Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dig IN - A Taste of Indiana

I was provided with tickets for an event that I had never even heard of but that is so perfect for me that it was an ideal event to cap off my birthday weekend.

Dig IN - A Taste of Indiana

This was a festival of food, wine, and brew.  This was a "farm to fork" event where local producers provided food and local chefs made delicious dishes with it. 

Christy and I made it to about 18 out of 24 food stops.  We only halted our eating because we were stuffed.  Seriously stuffed.  Some was delicious, some was good, some was just ok.  Some was very creative, some didn't live up to the description provided. 

I think we visited 4 local wineries, often having more than one taste.  We visited 4 or 5 local breweries.  We stopped visiting the wineries and breweries because we were thirsty and wanted water more than anything.  Plus, we were stuffed. 

So here's a run down of some of what we tried:

The first thing I have to say that I loved was Christy bought us each a Wine Yoke from Best Vineyards Winery.  This allowed us to carry our wine glass with no hands which made it easier to enjoy the food stops. 

Of the wineries and breweries, there were a few I would love to splurge and buy from in the future. 

My favorite for a sweet wine was a tie between the Apple Spice wine from Wolfcreek Wines and the Sweet Black Raspberry from Best Vineyards.  My favorite for a dry red was the Chambourcin from Rettig Hill Winery.  Christy loves- I mean really, really loves- their Grand Rouge because it's a dry red blend made from the Norton grape (the only wine grape that is truly native to the US).

For the breweries, I most enjoyed the Wheat Ale from Mad Anthony Brewing Company.  Several of the beers offered were hops based and I don't enjoy that bitterness.

For the food... oh the food!!  My first observation is that I love being able to enjoy an event with a friend who totally understands what I mean when I say "To really enjoy that dish, you had to have the perfect ratio of goat cheese in each bite."

For the food, I'm just going to go down the list of what was provided in our event program.  ** Means I really liked it.  ~ Means thumbs down.  Anything else was fine, good- not bad, not spectacular.

~ Black Swan Brewpub  Christy and I first met the founders of Black Swan at the State Fair last summer where they were competing in a BBQ cook off.  Talking to these 2 guys clearly demonstrated their passion for and understanding of food.  We were eager to try the place but it's far from home.  Last winter, we had the chance to go on a day long event in Hendricks Co and we ended our day with a fantastic meal at Black Swan.  We are definite fans of Black Swan.  That said, we did not love what we had at this event.  The listing says "Summer salad with peach vinaigrette, stout glazed smoked Indiana duck breast and cheese crisps."  Black Swan was one of our last stops.  There were no chese crisps, no hint of dressin gon the greens.  The duck was delicious.

Brad Gates Catering & Events  "Duck & goat cheese dumplings with sweet & sour peach sauce"  This was yummy.  The dumpling was a sort of wonton and there was also some sort of slaw that the wonton was served on.  Definitely an intriguing blend of flavors.

Cafe Patachou "Assorted heirloom tomato gazpacho with roasted corn relish"  The cool thing about this offering was that there were 6 or 7 different heirloom tomato gazpachos offered.  Christy grabbed 3, I grabbed 3.  I don't remember all the styles of heirloom tomato that we grabbed- pineapple, chocolate, zebra, peach, and more.  We had a few bites of each, we each had favorites, and we quickly moved on.

Circle City Soups  ""My Dad's" sweet corn chowder"  My Dad's Sweet Corn comes from Tipton and is one of those items that sells out almost every week at the Farmer's Market.  Corn chowder made from it was bound to be delicious and it certainly was.  Christy loves all things corn so this was one of her favorites.

Circle City Sweets  "Indiana peach and frangipane tart"  This was a nice treat. Nice balance of flavors, easy on the palatte and stomach.

