Have a recommendation? We'd LOVE to hear it!
Salutations Readers!

Kalamazoo has good food.
Great food, in fact. We have made it our mission to check out all the local eateries one at a time - and more for our own poor memories than any other reason, we'll be chronicling our adventures in food here. And some places float our boats way more than others, which is why we have developed the very scientific
five golden forks rating scale. Ok. It is not scientific at all. It is actually quite unscientific. But, it is something. And now, you can search all of our reviews by the forks rating. YAY!

But, wait! There's more!
Kalamazoo Foodies no longer just eat at restaurants then review them. There are recipes posted, some easy, some less easy, all delicious. There are, or will be, book reviews, the new
Foodie Movie Review-y which will focus on movies about food or ones that have a lot of beautiful food in them. There are other food musings, and hopefully soon contests and so much more. But, Foodie Friends, it is all about food. Because we love it!
And, we want to hear from you!

We want to hear your comments on our recipes and reviews. We want to know where you love to eat. And, we are looking for GUEST bloggers to broaden our horizons a bit. And, if you haven't found us on Facebook, you should do that too. Like our page for other fun Foodies stuff like photos, polls, and more.

SO KALAMAZOO PATRONS - where do YOU love to eat? Because we'd love to check it out and share our thoughts here. Give us a comment below, and quickly! Our tummies are grumbling in anticipation.

A Note from the Foodies about our typical fair:
So, you may notice as you read our blog that we often order the same thing wherever we go. OK, maybe not quite, but we do often order similar things. Kristin has her caprese salads and mushroom dishes. Kate has her baked goat cheese and things with tofu. Well, readers, we wanted to let you know that this is absolutely intentional. A) We love those things, so why not order what you love? And, B) It is a lot easier to compare apples to apples than it is to compare apples to comquats. So, we like to order similar things to have a good sense of how to compare them. Just wanted to let you in on that little secret. Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Taste of Kalamazoo 2009

Kate's perspective:
That's right readers, the foodies dream event is here. The 2009 Taste of Kalamazoo. It was the 2008 event that inspired the creation of the Kalamazoo Foodies, so we couldn't miss this year's event. So, off we went, Kristin, Paul, and I, to the 2009 Taste of Kalamazoo on Saturday, July 25th.
Being the foodies that we are, we had previously acquired the Taste of Kalamazoo festival guide and had a few items highlighted to check out in our books. On my list were: The Blue Dolphin, Rasa Ria, A Food Affair, Martell's and Omoefe's Place and, I wanted to give Shawarma King another chance. So, with tickets in hand, we hit the fairway and got ourselves some tasty treats.

The Blue Dolphin:
Paul recently had a few lunch meetings at the Blue Dolphin and was raving about both the value of the menu and the flavor. So, I was looking forward to giving something a try. (But, know that this place is on our list for a visit sometime soon!). Paul and I had an order of the Dolmades. They were alright. I had never had them before, and thought that the pickle-y flavor was a little overwhelming. Paul said they are usually served warm and much better that way. Kristin had a piece of the spinach pie, which I sampled, and that thought was very tasty. Great combination of flavors in the flaky crust. We will go there soon!

A Food Affair:
So many things to chose from, I was intrigued by the Petit Fors on their menu. On first glance, they didn't look to be anything special. And, the booth staff was not very helpful. They ignored us at first and then weren't sure what each of the Petit Fors varieties were... hum...so, I want for the cheesecake on flourless chocolate cake variety. These were underwhelming to say the least. They were not fancy like I expect my Petit Fors to be. In fact, it was like a hunk of cheesecake was piled on top of a hunk of cake. So, I thought, 'It must be in the flavor. It is going to blow me away, right?' Wrong. They were alright. Paul didn't even finish his. So, a disappointment to say the least.

I ran out of tickets and didn't get anything from here. SORRY!

Omoefe's Place:
My intrigue with this place came from Paul. One of his best friend's is from Nigeria, so he was looking for some good, authentic African cuisine. We were a bit disappointed to find that it was really soul food, and not authentic cuisine. I sampled the fried catfish while Paul and Kristin sampled the BBQ rib tips. It was alright. Nothing spectacular. We did share an order of plantains. As plantains go, they were pretty good. I am not a huge fan, so I guess I shouldn't be the one commenting on them, but that was our experience with Omoefe's Place.

Shawarma King:
We had a few tickets left, so I suggested getting falafel from Shawarma. I have to say, these were much better than the ones I remember getting from their buffet. As falafel goes, it wasn't anything outstanding, but it wasn't bad.

Rasa Ria:
I decided to save the best for last. Paul and I are always saying, 'Man, we really need to try that place!' when we drive by Rasa Ria, which is quiet frequently. Having never tried Indonesian or Malaysian food, I was hoping to sample it a bit before spending money on an entree. Now, I am kicking myself for not getting there sooner! Paul and I shared a bowl of the Chicken Rendang. Wow! Flavored with curry and lemongrass on a bed of rice, this dish was delicious. We were sure to grab a menu so we can, finally, get dinner from there some night. The chicken was very flavorful and tender. I was sad to see the empty bowl. This was, by far, the best booth at Taste of Kalamazoo this year, and sadly, they did not seem very busy. People really missed out on this Kalamazoo gem!

Places that were sadly absent from the 2009 Taste of Kalamazoo:
I don't know how it all works, choosing the vendors to highlight at this event. Maybe it is polictical, maybe a money thing, I don't know. But, here is who I missed at this year's event:
[Missed the following places because they are some of my favorites and I am sad others didn't get to experience them.]
  • Food Dance
  • Full City Cafe
  • Olde Peninsula
  • London Grill
  • Bell's Eccentric Cafe
  • Bilbo's
  • Fandango
[The following places, I was hoping to see there to give them a try as I have yet to visit them.]
  • Erbellis
  • Water Street Coffee Joint
  • Gallagher's
  • B'Witched
Overall, it was a good visit to Taste of Kalamazoo. It is a foodies dream, you know. Looking forward to next year and hopefully seeing some new faces and flavors!

