WTGW Special Edition – Second Annual Scrumptious Showdown 6/3/17

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OK, so you know how we often go into places and declare we’re ordering ALL THE FOOD because we’re so hungry? Or how many times the guys end up getting two full meals and an appetizer each, which prompts comments from me about the copious amounts of food we have at one table?

Well, I think we finally met our match.

A month or so ago I was contacted by one of the lovely marketing peeps at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets about our team from WTGW being food judges for their Second Annual Scrumptious Showdown – an event at the outdoor shopping center that invites various local food trucks to not only sell food to patrons but also be judged by a panel for the opportunity to win bragging rights and gift cards to Aurora Farms.

So of course we said yes – because, I mean, hello, have you met us? You want us to come out and eat stuff then tell you what we thought of it? Clearly we have no clue how that concept works.

Although I think we can all admit now that, while we know food, the concept we were a little clueless on was food judging. To say we were slightly unprepared for what we were getting ourselves into is like the astronauts of Apollo 13 telling Houston they have a problem. I mean, we obviously like food. But I don’t think in my whole life I have ever eaten so much in one 90 minute time span.

Must. Train. Better. Next. Time.

Anyway.

When we arrived on a beautiful, sunny Saturday we met not only our hosts from Aurora Farms, but also the rest of the judges. They had invited six judges total – all area food and event bloggers – and split us up into two sets of three for the judging so that all of us didn’t have to judge every category. Which at first we were like, wait, why, we got this. Uh, no. See above comment about ill-preparedness. Because about 45 minutes into the competition I realized the organizers were actually really smart people.

So our group had four categories to judge: best wrap, best vegetarian dish, best cold dessert, and best sweet treat. The other group had both the cold and sweet desserts along with us, and then “best between two buns,” which was sandwiches that weren’t wraps.

Everyone knows when you have a clipboard you’re official

At first I kinda thought we got the worse end of that deal – why do they get burgers and sandwiches while we get boring wraps? But in the end I think we lucked out, because not only were the wraps we tried far from boring, but also all of our trucks gave us so much food that we ended up filling several take home containers.

Seriously, So. Much. Food.

That’s right, back off, you ordinary people. Our gluttony will take over this table.

There were six entries in the wraps category alone. Six. Now, granted, it’s not like we had to eat a full wrap from each truck – but you’d be surprised how quickly a few bites of each flour tortilla filled sandwich can fill you up. Especially when what’s on the inside of those tortillas includes things like meats, cheeses (sorry, Ted) and even pasta. Um, OK.

So the six wraps we tried included a BBQ chicken mac & cheese wrap from Wrap It Up, a slow roasted beef and cheese wrap from Hatfield’s Goode Grub, a chicken wrap from Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food, an Open Faced Cuban wrap from Off the GRIDdle, Ahi Tuna Tacos from The Beachcomber Truck, and a gyro from Gyro George.

This is only my corner of the table

The three of us individually scored each item based not only on the taste, but also on things like the uniqueness and presentation. Hatfield’s scored the best on all of our sheets for the wraps – the flavor was out of this world, plus they were the only truck to actually send someone over to talk to us about the dish and how it was prepared, so that definitely scored them points for presentation. They ended up winning the category.

As far as other standouts, the mac and cheese burrito definitely got points for originality. And it should be noted that Ted The Cheese Hater’s first words were “well that cheese isn’t so awful,” which anyone who reads this blog regularly knows to be a compliment. This was also the first item we were presented with after we’d pretty much starved ourselves all morning to be ready for this event, so we had to remember to pace ourselves and not eat the entire thing at once. In the words of a wise person being interviewed by a TV station at a Browns tailgate (i.e.: me), “it’s a marathon not a sprint.”

Hmm, I want mac and cheese … no, I want a buffalo chicken wrap. Let’s put them together!

The Cuban got points for originality, but the meat was slightly dry. The chicken burrito was good, but lacked the uniqueness of some of the other wraps – if you’ve been to Chipotle, you’ve had this item. Ted liked the ahi tuna wrap … but Shane and I thought it lacked flavor. Although I do think mine was missing a lot of the pineapple-y sauce that Ted raved about, so there’s that. And the gyro was very tasty – but, again, it’s not that original (I mean, really, how can you change up a gyro?). But we did appreciate that he gave each of the three of us an entire gyro meal – a sandwich, cheesy fries and baklava – so you now that was going down as dinner later. Thanks, Gyro George. You may not have won the vote, but you won a special place in my stomach for that move.

