Monday, October 24, 2011

Tasting Our Way Through TASTE Philadelphia

This past Friday, October 21, was the kick-off evening to the 2nd Annual TASTE Philadelphia Festival of Food, Wine and Spirits. Located at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, the festival hosted more than 150 stations over the course of the weekend, featuring food, liquors, and more from regionally renowned restaurants and brands. My friend Amy and I had the exciting opportunity to attend this delicious event. Below are some of our favorites of the evening:

Seasons 52 had the best desserts of the night by far. Their decadent yet surprisingly low-calorie “Mini Indulgences” are served parfait-style in shot-size glasses, inspired by the French layered dessert known as a verrine. That evening, they had crowd favorites on hand: Key Lime Pie, Rocky Road, Red Velvet, and Pumpkin Pie with Double Gingersnap Crust. Each elegant dessert was a piece of art with the greatest attention to detail. The parfaits were sumptuous and full-bodied, flawlessly capturing the essence of their original namesake desserts. The citrusy Key Lime was stellar; it had a refreshing zesty flavor that would be the perfect ending to any meal.

The first thing we noticed upon arriving at Sweet Addiction was their festive Halloween décor. Their tables were decked out in colorful orange and black, with their candies appropriately designed to fit the upcoming holiday. They specialized in treats involving chocolate, and for good reason: their chocolate was milky and smooth. Crunchy pretzel clusters, creamy giant peanut butter cups, chunky peanut clusters, and more came in both milk and dark chocolate varieties, all tempting my wallet to become much lighter.

Peanut Butter and Co. had a vast variety of their namesake nut butters on hand. There were more than just your normal smooth or crunchy types. The Heat is On brings in fiery spices to the mix, while The Bee’s Knees includes scrumptious honey. Our favorites were the Dark Chocolate Dreams, featuring peanut butter swirled with rich dark chocolate; Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, incorporating aromatic cinnamon and plump raisins; and Mighty Maple, blending peanuts with sweet Vermont maple syrup. All the additions complemented the peanut butter’s natural nutty taste, which would certainly make for a unique PB&J. Plus, each purchase came in an adorable tote bag emblazoned with a picture of their Dark Chocolate Dreams jar!

Mama’s Famous BBQ Sauces embodied true Southern flavor and hospitality. With its Texas-raised owner bringing the mouthwatering BBQ sauces she grew up with to the public, Mama’s offers a wide selection of flavors to tantalize your taste buds. The owner pays the greatest attention to detail, keeping her samples warm over lit candles. My favorite was the savory-sweet pineapple sauce. The fruit added a nice tang that spread throughout the succulent marinade; it’d be perfect seasoning meat/poultry or eaten by itself.

Quite the original assortment of cookies could be found at Cookie Confidential. Beyond your standard chocolate chip, we sampled such options as the Cheese Steak (dehydrated grass fed beef and dehydrated red onions mingled in a cheesy cheddar cookie, topped off with sweet tomato cream cheese) and Sriracha Mango (a sweet, savory, and spicy mix composed of its namesake ingredients). These were extremely bizarre flavor combinations and I was a little wary of what to expect; I can handle Bacon Chocolate Chip, but dehydrated beef and sriracha? I couldn’t taste anything past the cheesiness in the former, but the latter had a fruity sweetness followed by a mild kick.

More tasty offerings we encountered that evening:

Pick your poison… olive-oil style! Cape May Olive Oil Co.

Goat cheese and local grilled vegetables on whole-wheat flatbread. Becca’s Restaurant.

Salts and sugars for all your cooking needs. Cape May Olive Oil Co.

Liqueur-enriched cakes, from Mango Coconut Rum to Amaretto. Full Spirited Flavours.

Award-winning Canela Tres Leches cupcakes. Sweet Spot Co.

See tomorrow’s post to read Amy’s recap of Robert Mondavi Wine Tour’s exclusive experiences!

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