It is my favourite time of year ya'll! Summer months don't just bring Sangria, short shorts and puppies into my life. It also brings a handful of foodie eating events. Which is what really matters really. Taste of Burlington is my go-to economic friendly summer event. The restaurants still get creative, it doesn't take your whole day to make reservations and my favourite part - Burlington has parking! What's there not to love?
Anyways, enough with the hating. As many of you know, before TOB starts, there is always a launch party. Where they jam as many restaurants as they can into the Burlington Permorning Arts centre and you get to spend a lovely evening listening to a live band (Adam Cooke) , drinking craft beer (Cameron's Brewing Company) and stuffing your face with samples till you're so full they have to roll you home (I promise I've always walked out of TOB with my own two feet - but there have been a few close calls).
As per usual, my TOB partners in crime were Christine and Dave and the newest edition to the dream team - Margaret! - shall we get to the feasting?
Rib Eye Jacks (@RibeyeJacks) : Gyoza - Beef dumplings with sweet soya vinaigrette, sesame, green onion and crispy garlic - first up was this gyoza, which everyone raved about. I thought the filling was great but the shell was a little too tough. The sauce was spot on .
Wendel Clark's (@WendelClarks17) : Spinach Salad with in house made fresh blueberry vinaigrette - usually I stay away from the salads, but on such a hot day it was refreshing to see a few at the event. The mandarin oranges added a nice little burst of sugar.
Stone House (@StoneHouseFood) : Pecan crusted salmon with sweet potato hash and honey Dijon cream sauce - this being my third time attending a TOB Launch party, I definitely know who the rock stars are. Stone House is hands down one of them. Their short ribs from last year are still floating in my dreams and this years salmon dish was in the same league. One of us - I won't mention who, went back for seconds, and thirds, and fourths. ( It was Dave): Pad Thai Salad - unfortunately nothing to write home about with this one. The concept was great, love a cold noodle salad. But unfortunately the vinaigrette didn't pack much of a punch.
Water St. Cooker (@WaterStChefs) : Seasonal Salad with green Goddess Dressing - this salad was surprisingly very very tasty. Like mama-just-picked-everything-out-of-the-garden yummy. While I was too busy stuffing my face I overheard Water St. Cooker tell my sister the goddess dressing is actually whipped up with mayo - shocking because it was incredibly light.
Paradiso (@ristoparadiso) : house made ricotta on whey bread crostini - I still dream about the first time I had Paradiso at TOB, and they served up the most divine sample of their pâté. Sooo good. This however, I will not be dreaming about. Kudos, for making the ricotta in house - thumbs down for forgetting to flavour it.: Pulled beef sliders - If you're making a slider at a food event. Don't talk to me. Can we all just pretend the slider never happened people? It is the least creative thing you can serve up! Sorry Honey West.
Queens Head Pub (@pub_queenshead) : Caramel pretzel and peanut butter ice cream cake with brûlée peaches - Queens Head has always been a place I overlooked - chalking it up to just a typical gastro pub. Till they started bringing their 'A' game to TOB. These bros are legit. Last year with their Sweet Potato Donut and this year with the Ice cream cake. These were hitting all the right spots I would marry this cake if I could. And then, and then, AND THEN they put a brûlée peach slice on top. Like shut the $#$& up! It was amazing. I wanted more even before I had my first bite.
Ye Olde Squire (@YeOldeSquire1) : Chocolate brownie with Guinness chocolate sauce - the lady told me it took 8 pints of Guinness to make all of that chocolate sauce. Or something like that - I was too busy stuffing my face with warm brownies and chocolate sauce to really pay attention to her. I poured the remainder chocolate sauce on top of the ice cream cake from Queens Head and I felt like all the fat girls in the world stood up and gave me a standing ovation because it was the best idea EVER.
Ivy Bar and Kitchen (@IvyBarKitchen) : Duck pastrami slider with narrowed carrots and pea puree - I absolutely love duck, but you could barely taste it. There was too much bread and it just got in the way of everything. That's the problem with sliders. Okay, ok I will stop hating on the sliders. Just kidding. The hate will never quit.: Coconut Shrimp & Stuffed Chicken - I love shrimp and I love coconut, you can't really mess this one up. The chicken was nice and moist but I found the sauce on top was too overpowering and sweet for me. C'est la vie though.
Pepperwoods (@Pepperwoodgroup) : Crispy skin pork belly on house made salt & vinegar chip with a chipotle glaze and mango corn salsa - Pepperwoods really surprised me with this one. I found myself coming back for a second, third and probably fourth helping. I say probably 'cause at this point Dave and I had made the rounds once, or twice, going back for our favourites. The pork belly was moist and the sweet mango was a nice touch. The chip was really only there to shovel the porky goodness in.
West Plains Bistro (@bistrobound) : Shrimp and orzo - grilled shrimp dressed with lime and black pepper over buttered orzo with cilantro oil - for something that was not cooked to order. I was very surprised at how moist and plump this shrimp was. Kudos West Plains! This was a nice and very light dish - a great dish if you've been stuffing yourself with pork belly and chocolate brownies all night.
And that's a wrap for this summers Taste of Burlington Launch Party. TOB officially starts July 20 - August 3rd. So keep your eyes out on the website for menus to be released. 26 participating restaurants with lunch ranging from $15-$20 and dinner at $30 -$40. Date night anyone? The next TOB party is the Winter Edition - see you guys there!
*Disclaimer// I received media tickets to this event - as always opinions expressed are my own