Taste of Oceanside 2 ~ The Tastening

“Taste of Oceanside” . The Taste of Events have been around for a while and run year around throughout san Diego.

taste

Last year Mainstreet Oceanside brought back the idea of hosting one in Oceanside, they held a small version a few years back but obviously now the downtown restaurant and business scene is more conclusive to this type of event.  I was on the promotions committee for last year’s and involved in concept and planning. The first hurdle was going to the city and the board and ensuring certain concerns were addressed. So last year we brought it back. It was a lot of work and planning. In the end we sold over 500 tickets not including comps.

(Note this year I was just an advisor so all the success goes to The Mainstreet team)

This year the goal was 1000 tickets and while I do not have the numbers yet, I think the event reached that goal. You have to understand the majority of the pre work and event day of work is done by volunteers. The people who are paid, if you broke it down by hour make at best minimum wage. It’s a complex event and takes a lot to pull off.

The main spear head of this event and really any event is Gumaro and behind the scenes guy Rick of Mainstreet.

I think the whole Mainstreet team deserves a lot of respect for executing this event.

Ok, so taste of Oceanside 2015! …I was too Ill to eat anything so I went around and like the UN was an observer. My little sister, though did buy tickets for herself, her husband Dan, and Dan’s Mom…and I think my little awesome nephew Will tagged along too.

So this is her report. Understand when I say my little sister has serious foodie cred. she does. My sister has eaten at some of the best restaurants on the west coast from 1,2.and 3 Michelin starred restaurants to the best hole in the wall places. I know because guess who brought her there a lot of times. When she was in highschool she was eating at Fleur De Lis and meeting Herbert Keller. She has also become a great home cook.

Here is her experience with some pics by me.

First, this is a great event that highlights several local establishments and allows diners to try a variety of dishes & restaurants that they may not have a chance to otherwise. That being said, here’s my review:

So top pick for quality and flavor was Petite Madeline Bakery, they had a soufflé with roasted pork and pie crust circle alongside a pumpkin swirl cheesecake. Both were small but delicious bites packed with flavor. The soufflé was savory and light and the pie crust circle was flakey and not too buttery. The pumpkin cheesecake was delicious. And their service was fast.

Petite

Petite Madeline’s pork and Pie.

Top pick for quantity was Harney Sushi. They offered a variety of 4 maki sushi rolls. One was very spicy, deep-fried and garnished with jalapeno. Other were filled with crab or shrimp tempura and garnished with fresh fish. I’m glad I ate their portion last because it would have stuffed me to the point I would not have been able to try all the other spots.

The one that needed the most work was Masters. I ate here before and food was good but this was a disappointment. They offered a swordfish slider on a sweet (Hawaiian style) roll. First, they were not prepared for the crowd. There was a line of about 8 people and we waited almost 20 minutes for the food. The fish was very smelly and had a strong fish taste (which is a bad thing). It tasted like it had  been sitting out too long. And their bloody mary mix was way too spicy. I know they make their own blend and maybe with vodka and garnishes it may taste good but it was not that great on its own. 

Other spots I tried that were good were Breakwater brewery Mediterranean pizza, Mission Ave Bar & Grill chicken wings, and Maui Wowi Coffee Co. pina colada smoothie, and That Boy Good pulled pork slider. We didn’t make it to all the spots but we did cover good ground.

TBG

The line at TBG

TBG 2

TBG Pork Sliders.

My 2 cents for next year…They need to have the even in one central location, like at the Junior Seau amphitheater. All the vendors in one spot, or a few concentrated areas, works better than trucking it up and down Hill St. on a hot day; especially when some of the locations are over ½ a mile away. Three hours may seem like ample time to visit each location but it’s not, so the event also needs to be longer. Perhaps 5 hours would allow enough time. Also, this year they did have a trolley, but if you utilizing a wheelchair or stroller this was not an option for you, so that was a big disappointment. Also the trolley did not stop at every location; perhaps having bike rickshaws, like they used to have in downtown San Diego, would be an option for next year.

Also, to the business involved. If you are participating in an event that sells 1,000 tickets, you need to be ready and prepared to serve 1,000 people in a relatively quick time. I found that several spots had waits that were way too long. To the point that people were skipping location because they had to wait for food that should have, for the most part, been prepared in advance.

Overall the event was fun and I will go again next year.

Here are some of my pics from the event my sister did not make it to.

LTH

Local Tap House’s ceviche. ~ This was a smart dish. Pre prepared and storable at the right temp until serving. So if you needed 12 servings asap filling the shells and garnishing could be done fast.

SOL BD

Sweet Organic Love offering artisan donuts at Banana Dang! ~ Strawberry, Banana & Chocolate and Green Tea.

BD

Banana Dang! offered organic coffee and their Purple Dang Smoothie.

BLVD

Gyoza at Blvd Chinese Kitchen ~ Another smart choice for the event.

Celeste

Celeste Barbier ~ performing at Harbor Cafe for the event.

Here are my thoughts.

  1. The restaurants that do the best during these events are ones that do catering a lot or serve a dish that is easily replaced to handle crowds.
  2. I feel the event should be spread out , as it was this year, using the individual restaurant store fronts. I think it is a more effective marketing tool, for that restaurant, if someone actually goes to your location rather than a tent.
  3. I also agree with the comments from participating restaurants and brewers I included below.

Feedback from restaurants and brewers.

  1. Volunteers provided to the restaurant should spend some time with the restaurant prior to the event.
  2. Entrance – it seemed as though all guests were funneled through one entrance with their goodie bags and tickets.  This immensely clogged the first few sip stops for the first 20-30 minutes.  Not a huge deal, but might be nice to have people “begin their walk” from different points of downtown, to even out flow especially at the beginning.
  3. “pre-setup.” This would be great! To have product pre-chilled and stationed, would be so helpful!
  4. I thought attendance and engagement were both great!  I felt we definitely gained some great community awareness and new fans, which is all we can hope for.  I would definitely participate again next year.

So, all in all a great successful event, lots of wins, some things to work on.

I think what best sums it up is one of my regulars on Northcountyfood’s facebook page said he went to the event and a number of times while waiting in line over heard people say “I did not know Oceanside had so much going on”

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