I tweeted a lot about this year’s Dig In, so I am going to keep my post fairly brief and just talk about a few of my favorite dishes from this year (in no particular order) (and I didn’t get to try every single item, although I did try a lot of them).
Goose the Market’s “walking taco”
You can always count on something interesting from Chris Ely of Goose the Market and Smoking Goose and this year was no exception. (You can also count on some of the longest lines there). You got a little paper bag full of tender goat meat and some crunchy cracklins on the bottom—the “tacos” had a bit of seasoning in the form of some chopped onions, but mainly you got to add toppings yourself. There was tomatillo salsa, a creamy sauce, corn pico de gallo, cilantro, cabbage slaw (the things I remember off the top of my head). I put a little bit of most of the things on and really enjoyed it. And I am sure goat is certainly a meat that a lot of Indy people might not have had before.
Brad Gates Catering Bison Succotash
This dish included a decent portion of slow cooked bison shoulder with lots of great local (and crispy fresh) veggies—corn, cabbage, green beans and tomatoes. I thought this was one of the dishes that had the most varied flavors and the meat was also super tender. As it turned out, it was one that had quite a line later in the day as well.
Late Harvest Corn Salad
I loved Late Harvest’s corn, walnut, goat cheese, and housemade pancetta salad. The pancetta was nice and salty and I really enjoyed that this dish also had a bit of acid to it—there was a lot of rich food to eat at Dig In, and this one stuck out to me because it was different and was a really nice combination of flavors. I may have to try and recreate this one at home.
Chef JJ’s Sweet Cheeks
This was a dish that was somewhat similar to Brad Gates’ dish, but made with pork—and I loved the crunchy bits of falafel on top. Few dishes could really give a good crunch under these circumstances and this one was really good.
Duos (Food Truck) Goat Cheese Quesadilla
This was probably my favorite vegetarian option and I really enjoyed that it was also something totally different from pretty much everything else. It was a potato, mustard green and goat cheese quesadilla. You definitely need to like goat cheese to like this one, but I love goat cheese and thought it was really good. I liked that there were veggies being used that weren’t the corn, tomato and green beans that were in a lot of dishes (and I love all of those things as well, don’t get me wrong).
I got to go as a VIP (I was given 2 tickets for my work as a gastronaut), which meant we got in the gates at 11:00 and didn’t have to wait in line for much of anything, which was really nice. Overall, our impression was that the food has continued to improve over the course of the 3 years that Dig In has been around. My general observations about the food this year--tacos and chilled soups were the most popular dish and many people tried to come up with novel ways to serve the food that didn't require a spoon or fork, which was nice since you are walking and eating. (Which reminds me, the little tortilla filled with pork and seasoning from Indiana Downs was also really good--see pic below.)
The good news is they ended up selling out all the available tickets, which was a goal I know they wanted to achieve and it makes me happy that so many people were excited to eat local Indiana food. The downside, from what I saw and have been hearing, is that the lines got really long shortly after 12 and remained that way for most of the afternoon. Apparently several chefs also ran out of food by 3:00 or so. I am not sure what the solution is, but hopefully they will get it all worked out by next year (although there will always be lines I think). I know I really enjoyed my day and nearly everything I ate.
So what were your favorites? And what was your experience like?
A Taste of Indiana