LAST WEEK, the Buds delivered their "first course" review of our experiences at the annual Taste of the Valley, a fund-raiser for the St. Clairsville Noon Rotary Club.
The Taste of the Valley is held annually and helps generate funds so the rotarians can continue their good works across the country.
While the rotarians and eateries worked hard all evening, it was the attendees who reaped the benefits on this particular evening as we were treated to the wares of 18 of the best eateries in the valley.
Here now is the "second course" from our evening at Taste of the Valley ...
Riesbeck's Food Markets:
A veteran of the annual event, Riesbeck's brought along a variety of cold salads as well as a strawberry split torte that could put you into a state of euphoria at the mere sight of it!
The tasty salads included their Greek bow tie salad, a black bean salad and bacon, tomato, penne and rigate salad. The Buds thoroughly enjoyed the Greek pasta salad loaded with chick peas, olives, peppers and creamy feta cheese. Also leaving quite a good impression was the black bean salad which was packed with corn, onions, colorful peppers and chopped cilantro and served with tortilla chips. Delish!
The tasty salads left the Buds longing for picnic season to arrive!
WINNER BEST ENTREE
The Buds are always happy to see the smiling faces of the folks at Ruttenbucks. And even happier to see what goodies they've brought to eat!
And what luck we had as they were serving their award-winning ribs and pulled pork. The Buds snatched up the pulled pork that was served with coleslaw and a pita wedge. Y.U.M! The sweet and smoky pork was tender and delicious and the slaw was one of the best the Buds have had. Add a handful of their fresh made potato chips and the Buds were happy campers!
Ye Olde Alpha:
WINNER BEST OVERALL PERFORMANCE
As usual, the Alpha brought its "A game" to the Taste of the Valley. On the menu were their delicious Greek-style pork shanks and rice, and two different shrimp dishes - which the cooks stir fried in woks right at the table.
The Buds happily snatched up samples of the garlic and roasted red pepper shrimp and the citrus shrimp with thyme and basil. We love the use of fresh herbs to season dishes!
Lou's Famous Fish:
WINNER BEST DISPLAY
A newcomer to the event this year, Lou's Famous Fish definitely stepped out to the plate and hit one out of the park!
They offered up fried mushrooms and zucchini, clam chowder, coleslaw, sweet potato balls and their famous fish. The Buds sampled one of everything - including the clam chowder, which Bud Shaunna tried after failing to resist peer pressure. And can we just say, those sweet potato balls were heaven on earth! The folks at Lou's served them topped with powdered sugar - if we hadn't already packed in copious amounts of food, we would have devoured every last one of these sweet treats!
WINNER BEST APPETIZER
Chef James took his job very seriously, offering the crowd a huge spread of his wonderful southern-inspired cooking. In fact, the Buds could easily have spent an entire evening at this one vendor. No joke!
His famous fried catfish was on the menu along with cajun crawdads, Jamaican jerk wings, Carolina pulled pork, collard greens, red beans and rice and sweet cornbread.
We aren't going to lie - we were not going anywhere near those crawdads, because we tend to be a bit squeemish when we see all those ... appendages and such. We must note, however, that they must have been quite tasty, as we noticed quite a few people piling the tiny crustaceans on their plates!
The Buds instead indulged in the red beans and rice - which was fantastic, by the way - and a taste of the collard greens. Bud Em also sampled one of the Jamaican jerk wings that proved to be quite tasty.
The Buds weren't expecting any type of dessert at Osaka, but these folks covered all bases with their menu, including dessert. Fragrant General Tso's chicken and garlic chicken were on the menu, as well as crab rangoon, chicken on a stick, and two types of sushi - shrimp tempura and California roll. They also offered up something called "taro" for dessert.
The sushi called out to the Buds - and who are we to resist? - and both varieties were quite delicious. Bud Shaunna also sampled a green tea flavored taro dessert, which was cut into a small cube. It had a gelatinous consistency and served as a nice palate cleanser in preparation for our next course.
This Bellaire carry-out cracked the Bud's top ten list last year, so we knew we were in for a treat when we stepped up to the table. They were serving their soft and delicious homemade bread, meatballs, pepperoni rolls, lasagna and pizza.
Bud Em couldn't pass up a slice of bread and a pepperoni roll, and they were just as dreamy as she remembered. Bud Shaunna sampled some meatballs, which were juicy and bursting with flavor. Lil' Gerardo's just keeps crankin' out the homemade Italian goodness, making lots of folks - the Buds included - very happy!
Kirke's Homemade Ice Cream:
WINNER BEST DESSERT
Ice cream lovers in attendance were surely thrilled with the selection of homemade ice creams that Kirke's brought along. The list included such tempting flavors as Black Cherry Amaretto, Red Velvet and salted caramel, but what jumped out at the Buds was the Cranberry Vodka, Peach Champagne and Fireball!
Having had the Peach before (and it is GOOD, let us tell ya!) Bud Em sampled a scoop of the Cranberry Vodka and Bud Shaunna had the Fireball which featured its namesake's cinnamon whisky.
Wow! Just wow! They both had a sherbet-like consistency and were absolutely fantastic. The Buds very highly recommend!
Tina's Sweet Celebrations:
The folks at Tina's sure know how to treat a gal! They served up a bevy of beautiful desserts, including a variety of mini cupcakes in tempting flavors like lemon, samoa, peanut butter banana and red velvet.
Bud Shaunna is a sucker for anything red velvet, so she swiped one of those, while Bud Em went for one with a more modern twist - chocolate cupcake with peanut butter and, wait for it, BACON! The salty bacon with the sweetness of the chocolate is always a pleasing combo, and this sinful taste didn't disappoint a bit! If only we'd have worn pants with more waist room we could have sampled one of each cupcake flavor. Guess we'll just have to pay Tina's a visit some time!
And, after having swallowed those last delicious bites, the Buds headed home - with heavy hearts and a few thousand extra calories. However, there is no time to be sad, because we're already counting down the days until the Taste of the Valley next year!
The Buds can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org