My family and I just returned from the Argenta Strawberry Foodie Fest, and we were, shall we say, blown away. Almost literally.
In the very left-hand side of that photo, you’ll see my husband’s feet as he scurries from the dining tables to grab poles. He was right next to the one pole that actually broke, and somehow managed to grab the tent before it fell on my two-year-old son in the stroller next to him. Good times.
Well, maybe I’m making that more dramatic than it was, but it was an interesting interruption to an otherwise awesome foodie event. The Argenta Strawberry Foodie Fest is the spring version of what we enjoyed in October as the Fall Foodie Fest. Some of the best restaurants in central Arkansas were in attendance, serving their succulent variations on the famed springtime berry theme.
I missed the excitement at the tent because I had gone to purchase my chosen entrée, a savory strawberry pasta dish by Ristorante Capeo. The cannelloni pasta was flavored with strawberry purée and filled with a cream cheese and chicken filling, with just a touch of sweetness. It was topped with a savory berry sauce and fresh berries. Different, but amazing.
Another outstanding dish came from Donnie Ferneau (of his namesake restaurant, Ferneau): a strawberry jalapeño BBQ pork taco with creamy black bean slaw. The hubs had this, and I had a generous bite or two to ensure quality control. Just enough kick to be interesting, but not too spicy; berries (I’m assuming in purée form in the sauce) rounded the flavor without too much sweetness. Also amazing and worth an attempted replication sometime. (Donnie, care to share the recipe?)
Other highlights included a lovely bubbly strawberry tea (although I could have done without the tapioca) by Simply the Best Catering, strawberries with mascarpone cheese and balsamic vinegar over ladyfingers by Starving Artist Café, strawberry fried pies by Lindsey’s BBQ, and a strawberry spinach salad by the Capital Hotel. The mascarpone dish won the event’s “Best Dessert” award, and the spinach salad won “Best Entrée.”
Food purchases were fairly reasonable, each item ranging from 3 to 7 tickets, purchased at the event for $1 each. Some plate dinners were more, but still well within range of a more elaborate lunch out.
Even with the undue excitement, I left satisfied with great food and a nice outing with the family, endcapped by a quick stroll through the adjacent Certified Arkansas Farmers Market. If the Argenta community continues with the Foodie Fest concept — and I hope they do — this event will continue to grow and become a destination for food lovers each season.
Let’s just hope that next time, they get some sturdier, weighted tents!