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By Ginny Tonkin GoErie.com staff blogger
Ginny Tonkin loves traveling off the beaten path, learning about new cultures through food, and everything outdoors. She recently spent eight months teaching English in Vietnam, and loves swapping travel stories.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-464-5589

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Posts tagged "food"
Posted: September 14th, 2011


Ten years ago, Dan Crandall was setting up for the 5th Annual Taste of Meadville. The earlier events of the day September 11, 2001, had been weighing on him and other organizers. Would they still hold Taste of Meadville?

“It was a pretty tough day, we had just started learning about all the bad things that had been going on, the planes crashing,” said Crandall. As a group, the committee decided the Taste of Meadville would go on.

“As Americans it was incumbent on us to continue on and go forward I think if you let terrorists change the way you live and the way you feel about america, then they win,” he said. “We decided to do it, just maybe as an escape for the people who had been going through the terrible things of that day.

Before the official start of this year’s Taste of Meadville, ten years later, the Taste of Meadville committee held a small prayer ceremony “to keep it fresh in our minds and not to forget.”

“Even though it’s a nice, happy event, that was kind of a solemn moment,” said Crandall.

The HHC 1st Battalion from the Cambridge Springs Stryker Unit presented the colors and MASHapella from Meadville Area High School commemorated the occasion with song.

For more photos from the 15th Annual Taste of Meadville, check out our photo gallery. For more Crawford County events, follow @GoCrawfordCty on Twitter.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: September 13th, 2011
I'm not sure if I can tackle an entire pizza by myself, but I'll see what I can handle at the Taste of Meadville tonight.

I'm not sure if I can tackle an entire pizza by myself, but I'll see what I can handle at the Taste of Meadville tonight.

Tonight, I’m gearing up for my first Taste of Meadville.

The fifteen-year-old event showcases 30 different local food establishments at the Meadville Market House in Meadville from 5-8 tonight. For $25, ticket-holders can sample, buffet style, as much as they want of the signature dish presented by each group.

“Go all the way around and see all what’s available,” suggests Market Master Alice Sjolander. “Prioritize–there’s a lot of food!”

“You do what it says, you taste a little bit of Meadville at every table,” said Megan Pratt, Assistant Manager to Montana Rib & Chop House on Highlnad Drive in Meadville. This year, the Chop House is offering a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo as its signature dish.

The Montana Rib & Chop House was new last year to Taste of Meadville, and Pratt said she’s looking forward to interacting with the community.

“Without the people of Meadville, we wouldn’t have the establishment we do,” said Pratt. “It’s our way of giving back to the community.”

Proceeds from Taste of Meadville go to support the Market House, a lynch pin of the downtown Meadville community, that’s been operating since 1870.

Tickets were still on sale when I last checked, but the Market House suggests buying or reserving them ahead of time. Call the Market House for more information at 814-336-2056. Find them on Facebook.

Are you planning on going? Have you been before? It’s my first time, so I’d love any suggestions or tips on how to do this Meadville tradition right. Comment below or follow me on Twitter @GoCrawfordCTY. Check back for Taste of Meadville pictures.

If you’re going, we’d love to see your photos, too. Post them in our community album, just click on “submit photos.”

The event runs from 5-8 tonight at 910 Market Street in Meadville.

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: August 27th, 2011

State and County fairs are infamous for their eclectic food offerings. A week’s worth of food for a week at the Crawford County Fair.

What: Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake at General Store Concessions

Description: “It tastes like a Reese’s cup shake,” said server Brittany Sala. Blend chocolate soft serve, two big spoonfuls of Peter Pan peanut butter, and milk for a shake so thick, sipping through a straw is a challenge.

Testimonial: “They’re wicked good,” said Andrew Hooghkirk, “dough man” and pizza chef at Campi’s Pizza, the adjacent stand. “Who wants a shake that’s just ‘good?’ I have a different flavor (of milkshake) every day.”

I admitted yesterday that I was a huge ice cream fan, and when I heard the words “peanut butter chocolate milkshake,” it was too good to pass up.

A steak sandwich is one of the popular food items at General Store Concessions, although I opted for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake.

A steak sandwich is one of the popular food items at General Store Concessions, although I opted for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake.

General Store Concessions is run by Ron and Janice Sala of Erie, who run the General Store on Sterrettania Road. They take their stand on the road, gaining a following with their unique fair food. Their steak sandwich has made a fan out of Hooghkirk, who got his sandwich, as I was eating my milkshake.

