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Bite of Bend 2008

Bite of Bend 2008

I was able to attend the Bite of Bend 2008 for a little bit before the rains came on Saturday and I made it back on Sunday for a few hours. I was impressed with the improvement from this year's layout compared to last year. I was also pleased to see more restaurants dishing out their goods as well as offering a few tasters for only a buck.

There are still some improvements that I'd like to see implemented. While the list of restaurants is increasing, I really would like to see more restaurants and maybe some rules around what they offer. I talked to a couple restaurant owners and apparently for most restaurants, it's not profitable. Why wouldn't Lay it Out Inc (the company that runs the Bite) let restaurants come in for free. The main focus of the Bite should be food from restaurants. Make the catering companies and taco trucks pay extra for entrance into the fair.

All the restaurants should offer tasters for a minimum fee and should not have an item/dish over $5. This way we can afford to get a bite from a variety of restaurants that we normally would not visit or have not had a chance to visit. I tried a bunch of different items from the places that offered $1 tasters. But Taste of Thailand (or Thai on the Fly) was serving up HUGE portions starting at $7. If you got one of those, you wouldn't be tasting anything else for the rest of the day.

Chicken tamale and the chili verde from El Burrito - FANTASTIC!

I recommended to my friends that I bumped into that they go give the chili verde a try.

Crab cakes from the Blue Olive and right next to them was a Chef's Association tent (I forget the actual name) and they were dishing out shrimp cocktail for a buck. The crab cakes were soggy due to all the salsa on top which you can see from the one on the right. The wife liked the crab cakes but I didn't care for them. The shrimp in the shrimp cocktail was still frozen making them taste like one of the worst icicles ever.

Lobster chimichanga and the portobello chimichanga from Hola - AMAZING!
If I only had $3.50 to spend, I would spend it on the Lobster and Prawn chimichanga from Hola.

One of the only downtown restaurants to have a booth was Typhoon offering phad thai and chicken satay. For $1 you get one skewer and for $2 you get 3. The chicken satay and peanut sauce were really good but small.

The army of Stilt walkers were out if full force as usual but I sort of missed the poodles like last year.

The Iron Chef Competition still needs improvement but the new MC did a very good job keeping the audience captive even though no one could see anything. I liked that they brought one of the dishes into the crowd so everyone could see what the judges got to taste. Please, will someone hook up a couple of monitors so the audience can see what the chefs are doing? Dave has a pretty good idea of taking the stage down and having bleachers so the audience can view what the chefs are preparing. I still want to see tv screens next year.

And where are the results? Who won? I have heard that the Fireside Red has claimed this years Iron Chef competition but no one has the results posted yet. Congrats to Fireside Red.

I'll partially retract my earlier comments of the upcoming disappointment. While there is room for improvement, this was by far the best Bite of Bend so far.

Early Comments:

The Bite of Bend 2008 is set for Saturday and Sunday June 21st and 22nd in Downtown Bend. There is info about the Iron Chef Competition posted online by AdHoc and HackBend. The Source has published the official EVENT guide to the Bite (though it is only available in this week's insert instead of online) and of course the official Bite of Bend website is available.

What sucks for me is that NO ONE has a list of the actual food that will be present at the Bite of Bend. I mean, isn't that what the Bite is supposed to be about? I would LOVE to see all the restaurants have a booth with samples of their trademark dishes. Might as well let the neighborhood kids set up a lemonade stand and sell homemade cookies. I'm half expecting to see a Girl Scouts booth. Mmmm thin mints!

Last year I expected to see more restaurants but when I arrived, the food was not the top priority. Instead there were mostly caterers and taco trailers. Pretty much the same participants as munch and music/movies. I guess it makes sense to have these people show up as they are already prepared to serve food on the go with their trailers and portable BBQ grills and all. But I would really like to see more restaurants this year.

Just call this the Iron Chef of Bend instead of the Bite and I'll be happy. The Iron Chef competition was a disaster for me as a attendee. I couldn't see anything, didn't get to sample anything, and the MC annoyed the piss out of me. This year it appears that they have swapped out the MC and have actual foodies on the Judges panel.

Look for my review/rant/disappointment next week.

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1What? Got something to say?

Blogger Eliz said...

I hadn't been to Bite of Bend before, but was surprised at how few restaurants participated. I had a good time and really liked Typhoon's Pad Thai. I was disappointed to not be able to see the Iron Chefs preparation area, so I declined to watch. I agree we need more restaurants represented!

June 25, 2008  

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