In the vegetarian category we only had three entries – a stuffed mushroom served in a cute little mini martini glass from Robesto’s Catering, black bean tater tots with a dipping sauce from Off the GRIDdle, and a vegetarian taco from Wrap It Up. The guys were wowed by the mushroom – or maybe just the tiny doll sized martini glasses, it’s hard to say exactly, but they couldn’t stop raving about it. Meanwhile, I was more of a fan of the veggie taco. The sauce on it was so flavorful and a touch spicy without blowing your mouth up. We all thought the tots were super original – and also really good. Personally I would order those in any restaurant. So we were all across the board individually in our scoring, but after the votes were tabulated later it seemed the mushroom in the tiny glass took the prize.

Damn you boys. No more getting wowed by plastic ware. I mean, come on, I didn’t even take a picture of it so it couldn’t be THAT impressive. Sheesh.

So by now you’re probably hungry after reading all that – but we definitely weren’t after eating it. Which means we were absolutely thrilled to find out we still had two categories left to judge. Yay!

And of course it’s my favorite – desserts. Can we please do these FIRST next time? I mean, seriously. I need to leave more room for these things.

This pretty much describes my feeling about desserts

They split the desserts up into two categories: cold, and, well, basically not cold. Personally I think that was just a ploy to get us to walk around a bit more and try to work out a corner of our stomachs for all of the remaining food – but hey, they’ve been smart so far, so I didn’t question them on this either.

For cold desserts there was a turtle sundae from East Coast Custard, iced coffee from Floured Apron, and a cherry chunk custard from Stoddards‘.

I was a fan of the cherry custard – I thought it had good flavor, with just the right amount of chunks in it (that sounds way more disgusting that it meant to, really). A lot of the other judges seemed to like the sundae, but for me there were too many nuts involved. And yes, before you say it, the guys didn’t miss out on the opportunity to joke about that sentence once I made the mistake of letting it fall from my mouth.

But overall in that category it was the iced coffee that won. It was very good, and we did get a nice explanation from the owner about the type of coffee she uses and how it’s brewed. And I have to believe the pink flamingo straw played a big part into presentation.

It’s like having a drink with a friend

I mean, come on. How cute is that?

After we cleansed our palettes with cool treats, it was time for the final category of the day – sweet desserts. At which point the organizers said to us “OK, it’s time for the sweets category, let’s all head over to Jackpot Chicken for our first entry …” Wait, what now? Did you just say “desserts” and “chicken” in the same sentence? That’s like saying let’s go pick out some shoes from Pet Supplies Plus. Hmm.

Turns out they were serving warm apple empanadas. Which were somewhat tasty, although really sticky and difficult to eat until someone chased us down some plastic silverware. Negative points for presentation, thank you very much.

We all also had a laugh when one of the other judges from the other team approached the chicken truck to ask what the shells of the empanadas were mad of, since they were orange and that’s slightly unusual. The answer was this stellar and clearly well rehearsed marketing line: “I don’t know, we buy them frozen.” Genius. Maybe those people should be here showcasing their product instead of you. Just a thought.

After that it was two kinds of cupcakes, a buckeye cupcake from the Sweet Mobile Cupcakery, and a S’mores cupcake from Floured Apron.

Keep ’em coming

While they were both tasty and very well presented (including talks from the owners of both trucks about how the cupcakes are made and why they chose those particular flavors to have us judge), Floured Apron took the majority of the vote to win that category.

Get out the brooms, folks, because that’s a SWEEP for Floured Apron in desserts. Nice job, ladies.

In addition to our judging, people purchasing food from the trucks had the opportunity to place votes for the day’s “Fan Favorite” – which ended up going to Gyro George.

Overall it was a great event. Whoever put the order in for the weather must be better friends with Mother Nature than I am, because we had a picture perfect day to be walking around outside. And regardless of what our stomachs might have to say to us on the subject, we all thought it was fun to be judges. Even as we were unceremoniously stuffing those last bites of cupcake into our mouths, we still realized we were lucky to have been asked to be a part of this fun and interesting event.  Thank you to Aurora Farms for inviting us, and for trusting our sometimes super picky food tastes to judge these trucks and their amazing dishes. We’ll definitely do it again!

That being said, does that give us an excuse to keep ordering ALL THE FOOD so that we can stay “in shape” until next year? I mean, if we tell our doctors we’re “training” for something, that makes the weight we’re sure to gain acceptable, right? 

Do we look full? Because we are.

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WTGW 6/22/16: The Twisted Olive, Green

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Wait, what’s this? A new post? Don’t lie, I know you missed us. And trust me, we’ve missed you. But unfortunately work commitments, travel, and some unexpected health complications kept us from our usual Wednesday night shenanigans these past – wait, WTF, has it really been three straight months now? Holy crap. OK, we’re officially slackers. 

