it to have a really good chocolatey flavor, which means that they are using a good quality chocolate. As a result, this girl was very girl with this delectable chocolate ice cream treat.

With long lines on this very warm day, I was really impressed at how these guys managed to quickly serve the throngs of people waiting in line…really professional and very organized.

So, if you happen to come across any ‘Taste Of’ events in your area you should definitely check them out. Tickets are economically priced if you purchase them ahead of time and although a few dollars more at the door, they definitely won’t break the bank.

Others coming up in the Maryland and DC area in the next few weeks and months are the Taste of Rockville, Taste of Georgetown, Taste of Bethesda and Taste of DC. Make sure to click on the event for links to their websites if you would like more information about dates, times and locations.

These events make fun outings for the whole family. Many rides and games are usually included for the kids in a section set aside for families. Some events also offer other kid friendly activities, like face painting and entertaining clowns, so make sure to check out the information on each site before attending so that you know what to expect…other than that, just get out there and have fun!

Print Friendly

Leave a Comment

Anti-Spam Quiz:

Previous post:

Next post: