Dear St. Louis Chowhounders, I need your expertise.
I am a foodie from Kansas City (and a big fan of Chowhound) who is using my summer to travel to six different food festivals across the U.S. My goal is to see if it is possible to truly get a "taste" of each city/state and then write about my food experiences for a local food magazine in KC.
Many foodies I have spoken with show complete distain for these types of food festivals as they don't believe one can truly get great food at them. I know that this is not the best food festival your city has to offer. I also know that most of these food festivals feature restaurants that are more fast food in nature and that very few of a city's culinary heavy hitters ever attend these events. And I know that chain restaurants also use these events to drive their business. Trust me, I am not out to judge your culinary scene, I am trying to see if I can eat something that you would call your own, at an event called Taste of St. Louis.
I do believe (and have now seen proof) that there are hidden gems at each of these festivals that are locally-owned and truly represent the tastes and flavors of city that they live and do business in. Those are the places, I am trying to find.
The Taste of Chicago was my first festival this summer, which was attended by over 3.5 million people and is considered the biggest food festival of its kind in the U.S. Upon asking the locals what I should eat to "Taste Chicago," I was kindly pointed to and gladly ate the following Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza, Chicago-style Hot Dogs and Italian Beef Sandwiches.
This is not fancy food, this is food that came from the large immigrant population and workforce that flowed from the port into the Windy City. It is food that all Chicagoan's know and call their own. So, I ate it.
See my photos attached:
Next, I attended the Taste of Dallas, where I was directed by Chowhounders in DFW to go eat: Texas BBQ, Country Cookin' or Tex Mex food . . .or really any dish involving lots and lots of meat, preferrably BEEF.
This is food that came from the men out on the ranges hearding cattle and eating trail food and from the Mexicans that moved across the border into Texas that influenced their cuisine. I dutifully obliged and had some terrific culinary experiences along the way.
See my photos attached:
Next I attended the Bite of Seattle, where the Seattle Chowhounders suggested I eat at one local restauranteur's upscale culinary booth, (this man hosts a FODDIE tasting within the bigger event that one can experience for an additional price), anything the Indians would have eaten such as corn, fresh salmon and berries and finally any Asian food booth . . . and there were plenty to choose from: Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian etc. Heck, I walked around this event drinking fresh coconut juice straight from a coconut. Awesome!
Seattle's food scene seems to come from what the Asian population has brought with them and their access to fresh fish and the desire to buy local, eat local . . .fresh and in season whatever the land gives you, much like the Indians.
Still working on my photos from that experience . . . sigh!
Next, I headed to Taste of Colorardo in Denver over Labor Day weekend, and although the festival was impressive and large, I found very little to eat and enjoy that I would say came close to representing the cuisine of Colorado. Lots of funnel cakes, corn dogs and candied nuts . . .however, I did get a chance to meet and interview Chef Cat Cora who was doing a cooking demo at the event. Cool!
I also had some stand out restaurant experiences in Boulder that made the trip more than worthwhile from a culinary standpoint.
Please see my link below: Will you help me make sure I hit only the best places that really will demonstrate what St. Louis is about from a culinary standpoint?
If you can point me in the right direction, I would appreciate it. Then, I guess my bigger question for you is, if I cannot really find a "taste of St. Louis" at this festival . . . what restaurants or types of cuisine should I hit outside of my time at the "Taste" to really taste your city?
What are the culinary highpoints and the things I must eat to know what food is about in St. Louis . . .we are sister cities and yet I have so much to learn about your cuisine? Are there foodie side trips in your city I must see and do?