It’s food that sounds like a dare. Or things your mother told you never to eat. At the Taste of Tacoma, it’s practically a competition to see who can use the most grease, butter and cheese.
The Taste opened Friday at Point Defiance Park and will continue through Sunday with calorie-laden eats of epic proportions – and portions.
The annual food festival has transformed over the years from a festival featuring Tacoma restaurants to a festival heavy on fried-food fare made by vendors who mostly serve on the fair and festival circuit.
This year, Tacoma chefs make an appearance.
The Taste Cooks stage will have cooking demonstrations all weekend from some of Tacoma’s top toque wearers – Hudson Slater of Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge, Kris Blondin of Stink Cheese and Meat, Tom Vigue of Savor Creperie and Geoffrey Yahn of Dirty Oscar’s Annex (recently seen on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”)
Something else that’s new at the Taste – Seattle-based mobile food trucks. Try these interesting mobile restaurants without the drive north – the Tokyo Dog hot dog truck, Ezell’s Express chicken truck, My Chef Lynn and Chopstix, the mobile Asian bistro.
As the dining critic, I could spend a lot of time here dwelling on the lack of sophisticated fare, but what’s the fun in that?
I headed straight to the fried-food offerings to see just how many atrocities I could stuff down my gullet. It’s food that will kill you slowly if you eat too much, but I took one for the team and ate some of the fattiest, greasiest foods at the festival – so you don’t have to.
From the Deep-Fried Hall of Wonders:
Corn dog wrapped in cotton candy: A corn dog already is an abomination – a meat log ensconced in a sweetened cornmeal batter and dumped into a deep fryer. Yay! But when you add a whirl of cotton candy on top of it? That’s just atrocious. I couldn’t make it beyond a couple bites. Find it for $5 at the Sweet Sensations booth.
Deep-fried Girl Scout cookie kebab: It’s a new American pastime to deep fry just about anything sweet and serve it at a festival – bubble gum, Oreos, Pepsi, Kool-Aid, candy bars, Twinkies, even butter. It was only a matter of time before someone would get around to frying Girl Scout cookies.
At the Sweet Sensations booth, you’ll find three cookies – a Do-si-do, Samoa and Tagalog – threaded onto a kebab stick, dipped in a sweet batter and deep fried until it’s a hot, puffy mess topped with chocolate syrup. I liked these more than I probably should have. The kebab was $5.
Deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sammie: This is the sort of sandwich fit for Elvis – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on good ol’ American white bread, dipped in batter and deep fried. I loved the crunchy exterior, but was an even bigger fan of the warm ooze of peanut butter and grape jelly.
This is the second year for the Deep-Fried PB&Js booth at the Taste and their offerings have expanded to eight different deep-fried sandwiches filled with everything from marshmallows to Nutella. Sandwiches are $6.
Things I didn’t eat and am glad I didn’t: I kept an eye on the booths churning out some of the fattiest concoctions and I have to say Piggly’s seemed to be earning the medal in the unofficial Who Is Using The Most Grease Competition. A huge pile of Cheesy Riley Fries ($7) were covered in nacho cheese and the plate of fried zucchini ($6.75) was stacked like Lincoln Logs.
I had no intentions of trying the Krispy Kreme doughnut bacon cheeseburger – made with two half-pound burger patties – at the Sweet Sensations Booth. No amount of hazard pay could make me attempt that $10 burger. The Sri Racha fries ($5) at the Pho Cyclo booth looked to be the menu item most likely to kill you slowly through heartburn.
Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270