Flavors of Manchester
Fifth annual Taste event is biggest ever
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
An event local foodies and shoppers wait for all year, the fifth annual Taste of Downtown Manchester will be held Wednesday, Sept. 10.
That evening area restaurants will bring some of their best dishes to downtown retailers. For one ticket price, folks can go from store to store and taste delicious food, and check out what’s new in the area’s retail scene.
Samantha Appleton of Intown Manchester, the event organizer, said, “This is going to be the biggest Taste event we’ve ever put on. We have 26 restaurants signed on, which is the most we’ve ever had. And we are happy to say that we now have host locations on the southern part of Elm Street, which is a result of our district being expanded.”
The list of restaurants includes repeat participants such as the Red Arrow Diner and Richard’s Bistro, some who have not participated for a couple of years, such as Commercial Street Fishery and Piccola Italia, and newcomers like 900 Degrees, whose co-owner Erik Sealander is happy to take part. “This is the first year for the restaurant, but I did the event for the past three or four years for my previous employer,” he said. “We always had a really good time. The people are fun to interact with, and we felt we wanted to be a part of it and support the community.”
Sealander said his restaurant will serve its house organic salad, made with mixed greens, red onion, cranberries, tomato, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette; and the Caprese salad of local tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. “Obviously we can’t take the wood-fired oven with us, so we’ll highlight these starters,” he said. “They’re signature items from our menu and good food to serve at an event like this. We can make them fresh and delicious.”
900 Degrees will set up shop in Pearson’s Jewelry at 926 Elm St. “A little salad and a little jewelry shopping,” Sealander said. “All the wives will be happy!”
Because of the expanded district, Appleton said, there will be the FairPoint Taste Trolley that will make stops all along the Taste route to bring people to their favorite spots. One of the southern Elm Street participants is George’s Apparel, which will host Richard’s Bistro. Executive chef Matthew Provencher said, “It is a great way to get people downtown. I worked in Nashua for two years and it’s amazing how much busier their downtown is than Manchester’s.”
Povencher said he and owner Richard Vareschi selected dishes for the evening that offer a taste of the old and a taste of the new, since the bistro’s menu has items from both men. They decided on nori rolls with avocado and radishes; caramelized pineapple with black pepper wrapped in prosciutto; and mini chocolate mousse cakes. “I’ve been at the restaurant about a year, and last year I helped them get ready for the event,” Povencher said. “I’ll be there this year and I like the chance to meet people. Most of the time I’m behind the line and don’t get to talk to anyone. I know they sell a thousand tickets, so I can just imagine what it will be like.”
Besides the food and the shopping, musicians will perform all along the Taste route. Radio station WZID 95.7 will have a tent at City Hall Plaza, where everyone can pick up free Fiji water. Also, Appleton said several local vineyards will donate wine and cider for the tasting alongside some of the restaurants.
The Red Arrow Diner will take part for the fourth time this year. “My business is downtown and community involvement is important to us,” owner Carol Sheehan said. “We like doing things together with the community. I love doing these events and meeting all the people. It lets people to know what’s in downtown Manchester.”
Sheehan’s diner will serve Dinah Fingers, their take on the Hostess Twinkie, and the popular American chop suey. Red Arrow workers will be located at the UPS Store at 816 Elm St. Because the restaurant takes part in other similar events, such as the Best of New Hampshire party, they are seasoned veterans when it comes to this kind of evening. “We’re pretty well set up for it,” Sheehan said. “We have our steam table that we take with us. It can be a little challenging depending on the place you pair up with.”
The evening will go from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the event, which sells out every year. Tickets may be purchased at the Intown Manchester offices, 889 Elm St., or at Ocean Bank, 1750 Elm St. Only cash or checks will be accepted.
To get a complete listing of the participating restaurants and where they will be located, go to the Intown Manchester Web site, www.intownmanchester.com, or call 645-6285.
Appleton said, “I’ve been fortunate to get a first-hand look at what all the restaurants are preparing for that night, and my mouth is already watering.”