Thursday, March 12, 2015

Flower and Garden Fest 2015: Round One

Well. This week has gotten away from me. Last Saturday, I hit my initial round of this year's Flower and Garden Fest. It took me til last night to actually get the photos off my various cameras and into my web albums. And so far, I've only even edited those that I needed specifically for this post. And here we are, Thursday now. I figured I better get this one in the books before it's the weekend again and I'm back for more.

Had to grab my Garden Passport and make my initial circuit to get my requisite booth and menu photos. By the time I finished that, I was ready to do some eating. So I started right where I was.


Taco al Pastor (corn tortilla filled with achiote marinated pork, garnished with grilled diced pineapple, onions, cilantro, and salsa verde).

They had this one last year, as well, but the pineapple was cut into much smaller pieces this time, making it more juicy, and there was a lot more of the sauce on the pork. The flavors were just as bright as last year, but with the extra juice and sauce, it was a little messy to eat. There is a little zip, the pineapple and cilantro are still the stars of the show, but I could have done with the handful of "taco juice."

I wasn't sure, exactly, what I wanted next, despite having a loose plan for the day, so I just kept wandering ahead, until I found something that jumped out at me.


Fior di Latte, Prosciutto e Pane di Casa (pinwheel of mozzarella and prosciutto, drizzled with olive oil, with a slice of ciabatta bread).

As I shared over on Instagram (where I share them "live"), "And now I can die happy because OMG." Truly. They had me at 'prosciutto', but as a pleasant surprise, mozzarella was almost creamy. The two, together, were absolutely perfect. I had bites of each, separately. I had them together. I had some on a bite of the bread. I used the crusty pieces to soak up the leftover olive oil. Bliss. I don't know what else to say about it, if I haven't already driven home the point.

I figured it was going to be difficult to beat this one anywhere else in the Fest, much less the very next thing I tried. The line was short, so next up...


Beef Brisket Burnt Ends Hash with White Cheddar Fondue and Pickled Jalapenos.

I feel like this one was slightly misrepresented, but to its benefit. "Burnt ends" makes me think of tough, chewy, charred pieces of meat. That wasn't the case at all! If you can picture a brisket in a slow cooker, these would be the outer most portion of the roast, the part that would typically be seared before being put in to cook slowly. They were certainly welldone, but not overly so. There was so much flavor. Round it out with the potatoes, peppers and onions in the hash, and it was hearty and tasty. The fondue was thinner, rather than stretchy melty cheese. Similar to a Hollandaise sauce with its creaminess but with more of a cheese presence. It really did a lot to pull the whole dish together. (I skipped the jalapenos. I don't mind a little heat, but that's out of my wheelhouse.) All in all, not a bad follow up to the dish that came before it.

I was about ready for some dessert at this point. I knew right where I wanted to go.


Macaron Guimauve a la Fraise (strawberry marshmallow macaron).

After how delicious last year's orange blossom and white chocolate macaron turned out to be, I was really looking forward to this. Last year, they just plopped it on a little plate. I appreciated the "upgraded' presentation this time.

Unfortunately, that's where my appreciation ended. The strawberry flavoring to the cookie tasted a bit artificial and the marshmallow filling made it way too sweet -- and I have a definite sweet tooth, so...

If you can see right there in the middle, there was a strawberry preserves center. *That* part I really liked. It tasted like real berries and their slightly tart freshness really balanced out the marshmallow. But there wasn't nearly enough of it.

All told, it was a successful start. By my calculation, I have another four rounds worth of tasting to do, and plenty of time to get to my Grand Finale Best of the Fest Tour. There are fewer booths (they are called Outdoor Kitchens for this Fest, Marketplaces for Food and Wine) and I have ten more weeks to get to the rest. With a double tour set for nest weekend -- Daniel will be in town for some Festing with a Friend! -- I should be able to get it all complete before the weather really starts to heat up in May!

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