** Fermenti Artisan  "Homemade heritage breed bacon with fermented root relish and Capriole Farms goat cheese"  This is the dish that I made my earlier comment about the ratio of goat cheese on each bite.  The fermented root relish looked like shredded beets but was sweeter.  The presenters of the food also mentioned something about apples in it.  It was a cool dish and great for summertime.  I liked this dish more than Christy liked it.

** Indiana Downs  "selection of tarts"  This doesn't do it justice.  We weren't able to sample everything they offered because they were changing it up every hour.  What we had was delicious but I don't know what it was.  Something with a goat cheese consistency and taste on top, a fruit compote of some sort, and they used edible flowers as well.  Yummy and intriguing.

IUPUI Food Service  "spaghetti squash with homemade ricotta"  Didn't love this dish.  I love spaghetti sqaush so my hopes were high.  The dish was served cold and I found that I don't like spaghetti squash cold.  The ricotta was very creamy and the guy serving it said it was marscapone.  There was also a raw marinara sauce.  It was different and the ingredients individually were fine but it just wasn't my favorite dish.

Chef JJ's Back Yard  "watermelon peach smoked bison with spicy house pickle"  This was yummy! The serving wasn't too much- a literal bite and it was just right.  They served it on a skewer so you got a bit of bun to hold the sauce, the bite of meat, and then the pickle.  It was really very tasty.

** JW Marriott "Crispy pulled prok with braised native beans and rendered Indiana bacon layered with pork jus, hickory syrup, and pork emulsified foam"  This was one of my favorite dishes.  Had there been room in my tummy to have a second helping, this would have been my choice. I felt like I was eating off a fancy Food Network show. This was served in a little cylindrical cup and the food was in layers. The description given really doesn't do it justice. It was simply amazing.

~ Joseph Decuis "mini Wagyu burgers with hot pepper onion relish and havarti" This was probably my least favorite dish, unfortunately.  The cheese overpowered the flavor of the beef.  Wagyu is supposed to be a very special beef and the flavor was completely lost.  I also didn't get much from the hot pepper onion relish.  I even took off the top bun and tried a bite that really focused on the meat and relish and still didn't enjoy it.

** Keltie's  "bread pudding with caramel sauce"  DELICIOUS.  Everything about it was right.

The Local Eatery and Pub  "grilled bison tostada with roasted tomato and corn salsa, lime pickled cantaloupe with cilantro"  I was VERY excited to try this dish.  2 of my favorite ingredients are listed- lime and cilantro.  This was good but I had complaints.  The tostado was more like a basic tortilla chip.  The bison and salsa was delish.  Seriously liked it.  The cantaloupe was a small bite sized melon ball and tasted like... cantaloupe.  I didn't taste any lime or cilantro- total bummer.

R Bistro  "brined and roasted turkey, vegetable salad"  I didn't think this was a dish that would draw people in to their restaurant, necessarily.  It was good but didn't stand out.  The turkey was fine.  The vegetable salad with filled with yummy raw veggies- cabbage, green beans, radishes, I think.  It was fine.  But not great.

** Second Helpings  "beef tenderloin with fontina cheese, potatoes and savory tomato chutney"  This was delish.  I was very excited to try this dish because I love what Second Helpings does for our community.   I very much encourage you to click the link to their website and see the very cool program that is Second Helpings.  This was some of the best cooked beef I've had- the flavor and moisture were exactly right.  The tomato chutney was sweeter than I expected and the flavor popped in my mouth.

Served Cafe & Bistro  "Bees Knees: french toast wyport wine and honey, pork tenderloin, swiss cheese, strawberries. Coopers Hawk port wine syrup, sprinkled with powdered sugar."  This was unique and tasty but didn't stand out as a favorite.  Some of the elements were either lost or were just unremarkable. 

** Severin Bar & Grill  "Applewood smoked lamb, grilled peach and poblano relish, bicolor corn and wild rice goat cheese fritter, blueberry demi"  This was an amazing dish.  The lamb was perfect.  The relish was ah-MAY-zing.  The fritter was heaven.  I also loved watching them cook- they had set up little cooking stations using bricks- I didn't get to see completely how it worked but it was definitely unique. 

