Something about the warmer weather seems to provoke a hunger in people – for activity, for laughter and, well, for food. We may not have spent the last three months hibernating, but it sure feels like we have (at least for me).
Luckily, Taste the World Lancaster is stepping in every second Friday of the month to fill that void, and your stomach.
But wait – what is Taste the World Lancaster? Let’s recap: It’s dedicated to showcasing the best food from around the world in Lancastrian backyards. In the cold months, events often consist of special deals at participating restaurants. Who doesn’t like a free appetizer? But it’s in the warmer months that Taste the World Lancaster really shines.
“We started in 2009 with two tours, two in 2010, and one in 2011. In 2013, we began the monthly series of tours (in the warmer months),” says Taste the World mastermind Timm Wenger. “Last year, we sold out all but one of the tours (and only had a handful of tickets left for that one). We have been encouraged by the response and growth over the years. At any given tour, approximately half the attendees are returning, and half are first-time participants.”
And don’t be intimidated by the dishes you’ve never heard of before. Wenger says there’s plenty to keep your palate occupied, and less of a chance you won’t like something.
“Over the years, we have only ever had a few complaints from attendees who didn’t like some of the food. One of the beauties of a sampling tour like this is that participants receive small servings from seven or eight different restaurants, so there is always plenty of variety; attendees aren’t stuck with a whole platter of something they might not like (which might happen with a typical dining experience),” says Wenger. “We often hear from attendees that they have discovered new favorite restaurants because of Taste the World. We also hear from restaurant owners that customers come back after a Taste the World tour and become regulars.”
Every second Friday from April to October, some of the best restaurants in Lancaster team up to offer dishes based off a theme. Participants pay a standard ticket price to sample all of these dishes in a self-guided walking tour of downtown Lancaster. (This year, that ticket price is $17.50, though you can get $2 off if you purchase your tickets more than a month ahead of time.) Participants start at the Hotel Lancaster to pick up their “passport,” which grants them access to all the dishes, and has a map to guide you to participating locations. Don’t dally, though; after 6:30 p.m. on the evening of the tour, all unclaimed passports are up for grabs.
As of press time, the April 8 event is sold out. The theme for 2016’s first walking tour is “Signature Dishes,” which means participants will be able to sample such diverse delights as lemongrass chicken (from Noodle King), stroopies (from Lancaster Sweet Shoppe – think a cinnamon waffle with melt-in-your-mouth caramel), and a gyro rice bowl (from Souvlaki Boys.) Of course, there’s more – check the website for information.
Now, you might be too late to snag a ticket for April, but don’t fret. Here’s a preview of the next three months in Taste the World Fridays to tide you over, via tastetheworldlancaster.com.
Date: May 13
Theme: Picnic Foods
- Arabian Knight: Arabian Salad (chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, in a homemade vinaigrette)
- Catering by Christina (serving at Lancaster City Visitor Center): Latin style slaw (green and red cabbage with carrots, cilantro, oregano, adobo, and vinegar) and Latin style chickpea salad (chickpeas, tomatoes, red and green peppers, red onion, adobo, red wine vinegar)
- Flora’s: Lechon (char rotisserie pork) with arroz con gandulas (rice with pigeon peas)
- Lancaster Sweet Shoppe (home of The Stroopie Co.): Chocolate-dipped stroopies
- La Piazza Italian Restaurant and Sports Bar: Colossal fries (crispy battered French fries)
- Noodle King on Duke: Vietnamese pork eggroll (pork, carrots, onions, taro and angel hair noodles, wrapped in a crispy wheat shell)
- Silantra Asian Street Kitchen: to be determined
- Willie James Soul Food: Bettye Sue southern fried chicken (chicken seasoned in Momma’s own seasoning, hand-breaded, and fried golden brown to perfection)
Noodle King: Since May is ‘Picnic Food,’ we picked the only thing on our menu that could be pre-made to bring along for a picnic! And that is our homemade eggrolls.
Lancaster Sweet Shoppe: Timm Wenger with Taste the World has been a fan of The Stroopie Co. for years. When he heard that we were going to be making our stroopies at the Lancaster Sweet Shoppe, he asked if we would consider being a part of the tour! We were thrilled. We will make fresh warm stroopies, a cinnamon waffle with a homemade caramel in the inside. These treats originated in Holland and were designed to be rewarmed on top of your hot tea or coffee. We also hire refugee women who live in Lancaster to help us make the stroopies.
Date: June 10
Theme: Meat Dishes
- Annie Bailey’s Irish Pub: Shepherds Pie (a traditional preparation of ground beef and lamb with root vegetables topped with mashed potatoes)
- B Peace Cafe (serving at Lancaster City Visitor Center): Yequanta Firfir (spiced beef jerky with Ethiopian bread)
- Flora’s: Pinchos (shish kabob) grilled meat and veggies with pan de agua (bread)
- Himalayan Curry and Grill: Chicken chatpata
- La Piazza Italian Restaurant and Sports Bar: Chicken parmigiana (breaded chicken fillets)
- Spyro Gyros: Kokonisto mousaki (tender roasted veal over spaghetti and topped with cheese)
- Willie James Soul Food: Oxtails (seared and simmered, with special house gravy, served on a bed of hot buttered rice)
Himalayan Curry and Grill: For June, we will be doing chicken chatpata. This is one of best appetizers in our menu. We want to give something different.
Date: July 8
- Annie Bailey’s Irish Pub: Smoked salmon bruschetta (toasted pumpernickel bread with herbed goat cheese and smoked salmon)
- Flora’s: Catch of the day
- Himalayan Curry and Grill: Shrimp biryani
- La Cocina Restaurant: Seafood soup
- La Piazza Italian Restaurant and Sports Bar: Shrimp alfredo
- Spyro Gyros: Fish plaki (mild white fish baked with veggie and tomato, served over rice)
- Willie James Soul Food: Pan-fried fish (lightly seasoned, farm-raised swai fish fried golden brown and crispy, with a touch of love)