Street food: it speaks to something primal in the human condition. There is a feeling of fundamental satisfaction that arises when you get your gums around a skewer of greasy meat. Frequently, the noises you make while enjoying this food are involuntary and down-right animalistic. Street food is comfort food, but it’s also more than that. Taking to the streets gives you the authentic taste of wherever you find yourself. Fresh and local ingredients combine to paint a picture of the culture, and I can think of few festivals that paint this picture better for our town than the annual Taste of Ellicottville.
The Taste of Ellicottville enters its 30th year this August - a huge landmark for any event. The festival has historically featured an array of tents designed to dish out tasty food at a low price. Chamber of Commerce member Chris Chapman describes the festival as “a great way for people to come in and sample all of the quality food that these establishments have to offer.” The Chamber was also excited to announce that the food supplier corporation, Sysco, will be returning as the Presenting Sponsor for this year’s Taste. Chamber Executive Director Brian McFadden had this to say: “As a part of the long-lasting relationship between Sysco and the Ellicottville restaurants, it is always great to have Sysco as a partner of the Taste of Ellicottville. Through Sysco’s continued support, we are able to continue to provide an exceptional experience for one of Ellicottville’s favorite family events.”
This year’s Taste of Ellicottville will take place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16 from noon-4pm both days. Tickets for food can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce tent during the event and will cost $1 each, with most food prices ranging between $1 and $4. People’s Choice Awards will be given out at the end of the event with categories including Best Drink, Best Dessert, and Best Overall. Over 20 participating restaurants promise to roll out some of their fan favorites, as well as some exciting new dishes to keep your taste buds alive.
Bike and Bean, everyone’s favorite place for gears and guacamole, will be featuring their famous burritos as always with all-natural, GMO-free ingredients; these burritos can come with the green chili that is ineffably delicious and spicy. Quesadillas - either chicken or veggie - will provide the other main staple of Bike and Bean’s tent; add a side of blue corn chips and guacamole – yum! All of this clean goodness can be washed down with an organic fruit smoothie or a Blue Sky natural root beer. For the nutritionally-stern, owner Dennis Baldwin noted that there will also be a variety of gluten-free or vegan options available upon request.
Katy’s Café has proven itself as a force to be reckoned with on the Ellicottville Strip. Some of the classics Katy Arena guarantees to roll out this year include pulled pork, grilled eggplant, and their absolutely wonderful blue mushroom soup. New dishes consist of artichoke parmesan and lemon soups, pizza stuffed mushrooms, and refreshing watermelon mint and feta salads. Dessert promises to be decadent this year as Katy unveils an apple whiskey caramel sundae with bacon on top. I’m not usually one for savory elements in my desserts, but this one will be near impossible to pass up.
The Ellicottville Brewing Company has established itself not only as a monolith of great drinks, but great food as well. In addition to the classic pairs-great-with-cold-beer Shepard’s pie, EBC will be dishing up some new instant classics this year. The food has gone East with the introduction of “Bau buns,” a typical Asian street food. These buns are fist-sized nuggets of delight, stuffed with tasty treats like Mahi Mahi, roasted pork, and jalapenos. Another item to look forward to is the creamy and uber-Italian Burrata Mozzarella. If these fail to completely satisfy (something I sincerely doubt), EBC graciously prepares its very own lobster bake at the terminus of the festival. These lobsters will be flown in from Maine and steamed on site, so if you love seafood as much as I do, you won’t want to miss this. (Contact EBC for reservations.)
The Taste lets you realize the full scope of Ellicottville’s diverse culinary scene in one fell swoop. While this article may only spotlight a few restaurants, there are plenty of other great places to sample including Madigan’s, John Harvard’s, The Silver Fox, and Cadillac Jack’s – just to name a few. I know that it’s one of the festivals I look forward to most every year, and this year’s event promises to be even better than the last. So, grab some friends and map out your feast … I guarantee that you won’t leave the Taste disappointed. (Click over to www.ellicottvilleny.com for a complete map and menu of this year’s Taste.)