On Sunday, Carlos and I headed to Fenway Park in Boston for the 2013 Phantom Gourmet Food Festival. Carlos had purchased two tickets in advance and they were $30 each. The festival promised 100 different types of food samples as well as music, dancing and festivities. From their commercial on their website, I thought beer was also included but water, beer and wine cost extra (or maybe I just missed when they were passing out beer?!). Bars and restaurants along Lansdowne Street were open exclusively to Festival goers. The Festival was huge, running all down Lansdowne and onto Ipswich. There were hundreds of people there (thousands maybe?) and the festival ran from noon to 4 pm.
I had a mixed experience at this festival. I didn't want to go but Carlos really wanted to and was treating me to a ticket so that I could accompany him. Phantom Gourmet is a local TV show that reviews restaurants in Eastern Massachusetts (and sometimes in other nearby states) and also highlights locally made products. They have an enormous following and their episodes are incredibly popular. Just watching an episode will make you drool. They drive a lot of business to local restaurants so I really appreciate what they do.
The food they focus on is not really my type of food. I've been on more of a health kick recently and I like to try more ethnic and unique foods as well. Phantom Gourmet's typical cuisine is mostly high in calories, big on flavor and mouth-wateringly sinful. I used to be into that kind of food but haven't been in a long time because of my health problems and my focus on being healthy. Also, on Sunday I was two days into a nasty bout of flu so I wasn't particularly hungry or even happy to be outside. However, I tried to have fun the best I could.
There were lots of fans there at the festival and you could pick them out in the crowd because they were wearing purple, Phantom Gourmet's official color. We got there around 12:30 and the festival was already packed with people. They check your I.D. and your bag at the gate for security. Also because of alcohol consumption it's for ages 21 and over only so it was a nice kid-free event. This was a big plus for me! We didn't know how the festival worked and initially we tried to go to each individual booth from the outside. I realized later that the booths were all set up in one long line and you follow the long line and pass each stall one-by-one to get easier access. Each vendor/restaurant had one or two food samples they specialized in.
Types of food: Burgers, Hot Dogs, pickles, pulled pork sandwiches, clam chowder, grilled clams, soup, pretzel bread, garlic knots, flatbread pizza, chips, meatloaf, meatballs, chicken pot pie, popcorn, sandwiches, etc.
Types of dessert: donuts, ice cream, cupcakes, brownies, frozen yogurt, etc.
My thoughts and tips: It was well-organized and the chaos was well contained. But festival goers were pushy, grabby and greedy. You'd get a better experience when the crowd has dissipated some. I recommend going to the festival a good one or two hours after it starts.
All the food I had was delicious. I came with a list of things I wanted to try but barely made a dent. You have to be open-minded and try what you can get your hands on. And be prepared to wait in a long line for what might be a very tiny sample. Lines move fairly quickly which is a bonus.
I wish the booths had better signage. These are mostly local businesses advertising their products and services and I wish I could have been able to identify better who was who. Some had great signs and gave out business cards which did help.
Overall, it was good and I'm glad I went. I think being outdoors made my flu symptoms worse but I still enjoyed it. Will I go again next year? Probably not. $30 is a lot for what ended up being not a lot of food and for being a bit overwhelming with such a big crowd. However, if you don't mind crowds, are patient and really like this type of cuisine, I encourage you to go! You will have a lot of fun and it's wonderful to be at Fenway enjoying the sunshine and eating lots of great food.
|Carlos enjoying some pulled chicken on a piece of toasted bread|
|An all-beef (no pork) meatball. This was the best meatball I've had in a very long time!|
|Turkey and Cheese Panini with a Brownie Shot. Mmm! I love the addition of a little dessert. Felt more like a mini meal than just a sample.|
|I was waiting in line for some mushroom bisque which was delicious with a bit of bread from the neighboring booth.|
|S'Mores Ice Cream from Daddy's Dairy. Oh my goodness this was so good I came back for seconds!|
|Pretzel Bun. Yowzah! This was so good I gobbled it up.|
|Fuddruckers Burger. Not too glamorous looking but that beef patty was divine!|
|Sweet Potato Fries with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar|
|Fried Calamari. Score!|
|Summer Shack's Grilled Clam with a bean and corn salad. Best thing at the festival! The line was long and I wish I could have had more than one sample.|
|Not a lot of people were out in the crowd passing out samples. It was a bit crazy. One brave lady was passing out a tray of tiny cupcakes and we grabbed a couple.|
|Bag of Sweet Potato Chips|
|Utz was there handing out potato chips two bags at a time.|
|I ended up getting 4 of these Kind Bars to take home. The healthiest thing at the festival!|