Every year the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum hosts this fundraiser designed especially for people who like to eat. Like me. This was only my second year to attend, but wow, I wished I’d brought a couple of extra stomachs.
The TASTE features a lineup of nearly 20 local restaurants and caterers bringing their A-game to the study grounds. For very reasonable prices, you can buy little (and not so little) samples of fabulous foods. And by “reasonable,” I mean nothing costs more than $4, lots of items are $1, and many of those big-ticket items could be meals in themselves, if you didn’t need to save room to sample everything else.
Oh, wait, you’re not familiar with Lew Wallace? In short, he was a Civil War general (Union), the governor of Arizona territory who corresponded with Billy the Kid, the US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire of Turkey, the military judge for the trials of the Lincoln assassination conspirators and the infamous Andersonville POW camp commander, and the guy who wrote Ben-Hur and made novels a respectable pastime in Victorian society.
Lesser known but also true, he was an artist, an inventor, and a “non-traditional learner” — meaning he played a lot of hooky, took a lot of beatings, and finally found his education outside of a schoolroom.
He lived in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he built a lovely little “study” (read, “1800s man cave”) which remains today as a museum.
But, back to the TASTE.
I volunteered this year, pulling easy duty checking IDs for the alcohol area. Then I was turned loose on the food tents, primed by watching everyone’s plates go by.
I certainly didn’t get to try all that I wanted — the creamy lamb curry from The Juniper Spoon looked amazing, but I simply ran out of time with the storm (more on that in a minute). But my personal favorites were the bison slider and fries from Barefoot Burger, the melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket sliders from Novell’s BBQ, and the maple-bacon glazed donut from K&K cafe. And the kind gentleman from Hawg Wild BBQ brought a plate of delicious smoked pork to a couple of volunteers whose post put us in BBQ-sniffing range, making us drool with every breath! What a hero!
The most unusual offering I saw this year was The General Store’s Pumpkin Praline Nachos. Don’t laugh, these were quite inventive and tasty.
The weather started bright and cheery, but a storm blew in mid-afternoon. The rain started as just rain, which wasn’t much of a concern — Him & Her were on the stage at the time (did I mention there’s a variety of music, too?), and they rolled smoothly on to covers of Adele’s “I Set Fire to the Rain” and Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”.
But then the storm got serious, and the TASTE had to be cleared for safety. Many people sheltered locally, but I hit the road at that point, as I wanted to make it to the Historic Artcraft Theater in Franklin for The Blues Brothers (with a theme car and live blues before the show, because I know how to do Indiana). The rain was the kind that made the car just ahead on the road nearly invisible, with plenty of retina-scorching lightning, so it was probably good that the TASTE was cleared.
I hear, though, that the TASTE made a spirited recovery for the dinner crowd, which is good. Anyone who stayed home because of the weather certainly missed out on some amazing foods. Mark your calendars for next year!
As I said, I know how to do Indiana, and so it’s only my duty to share this: the Historic Artcraft Theater, a restored 1920s vaudeville house with the best gorram popcorn served in a theater, will be showing the 1925 Lon Chaney silent film The Phantom of the Opera on Sept 6, 2014. But it’s not just a film, it will have live organ accompaniment, live orchestra accompaniment, live opera singing, and — oh, yes — a live professional screamer.
Tickets are just $17 in advance, $22 at the door (if available). Plan early.