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A Taste of the Taste (of Syracuse)

When you love to eat, food festivals are just about the best thing that can happen. When you’re recently diagnosed with Celiac, the excitement lessens a little, but you still make the trek down to Clinton Square for the annual Taste of Syracuse anyway. Can you say cheat day? …I did…. between gritted teeth when I was doubled over in pain later that night. LOL. Self control, kids, I hear it’s a wonderful thing.

Although I’ve always gone to Taste in years past, this was the first year that I went during the day, and the similarity between it and the fair was a little bit too much for me to handle. Plus, it was excruciatingly hot (not that I can complain, sunlight in CNY is a wonderful thing), but I definitely think from now I’ll continue to go at night, after at least 7 p.m. This year I also brought along my best friend Alyssa to help me do some of the sampling and rate the various foods that we tried. We didn’t get to everything, but here’s a recap of the foods we did try:

Heid’s of Liverpool (Hotdog)

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If you know anything about classic Syracuse cuisine, you know that Heid’s is always a winner. So much so that, OUT OF ALL THE VENDORS, this was the place Lyss decided to splurge for a full meal. On a hotdog. Keep that in mind.

 Just look at that face, pure joe, amirite?

JJ’s Miss Syracuse Diner (Meatball on a Roll)

Or not on a roll, if you’re trying to conserve your gluten consumption.

Alyssa’s rating: Your average meatball.

My rating: I came from work and I was starving, so at the time it was the best thing to have ever graced my lips. In reality though, I think it was just eh.

Modern Malt (Barney Rubble & Cinnamon French Toast Sticks)

Ohhhh boy let me just tell you about these french toast sticks. I was TOO excited to try these. In LA, there were delicious, funky food creations everywhere. My favorite ice cream sandwich of all time was fruity pebble coated (feat. above), so when I saw Barney Rubble French Toast Sticks on the menu my initial reaction was HELL YES. I was about to be severely disappointed. The french toast sticks by themselves weren’t bad, still nothing to write home about though. But that yellow, syrupy, fruity, nasty concoction of a dipping sauce that came with them was something straight out horror film. I am not exaggerating. I thank God we had some buffalo chicken wing dip at hand to scrub out mouths out with afterward. Sorry, Modern Malt, but for a first impression, this was not a good one. Your food looks pretty but please don’t do this at the expense of taste!

Alyssa’s impression: French toast sticks = tasty but on a scale of 1-10, dipping sauce = -5

(A sequence of the faces made from first bite until my taste buds realized what was happening.)

Wings Over Syracuse (Boneless Wing)

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Alyssa’s rating: Not the best I’ve had.

My rating: Not bad, but could have done better. Lots of sauce options to choose from and as far as sample size goes it was good, but there was barely any sauce on our wings which kind of defeated the purpose of the taste-testing.

Toss ‘n’ Fire Wood-Fired Pizza (Cuse Salt Potato Pizza)

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One word: YUM. Saw this in the article of the $1 sample list earlier in the week and knew this was the one thing I really wanted to try. Potatoes, bread and cheese- my three favorite food groups. Totally worth my stomach hating me later. My only regret is that I didn’t get a bigger slice. Well done Toss ‘n’ Fire, well done. You even had the capability of getting my happy mood back after I had just been so harshly denied by a woman I asked to take a picture. Thank you for that.

Since my fav pizza place in Fayetteville has gone out of business (RIP Great Northern), you may have just landed yourself on my short list.

NY Almond Co. (Frozen Chocolate Bananas)

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Since my excursion to Disneyland a couple months ago, chocolate covered bananas have become my go-to sweet tooth craving. Strawberries used to be my dipping fruit of choice, but now bananas have officially taken the lead.  I like to say I’m a chocolate-covered-banana-connoisseur of sorts, and this one was particularly delicious. I was afraid that our sample was going to consist of a small slice of banana with a tiny smear of chocolate on top, so the fact that they gave us such a large sample also made me pretty happy. Definitely have to say that this was my favorite sample of the festival. Two thumbs up.

Alyssa’s opinion: Too much chocolate, coming from a person who doesn’t like chocolate.

Prime Steak House (Firecracker Shrimp)

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I don’t do shrimp, so I had to just take Alyssa’s opinion on this one. The sample size was pretty small, but she claims it was “AMAZING!!!!” so I’ll take her word for it.

Nathan’s Hotdogs

As if we hadn’t already had enough hotdogs, Nathan’s was giving out FREE samples (okay, so you got about 1/8 of an actual hotdog on a toothpick,but still), so we made sure to stop by and grab a couple of these. It’s hard to mess up a hotdog, so I’m going to go ahead and give them an A+, too.

Other notable vendors include THE PIZZA FRITTE BUILDING, my all-time personal fav. At this point I had already well-overdone my gluten limit for the day, so I had to keep walking past this beauty, as much as it killed me. Just you wait until the fair, pizza fritte, I’m coming for you. Also, props to Rolaids for handing out samples for everyone who overindulged. Smart marketing, I like it.

All together I thought this year’s Taste of Syracuse was pretty typical for what you can expect year after year. In a small city like Syracuse, there are not a lot of new businesses coming in every year, so I think people primarily come to these festivals because they already know their favorites and need something to do on a Friday/Saturday night. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed getting a little bit fatter myself and I’m sure others would agree. Thank you Syracuse for the food, and thank you Lyss for letting me follow you around and take pictures all afternoon!

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