The 2019 Taste-of-ALL Charleston has come and gone.
The Gazette-Mail Food Guy, Steven Keith, wrote last week about all the scrumptious food he and I experienced as we made our way through the Taste menu to arrive at our critic’s choice for Overall Best Dish.
But before we totally wave goodbye to the event, there are some notable sauces and condiments from the day that should come out of hiding and be recognized.
Most often the attention is usually upon the main item on the plate with the sauce getting overlooked. In some cases, it’s the extra mixture that makes the dish stand out.
There were several remarkable elixirs that chefs and cooks invented to highlight their main-event food for the Taste-of-ALL. I don’t mind admitting I could go back for seconds (and did) on any of the following:
Executive chef Christopher Kirksey at Brick Salt Bar+Kitchen (Marriott) came through with his light and piquant chow-chow, the relish balancing the flavors with his subtle crab cake. It helped tip the scales toward Brick Salt’s eventual newspaper critic’s award.
Ichiban‘s sweet, tangy, spicy sauce with just a hint of barbecue that blanketed their appetizing Korean meatballs pleasingly hit the tongue and proved to be the right choice for exceptional executive chef, Evan Wilson.
I told Recovery Sports Grill that I could drink their spicy-fruity blueberry sriracha that was drizzled over a crab cake, with a savory remoulade as a second choice.
And Brentford Young, executive chef at Four Points by Sheraton mentioned he had never before tried using the countrified red-eye gravy as a sauce in a dish. That didn’t stop him hitting a home run by placing it over his perfectly browned pork belly in a bun.
The Embassy Suites put the finishing touch on their black bean slider with a hearty cilantro aioli. Something must have been right about that sandwich because our about-to-enter middle-school family vegetarian enjoyed four of them!
Kayla Young is one of the most non-traditional and inventive cooks, dreaming up the unusual fillings for egg rolls that she prepares in her Eggs Will Roll food truck. EWR can be found at many an event in Charleston and wherever crowds meet to eat. Just a sampling of the clever fillings made from ingredients that match the egg roll name are chicken & waffle; jambalaya; Reuben; chicken parm; the Elvis (banana, peanut butter, bacon); Buffalo chicken mac & cheese; (tater) tots & gravy; and West Virginia hot dog. On Taste Saturday, Young and Jamie Miller amped up the fire that was inside the Mexican street corn roll to the outside by squeezing a sassy, creamy heat over the crisply fried crust.
Mike and Kristi Maddox, owners of Kristi Ann Bakery on Greenbrier Street didn’t have a sauce in sight at the event. What they did have that needs a nod of thanks was the offer to bake what would amount to all the pepperoni rolls needed for the Pepperoni Roll Walk, a free afternoon activity patterned after the old-fashioned cake walk. Kristi Ann usually doesn’t bake in small amounts, but they kept their generous offer to a reasonable number. The walk winners who were paid off in Kristi Ann pepperoni rolls were twice lucky.
Beyond the overall best dish and chef’s cook-off judgements Steven and I rendered, there were Taste vendors who captured the appetites and hearts of the crowd who voted them into the winners circle for the people’s choice category. Those winners are:
Best appetizer: Eggs Will Roll — chicken & waffle egg roll
Runner-up: Recovery Sports Grill — Buffalo chicken wonton
Best entrée: Four Points by Sheraton — seafood risotto
Runner-up: Big Joe’s — Buffalo chicken mac & cheese (this won first place at the 2019 Mac and Cheese Competition at Capitol Market)
Best dessert: (tied first place) Rock City Cake Company — John Lemon cupcake; Brick Salt Bar + Kitchen — mini peanut butter pie
Runner-up: (tied second place) Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream — espresso Oreo; Chow Thai — sticky rice & mango
Best beverage: Brick Salt Bar + Kitchen — watermelon aqua fresca
Runner-up: Melange Café — honeydew boba tea
Honorable mentions: Eggs Will Roll Mexican street corn; Ichiban Korean meatballs and sashimi nachos; Adelphia fried feta; Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill pulled pork; Sitar of India mango lassi & chicken tikka masala; Chow Thai larb & panang beef; Brick Salt Bar + Grill crab cake slider; Bridge Road Bistro mac & cheese and Black Sheep chorizo taco.
In case you didn’t fill up at Taste-of-ALL, another event concerning great food is on the horizon.
Food Truck Friday, the event I’ve termed the “summer Taste-of-ALL,” begins this Friday on the Ronald McDonald House parking lot at 910 Pennsylvania Avenue in Charleston.
The hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the trucks are scheduled for every Friday through Aug. 9.
The dates to look forward to are June 7, 14, 21, 28; July 5, 12, 19, 26 and Aug. 2 and 9.
Ten percent of the proceeds from all the vendors benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
In case you have missed enjoying their food, for the first time Eggs Will Roll is taking part in the fundraising activity and will likely have some of their best rolls to offer.
Joining EWR in a weekly three-trucks-each-time rotation. Set to feed the lunchtime crowd, are Barnyard BBQ, Hot Dog Willy’s, Tropical Sno, Gritt’s Farm, Snack Shack, Huskey’s Ice Cream, Twisted Taco, Sideline Grille and The Coffee Camper.
Note that Huskey’s Ice Cream is cash only. Credit cards are accepted by all other vendors.
Watch the Food Truck Friday Facebook events page or follow the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern West Virginia Facebook page throughout the season for more details.
This column is running long, so I’m giving you a couple short recipes. Having written of sauces above, I thought these quick and easy cheese sauces would serve as a boulevard to flavor town.
There are only two ingredients in one and no tinkering with a white sauce in either. They both use convenient ingredients and once made, are perfect grilled or steamed vegetables, cooked macaroni, baked potatoes, burgers, tacos, nachos and more.
My recipe calls for adding Cheez Whiz or Old English spread to a bottled pasta cheese sauce to boost the Ragu’s milder essence.
The second recipe is from Sunny Anderson, a chef on the Food Network. Her recipe is basically a three-ingredient wonder.
Now get busy roasting that asparagus, steaming the broccoli and scattering those corn chips. Your sauce is waiting.