Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Taste of Cambridge 2012

         My friend and I decided to try Taste of Cambridge last minute when we found a deal on VIP tickets, they were $62 marked down from $75. There was a ridiculously long line, but the VIP got us into a separate entrance where we didn’t have to wait (bonus points already). When we walked in, our first impression was SO MUCH FOOD! We’ve both been to plenty of food and wine events, and agreed these were the largest portions we’d ever seen. After the first couple of spots, we decided to start splitting plates so we wouldn’t get too full. Then we realized even that was not enough, and we just wouldn’t be able to try everything. We changed our strategy, and decided to scope out what was there and try the things that interested us most.

          We checked out the places in the main section, and then headed over to the VIP area. We realized a lot of the same restaurants and vendors were in both, but VIP just didn’t have the lines. We noticed that in both areas, the wine pours were just tastes and the beers were full glasses. The VIP area had more craft beers; my favorite was the Jack D’Or from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project an American Saison made from Belgian yeasts. It was light, refreshing, and a perfect summer beer.

          There were also more cocktails with premium liquor like Stoli, but still smaller portions like the ones in the main area. Additional perks of the VIP section included more seating, a live band, a whole pig roast (from Savenor’s Butcher Shop), a deconstructed clam bake from Summer Shack, nearly full sized burgers from Four Burgers (I’m a big fan, but just couldn’t do it), popcorn with caramel drizzled on top, and a few other treats not available in the main area. We decided it was well worth the extra $20 (and would have been worth the extra $25 if we bought our tickets full price).

          The biggest trends of the night seemed to be tacos and sliders. I tried countless versions of these and skipped a few, since I was getting full and wanted to try a variety of things. The two that stood out the most were the Pork Belly sausage and pepper sliders from Grafton Street and the pulled pork tacos from Abigail’s.

          Some of my favorites in the main area that I got to try were:

          Koreana: This place intrigued me for a few reasons. I’ve never really tried Korean food, I’ve heard great things about this place, and it was the only one in the main section with a line up the street. They were serving Kimchi, white rice, scallion pancakes, noodles with vegetables, and beef short ribs in a soy marinade.

          Tommy Doyle’s: They had chicken wings and alligator. The pieces of alligator looked like little chicken wings; I tried one just because I’d never had alligator before. It was grilled with a curry rub, and tasted very similar to chicken but a little bit meatier.

          Bukowski’s: They were serving mini steak sandwiches (and by mini I mean half a full size sub) with their white trash cheese dip. I love Bukowski’s, it’s my favorite place to go for a good beer, and I have always wanted to try the white trash cheese dip. But it sounds really unhealthy, and I’ve always felt guilty or been embarrassed to order it in front of anyone. This gave me the chance, to try it in a smaller portion, and is just as good as I thought it would be!

          Cinderella’s: This is a place I used to go late night in Central Square, but hadn’t been in years. I used to always order the cheese tortellini alfredo, and last night they were serving a variation on this with prosciutto in it. It was just as good as I rememberred, and I got to try some of their other dishes like chicken broccoli alfredo. I was excited they participated, it reminded me of how much I like the food and to go back more.

          Legal Seafood: Ok, this wasn’t actually trying something new since I’ve had the clam chowder about a hundred times. But, it’s my favorite chowder in Boston, and they were giving out full size servings.

          About fifteen minutes before it ended, we left, admitting defeat. We were stuffed, to the point that sixteen hours later I’m still not hungry! For the past several years we’ve been mourning the end of our former favorite food and wine event, Tour De Champagne. We decided this might be the one to finally take its place, and will definitely be back next year!

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