Honestly, we have gotten together on a few Wednesdays these past months – because, you know, we like to eat and drink, and that’s a long time to not leave our houses. But for whatever reason we ended up forsaking new places for the comfort and ease of old favorites like Panini’s or Moe’s. Because sometimes you just need to go someplace close to home where you know you can get cold drinks and good food, and not drive an hour out of your way to take chances.

So basically we just spent three months completely negating the entire premise of this blog. Our bad.

That also means that the wheel has been stuck on Ted’s pick this entire time. And he’s had it in his head that he wanted to choose The Twisted Olive in Green as his next pick. Which is like 30 minutes from our house. And some of those Wednesdays that was just too far to drive after part of the group got out of work late, or weren’t feeling the greatest. As it was we had to go just as a threesome tonight – no Amanda or Jared – because, well, basically in the forseeable future unless the place is close to Amanda’s workplace of Hudson, she probably won’t make it out to meet us with the way her new work schedule is. Boo.

Being an adult is crap, kids. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

So anyway, back to tonight, as the three of us were contemplating driving over to Kent to visit a former pick with a nice patio, I commented that if we were going to go all the way over there, why not drive the same distance and get back to our original plan of trying new places – especially when one of the reasons Ted wanted to visit this one was for the patio?

Point taken.

So that’s the long-winded story of how Shane, Ted and I ended up here tonight. And I have to be honest, the patio was definitely worth the wait.

Although waiting was exactly what we had to do for a patio seat once we got there – but judging from the number of cars we saw in the parking lot on our way in, we actually weren’t overly surprised. I think we were more surprised that the wait was only like 15 minutes. So we sat in the lobby for a few minutes, which gave us time to look around and notice that the place is really huge. And everything decorating it is huge. Huge fireplace. Huge lighting fixtures in the main dining room. Huge patio outside the doors. It’s like the place was decorated by the design firm Giants ‘R Us.

And when we got bored sitting in the lobby (which, let’s be honest, took all of about 2.5 seconds), we followed the huge “BAR” sign with an arrow down the huge curved staircase to get a few drinks to pass the time. Side note, the bar area really could’ve been included on that whole “huge” memo, as it’s a little crowded and difficult to order from when there’s people sitting at most of the seats. Also, the bartender didn’t seem especially helpful or friendly, which is always super fun. But whatevs.

Impressed with the various Bloody Marys on the menu, Shane decided to try the Citrus version. I went with a Mojito – which Ted ordered for me because he just thought the word was fun – and Ted got a beer called Siberian Night, which – surprise, surprise – was the color of, well, complete darkness.

Ted: Yep, I can’t see through it, that’s a good thing.

At least we haven’t changed much these past three months.

We were still working on those drinks when we got a text a few minutes later that our table was ready. And also to close out our bar tabs before returning to the hostess stand. Nice touch.

(And on a side note, thank you to this place for doing away with the annoying buzz-and-light-contraptions that most restaurants use. They always reminded me of that stupid Simon Says light-up memory game from the 80s.)

Anyway, we headed to our table on the patio – which, as I already mentioned, was spectacular. It’s a great atmosphere, and the view is amazing. According to the little story on the menu, the restaurant is situated on a 10-acre nature preserve, and is actually affiliated with Gervasi Vineyards in Canton.

See, I pay attention sometimes.

So, being that we’re predictable folks and haven’t changed our ways in the last three months, care to take a guess at what Shane ordered off the appetizer menu?

If you guessed calamari, you’re correct! Ding, ding, ding!

Perhaps because there were no mussels on the app menu, Ted went way off the predictable path and ordered the Italian flatbread. He requested no olives on it, and the server mentioned that everyone seemed to be requesting it that way this evening.

Ted: Seems odd at a place called The Twisted Olive, no?

Touche.

The calamari was OK. The sauce that came with it – which I’m going to guess from the color involved some portioning of wasabi – had a nice little kick to it. But other than that there was really nothing special or different about the dish to distinguish it from any other place we’ve had it before. And it certainly didn’t appear to be a very generous helping when the plate arrived at the table. I think this was Shane’s first reminder that we were at one of the “fancier” WTGW picks on our list, and presentation would trump portion sizes.

That's like an appetizer for Shane's usual appetizer

That’s like an appetizer for Shane’s usual appetizer

The flatbread was really crispy and really good. I said it was like eating one layer of a mexican pizza. Ted made a comment about the sausage on it that I won’t repeat, nor will I repeat Shane’s comment back – but I’m sure if you’ve read any of our reviews before you can figure out where that’s all headed. Yes, we’re still 15.

