QUESTION: WHAT could be better than to be in a building stuffed to the brim with the best food some of the Ohio Valley's restaurants have to offer?
Last week, the Buds were delighted to be guests at this year's annual Taste of the Valley, presented by the St. Clairsville Rotary Club. This year's event was again held at the James Carnes Center and featured a whopping 18 of the valley's favorite food vendors dishing up their specialties. The Buds were absolutely thrilled to see some new names among vendors but were also a teeny bit sad to see a few regulars missing from the event. But such is life, we know.
Brats with kraut and spicy mustard from BW3.
In the interest of fairness - and due to the fact that the Buds have much to say about every single morsel they ingested - we'll be dividing our review of the event into two parts! So, in no particular order, here is our take one the first ten ....
Buffalo Wild Wings:
Obviously known for their wings, BDubs sure delivered serving guests both their Honey Barbecue and Asian Zing flavors. The spicy kick of the Asian Zing wings proved to be the perfect way to get the party started! They also offered folks a taste of their brats with spicy mustard and sauerkraut, which many people at the Buds' table were quite impressed with.
A fresh new face at the event this year, JFE Inc. - which operates out of Kroger - showed up to wow the crowd with their fresh sushi. Yum - the Buds LOVE sushi, and were thrilled that JFE had prepared their Crunchy California Roll made from imitation crab salad, avocado and cucumber rolled and topped with spicy mayo and fried onion. Yes, please! The Buds could gobble these suckers all day long!
Sandwiches, pastries and their famous coffee (we hear it's the best!) were on the menu. The B.L.T and chicken salad sandwiches must have been pretty darn good, because they were gone by the time the Buds made it to the table. Bummer! Fortunately, however, their were plenty of timbits, pastries, bagels, cookies, doughnuts and muffins to taste. The Buds grabbed a couple of the tasty timbits (because really - who can resist?!) and Bud Em snagged a tasty raspberry whole wheat muffin while Bud Shaunna happily accepted a glass of yummy iced coffee to go with them. Score!
This stop featured ham, turkey and chicken salads with a variety of crackers to spread them on. The Buds gladly sampled the ham and turkey salads, even though we already knew we loved them. Because that's how we roll. The sweet and smoky meat salads are incredibly flavorful, and not overly wet or dry, as we can think of nothing worse than an overly-saucy deli salad.
The folks at Honeybaked Ham didn't skip dessert either, as they also offered a variety of their yummy cookies. Bud Em snagged herself a chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Divine!
The place for smiles sure put a smile on the Buds' face with just one bite of their Oreo pie. The rich and sweet dessert was scrumptious, and sure to please anyone with a hankering for something sweet. They also brought along their famous smiley cookies which are always delicious.
Moving right along, the Buds happened upon the friendly folks from Applebee's who brought samples of their honey barbecue riblets and boneless mild wings. The sweet and spicy riblets were tender and flavorful and the mild wings had a nice little kick of heat and, being the boneless variety, were much easier to handle than the bone-in variety.
Not forgetting dessert, Applebee's also offered their yummy brownies.
Next, the Buds headed down on the farm for some good ol' home cookin'. On the menu was pulled pork and ribs, not the usual Bob Evans fare you find on the menu, but because it's done the Bob Evans way, you know it's going to be tasty. And of course, the Buds assumed correctly. The pulled pork was tender and the ribs had a nice zing. They even provided a sampling of cookies for dessert. Comfort food at its finest!
The event could not be complete without pizza! Thank goodness Domino's showed up with samples of their new pan pizza. This handmade, thick-crusted bit of cheesy goodness tasted just as good as it looked. And the Buds couldn't resist snagging one (or two) of their sinfully sweet Cinnastix.
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.
Dessert is the best way to round out any meal, and that theory can apply as we wrap up our first TOV story - Perkins Restaurant & Bakery offers some of the most delicious desserts around, and they certainly brought their "A-game" to the Taste of the Valley. The Buds could hardly contain their excitement as they snagged samples of mini chocolate eclairs and delectable chocolate brownies topped with strawberry. Perkins also offered peach and strawberry rhubarb pie. A fantastic way to finish part one of our meal.
Read the Buds next week, when we dive back in and conclude our review of the remaining restaurants participating in Taste of the Valley. We will also announce the winners, as voted on by the attendees.
The Buds can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org