I caught the tail end of Taste of Charlotte 2009 today, 6/7/09, when hubby and I decided to venture out to the festival for lunch.
We didn’t feel like paying for parking, so we just found some free street parking a few blocks away and walked down to the event.
We arrived at the end of the festival at 6th St where there were plenty of samples being given out.
We first picked up some tokens and a pamphlet containing a list of vendors and booths.
We also came prepared with a big bottle of water so we could use the tokens we spent last year on drinks on more food…or dessert…whichever we felt like eating.
The day was beautiful - sunny with blue skies and white clouds.
It was also super hot outside, though it did feel pretty pleasant in the shade.
The first thing we had to eat was actually free - a Bagel-fuls sample in the plain flavor. The sample was way better than I thought I’d be and would certainly be easier to eat on the run than a regular bagel with cream cheese.
Further up there were more samples to be had at The Other White Meat booth.
They gave me a lovely pork sample that was actually quite tender and well-seasoned…I should have gotten the recipe they were offering.
We walked around the event noting various dishes that sounded interesting.
As we walked around, I took note of the event. There were things for the kiddos, like this huge pair of slides.
There was also a climbing wall. Not sure if this is kids-only, but I’ve only ever seen kids on it in the past couple years we’ve attended this event.
There were events on the center stage - when we walked by there was a dance group performing.
There were also some quirky gimmicks like this Land O Lakes creamer-box-backpack.
This nice young man was giving out Honey Bunches of Oats samples out of his sample bicycle.
There was also a living statue in the middle of Tryon. We didn’t stay long enough to see if they moved.
There were some craft booths set-up in the middle of the event - you can always tell the crafty booths because they’re the ones that are in the center of the road with their tents backing each other.
The balloon guys are always popular at these events.
Oxygen was also recruiting for its new TV show - Dance Your Ass Off. No, I didn’t try out…I thought about it, though, because it looked like fun.
We walked all the way down to the other end of the event before turning around to start picking out dishes to taste.
First up, we decided to try a local favorite of ours - Village Tavern.
Normally, I like to try restaurants I’ve never been to before at events like these, but we didn’t see a whole lot that we were dying to try, and I always get steak at Village Tavern, so I was curious about their crab cakes.
Hubby and I thought the crab cake was really good. I think I’m going to stick with the steak at Village Tavern, though, because it’s just that good! I was glad to have tried the crab cakes in case I ever feel like going red-meat free for dinner.
Outlaw BBQ Shack
Next, we visited Outlaw BBQ Shack.
Outlaw BBQ Shack was a XLI Super Bowl Vendor. Pretty cool, no? Hubby and I are always on the lookout for good BBQ - my personal fave BBQ joint is in Greenville, SC, and I haven’t found anything to top it yet.
I have to say, this BBQ Pork Slider came close…it was darn tasty and the meat was nice and tender.
Next up, we visited the Caribbean Hut booth to check out the first tasting that caught my eye…
…Jerk Chicken with Peas Rice. The chicken was extremely tender and served on the bone. Between the chicken and the rice, the flavor was very good and a bit on the spicy side, which I liked. The rice took me back to our visit to the Bahamas last year with its similar flavors to the rice and peas we commonly found on the Island.
Flat Rock Grille
For our last savory dish, we hit up the Flat Rock Grille booth.
We decided the barbeque shrimp sounded really interesting and had to wait just a couple minutes while they finished cooking a fresh batch. I love getting food at its freshest, so I was happy to wait.
When I read the name of the shrimp dish on the menu, I envisioned shrimp slathered in ooey-gooey, sticky-sweet barbeque sauce, and was happily surprised with the concoction they had prepared. We got 3 shrimp, a slice of lemon, a slice of tomato and a piece of green onion, doused in a semi-spicy sauce. I thought the shrimp were really flavorful and well-cooked.
Amelie’s French Bakery
The first sweet we decided to try was a selection from the Amelie’s French Bakery booth.
Since I studied French throughout school and did an exchange in high school to France, I have an affinity for French flavors, especially French desserts like those commonly found in the patisseries.
I decided to get a macaroon and tried the Cinnamon Chocolate macaroon upon flavor-recommendation (they had 3!) from the guy in the booth. He was so right - this was amazing! Loved it! The flavor of the cinnamon was nice and light and I really liked the texture of the macaroon.
The last tasting we tried was one that caught our eye early on in the Black Finn booth.
The girls in the booth had been nice enough earlier to show us what this curious-sounding dessert dish looked like, and we decided to revisit the booth to get it.
I present the cookie slider.
The cookie slider was deceptively simple but oh-so-good. The cookies were homemade and since they were stored in the freezer, they were slightly frozen along with the ice cream. This dessert was delicious and helped cool hubby and I down from all the walking around in the heat. It was really the perfect end to our afternoon of good eats. After cooling off with our cookie sliders, we headed home happy and full.
I’m already looking forward to Taste of Charlotte 2010!