So the other day a few pals and I explored Charlotte’s annual food festival, aptly named “Taste of Charlotte.” Like other food festivals, such as Taste of Chicago, Taste of Charlotte features various local and chain restaurants in the area. This year there were around 30. Each one offers 3 scaled down items from their regular menus, and you purchase and taste these foods by procuring festival tokens, which you buy with real money.
I attended this festival in the past, and was really stoked to go to it this year. But to be honest, this year’s wasn’t the greatest. I still had fun and got to taste some nice treats, but I don’t think going at night is such a good idea…the streets were so packed you could barely walk! This resulted in my not trying certain things because I didn’t want to put up with navigating through the bumbling flesh of sweaty Charlotteans. If I go next year, it will definitely be in the earlier hours!
Here is a review of the food I tasted…
Lamb Slider with Potato Chips
This was a very tasty slider, although I was a bit surprised that the lamb was not ground and in patty form. But that was actually a plus to me, as I am not very fond of ground meat. I bet a lot of people would be inclined to mistake this petit sandwich for BBQ!
The lamb was a bit too well done, though such is often the case for meat being served in mass. It did still retain a nice unmistakable lamb flavor though. Also, there was some kind of sauce, I believe mayo-based. But it was not a large amount of sauce, so I really can’t describe it as I could not get enough of a taste of it.
The bun was alright, though I though the meat to bread ratio was a little too much on the bread side–again this is a street festival, and serving a larger portion of meat (especially lamb) would not be cost-effective.
I am not a big potato chip fan, but I guess they were good. I shared them with my amigos and they said ‘oh this is nice’ so I will take their word for it.
Crispy Shrimp Napoli
This was really delicious, but honestly, how can you mess up fried shrimp? And it was also the perfect amount. I do enjoy fried foods, but I really can’t take a lot of it at once. My stomach instantly aches when I do! So this little bowl of 5 fried shrimp was right at my limit. The tomato based sauce that came with it was not very remarkable in any way, though it was not nasty either, just average.
Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana
I promised myself not to get anything from the festival from a major chain or that I had had 1000 times before. But then I remembered that Bravo! is a major chain, and that I can’t even tell you how many doasas I have eaten in my life, so I was like “well I suppose rules are meant to be broken” and I caved and went to the COLDSTONE CREAMERY TENT of all places (I NEVER shop there) and got a chocolate dipped frozen banana.
Not the best frozen banana I have ever had, but George Michael can’t work at EVERY banana stand…
This dosa was very mediocre compared to the ones Woodlands actually serves at their restaurant, but it was STILL DELICIOUS! I mean, I would only be disappointed with a dosa if it was soggy, and this was fresh and crispy. What this food festival dosa lacked was a more flavorful potato filling and the sambar was mostly just gravy with not really any vegetables (not the case when you actually dine in Woodlands).
But considering how in demand the dosas were at Taste of Charlotte (they ran out of the filling at one point and had to shut down the dosa line temporarily until they got more from the restaurant), I think they were just not really able to keep up with the pace and make it as good as it is usually.
The only reason I was interested in trying this item was I thought the name was pretty. “Thai Tulips” –how delightful. I imagined something with rice paper maybe, some fresh vegetables, maybe even a little papaya and with a mango relish…NO! WRONG!!
Thai tulips are more like gyoza or like the pork dumplings you might get at a Chinese restaurant. While they were fresh and nicely prepared, I really really REALLY don’t like pork/ham/pig meat (prosciutto is the one exception, and I have it very sparingly) so I was kinda disappointed when I got them. But to anyone who likes pork dumplings–you would love the Thai Tulips from Mai Thai!
Over and out,