Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Last Dish Crawl -- All Hallows Eats

Over the summer, I discovered my new favorite thing: Dishcrawl. If you haven't seen my past reviews, Dishcrawl is a great foodie event that is gaining popularity in nearly every major city. The name comes from the idea of a pub crawl, but instead of drinks, it's food. Four restaurants, three courses, plus dessert. A foodie dream! Jenn is our Pioneer Valley, MA ambassador, and she has done a wonderful job making Dishcrawl a memorable occasion every time! Amherst's Dishcrawl was October 29th, costumes optional, but prizes for anyone who dressed up.

Christina as the Girl Who Decided Last Minute Not To Wear a Costume and Changed in the Car
Reggie as Tonks from Harry Potter
Gilana as The Girl Who Just Got a New Job
And Me, as a Female Captain America

This Dishcrawl was bittersweet; it was my last one. I'd also been on the Northampton, Greenfield, and Springfield crawls before (Springfield as a photographer and not a blogger, so there's no recap). I was able to bring some friends along for Amherst, and we definitely went out with a bang as we followed Jenn around the streets of Amherst.

The first stop you might remember from my "favorite things" post a few days ago: High Horse. High Horse is a relatively new restaurant that took the place of Amherst Brewing Company's old spot. They are ALSO a brewery, and our first sample was a bit of their house stout.

I am not a huge beer drinker--one because of a possible gluten sensitivity I'm flirting with, and two because I've just never really been a big beer fan, dark beer especially--but I LOVED this. The one time I've had a crush on a dark beer was high atop the Guinness Factory in Dublin. I cannot STAND Guinness now, but something about getting it fresh from the tap at the place it was made just made it great, smooth and rich rather than sharp and bitter. Now I find most stouts way too bitter. Not this one, though. It was creamy and chocolatey and light, despite the heavy mouthfeel. We all gulped these down pretty quickly and though I batted my eyelashes at the waiter to try to get him to gift me another one, but no dice.

Since my mask was probably blocking my eyelash-batting, I also ordered my favorite High Horse drink, a Mr. Pink. Beer plus grapefruit juice is surprisingly refreshing!

The other half of our High Horse sample was probably the most amazing and unique thing I've ever had in a pub food setting: A deep fried cornmeal donut stuffed with pulled pork. Just let that sink in for a moment. Yes, it was as incredible as it sounds. I could have eaten five of these and gone home a happy lady. But of course, Jenn had other surprises in store.

Next up was Panda East. I'd only been there for sushi once, years ago, and never really thought much about it since, as I'm kind of a sushi snob and their offerings didn't really thrill me. However, I did remember that their drinks were deliciously boozy, and ordered myself a mai tai (drinks are not included in the Dishcrawl price, btw). Jenn told us that back when she was in college (Hampshire) this was her favorite place to eat. Because of this, we got to sample two of Jenn's favorite dishes: Scallion pancakes and Formosa Shrimp.

The shrimp was perfect. A bit sweet, a bit spicy, and with a hefty serving of veggies. Our advice though? Don't eat the garnish. It is a garnish, it is not for eating. Even if you are just trying to figure out what the green leaves are made out of... heh. Again, I could have cleaned the plate myself. Served over rice, it was almost like a fried shrimp stir fry. Om nom nom.

The scallion pancakes were equally delicious--crispy outside, warm, soft inside. And the scallion sauce on top was so good, I drizzled some over the rice as well. I would have liked maybe one more sample here, but overall it was a satisfying stop.

I was expecting our next stop to be some sort of fancy Italian restaurant, since the past three Dishcrawls I've been on have included such, but to my surprise we went a different route with White Hut.

I knew White Hut well, an ex of mine used to bring me to the original West Springfield location a few years ago. He also insisted on getting burgers at their Big E stand, which I never understood because we could get the burgers any time at the other location, but the Big E had vendors we'd only see once a year... anyway. Our meal here consisted of half portions of their burgers, fries, and hot dogs. And there were enough leftovers that most people were able to grab two of each.

The burgers were what you'd expect from a made-to-order grill type place, the kind of burger that is dripping with grease in the best way possible paired with some crispy fries. Everything here was delicious. They even grilled the buns! And the fries were incredible. The price is right too--nothing seems to be over $5.

Last up was a local favorite, GoBerry! We were given the Apple Cider Donut fro-yo with our choice of topping. And as Jenn said, we couldn't get much more local than fro-yo made from local cows' milk, flavored with cider donuts from Atkin's Farms, and topped with fresh fruit. For whatever reason, I'd assumed GoBerry was a national chain... nope. It's all local, baby!

We were able to pick our own toppings, so I went with candied ginger. It was a great accompaniment to the apple cider donut flavor (which LITERALLY tasted like you were eating an Atkin's donut!).

Afterwards, my friends and I got one last drink back at High Horse. This was a Dark & Stormy made with Kracken Rum and it was a great way to end the night--plus it gave me one last burst of ginger!

Chloe, a high school theater friend, had won free tickets to this Dishcrawl.
It was great to see her again!

This was an excellent Dishcrawl, and actually the first one that I couldn't correctly guess any of the stops--well done, Jenn! Better yet, it was Halloween themed, and we all know how obsessed with Halloween I am. I got to rock my AWESOME costume (courtesy of my boyfriend's mom who sewed it AND got me the mask and shield), eat amazing food, and hang out with some incredible friends!

 A BIG thank you to Jenn, who has been an awesome ambassador and new friend throughout all the Dishcrawls. She was always able to find little ways to help me afford what can be a pricey night out ($45 for tickets plus a transaction fee) by swapping favors or giving me the heads-up on coupon codes. She's insisting I try to become an Austin ambassador (a foodie city with no Dishcrawl?? HOW??), but we'll see. I wish her the best of luck as Dishcrawl Pioneer Valley continues to grow, and if anyone reading is a Western Masser I encourage you to try out the next Dishcrawl in December! Check their Facebook page for more information, and to be the first to know about discounts, giveaways, and contests that pop up.


  1. Look at that hotdog! Okay that ice cream sounds seriously heavenly. I wannnnt it....

  2. Sounds like so much fun-wish they had these back when I was living in Amherst for college! My husband and I still miss all the good restaurants there :)

  3. I love your costume and all the yummies!

  4. oh this sounds like my perfect night out!

  5. pulled pork donuts and cider fro-yo oh my goodness !!! your post is making me want to get up and hit the road just to find these treats!