Saturday, May 22, 2010

Taste the World event was transporting!

Eric and I attended the Taste the World event yesterday evening.  Organized by Kids & Cultures as one of their fundraising events, guests are given a passport.  In that passport is a map of participating local restaurants in downtown Lancaster, which are all set up with samples of tasty morsels ready and waiting for the Taste the World enthusiasts to walk in the door.  Your passport gets stamped and you get your food. 

It's a wonderful way to enjoy the city and its ethnic culinary offerings.  You eat a little, walk a little, take in the city vibe, which was jumping yesterday.  It's even better when the weather is as balmy as it was.  There was a piano gig going on where all over the city, they had set up upright pianos (some plastered with advertising - FULTON BANK WAS HERE).  It's part of Downtown Lancaster's "Music For Everyone" initiative.  Anyone can play them, so start getting those fingers nimble!  
"Music Fridays" was going on opposite Binns Park.  Every third Friday, it's held from 5:30 - 8:30PM and is communicated as a great alternative to Happy Hour.  And why not?  Beer and wine is served, and you get a concert.  Seems other Lancastrians think so too; the event had generated nice-sized crowd.  But unfortunately, we couldn't linger.  We had started out a little later than we would have liked - darn jobs - and we had to hit all the Taste the World locations by 8PM. 

We started at the Colombian Bakery on Queen St.  They were serving Egg Cheese bread rounds.  I have to admit, I was feeling rather apathetic about it since my choice of starch is rice or noodles.  But I was surprised by the crispiness of the outer layer, which looked to be infused by the cheese, without being gooey or overly cheesy.  The inside was light and airy, and it was altogether delightful.
A couple of doors down is the Sakura Asian Fusion & Sushi Bar.  They offered a mago, avacado and cucumber roll.  Admittedly, I am a sushi snob.  I generally wait to get my sushi fix while out in California.  But then again, perhaps I will have to give Sakura an upcoming full evaluation.  I liked their roll, and I particularly liked how pungent their wasabi was.  The closed mind has creaked open about an inch.

We hoofed it to La Costena, which you already know is a big favorite of mine.  They served boiled potatoes in an Ocopa sauce, which is typically made with, among other ingredients, aji peppers and herbs, which give it its green hue. 

One of my favorites of the evening - Gursha's Ethiopian samples.  On the left is a wild salmon concoction, and on the right, a spicy lentil stew.  The last time we had Gursha's food, we were at Eastern Market in the dead of winter.  It couldn't have been any colder, but I will go to great lengths for food.  It was hard to really focus then, given that I was more concerned about my toes.  This time, I could really get into it.  I could eat that spicy lentil stew for lunch everyday for the rest of the summer.  Just delicious!  Savorily piquant...

The "Best Kept Secret that Shouldn't Be a Secret" award goes to Island Caribbean on S. Duke Street.  My goodness, this Jerk Chicken was good.  The chicken was moist and flavorful, the sauce mixing with the rice was stellar, and portion served was very generous.  So I may have been the only one who didn't know this place existed, but I assure you, I will get to know this place much better in the months to come.

La Dolce Vita is right up the street on N. Duke, and how can anyone pass up on fruit tarts?  Lovely, shiny, creamy, and all in a pastry shell.  Next year, we'll end here.  Who cares if we have to backtrack?  I, for one, like to end my meal with dessert.   

Ah, Spyro Gyro's Gyros.  They also provide large portions, and I do think their gyros are quite good.  Not the traditional slices off the vertical pit, but still, quite good.  Tender morsels of beef/lamb and with the cool yogurt dressed salad wrapped in a soft pita.  It was worth the wait.
Second to last stop, and we were pushing it.  It was 7:45PM.  Rice & Beans, which was one of my favorite places last year, had run out of rice.  No matter, they gave us a plate of chicken and beans.  I didn't need the carbs, anyway.  Contrary to our experience last year, I found the chicken to be quite dry.  But the flavor of the beans was still spot on.  And to be fair, we were kinda in a rush.  I left most of my plate to be finished off by the big man so that we could move on. 
Alas, as we arrived at Rachel's Creperie, their smoothie sample was gone; but really, what a feat - they ran out at something like 7:58PM.  So note for those attending next year.  Start out earlier.  On a beautiful day, you can enjoy the city much more, linger where you want to, take the time to enjoy the food and chat with others who are on the same trek.  Toward the end, I felt like I was on the Amazing Race, and after scarfing our food and strategically adding our empty plates precariously onto the pyramid of ever-overflowing trash bins, we'd dash off to the next location.  Of course, that in and of itself is kinda fun, if you're into that sort of thing.

We had a marvelous time, and I'm already anticipating next year's event!  Thank you Kids & Cultures!!

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