“It’s got the right mixture of everything, steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms, white American cheese, and a little sprinkle of cheddar on top,” said Hooghkirk.

Brittany, daughter of Ron and Janice, said she invented their best selling milkshake flavor. The Chocolate Peanut Butter combo also brought fans from another concession stand. Over from Parker’s, a stand specializing in over-topped fries, Gary Lee and Rhos Tolle ordered two of the famed shakes.

“It tastes like real peanut butter, so it’s real good,” said Tolle.

Cost: I walked away with this one for free.

Verdict: This creamy mixture did have that Reese’s taste, but it was a little too thick to be sipped out of a straw. I love thick shakes, so I happily ate the Peanut Butter Chocolate Milkshake with a spoon. Try any of their other milkshake flavors or slushie combinations.

***

I’ve upedated our Crawford County Fair Food gallery, check out photos of Campi’s Pizza’s Andrew Hooghkirk making that delicious crust.
If you have any food photos, submit your own at GoCrawfordCounty.com.

Have a favorite fair food? Let me know, so I can try it, too!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: August 26th, 2011
The Dairy Committee does not slack on serving size.

The Dairy Committee does not slack on serving size.

State and County fairs are infamous for their eclectic food offerings. A week’s worth of food for a week at the Crawford County Fair.

What: Dairy Committee ice cream

Description: This sweet treat has become tradition for many families and visitors of the fair. Thick, creamy milk from Crawford County cows is churned to create smooth, delicious soft serve ice cream.

Testimonial: “Best ice cream ever,” said Cathy Cummings of McCain. “I’m on a diet, and this is blowing it.”

While deciding what I should order, I saw people walking away with what looked like a foot of soft serve on their cone–the Committee doesn’t slack on serving size. I made sure I got the small, and ordered the most popular, the twist.

“I think people get the twist, because they can’t decide,” said Trish Sweatman, who started working as a window girl at the stand in 1996.

Sweatman, of Venango, is now Manager of the Dairy Committee stand during the fair. ”Whole reason I got started was because I was involved with dairy 4-H,” Sweatman said. “Now I just love it. We all make it a good time back there.”

I was happy to try their small twist--the Committee's most popular seller.

I was happy to try their small twist--the Committee's most popular seller.

Proceeds from ice cream sales go towards supporting the Dairy Committee throughout the year. This year, the funds went towards the construction to help fiance the new dairy barn at the fair.

Cost: $1.75 for my small twist cone.

Verdict: I am admittedly an ice cream fanatic, and soft serve is generally not the first scoop I’d reach for. However, Dairy Committee ice cream is some of the richest, creamiest soft serve I’ve tasted and earns my stamp of approval. This is definitely one Crawford County Fair food experience you won’t want to miss.

***

Check out our Crawford County Fair Food gallery for more photos, and submit your own at GoCrawfordCounty.com.

Have a favorite fair food? Let me know, so I can try it, too!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: August 25th, 2011
My Vlahos veggie gyro.

My Vlahos veggie gyro.

State and County fairs are infamous for their eclectic food offerings. A week’s worth of food for a week at the Crawford County Fair.

What: Greek gyros from Vlahos

Description: An original gyro is a combination of beef and lamb served on soft, warm pita bread. This pita is then loaded with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and of course tzataziki, cucumber sauce.

Testimonial: “All I came to the fair for,” said the person just behind me in line at the Vlahos Original Greek Concession stand.

The Vlahos stand is family owned and operated by the Vlahos, a Greek family from North East Ohio. ”He has a following,” said daughter Eleana Vlahos, “He’s like a rock band, he’s got groupies.”

The Vlahos Original Greek Concession stand, complete with groupies.

The Vlahos Original Greek Concession stand, complete with groupies.

People from around the region follow where the stand will set up shop next. However, John, the ‘original’ Vlahos himself, schools people on what they’re really ordering. Signs above the counter phonetically sound out the name, “yee-ros.”

“Can I order an original ‘JI-row’?” a customer asked.

“We don’t have any ‘JI-rows.’ You can order an original gyro,” he said with a smile.

“Whatever it is, I just want an original,” they reply.

That’s right, if you’ve been pronouncing this Mediterranean dish “JI-row,” you’ve wrong. But if you visit John Vlahos, he’ll set you straight. “Yee-ros.”