Zest! Exciting Food Creations "Farm2Spoon caldo frijo on chili-spiced tortilla with queso fresco"  It was good.  Didn't love it.  Partially because I was overly stuffed at this point.

The other offerings sounded amazing but we simply didn't have room in our tummies. 

Next year, I hope to include Teagan in the event.  I think her taste in food will continue to expand over the next year and she could really enjoy it.  I would also make sure we plan to be there for the entire 5 hours.  I'd love to get several of the food offerings and go sit in a shady spot and just enjoy and then lay back and relax a bit.  This would help with the overstuffing thing, I think.  They also offered a speaker series but I wasn't able to get to any of them- if I plan effectively next year, I think I can make that work better, too.  I'd be sure to bring a big bottle of water, too.  Wine and beer are great but I was soon quite parched and water was a better cleanser of the palette.

Other free samples of the non-alcoholic variety came from Natural Born Juicers (loved it) and B Java Coffee and Tea (had a coffee soda that was quite tasty and perfectly brewed).

There was also live music but I didn't catch which band it was that I was enjoying so much.  They were good and played a nice variety of everything from classic rock to Bob Marley.  The tables in their tent were full and they also had people waiting in food lines winging and dancing (myself included).

We also enjoyed offerings and came very close to buying items from the Indiana Artisans tent.  I've been a fan of Chocolate for the Spirit since that holiday event in Hendricks Co so I was eager to see Julie again.  We loved tasting the maple syrup- and especially the bourbon infused maple syrup- from Burton's Maplewood Farm. 

My biggest regret is that I left my phone in the car.  No tweets, no pics, no notes aside from the things I quickly jotted down in my event program.

I have to admit that when I first learned of the event, I was very glad to have been given the tickets for free.  I balked at the price.  $20 in advance, $30 at the door (Note- bring cash!! Also note that kids 4 and under are free, kids 5-15 are $7).  However, having attended this shindig, that is an amazingly fair price.  Had I purchased my tickets in advance (which I totally would to save the $10), I would have more than gotten my money's worth with the amount of food, alcohol, and SWAG that I picked up. 

Other local eateries that support local producers and business I'd love to see there would be Scotty's Lakehouse, Oakley's Bistro, and The Loft at Trader's Point Creamery.

I Dug IN and I Dug It and I can't wait to do it again next year!

Unknown Mami



Leontien said...

It sure sounded good! You made me wanna go next year!

Thanks for the great description!

Claudya Martinez said...

I would love to go to something like that, it sounds great.

Keetha Broyles said...

Well, that all sounds really fun and good but though I saw ONE pork tenderloin in the list (one of the "Indiana State Foods" in my opinion) I did NOT see any chicken and homemade noodles over mashed potatoes and any TRUE taste of Indiana OUGHT to have that signature Indiana dish, no???

Eternal Lizdom said...

I did have a sample of beef and noodles! I forgot about that! It wasn't a chef's offering- it was in the Artisan's tent from a maker of homemade noodles. :)

Keetha Broyles said...

Now THAT was the taste of Indiana!

Liz Mays said...

I haven't been to something like this since Taste of Chicago, but they're so much fun! The ticket price was a little high, I think, but I love that you can just indulge all you want after that!

Russ said...

Beef and noodles were from Coe's... they were nice and thick noodles, but I didn't really like the "beef and" part.

Nej said...

"To really enjoy that dish, you had to have the perfect ratio of goat cheese in each bite."

We have a couple that we go on vacation with, and are out with them nearly every weekend, if not during the week as well. We all kinda read each other's's awesome. Anyway....we all make a point to perfect the "perfect bite" challenge for every meal we share. It's so funny!!!!

Garret said...

I love Taste Of's. Yum! I must admit, at first glance I thought the entry was titled "Taste of India".