food and beverage underground

Taste of the Vista

by Nancy Silver
(Columbia, SC)

The first annual Taste of the Vista was held on Saturday, October 4, 2008 using the theme “Viva La Vista” as its slogan. The event was held at the intersection of Lincoln & Gervais Street and included food tastings from over 25 local area restaurants. There was also live entertainment with bands playing throughout the day over 2 stages with a mixture of blues, soft rock, jazz, and bluegrass. And to get into the spirit of the month, there was even a psychic reader where you could get a reading for only a small $5 fee.

I hit the festival early to get a head start on the crowds and it is a good thing I did seeing as how there was only 1 beer tent and only one wine tent. We hit this area first and I was able to try a Michelob ultra pomegranate raspberry beer which was very refreshing on such a hot day and had a surprisingly natural fruit flavor, not artificial tasting at all. I got this bottle for 4 tokens which is the equivalent of $4.

At city tastings like this, you buy tokens at one tent and then purchase your food from the restaurants using these tokens, much like buying tickets for rides at a fair. The tastings at Viva La Vista ranged on average from 2-4 tokens or equivalent to $1 a token. However, most restaurants offered a small sampling of any of their dishes for 1 token.

My husband headed directly to Motor Supply Company for his first tasting which was a beef brisket slider with a chipotle BBQ sauce which was simply delicious. After trying this, it got me in the BBQ mood and I headed for the Carolina Ale House’s No-Knife-Needed baby back ribs which hit the spot.

We then tried the new Blue restaurant’s roasted red pepper hummus and fried green tomatoes, though everything sounded good there. The hummus was great and much easier to eat on the go then the ribs were. The fried green tomatoes I thought were too breaded and also came

with a balsamic vinaigrette reduction that was a good addition to the dish. However, I thought the tomatoes were too thin, causing the breading and sauce to overpower the natural flavor of this appetizer.

I tried the Mack’s Chicken Salad at The Crescent Café but was sadly disappointed. While good in flavor, it was just plain chicken salad, mayonnaise and celery with salt & pepper for flavoring. I prefer my chicken salad with some flair added, like fruits & nuts.

By this time, I was already getting full. I wanted to try one of everything that Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse had to offer because it all sounded so good, but the line was outrageously long. Their dishes consisted of a steak sandwich, sweet potato casserole, and a bread pudding with whiskey sauce. So instead I grabbed a $1 black bean salsa wrap from the more reasonable line at the Vista Grill. Unfortunately, they had run out of this but said they would be back with more in 20 minutes or so.

I took this as a sign; it was time to move onto dessert. I grabbed a miniature chocolate chip cannoli from ¬¬¬Paul’s Philadelphia Eatery, then headed back to The Crescent Café to sample some fudge. I chose a new flavor called pancake, which had a maple syrup flavor, and tried a square of banana nut fudge. What a sweet way to end the Taste of the Vista.

Overall, I would say the first Taste of the Vista was a huge success. I thought I knew the Vista pretty well, but even I was introduced to some new restaurant names. I do think they were a little under prepared however, since the beer tent line ended up going down Gervais St. Next year have at least one if not two more beer tents please and maybe add a tent or two with empty tables so people have a place to sit down and enjoy their delicious food and the entertainment. Unfortunately, Viva La Vista is a one day event so look for it next year, come early and come hungry.

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Return to Nancy Eugenio Silver .

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