I deliberately skipped reading most of the Tast threads as I am too darm impressionable. I've always enjoyed Taste and I did not want to let anyone's opinion get in my way.
Is Taste a madhouse? Of course. Is there a preponderance of fried foods? But I love fried foods. Is it possible not to be offended by McDonalds having a stand? Well, it was very satisfying to see them totally empty at around 5 PM. Plus, I recognize that there will be certain pre-hounds that have to eat there, and they ponied up some "sponsor" money, so how offending can it be? I do perenially get bothered by the some of the choices.
The same Q vendors seem to have been there since day one. Why cannot we see some of the more interesting rib and link makers like Barbara Ann's, Leon's and Lem's? Yet, this is nothing compared to the Asian choices. I am sure someone else has said this, but it seems like for things like Thai food, they look out the window and pick the closest shop. Considering the street food traditions of China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, you KNOW they could do worlds better than the same goey-lon fried vegetables and weak phad thai. For Korean, it was Wicker Park's Soju. Now, they were grilling their kalbi over gas flames, but the stuff really smelled good. They were unfortunately out when we walked by. Finally, in the realm of street food, why cannot Taste get even close to Maxwell. El Colonial MUST be at Taste next year. Yet, just because I hate the vendor selections, does not mean I do not appreciate what I still ate.
Did I say I liked fried things. Ms. VI cringed and then refused to actually hear the diet the chowhounditas had last night: "bistro fries" from Cyrano's in the gourmet tent, (fried) potato pancakes from Kassia, (fried) mustard coated catfish from BJ's, (fried) samosa from Arya Bhavan, corn on the cob from Reilly's Daughter (skipping the "Celtic" corn from O'Brien's), Eli's cheesecake on a stick--what a mess! and a rainbow cone. I added to my diet, a Jamacian beef pattie from Blue Mountain, a crab cake with pink chipolotele sauce from the Mississipi stand--I believe each day there will be a different "taste of the states", yesterday was Mississipi and Wisconson--1/2 a cheeseburger from Billy Goat, 1/2 a steak sammy from Ricobene's--easily the biggest 1/2 sandwich at the event, I did, however, skip even the barest taste of the Condiment Queen's turkey leg, because a) I think these flintsone things are never that good and b)I had this foolish notion that I could remain free of bbq sauce for the day. As I mentioned above, I wanted to try the kalbi because it smelled so good. I also wanted to try Couisin's Tavuk Adana, ground chicken, greens, tomato, cucumber yogurt sauce in pita because that sounded good, but Cousin's was in dissarray, un-preparared for the unexpected high demand for Turkish food. Maybe next time.
And did everything taste good? Most everything tasted really good. Those fries were awesome. Skinny fries, about the size of wooden matchsticks, mixed with some parsley, I believe garlic and some cheese, gruyere I guess. Unfortunately for you readers, this was a one time thing. The gourmet tent changes each day. I would imagine today's offering will be just as good. The samosa was not in the least way dumbed down. It was surely fresher than most samosas I get. The pattied maybe could have been spicer, but I think that is a recipe thing, not a taste thing. Still a great improvement on the English pastie. Ms. VI thought the orange sherbet on the rainbow cone tasted like medicine but the rest of the family liked it. And that steak sandwich, well the best thing that could be said, is what Ms. VI said, "why do we not go to Riccobenes more often." Nothing we ordered sucked, but then again we avoided certain fried vegetables.
It was mildly crowded in the late afternoon, but by them time we left, near 7, it was jam packed and begining to get unpleasant. We wasted a bunch of tickets on the two fair rides, but they were great diversions anyway. We also splurged on a bottle of water, but you can fill it up at a rather secret set of drinking fountains near the bandshell.
I hope to hear back from other taste reports.
One of the chowhounditas wants me to mention the bistro fries came wrapped in newspaper, making them especially fun to eat, and the other chowhoundita now wants to go to Cyrano's for her birthday dinner.