Yesterday with football on all day and with the the Taste of the Grove food festival ending early due to the cold and rain, I didn't have a chance to walk into the Grove to check it out. Today the temperature dropped even lower than yesterday and the wind picked up but the rain held off enough for me to walk down to Peacock Park to get some lunch at the Taste of the Grove. All things considered, it was pretty good.
I left the house wearing a t-shirt and sweater. It was pretty cold but I knew I wouldn't be gone more than an hour and I like to soak up a nice chilly day here in South Florida. In hindsight, I probably should've worn a hat too because the wind while walking down the hill of South Bayshore and at Peacock Park was howlin'! When I got down to the event, I hit up the ticket booth for $10 worth of tickets and went to search for my lunch. There was a band playing some good jazz/funk music that people were enjoying and there was plenty of cover in case it did rain.
I first spotted Ideas Restaurant's booth and went for some white bean soup with chorizo ($4) to help me warm up a little bit. The soup was nice and warm without being too hot. I liked the bits of chorizo and the flavor of the soup but there was some sort of pulp in the soup that was very stringy. The texture just threw the whole dish off for me. I'm not sure it was worth $4 either. I finished off the soup and went in search of something a little more hearty. I stopped by Panorama's booth and liked the looks of both the raviolis de aji de gallina and the lobster ceviche but the tax was too high at $6-$8 each (I forget the exact prices). I just didn't feel like getting more tickets to give it a try and I was in a hurry to make it back to my place to watch the Patriots/Ravens game. Glad I rushed for that...
I saw the booth for Atchana's East/West Kitchen and remembered that they had some good value there last year and figured that I could fill up on something with the 6 tickets I had left in my pocket. I checked out the menu and saw something simmering in a foil pan and figured that was a good option. Turns out it was curried chicken and rice which could be had for $5. "How hungry are you? This is a pretty big plate..." was the reply I got from the guy in the booth after asking for a plate the curried chicken. He wasn't kidding. He set up a nice pile of rice and ladled some of the yellow curried chicken on top. Then he let me know they had some hot sauce if I wanted, which made me happy. I squirted on some hot sauce and found a standing table in the sun to dig in. I'm not sure if I was seeing things when I saw the curry in a foil pan, or if it was really that cold but by the time I took my first bite the dish was barely warm. No matter, it was good. The rice was a little sticky and clumped together but I'm certain the cold had a lot to do with that. I thought the flavor of the curry was deliciously sweet without being overpowering and it made for a great combination of spicy/sweet when I worked in some of their hot sauce. There was plenty of chicken in the dish and the vegetables were nicely cooked while staying crisp. I'd like to give this one another shot when I can get it hot off the stove.
I stuck around for a few minutes while the band played on through the wicked winds that battered the park. I noticed that Johnsonville Brats had a HUGE setup in the back by the stage. It was some sort of mobile big rig with a bunch of bbq grills. There were about half-a-dozen people standing at the booth, most likely workers that were to man the grills and pass out marketing schwag. Talk about Ma Nature making a mockery of your PR efforts, geesh! It must've been two days of standing around chatting in the cold for that poor booth.
It was not the best conditions for the Taste of the Grove this year but the vendors showed up and did their best. The cold weather keeping crowds away did allow me to have two dishes in about twenty minutes though and that curried chicken dish was pretty darn good albeit a little cold. Perhaps there will be "Another Taste of the Grove" this year when the weather is a bit warmer?
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