While it is the official kick-off of the festival season in downtown Syracuse – and truly wonderful to see throngs of people lining the streets and sidewalks around Clinton and Hanover Squares – we have lost our taste for the Taste.
Why? Three reasons, really.
1. Chains like Arbys, Applebees, Bonefish and Pizza Hut do not belong at the Taste of Syracuse. What is local about these corporate entities, aside from the fact they have outlets in Central New York?
2. Remember when reps of Finger Lakes and other New York wineries were on hand to pour tastes and answer questions about their products? No more. The wine segment of the Taste has been handed off to a marketing company offering international, California and a limited selection of New York State wines.
3. Taste of Syracuse has turned into a Taste of Advertising. A taste of Bath Fitter, GEICO, Supercuts, Dunkin’ Donuts -- the list goes on. The number of “exhibitors,’’ many of them non-food, make the Taste feel like a taste of the State Fair Center of Progress Building, in June.
I will miss seeing my friend Joe Todisco, who owns and operates JJ’s stand (and JJ’s Miss Syracuse Diner, across from City Hall) and always makes me laugh. He makes an excellent pot roast sandwich. He also takes braciole from Ascioti’s in Solvay and swims it in red sauce until it’s so tender you can cut it with the tines of a plastic fork.
If you’re going to Taste of Syracuse Friday or Saturday, stop by and see Joe -- and/or any of the dozens of tasty, truly LOCAL vendors.