Taste of the Gardens offers flavors of Elkhart

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By: Marshall V. King

George Manousoyianakis makes an Italian beef sandwich at Taste of the Gardens in the Antonio's Italian Ristorante booth at Taste of the Gardens. (Flavor 574 photo/Marshall V. King)

Taste of the Gardens is underway at Wellfield Botanic Gardens in Elkhart.

It’s hot and muggy, but the gardens are beautiful and there’s a big crowd at 1011 N. Main St., Elkhart.

Artists are selling their fine-crafted work. Musicians are playing. Beer from Iechyd Da Brewing Co. is being poured, including Truth Serum. (You can also get bottled beer and wine.)

Many people, including myself, go primarily for the food.

Eighteen restaurants from Elkhart, Goshen, South Bend and Granger are serving small portions of their food.

Well, most places are serving small portions for $2 to $6, but Antonio’s Italian Ristorante is serving a giant sausage or Italian beef sandwich for $4.

The range of dishes is impressive and there’s really no way for one person to try all of them in one afternoon. So at the risk of offending those whose food I didn’t try, here’s what I tasted:

Beef shortribs braised with Iechyd Da porter prepared by Cafe Navarre Bar & Restaurant. Chef Eamonn McParland put tender braised beef with a rich glaze on grits. Nicely done.

Smoked bacon corn dog by Chubby Trout. Flippin’ Cow’s booth was flying through burgers, according to owner Cam Snyder, but the corn dog was pretty good. The event’s menu touted that it’d be pork belly, which might have been better, but if you’re going to eat a corn dog, it may as well have bacon.

Curry chicken and chickpeas with mint-scented rice by Iechyd Da Brewing Co. This was a surprising but good dish from Iechyd Da Brewing Co. Hope to see it again on their special list soon.

Tiramisu mousse by Lucchese’s Italian Restaurant. The dessert from Chef Richie Lutes and his staff was rich, but not overwhelmingly sweet and the ladyfingers were a nice touch.

Taste of the Gardens taco by Mod Mex. This had beef brisket, pickled cabbage and a sauce. I always prefer corn tortillas to the flour one this was served on, but it had a lot of flavor.

Risotto fritter with pesto aioli from Rocky River Tap & Table. Frying a ball of risotto isn’t easy. But this version is good.

There’s a lot more to try at the event. It’s open until 6 p.m., unless severe weather hits. And vendors might start running out of food by around 4 p.m., so if you want to eat, don’t dawdle.

You can get more information, including a map on where to park, in the initial story on Flavor 574.

 

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