Food Observations

A blog for eaters

2nd Annual Taste of Ramona

The 2nd Annual Taste of Ramona last weekend was a tremendous event.  If you didn’t make it, be sure to look out for it next year.  19 Ramona restaurants participated and I was able to make to about 10 of them.  After #3 I was feeling quite bloated.  All of the participating restaurants did a great job featuring samplings of some of their signature dishes.  Several places offered a more informal stand-up buffet style tasting while others went all out and featured full table service.
I worked my way from west to east, starting at Boll Weevil.  One of my favorite restaurants in town, The Weev had a comprehensive spread going on.  Porky Burger; Peanut Butter Bacon Burger with jelly ( strawberry or grape); milkshakes; onion rings and corn nuggets with their famous Boll Weevil Sauce; and the highlight for me – draft beer samples from BNS Brewing.   What a great way to start the event!
Pinto Thai put on a very classy experience.  Reserved tables with a full sit-down service sampling.  It included an excellent Thai iced tea that I’ve never tried before; a cheesy crab wonton; potsticker; pineapple fried rice chicken and a an outstanding pork curry dish.  The curry was a standout.  This was Massaman style and I’ve had Panang there in the past, both outstanding. Very flavorful and certainly epitomizes comfort food, Asian style.
D’Carlos was most impressive with a full page, three course menu.  Included a starter choice; entree; and dessert.  I had the salad with outstanding housemade blue cheese dressing; prime rib dip with a very good creamy horseradish; and I couldn’t resist their signature dessert, chocolate eclair.  I’ve lived up here for about 14 years and have always heard about the eclair, but never tried it.  So glad I did, will be going back soon just for this!
Mamma Rosa featured a tasty pesto chicken pizza and ravioli dish along with a tiramisu dessert.  This pizza would be perfect for someone that can’t eat red sauce.  I enjoyed it very much.  Mamma Rosa’s has always been known in town for serving some big league pizzas so I was glad it was featured in their sampling.
Pete’s BBQ & Burgers was a remarkable standout for me.  Last time I was in here the dining area was fairly depressing.  Gone are the ghetto, prison cafeteria style tables.  Now there is a whole section of tasteful, new, square 4-top tables with comfortable chairs.  All bordered by a classy railing.  Makes it feel very much like a bistro.  Pete’s offering was a BBQ pulled pork slider.  It was outstanding!  I could have just stayed here all day and eaten a bunch of these.
The Main Course had a comparatively more subdued and conservative offering.  Crostini topped with some sort of sliced beef and caramelized onion substance.  Tasted like it had been sitting out a while.  They had a small table set up right inside the main entrance where you put your crostini on a napkin and suddenly feel like you need to excuse yourself from the premises.  Didn’t seem like they were overly welcoming and expecting you to sit and stay a while.
Packards offered a sampling of their signature crepes with fresh cut strawberries.  I’ve heard about these great crepes for years but never tried any.  This sample was such a treat.  Thin, delicate and supple.  I can’t wait to go back for a full serving!  They also had an iced coffee that was exceptionally good.
One of my favorite taco shops in town, La Cocina had a big chafing dish of their excellent flautas.  Both beef and chicken, with a side of chips, salsas, guacamole, etc.  These were big, fatty, meaty and very tasty.  Some of the best flautas I’ve had in Ramona, that I can tell you!
I stopped in at Marinade on Main and clearly my timing was not good.  The place was packed!  Standing room only.  I wound up leaving, but will be back soon to try some of their slow cooked beef short ribs and bacon wrapped meatloaf.  This should be a testament on how popular this great, new restaurant is!
My final stop was out in the San Diego Country Estates and the regal Oaks Gille restaurant.  They actually had their Taste of Ramona spread setup in The Par Lounge which is just fine with me. They offered a Jalapeño Hummus that made for a good picture but I didn’t try it.  Hummus does not touch these lips!  There was also a big dish of Green Bean Crispers that were very good.  Held up well in the culinary suspension of the hotel pan/chafing dish.  Crispy, hot and perfect with their savory dipping sauces.
When all was said and done I finished at The Par Lounge bar for a cold draft beer and to go online to shop for maternity pants.  Seriously, I was horribly abdominally distended after this 2nd Annual Taste of Ramona!  But it was worth it.  I would have loved to have made it to all 19 participating restaurants, but I did not have my stomach pump with me.  I’m definitely looking forward to a 3rd Annual Taste of Ramona next year.  If you have’t been, do yourself a favor and come out next year.  You won’t be disappointed and might even find a new favorite restaurant here in town!


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