LAST WEEK, the Buds gave you, our dear readers, the "first course" review of our experiences at the annual Taste of the Valley, a fund-raiser for the St. Clairsville Noon Rotary Club.
The Taste of the Valley is held annually and helps generate funds so the rotarians can continue their good works across the country.
While the rotarians and eateries worked hard all evening, it was the attendees who reaped the benefits on this particular evening as we were treated to the wares of 18 of the best eateries in the valley.
Here now is the "second course" from our evening at Taste of the Valley ...
Main St. Grill:
As they were eating their way across Belmont County, the Buds were delighted to get a fresh taste of this local eatery which recently gained recognition for being featured in "Eating your way across Ohio: 101 must places to eat."
A beer and bourbon based chili and mini crab cakes with a tomato-basil alfredo sauce. Yummy! The chili had a rich and smooth flavor, not overly sweet or spicy, which the Buds found very appealing. The crab cakes were also a hit, with the special sauce adding a delightful little zip.
Riesbeck's Food Markets:
A veteran of the annual event, Riesbeck's brought along a variety of chicken wings as well as a chocolate cake that could put you into a state of euphoria at the mere sight of it!
Wing flavors ranged from hot, mild, barbecue, bourbon and garlic parmesan. Meaty and cooked perfectly, the wings were a hit with the Buds. The cake had two moist layers of chocolate with a layer of light, fluffy mousse in the middle. Three words: to-die-for!
Always up for a trip Down Under, the Buds were pumped to see what the Outback had to offer. Boy were they in for a treat!
The Buds enjoyed perfectly cooked strips of their famous steak as well as crab cakes and California chicken salad. The steak was delicious and of great quality - yummy, yummy - but both Buds were simply smitten with the salad.
Mixed greens and baby spinach were topped with grilled chicken, feta cheese, roasted walnuts and diced apples and drizzled with their special vinaigrette. The salad was amazing.
Moving right along, the Buds happened upon the friendly folks from Applebee's who brought along their penne pasta mixed with fresh spinach, garlic, tomatoes and alfredo. This filling dish can be topped with blackened steak or chicken when ordered from the menu.
And, much to the Buds' delight - another excellent salad! Fresh greens are topped with crispy noodles, toasted almonds, crispy chicken tenders and their special Oriental vinaigrette. What a tasty concoction!
Next, the Buds headed down on the farm for some good ol' home cookin'.
On the menu was tomato basil soup with garlic bread, citrus herb chicken and brownie bites. The soup had a wonderful bold flavor - definitely Bud-approved!
The citrus herb chicken, a new menu item, was tender and delicious as well.
Pronounced ta-law-kay-paw-kay, the Buds find this eatery not only fun to say, but mighty tasty as well!
Both Buds enjoyed a sample of their burritos and Mexican rice as well as a handful of their fresh tortilla chips. With a choice of queso, guacamole, salsa or pico de gallo to dip them in, the Buds couldn't go wrong.
With fresh and flavorful creations, this Mexican eatery really spiced up the evening.
The event could not be complete without pizza! Thank goodness Domino's showed up with samples of their Chicken & Bacon Carbonara Pizza and the Chicken Bacon Ranch sandwich.
The artisan pizza featured a marinara/alfredo blend sauce, grilled chicken, bacon, cheese, diced tomatoes and a dash of oregano on a thin, crispy crust. Very tasty indeed!
It wouldn't be Taste of the Valley without Panera's adorable little bread bowls!
Yep, sample sized bread bowls filled with warm broccoli and cheddar soup are always a great way to warm one's soul. The rich and creamy soup really hit the spot.
Panera Bread also brought along and overwhelming amount of pastries and cookies for patrons to enjoy. The Buds could have easily spent an hour nibbling on goodies from this vendor.
The Cooky Jar:
Last but not least, the Buds were delighted to finally make it to The Cooky Jar, as they had been eyeing up the adorable dessert shooters and tiny cupcakes all evening.
But what really impressed the Buds were the non-dessert items such as the orecchiette pasta with sausage and marinara, tomato-basil soup shooters and ESPECIALLY the bruschetta. Wow! Served with crispy tortilla chips, this cheesy, tomatoey appetizer was out of this world!
Followed up with blackberry and banana caramel dessert shooters and a tiny blue velvet cupcake, sampling at the Cooky Jar was the perfect ending to a perfect evening.
And, after having swallowed those last delicious bites, the Buds headed home - with heavy hearts and a few thousand extra calories. However, there is no time to be sad, because we're already counting down the days until the Taste of the Valley next year!
The Buds can be reached at tastebuds@timesleader online.com