Thursday, July 14, 2011

Taste of Dallas 2011

The family got an invitation to attend Taste of Dallas this weekend. We were given free tickets so it was worth trying something we may not otherwise have done. The price on the ticket was $8.00 but I read a few minutes ago that you could get them at Albertsons (which when there I surmised was a major sponsor because of the all their banners) for $5.00.

We decided to go at open (11:00 a.m.) because it wouldn't be so hot. Luckily, Saturday morning started out breezy and slightly overcast. Once we got to Fair Park, we quickly found out that parking was not included. Friday night when thinking about going to Taste of Dallas I thought about taking the DART rail because it's convenient and cheap. But when we left Saturday morning, I had forgotten. So did the wife. Because of this, we ended up paying $12.00 for parking. Fucking $12.00! We figured it was better than paying $12 on top of $32 but that would have never happened anyway because I'm a cheap ass! So, we parked and walked in to the fair grounds.

Initially, we just walked around to see what all was offered and to get a gauge on the price for "tastes." We also were heading for a specific booth because my oldest was helping a friend and her mother for the restaurant the mother works for. While walking around, we found that there were a lot of restaurants we've never even heard of. We aren't dining out that often but when we do, we typically stick to a few places we know and like with once in a blue moon trying some place new. With two kids, it's tough to go "new" because if they don't like it then we waste some money.

Everything was priced from $1 to $5. I don't think I saw any of the food items at each booth higher than $5. They did sell beer, soda and water but I don't recall seeing the price of beer. Soda and water were like $5.

So, let me see if I can remember the break down of the booths/foods I tried.

Celebration Restaurant was the booth of that my oldest's friend's mother worked for. They had a chicken kabob for $3, a tomato and basil salad for $4 and fresh cantaloupe or watermelon slices for $1. The friend's mother gave us samples for free. We tried to pay but she refused. We weren't there to mooch but she said that she doesn't mind because they bargain with all the other vendors all the time so it's no big deal. We thanked her and enjoyed the kabob and a few slices each of cantaloupe and watermelon. The fruit was refreshing on a warm, overcast day.

Asador was selling $3 brisket sliders. They were pretty good. There wasn't a lot of brisket in them and I don't know how much they cost or if the meat is more at the restaurant. The brisket was flavorful and served on ciabatta bread. I've never heard of this restaurant so I asked where they were located. The girl in the booth said it was located inside the Dallas Renaissance Hotel which I don't think I've ever been in or will ever find the need to be in.

Afghan Grill had a variety of dishes to taste. We went with the Kofta Chalao which is sauteed meatballs in some kind of sauce and they served it over rice. It too was $3. The wife and I shared it and we both thought it was fairly tasty.

I didn't have any but we bought one each for my kids and the friend of cake balls from The Cake Ball Company. I've had cake balls before but I was not looking for dessert on a day like this or with the food vendors available to taste. I didn't want to fill up too soon. The kids said they loved the cake balls though.

Hedary's was next to the Celebration booth. I tried their sirloin on a stick for $3. It wasn't too bad though it wasn't memorable either. It tasted just like any ordinary steak you might cook on a grill or skillet without using spices or flavoring. They were bragging that it was "top sirloin" and they may have been but it wasn't anything special. Again, it tasted fine but it wasn't something I have to say you need to experience.

Longhorn BBQ was offering pulled pork sliders for $3. I ordered one and added the nondescript barbecue sauce they provided. The sauce was tasty and added to the flavor of the pulled pork which taste very heavily of the wood they used to smoke it, I guess. It wasn't bad it just wasn't spiced or flavored. Overall the pulled pork slider was good but I'm not sure if I'd make a drive from North Dallas to Cedar Hill for their barbecue. I'll stick with the all-you-can-eat at North Main BBQ

Texas de Brazil is a restaurant I've seen/heard of before but never had the desire to try. I still don't have that desire. They were offering bacon-wrapped chicken with a roll for $3. They offered other things like steak but I went for the chicken since I had already had quite a bit of steak from other booths. The bacon-wrapped chicken was pretty good. I'm a big bacon fan and so is my youngest. The chicken was pretty good too but I think they could have wrapped a slightly thinner piece of chicken. Once you got past the bacon and initial layer of chicken, the rest of it just tasted like grilled chicken. The roll was very, very disappointing and someone should lose their job in the "promotional" department because of it. The roll seemed like it was bought from the grocery store and heated in the oven...and whoever did it didn't do a good job AT ALL. The roll was dry and seemed like it was sitting in the open for some time before it was placed on my plate. I mean there was no butter, not flavoring, no nothing on the roll. Hell, I've made better rolls that were bought from the grocery store.

McDonald's had a booth and I think they did it right out of all the booths. They weren't selling samples of their food items but they were giving away samples of their new fruit smoothie, mango pineapple, and then a strawberry smoothie (which I don't know if it was new or not). They were giving freebies out left and right for the 3 hours we were there. They had lines of people waiting for the samples. All for FREE mind you.

I think the other vendors may have to rethink their approach to the way they want people to sample their food. I think they should give it away free or mostly free. I think they should build in an expected loss and let people flavor their foods because if the people like it, they will visit the restaurant and pay full price for it. I saw so many people pass on the foods at Celebration Restaurant, Asador, Lockhart Barbecue, and other vendors because of the price comparison they would do in their minds like "how much will I get for my $3 and is it worth it?" I can tell you that I would have preferred free or half-price for many of the foods I tasted. They were all fairly good but they weren't wowing me or many others. The vendors were too worried about giving to much filling in each slider, or sandwich or whatever. That in turn made the product smaller, lamer and much less inticing to the customer. It's just poor marketing on weekend that should have been all about the marketing. I know they have a budget but if they are really business people running these businesses, they would have been able to create a projected profit/loss forecast and decided what was feasible or not. Personally, for my first time, I really didn't see many people carrying around or purchasing a lot of the samples from any of the booths. I saw a lot of people carrying McDonald's smoothies, Scope and even that nasty Yakult drink becaue they were FREE.

I guess that's about it for the food and beverage vendors.

There was this guy doing on-the-spot Krylon spray paint "paintings." (inset)

He was quick, good and very creative for a cosmic artist. That's what he was called, "The Cosmic Artist." He mainly, or only, did space or cosmic paintings. They were pretty darn cool and the high you can get from the spray paint was awesome. LOL!

He even had his little black car (like a Miata I think) with his personalized designs on the hood, trunk...hell, almost all over it but in a tactful way. I don't how lasting they would be on a vehicle's paint job but a framed picture would be cool. I'm just too much of a cheap ass. :-)

Anyway, Taste of Dallas was an interesting experience for us. I don't think I'll ever feel the need to attend it again although if someone gave me free tickets again and I remember to take the DART (for free because of my job) then I might consider it. It wasn't a bad experience. It just wasn't one of those "Damn, I've been missing out" moments.

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