Monday, June 25, 2012

Jazz in June

In the month of June if you happen to be walking around Downtown Lincoln on a Tuesday night, you will find yourself in the middle of quite a music, people, and food filled event called "Jazz in June."  The website for Jazz in June says it is more than just a tradition, "it's a summer standard."   Judging from the large crowd and lawn packed with picnic blankets and collapsible chairs, I'd say Lincoln agrees with that statement.

Although I wish I knew enough of Jazz to speak with intelligence about the music, scene, and band, I'll stick with what I know--food.

Even if Jazz isn't your thing, come for the food.  I haven't had much of a chance to check out the portable food stall life of Lincoln's fairs, events, or outdoor shindigs, so coming to Jazz in June and seeing what types of culinary caravans show up was quite exciting.   The types of food carts that showed up to Jazz in June represent quite a smattering of food niches.
 For snacks, Stahl's Cotton Candy makes up freshly spun cotton candy.  Pop Art serves frozen popsicles, and the sounds of small popcorn explosions and the scent of butter and sugar wafts from Golden Kernel Kettlecorn.  Then, on the savory side, you can sample some of the 36 flavors of Smoky Gun's Jerky.  I tried the Honey Bourbon and it made my taste buds really happy.

For refreshment, you can try refreshing fruit drinks from Aloha Tea Room or get a bright smoothie made by Great Harvest Bread Co.  I went with what to me was the only logical route, a $1 glass of home-brewed root beer from the Root Beer Guy, aka David Stajner.  It has lots of vanilla, is nice and sweet, and is a great summer refreshment.

Nibbles and drinks aside, choosing a main course is hard when the selection is so wide and intriguing.  I was tempted by Greek fare at the Parthenon, crab rangoon from Manilla Bay, or "bombay sliders" made by Aloha Tea Room; all sounded intriguing.  Or, I could have had pizza from a portable wood-fire grill courtesy of Rolling Fire.  A  portable wood-fire grill, that is pretty unique.  After a couple investigative laps around the carts, two food options begged to be sampled. 

Food Stand Tasting #1: Shongaezee’s Native American Grill
Dough being tossed about in a deep frier will almost always catch my attention.  Who could be immune to such a combination?  Then, couple frybread with options of hot dog, taco, or burgers seems to take everything you love about fair food and put it in one ridiculously compelling taste argument. 

I have never heard of Native American Frybread.  So, this was a little food lesson for me.  According to the "Native American Frybread 101" poster on the stall, frybread came about from reservation living. The common rations where foods like flour, cheese, and lard.  So, frybread served a good use of those materials by frying discs of bread in lard.  Frybread isn't fried in lard anymore, but the recipe and prep have remained the same.
After snooping for a while to see what frybread option looked tastiest, Dennis and I went with the Native Burger: frybread, hamburger, lettuce, tomato, and cheese.  Frybread itself reminds you almost immediately of a doughnut.  It isn't sweet, but that combination of crunchy outside crust and ridiculously soft inside is exactly like a doughnut.  So, the experience of the Native Burger is like eating a hamburger on a savory doughnut.

In other words, heavenly.  The best part is the bit at the end when all the mustard and ketchup has run to the bottom and been soaked up by the bread.   

Food Stand Tasting #2: Daffodil Gourmet Catering
It is a rare thing to find Persian food in places other than metropolitan cities.  I've only had Persian once and that was in a trip to L.A.  It is a unique branch of food that isn't quite Greek, isn't quite Lebanese, and isn't quite Indian; instead, it is concoction of all three.  The dish I had in L.A. was Khoresht Fesenjan, a stew of pomegranate and walnut, and it was incredibly unique in flavor and texture.

Since I can always get Indian and Mediterranean, it seemed silly to pass up a chance at Persian.  After trying the food, I'd say that nobody should miss the chance to try Daffodil's food.  Dennis and I split a dolma, spinach pie, and a kotlet (a meat, onion, and potato patty).  The dolma has a hint of cinnamon and spice and so stands out from its tarter Greek counterparts.  The kotlet was moist and flavorful and worth eating repeatedly.  But, the spinach pie was the best.  So wonderful flaky and with a smooth spinach inside that was just what you want a spinach filling to be with the right balance of spinach, cheese, and seasoning.  I don't think you could go wrong with any of the items, but the spinach pie is a must. 

June 26th is your last chance to check-out the Jazz in June scene.  So, bring a blanket, sample some food, and have a great night of enjoying some jazz with friends. 

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