During this past week while traveling the Pacific Northwest for business, I was catching up on some blog reading on the Miami New Times Short Order blog when an article reminded me that the Taste of the Grove would be held this weekend. The article also made the ridiculous claim that over 30,000 people attended this event last year. I'd really love to know where that "fact" came from considering last year the event was held in January and it was freezing cold and rainy all weekend. I'd be surprised if even 3,000 people attended.
Anyhow, I was happy to be in town to be able to attend and met up with a friend to walk in and check it out. We purchased $20 worth of tickets and began to do a walkthrough to see what sort of offerings were available. We quickly realized we would need more tickets after buying two beers at $5 apiece. I guess I was thinking that was acceptable for an "event" beer but it bothered me later on when I attended a movie at the O Cinema in the Wynwood district and got a Brooklyn Lager for $3.
After grabbing more tickets we decided on the mixed ceviche offering from Panorama. I'd had a few meals at this restaurant that were ok but I mostly enjoy their spot on the 8th floor of the Sonesta for a mojito and a great view of the bay. The ceviche was a nice portion for $8 and contained a variety of seafood. Clams, scallops, calamari, and even some octopus were tenderized in citrus and mixed with onion, cilantro, and some Peruvian cancha. For a dish marinated in citrus it really lacked that flavor. Instead an overpowering dose of garlic was the main flavor punishing our palates. It was too bad because other than that the dish was quite tasty.
As we looked for our next bite to eat, a highschool band took the stage and began cranking out covers of Nirvana before launching into some death metal that I couldn't recognize. It was really awkward at a food festival like Taste of the Grove. I guess they took anyone that wanted stage time. As we neared the end of the last tent, I smelled smoky barbecue and found a booth offering some ribs, chicken, and conch fritters. I think it was called Master C Culinary or something like that. I'd never heard of them but we were hungry and barbecue sounded great. We had $10 left in tickets and were able to negotiate a deal for a plate of ribs and two conch fritters (instead of 4) with the nice people in the booth who also recommended we had some hot sauce. The ribs were tender and I was impressed with how meaty they were but the sauce wasn't anything special. The fritters were just ok.
I was pretty disappointed in the lack of variety at the Taste of the Grove. Most of the food sold at each booth was stuff you could find at any carnival, fair, or average outdoor festival. There were sliders, greek gyros, barbecue, and pizza. Wow, big deal. It all amounted to a bunch of overpriced, underwhelming food. Popular Grove spots like Le Bouchon, Greenstreet, and Lulu didn't even take a booth at the festival. I guess it shows the culinary state of the Grove these days isn't really too impressive at all.
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