LAST WEEK, the Buds delivered their "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 22 of the best eateries in the valley.
Some goodies scored at TOV?include a turkey sandwich and cherry pie from Bob Evans and a bagel and Timbits from Tim Hortons.
Here now is the "second course" from our evening at Taste of the Valley ...
This stop featured their sliced spiral ham and both ham and turkey salads along with a variety of crackers and bagel chips to spread them on. Bud Em gladly sampled the ham and turkey salads, even though she already knew darned well how delicious they are. 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 gals even overheard other patrons proclaiming that Honeybaked Ham has the best ham salad around!
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 which she considers to be their very best flavor.
The place for smiles sure put a smile on the Buds' face with just one bite of their Bananas Foster pie. The rich and sweet dessert was scrumptious, and sure to please anyone with a hankering for something sweet. They also brought along a hearty potato soup and their famous smiley cookies which are always delicious.
The event could not be complete without pizza! Thank goodness Dominos showed up with samples of their yummy pan pizza. This handmade, thick-crusted bit of cheesy goodness tasted just as good as it looked.
They also offered samples of their new specialty chicken dishes, which are their boneless chicken wings covered in toppings, sauces and cheeses. The tasty flavor options include Sweet BBQ Bacon, Crispy Bacon & Tomato, Spicy Jalapeno Pineapple and Classic Hot Buffalo. The Buds sampled the Sweet BBQ Bacon and gave it thumbs up.
As usual, they had us at "bread".
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 an overwhelming amount of pastries and cookies for patrons to enjoy. Seriously, is there ANYTHING better than one of their cinnamon or orange scones?! These gals could have easily spent an hour nibbling on goodies from this vendor.
For a newbie to TOV, this vendor really knew how to make a good impression - with a variety of tasty brews!
Muxie handed out samples of Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, Miller Fortune, Fat Tire Amber Ale and Yuengling Summer Wheat. While they refrained from indulging at the event, the Buds have tried some of these in the past and can definitely vouch for the awesomeness of the Summer Shandy. Love!!
Maybe this makes the Buds "old souls," but we can't get enough Bob Evans. Seriously, what's not to love at that place? Not only is the food good, but the atmosphere is so relaxing and homey. The folks at Bob Evans brought along their little slice of the farm to TOV in the form of turkey club and ham and swiss sandwich samples. Bud Em snagged a turkey club and professed its greatness. Bud Shaunna grabbed a sample of the cherry pie they also offered patrons. Excellent! But what else did we expect?
The Buds were thrilled to see Outback return to the TOV, and we eagerly approached their table with taste buds already watering. They did not disappoint, as they served up a variety of meats including chicken with chili sauce, pork with apricot sauce, and steak with mushroom sauce. Bud Shaunna scooped up some of the pork and steak dishes - the pork was fantastic - while Bud Em enjoyed the chicken. The Outback also brought along some fried calamari (that's squid for those who don't know), but the Buds decided to pass - it's actually quite good, but there was so much food, the Buds had to make some tough decisions! Overall, the Buds give the Outback thumbs up.
As soon as the Buds saw Quaker Steak on the list of participants, we knew they'd bring along a fancy drink. They must have been reading our minds (or us theirs!) because the first thing set up on their display table was a cooler filled with Skinny Dragonberry Limeaid. It's got a funny name, but the punch-like drink sure tasted good! For entrees, Quaker Steak had samples of their Boom Boom Shrimp and Sesame Chicken and Rice Bowl, while they offered a fudge brownie for dessert.
Bud Em raved about the Boom Boom Shrimp, saying it had a nice kick. Bud Shaunna thought the Sesame Chicken was just as good as always. Another great showing by one of Taste of the Valley's favorites!
The Buds were immediately impressed with Kroger's massive spread, starting off the large selection of Boar's Head products, including different types of hummus, cheeses and meats. We are powerless to resist a good hummus, so both Buds scooped up some of the garlic hummus and the plain hummus and enjoyed it on some crackers. Smooth and delicious!
Kroger also brought along some of their fabulous sushi chefs who offered regular and spicy avocado rolls and regular and spicy California rolls. A frequent eater of Kroger's spicy California rolls, Bud S opted to try the spicy avocado roll and was not disappointed. Perhaps the next time she has a hankerin' for sushi, she'll go the avocado route (as per the previous article, Bud Shaunna hasn't met an avocado she didn't like!).
Taste of the Valley newbies Convenient were out to prove they're more than just a quick stop shop, and they certainly hit the mark. Their food offerings consisted of Italian and turkey subs, as well as chicken tenders with barbecue, sweet and sour and hot sauces for dipping. Bud Em happily sampled the Italian sub and proclaimed it to be the best tasting sandwich of the night!
Oh Tim Hortons, how the Buds are enslaved by your coffee drinks - Bud Shaunna the hot coffee, Bud Em the iced cappucinos. There were no iced capps this night, but there was hot coffee and plenty of every pastry or bread product that Tim Hortons offers. Patrons were tempted with a tray of bagel samples - Bud Em fished out her favorite pretzel bagel - and a variety of cream cheeses (strawberry, plain and garden vegetable) with which to garnish said bagels. The popular Timbits were also in several flavors. As the Buds munched their way through samples we already know and love at Tim Hortons, we did take the time to note their cheerful display. Cheers to Tim Hortons!
And so with our bellies full and a few thousand calories under our belts, the Buds headed home, knowing the ensuing food comas would be well worth it. But that's ok, because we've got plenty of time to sleep it off and dream about next year's Taste of the Valley!
The Buds can be reached at tastebuds@timesleader online.com.