This isn't Taco Bell

This isn’t Taco Bell

Perhaps that’s why for the next round of drinks Shane and Ted decided to switch things up and both ordered the “Manly Mary” Bloody Mary – which involved horseradish, tobasco and a bunch of other ingredients that only hinted at how hot it probably was. They were surprised to see it also included a slice of bacon as a garnish as well. Not upset, just surprised. And since Shane was still hungry following the tiny portion of calamari, I can assume he was probably also grateful.

Ted and I both flipped on our original dinner orders and got the Ahi tuna steak that was on special that night. We were both wavering on our decision – we were both intrigued when the server mentioned she had tried it and it was delicious – but Ted’s turning point came when he gave the server his original order of the crab cake sliders, and the server mentioned that you only get two sliders and they were kind of small. You could see Ted’s face fall at that statement. And he quickly changed his mind and went with the Ahi tuna.

Now I had the opposite problem, as I was going to get a pizza, but saw one delivered to the table next to us and that then basically three people ended up sharing it … and realized that would be way too much food for me.

We’re like the Goldilocks of food ordering.

I will say, though, that neither one of us was disappointed in the Ahi tuna. It was tasty, as were the potatoes and bok choi/carrots that came with it. The server had mentioned that it’s always prepared rare, which was delicious. And while it didn’t look like a lot of food on the plate, I was definitely full. Ted said he wasn’t completely full, but he definitely wasn’t hungry either. I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

WTGW gets fancy

WTGW gets fancy

Shane, on the other hand … well, let’s just say that out of any of us at the table, he should’ve ordered the pizza. He actually had thought about it, but then talked himself out of it, as he’d already eaten pizza for dinner two of the last three nights. But if you’ve kept up on this blog you’ll know that really shouldn’t have stopped him, as pizza is one of his favorite foods. I mean, anyone recall the half sheet pizza incident? Right.

But he also loves scallops, and since we don’t often go out on WTGW to places that serve those, he opted for that as his meal. And then was instantly disappointed as soon as his plate was set in front of him. His comment after the server left was that he was waiting for someone else to walk up and bring him his main course instead of the appetizer portion.

We obviously don’t go to fancy places much, folks. Grease and heart attacks on plates are more our style.

Now, he did say that the scallops were good. But just not at all filling. Because you only get like five. He also said they went a little crazy with all the “stuff” on top of the scallops – I don’t know what that “stuff” was, that’s just what he called it. “Stuff.” So basically overall everything was very good, there just wasn’t enough of it. I have to believe he would’ve traded all the “fancy” in exchange for just more basic scallops.

Why is there so much white space on this plate?

Why is there so much white space on this plate?

So I guess the tip is, someone order the pizza. Chances are someone at the table will still be hungry enough to finish it if you can’t. If I would’ve then I probably could’ve given my leftovers to Shane. And he would’ve been happier.

Although the server did mention that if you come for lunch the pizza is cheaper and more sized for one person, so that’s also something to keep in mind. Same pizza, just more manageable for one person (whose name isn’t Shane anyway). Not sure what exactly cheaper means, but the dinner portions are $14-$17, just to give you an idea.

Another tip, eat the bread and butter they bring to the table. Delicious.

Little pockets of heaven

Little pockets of heaven

This was definitely one of our pricier WTGW adventures – but then again this was far from a dive bar with food that comes from a fryer. They do have reasonably priced sandwiches on the menu ($11-$14) and also bottled domestic beers for $3-$5 each – but of course we went all out with mixed drinks, apps, and actual meal choices. I mean, it has been three months, y’all. Come on.

But by comparison, for the price of one of our meals at The Twisted Olive we could’ve gone to The Windsor Pub and gotten three giant burgers, fries and pretty much an entire bottle of rum contained within three mixed drinks. But we also would’ve been sitting in a booth with ripped plastic seats and no windows to look out of. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. Just giving it some perspective.

Anyway, I could definitely see us coming back here for a bottle of wine and apps on the patio, as it’s a great atmosphere for that and we definitely had a wonderful summer night to be out there. Service was great, the food was delicious (if only there was more of it) and the patio is most certainly a huge selling point. We’re definitely glad to be back to WTGW adventures, though, and this was a great way to start … even if we did miss our two other partners in crime …

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks: Mixed drinks were good, and the guys were of course wowed by the various Bloody Mary options. Saw several folks with martinis but I opted not to go down that road.
Food: This is a “fancy” food place – so be prepared for smaller portions that are more about presentation than volume.
Service: Personable, funny and quick – three of our favorite things.
Overall: This is one of those places I could see us going back to for a special occasion dinner, or just to have a glass of wine on the patio on a summer night. As long as we feed Shane elsewhere beforehand.

Next Pick: Shane

The Twisted Olive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato