It's that time again, people: giant food-tasting event time - otherwise known as our favorite time of the year!
The Buds have been working (eating) extra hard (lol) to keep readers informed of all the good eats out there. Our duties included attending the Taste of the Valley last Thursday at the James Carnes Center. The annual gig, presented by the St. Clairsville Rotary Club, featured a whopping 22 of the valley's finest food vendors serving up their specialties. The gals were thrilled to see some new faces at the event as well as some favorites from the past. Although the vendors may change year to year, one thing remains the same: the fundraiser is ALWAYS a blast!
In order to accurately report on all eateries in attendance, the review will be split into two parts, so in no particular order, we present Part 1:
Pictured is shrimp from Ye Olde Alpha, wonton, eggroll and sushi from Osaka Steak House and a chili chese dog from Tito’s Sloppy Doggs.
Summer salad and mini sandwich from The Cooky Jar.
Defelice Brothers Pizza:
One of the valley's favorite pizzerias showed up at the event with - get this - not a slice in sight! That's right, instead they showcased some of their other tasty specialties including meatballs, Italian sausage, rigatoni and wings. Bud Em loved the sausage which had a nice bite without being too hot to handle and Bud Shaunna found their meatballs to be delicious. The Buds are sure to remember this the next time they order lunch from Defelice!
Osaka Steak House:
Bud Em, who can spot cheese wontons from a mile away, was eager to get to Osaka's table! Fragrant General Tso's chicken and garlic chicken were on the menu, as well as crab rangoon, eggrolls, lo mein and two types of sushi - shrimp tempura and California roll. It was quite the tasty-looking spread.
The sushi called out to the Buds - and who are we to resist? - and both varieties were quite delicious. They also enjoyed eggrolls and OF COURSE the crab rangoon. This little taste of the Orient really hit the spot.
The Cooky Jar:
Don't be fooled by the name, the Cooky Jar brought a lot more than cookies! This vendor, who always manages to impress the Buds, served berry shortcakes, summer salad, mini sandwiches, Summer Shine and of course cookies. Bud Em sampled the salad which was a unique mix of greens, sliced strawberries, orange peppers, grape tomatoes and sliced black olives topped with a drizzle of sweet and tangy poppyseed dressing. Delish! She also loved the mini sandwich which featured deli meats and cheeses and the best flavored mayo EVER. Bud Shaunna indulged in the shortcake loaded with a mixture of ripe berries and washed it down with the Summer Shine, which was a sweet, green punch.
Ye Olde Alpha:
The Buds are always pleased to see Ye Olde Alpha at any event. On the menu this time were their delicious Greek-style pork shanks and two different shrimp dishes - which the cooks stir fried in woks right at the table. The Buds happily snatched up samples of citrus shrimp as well as some flavored with cumin and chili. Delicious! The gals are huge fans of the eatery and apparently they're not alone, as the Alpha nabbed the award for Best Entree.
Food By Jane:
The Buds were absolutely thrilled when they learned this rookie eatery would be at TOV, as Jane had knocked their socks off during their visit a few months back. At this event, Food By Jane had prepared duck lasagna, seafood shooters and gazpacho, and one couldn't help but be blown away by the gorgeous and classy display which featured brilliantly colored fresh fruits and veggies and their logo exquisitly carved into a watermelon. Fabulous!
Bud Em sampled the seafood shooter and Bud Shaunna the gazpacho. Both wonderful! The Buds didn't try the lasagna but were told by fellow table-sitters that it was the best thing at the entire event! While we don't care for duck, something tells us that statement may very well have been true. If you haven't eaten at Jane's yet, go now - seriously! You'll see why they won awards for Best Decorated Display, Most Creative Chef and Best Overall Performance.
TOV veteran Riesbeck's Food Markets showed up with a sampling of goodies from their deli such as ham salad, turkey salad and Jarlsberg cheese salad. The gals found each of these to be flavorful and tasty served on a variety of crackers. The Jarlsberg cheese salad was a unique and flavorful dish that the Buds just may have to purchase in the near future. Yum!!
Tito's Sloppy Doggs:
The folks of Tito's Sloppy Doggs were smiling and cheerful, as usual, as they served up a variety of their dogs and famous sauce, as well as cole slaw and pasta salad. Bud Shaunna snagged a sample size of a dog topped with sauce and slaw, while Bud Em took a bigger helping of the sweet-tasting slaw. The taste of hotdogs and cole slaw made us think of summer picnics, so Tito's wins the prize for warming the Buds' hearts!
A Taste Buds' favorite Mexican restaurant, Tlaquapaque offered patrons steaming steak fajitas, chicken, burritos with white sauce and their tasty chips with a variety of dips - salsa, pico de gallo and guacamole. Bud Shaunna instructed the server to pile a mound of guacamole on her plate, as she's never met an avocado she didn't like - plus, that's just how she rolls. Bud Em sampled some of the flavorful chicken, and both Buds found the mini burritos satisfying.
Hollie's Cookie Hut and Cakes:
A newbie to the TOV this year, Hollie's Cookie Hut brought along a sampling of its white and chocolate cakes in the form of mini cupcakes, topped with chocolate or buttercream frosting. Each Bud snagged a cupcake, noting how moist they were, as well as the not-too-sweet icing. Yum! They also offered quite a variety of cookies, so of course, the Buds couldn't resist. Cookies are like chips - you can't eat just one!
Ruttenbucks is annually one of the top TOV entrants, mostly because their food is always a homerun. With their famous ribs in tow, the restaurant also brought along its delicious pepperoni bread, stuffed jalapenos, cole slaw and homemade chips. The Buds are no strangers to Ruttenbucks, so, let's just say they saw us coming - we walked up to the table and were handed a small basket with several of every item. Ah, the perks of being a Bud! As we expected, the rib meat was outstanding, and that's saying a lot since the Buds aren't rib eaters by nature. We even demolished two jalapenos each, at the amazement of our table mates who seemed convinced such sophisticated ladies as ourselves couldn't handle the heat. The pepperoni bread and chips were also killer good, and apparently, everyone else thought so too because Ruttenbucks won for Best Appetizer.
Kirke's Ice Cream:
Each year, Kirke's Ice Cream brings along a variety of ice cream flavors with the addition of several creative new flavors made just for TOV patrons. Clever! This year, Kirke's debuted its "frac water" ice cream, which was nothing like you'd expect! While the Buds did not try it, a table mate did, commenting that the taste reminded him of a lemon sherbet. Even though they were busting at the seams from loads of good food, there was still room for ice cream - it just slides right in there between everything, right? - so Bud S opted for a scoop of salted caramel, while Bud Em enjoyed some margarita flavored ice cream. Who doesn't love some great ice cream? Everyone at the Taste of the Valley sure did, as Kirke's was voted Best Dessert.
Next week, the Buds will loosen their belt buckles and dish out part 2 of Taste of the Valley.
The Buds can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org