This year, the food festival-of-the-year in Stark County expanded to two full days, and even the often-elusive spring sunshine of Northeast Ohio showed up for the party. Taste of Canton, spanning from Wednesday May 23rd to Thursday May 24th brought warm temps, crowds, and legendary local eats under one very large (and shaded) tent. Held on the lovely green space in downtown Canton, it was once again an event not to be missed by foodies, festival lovers, people watchers, and anyone who loves the downtown Canton scene. Armed with a fist-full of “funny money” (purchased in advance at Fishers Foods for a $5 savings) we tromped all over the tent, inside and out, searching out the best eats, cold beer, and familiar faces.
Participating restaurants tempted hungry patrons with a variety of small plates, ranging from “street eats” to fine-dining favorites. Of course there were tried-and-true staples like Benders, offering a tantalizing assortment of seafood, including crab cakes with Creole aioli and grilled sea scallops over creamy polenta, as well as a beet salad and their famous Bender’s tomatoes. Then the BBQ giants, Old Carolina and Two Fat Guys brought their finest carnivorous fare; after all, what’s an outdoor food festival without barbeque ribs and pulled pork sliders?! But there were also some new players joining the party, like Rude Dawgs, who occupied their own food-truck style cart outside the main tent, offering a broad selection of dogs, fries, soft pretzels, chili, and combinations all of the above, all for $2 or $3. Also making their debut was Tozzi’s Downtown, serving up a smorgasbord of pasta and Italian favorites, including some very tasty meatballs swimming in their own signature marinara sauce.
With an assortment of beer and wine to accompany your palate-pleasing samples of choice, some great bands playing the stage outside, and an array of tables and endless grass inviting you to sit, relax, and savor, it’s no wonder why TOC outgrew its humble one-day-only beginnings. If you’re reading this and all the while kicking yourself for missing the fun, gear up for next year by liking the TOC facebook page, which will keep you informed months in advance, so you can plan better for 2013. Meanwhile, I will continue to daydream about my favorite bites this year: Benders polenta, the signature namesake “Rude Dawg” – (check the menu for the deets on this one), and another year of homemade orange-pineapple ice cream nirvana from Almost Heaven. Apart from being THE place to find out what’s happening in the Canton food scene, Taste of Canton also marks the kick-off to a host of great summer festivals, one of my favorite parts of summertime in Ohio. Cheers to another great year!