Art is Food event

By Candace Nelson - 8:00 AM

I had mentioned Art is Food in a previous post. Art is Food was a new Fall Family Weekend event in Morgantown this year, which was in coordination with the Arts Walk. It was held Friday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

I had bought my tickets online; I didn't really know if there would be an option to buy them in person. But one perk to buying them online was that the first 300 people got "Downtown Dollars," which was $10 to spend at a number of selected businesses downtown. That's pretty cool! After we got our wristbands, we selected a table right smack dab in the center of the action.

It was located at the new Farmers' Market pavilion, and we arrived about 10 minutes early, so we were one of the first people there. In the center was a ton of tables with black and white tableclothes and autumn flower centerpieces, and on the left side were three restaurant tables and on the right were three restaurant tables. In front was a stack of trays and utensils. At the back of the pavilion was a band playing. It was really a pretty nice setup.

We realized as more people started to filter in that we could just walk up to the tables and begin our adventure. Our trays had four portions, so we hit up the three tables on the left that were closest to us: Golden Finch, Mother India and Black Bear Burritos.

Golden Finch was still kind of setting up when we arrived, so they had a salad and a slab of meat: The salad was basically tomato and lettuce (later on, they added potatoes, etc.). They had a few options for dressing and a slab of meat with a side of horseradish sauce. The sauces were very good; I just wish there was a little more here! Golden Finch is one of my favorites for desserts - too bad they didn't bring any along with them. Their creme brulee is to die for.

Next in line was Mother India. They had a tray of basmati rice, chicken tikka masala, vegetable pakoras and naan bread. This was a nice little sampling of what their buffet is like, and these are their top-sellers - for good reason! They're all fantastic, with great, delicious flavors. Their chicken tikka masala is my favorite dish, as it's slightly sweet, slightly spicy and creamy. The pakoras are also one of my favorites - that fried crunchy, salty taste is divine with the creaminess of the entree. The friend I was with, who hadn't tried any of these restaurants, deemed this the best. She never even had Indian food before! So, they definitely sold her on it, and she's using her $10 Downtown Dollars to go there.

Black Bear Burritos was the final restaurant table on the left side. As one of the most favorite restaurants in town, I was interested to see what Black Bear would choose as their flagship burrito to represent themselves at this event. Instead of one of their trademarks, they chose to display their special that week - the Darkwing Duck. It was a small stroller inspired by autumn - in their words. It was a bed of romaine lettuce and spring mix, roasted golden corn and cooked red onion. A cinnamon-brown sugar cream cheese is added with crunchy walnuts and your choice of succulent slow-roasted duck confit or local tofu. They also had a pumpkin/squash soup that went perfectly with the burrito. The flavors are a bit more complex than your typical burrito, but I loved it, especially when the cream cheese mixed with the duck confit. Creative and fabulous!

So after stopping at these three places, my tray was full. We took it back to our table to dig in. I think my favorite was Black Bear, because it was new and different. Then Mother India, because that's one of my classic faves. Then Golden Finch because there wasn't much standing out here, but regardless, it was still tasty!

I headed back for a new tray and set of utensils before hitting up the right side of the pavilion where Oliverio's Restaurant, The Cupcakerie, and the Morgantown Brewing Company were set up.

Oliverio's brought two pastas to choose from - or to sample both - as well as a small hot crab dip. There was a penne pasta in their pink cream sauce (my favorite!) as well as a grilled chicken penne olio, with hazelnuts. These were all amazing - the crab dip was creamy and in a flaky, crunchy shell. The pasta sauces were killer, as always. Indulgent.

The Cupcakerie was next in line. They had a ton of mini cupcakes in: pumpkin pie, loco cocoa, p'nutty for chocolate, mountain mama apple butter, red carpet red velvet, 24 karat cake. I would've loved to try all of them, but two was what they were willing to dish out. So I went for the p'nutty for chocolate and the red carpet red velvet. The p'nutty for chocolate was a moist chocolate cake, with a peanut butter cup in the center, topped with peanut butter icing and shaved chocolate. The red velvet was a decadent red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. I don't even need to use words here: YUMMMMMM.

Morgantown Brewing Company was the last of the six restaurants. My friend was surprised to find they had food and weren't just a bar (so, smart on their part to be part of this event!). They first handed us a small pretzel, and the woman said it would be great with the beer-cheese soup. Yum! They also gave us a small bratwurst. Very German. And they were right - that pretzel went perfectly with the beer-cheese soup. I think I could drink that soup; it was so delicious. What would've been even better was if they would've brought some Alpha Blonde along with them.

But overall, it was such a great experience. My friend, who is a freshman, was able to try six completely new restaurants in one place. We even got the $10 worth of Downtown Dollars, so it was really only like paying $5 for the event - well worth it! And the $10 is encouraging folks to spend some money downtown. It's a great incentive and a great way to showcase what downtown has to offer. I'm hoping to spend mine soon! It looked as though they had a great turnout, so I hope they continue to do it in the future.

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