This vegetarian had a My Big Fat Greek Wedding moment after he was done serving the other customers. I had returned to the stand after enjoying my veggie gyro, and he asked if I’d gotten a gyro yet. After I assured him I’d loved my veggie gyro, he repeated himself. Like they said in the movie, “It’s ok, I make lamb.”

Ever wondered? Here's your answer.

Ever wondered? Here's your answer.

Cost: $5, but John Vlahos served me a piece of mouthwatering baklava and a bottle of water for free.

Verdict: A huge fan of any Mediterranean style cooking, I was impressed that the shop had a veggie offering. And what a handful it was: the pita was heaped with all the goodies–minus the meat, just the way I like it. A filling snack that isn’t covered in grease, a rare Crawford County Fair treat.

***

Check out our Crawford County Fair Food gallery for more photos, and submit your own at GoCrawfordCounty.com.

Have a favorite fair food? Let me know, so I can try it, too!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: August 24th, 2011
Trying a deep fried Snickers at the Crawford County Fair.

Trying a deep fried Snickers at the Crawford County Fair.

State and County fairs are infamous for their eclectic food offerings. A week’s worth of food for a week at the Crawford County Fair.

What: Deep fried Snickers

Description: Poke a serving stick through a Snickers bar. Dip it in funnel cake batter. Deep fry the candy bar. Cover with a heavy coat of powered sugar so that the consumer looks like a winning Charlie Sheen.

It seems that deep frying anything is the name of the game at America’s State and Country fairs. The most bizarre deep fried subject? The winner goes to the Indiana State Fair, where you can get deep fried butter.

I figured to stick to a healthier route, and tried the Snickers, which I’d seen Paula Dean create on the Food Network. By the end of this fair, I would like to sample more of this deep fried list, that is if I can fit into my pants at the end of this food tour.

Testimonial: ”The Oreos are the most popular so far,” said server Tierra Brewer of Meadville, “but the Snickers are catching on.” This 18-year-old has just recently started working the booth, but she suggests the Oreos.

6 ways to try some deep fried cookin' at the Crawford County Fair.

6 ways to try some deep fried cookin' at the Crawford County Fair.

Cost: $5, but I got mine for $4.

Verdict: With all the hype about deep fried fair food, I was hoping this Fair Food would be a little more rewarding. It wasn’t. The funnel cake batter was soggy, and the center wasn’t all melted, like Paula Dean promised mine would be, if I made deep fried candy bars within the privacy of my own home kitchen. Maybe next time, I’ll follow Paula’s advice. Or maybe, I’ll just try the Oreos. Or the Reese’s. Ooh, Reese’s…

***

Check out our Crawford County Fair Food gallery for more photos, and submit your own at GoCrawfordCounty.com.

Have a favorite fair food? Let me know, so I can try it, too!

Posted in: Crawford County
Posted: August 24th, 2011
Campi's fresh pizzas, sliced and ready to be served.

Campi's fresh pizzas, sliced and ready to be served.

State and County fairs are infamous for the eclectic food offerings. A week’s worth of food for a week at the Crawford County Fair. 

What: Campi’s Pizza

Description: Eating a Campi’s slice of pizza is like attacking an inflated Chicago deep dish slice–it’s so big, you don’t know where to start. The shop based in Dunkirk, NY, comes to the Crawford County Fair, because it’s a huge money maker for them.

Campi’s offers slices in Cheese, Cheese and Pepperoni, Veggie, Supreme, and Sausage. A vegetarian, I chose the veggie. This slice was loaded with broccoli, tomato, peppers, and onions, but not so much as to overwhelm the serving. Not that this pizza colossus would ever feel overwhelmed.

Testimonial: “It’s a meal in itself,” says Beth Knoedler of Saegartown.

A Campi’s sever says that Cheese has been the most popular at the Crawford County Fair, but normally at other fairs, the most popular prize goes to Cheese and Pepperoni. Which would you choose?

Cost: $5

Verdict: I would get this Fair Food again, but split the giant serving with a friend. It’s filling and fresh, just the way food ought to be.

***

Check out our Crawford County Fair Food gallery for more photos, and submit your own at GoCrawfordCounty.com.

Have a favorite fair food? Let me know, so I can try it, too!

Posted in: Crawford County

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