Special thanks to Kristin's dad for "sponsoring" our trip to this year's event. It pays to have a birthday close to Taste of Kalamazoo!

Kristin's perspective:
Huh-zah. I had been waiting with baited breath for this event since the summer began, and for the second year, I was awarded for my patience with some excellent food. I'm not as organized as Kate in what I had planned to try, more that I ate what I thought smelled/ looked good. But I digress, you're here for the reviews, so let's get straight to 'em!

The Blue Dolphin:
Paul ordered some Dolmades here, which were okay. The server at the booth that plated these little snacks for us informed us they were being served cold for Taste, but usually are served warm (and I believe she even said that they light them on fire!). I would have really liked to try them as they are supposed to be - because not only do I think the warmth would have taken away a bit of the pickle-taste, but also because who doesn't love seeing things set on fire?!
Like Kate mentioned, I also ordered a piece of Spinach pie here, served with a little cup of
Tzatziki (cucumber sauce). Hands down, this was my favorite thing at Taste. It was simple but so yummy, and the cold of the Tzatziki played really well off the warm, flaky delight of the feta/spinach combo. I can't WAIT to get back here.

Raddison Restaurants:
I'm quite the window/impulse shopper. So walking by the Raddison Restaurants (Old Burdicks, Zazio's, Sol, and World Cafe), I saw a listing for a "Grilled Strawberry Shortcake" and got SUPER intrigued. Now, I liked it, but here's what it was: A piece of shortcake, on the grill. Topped with frozen strawberries. I dunno, I was expecting something with a little more panache from this group, but I can't say the name was misleading in what I actually got. So... there's that.

Not Just an Almond:
Straight up fair-food, I got some roasted almonds. I can't NOT get roasted almonds when the opportunity presents itself. They're just so good. Kate had one and said that was all she needed, I countered with an entirely truthful: "I could sustain myself on a diet entirely made up of cinnamon roasted almonds." All that being said, there aren't too many different ways to make this little treat, so there isn't so much a review here as there is "if you haven't tried a cinnamon roasted almond, you need to."

Omoefe's Place:
I was lagging a bit behind Kate and Paul when they walked up to Omoefe's (there was a pretty fountain that I was staring at.) About the same time I caught up, the woman running the booth was handing out free samples of BBQ rib tips. I don't eat a whole lot of beef/ pork these days, but let's remember that I moved to Kalamazoo from Texas, and so I have a hard time passing up a chance at free BBQ. Folks, this didn't disappoint. I'm not a BBQ connoisseur by any means, but this definitely took me back to Abilene for a spell, which in this case (and this case only) is a compliment. A bit later we followed up by getting some fried plantains, which I very much enjoyed. Sweet enough to be a dessert, but not the kind of sweet that makes your teeth feel instantly dirty. That said, the portion was enough for all three of us to get our fill, so I would say order this at Omoefe's when you're out with a few friends who will share with you.

Shawarma King:
Part of me felt like I should try them again, as Kate was willing to, but the other part of me said "Hey. There are lots of GREAT restaurants here that you haven't tried yet. Save your tickets for them." It's like any cartoon you've ever seen with the little devil on one shoulder and a little angel on the other. I'm not sure which side of my inner-argument was the angel and which was the devil, but the side that didn't eat anything from Shawarma King is the side that won. So that's how that played out. Sorry Shawarma King. (though I do still love saying your name like I'm Sean Connery.)

Rasa Ria:
OH man, I echo Kate's sentiments here. I ordered the Tofu Rendang, and it was AMAZINGLY good. I love a well-prepared tofu like it's nobody's business. I also have to comment on the smell. This food smelled like love. Not the "we have a recipe that requires us to throw in one pre-prepared bag of this, and fill to this line with water." No friends, this dish was made by one so well-versed at making it that I bet they don't even have a written recipe, but added ingredients according to how they know it is supposed to look, smell, and most importantly taste. I am super pumped to get out to Rasa Ria asap and get a real review up here for them.

Places that were sadly absent from the 2009 Taste of Kalamazoo:
I don't want to get all snobby up in here, but for an event that is supposed to showcase the best food that specifically the greater Kalamazoo area has to offer, I was sad to see a few of the better places in town left out, only to be replaced by chain restaurants. Seriously. What is that about. Here are the places I wish would have had a booth:
  • Food Dance
  • Any of the Millenium Group Restaurants (Union, Epic Bistro etc.)
  • Olde Peninsula
  • Bell's Eccentric Cafe
  • Strutt (how awesome would it have been to get a good iced coffee? the answer: SO awesome.)
  • Fandango's
  • ChinnChinn (yeah, a little far away for a Kalamazoo showcase, but I heart them.)
[The following places, I was hoping to see there to give them a try as I have yet to visit them.]
  • Erbelli's
  • Again, any of the Millenium Group Restaurants (Field Stone Grill, Black Swan, etc)
  • B'Witched
  • Some places that are on "THE LIST:" Bistro 120 & Lodo's Company
All in all, I enjoyed myself at Taste. (Though, Taste organizers: could we not have a creep-tastic clown running around next year? So unnecessary.) Good food with good people, and lots of new things to explore. I'm excited to see what new delights this festival can bring to my pallette in the years to come.

1 comment:

JDubs said...

Erbellis on Stadium is a MUST for kalamazoo foodie review! Gourmet pizza is out of this world.... I missed this years Taste, but I too would have figured erbellis would have been there. Everytime I come home that is the first meal for me!