Though I've never been to Bonnaroo, I well remember the first one held in 2002 in the small town of Manchester, Tenn. My middle daughter, now 31, was just 20 at the time and, being a student at Sewanee: University of the South just down the road from Manchester, she felt right at home at the festival. Almost like a hostess, she remarked at the time, she was welcoming people from around the country to her little neck of the woods in Tennessee.
So what else would any hostess do than offer food? There was very little, if any, being sold at the festival that first year. So she and a friend bought some watermelons from a nearby store, paying no more than a couple of dollars for each one, took them to Bonnaroo, sliced them and sold them for $5 per slice. She said they could have sold a truckload and made a small fortune. That's how hungry and thirsty people were.
Fast forward 13 years and the festival, which runs June 13-16, has grown tremendously. Not only will there be more bands when it opens next week, compared to the mere 47 that were onsite in 2002, food service has come into its own with more than 70 food vendors and eight food trucks selling their fare to Bonnaroovians.
Some standouts returning to this year's food lineup include Prater's BBQ, serving sandwiches and smoked wings; Doc Braden's Creole Cafe offering seafood pies, gumbo and red beans and rice; the Noodle Hut with its menu featuring teriyaki rice bowls and Yakisoba noodles with veggies and chicken; and Farm to Table, which serves tamales, grilled corn and freshly made guacamole and chips.
The Food Truck Oasis has been around for a while at Bonnaroo, but three new trucks are moving in to add to the gourmet flavor surrounding the Oasis:
The Cracked Truck, serving gourmet egg sandwiches and tater tots.
Crazy Good Burgers, serving its signature burgers along with hand-cut potato chips and sun tea.
The Big Cheese, offering grilled cheese sandwiches made with your choice of cheeses.
Other foods of note you'll find at the Food Truck Oasis include fried avocado tacos, white corn cakes and short-rib sliders. Just wander around the Oasis and you'll find plenty more.
So to all of you going to Bonnaroo ... bon appetit! It sounds as if the event is now becoming as much of a food destination as it is a music festival. Well ... maybe.
No doubt it will be a smokin' hot weekend at Bonnaroo, and I'm not just talking about the music. The temps will be warm, but not only there. The same will be true here. So if you're looking for a dessert to keep you cool, try this peanut butter pie. It's scrumptious.
And best yet, there's no cooking involved, so no worries about heating up the house by turning on the stove or oven. Even better, I made it with all low-fat or sugar-free ingredients, save the crust. I couldn't find a premade sugar-free chocolate crust, but you could always make one from scratch using sugar-free chocolate cookies. Premade is just so much easier.
This pie took all of 10 minutes to assemble, then a few more to garnish. I saw the recipe posted on Facebook, but not sure from where it came. I just know it was delicious ... even with all the more-healthful ingredients.
1 chocolate graham cracker crust
1 cup peanut butter (reduced-fat OK)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature (reduced-fat OK)
1 tub (4 cups) whipped topping, divided (light OK)
1 jar (11.75 ounces) hot fudge topping, divided (sugar-free OK)
1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup Truvia
2 tablespoons hot fudge (sugar-free OK)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (reduced-fat OK)
In large bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Fold in 3 cups whipped topping. Spoon mixture into crust and smooth to edges.
Remove 2 tablespoons hot fudge from jar and reserve in zip-lock plastic baggie for later. Heat remaining hot fudge according to package directions. Spread on top of peanut butter layer. Refrigerate pie until serving time.
At serving time, carefully spread remaining whipped topping on top of pie.
Knead hot fudge in baggie with hands; cut tiny hole in corner of baggie and pipe over pie. Repeat with 2 tablespoons peanut butter that has been heated in the microwave for just a few seconds to make it more malleable. Pipe peanut butter in opposite direction so the topping looks woven. You might even want to use a toothpick to make some guidelines through the whipped topping before you begin.
Best Bites, the Creative Discovery Museum's annual food contest, was held last weekend. The food of choice was cornbread and four local restaurants participated: Herman's Soul Food and Catering, Melon Patch, Wimpies Country Restaurant and Sugar's Ribs.
Museum guests were asked to vote on their favorite cornbread and, when all votes were tallied, Sugar's Ribs was declared the winner. Congrats. Sugar's has two Chattanooga locations, 2450 15th Ave. and 507 Broad St.
Finally, just a couple of quick words from the fast-food front ... If you haven't been to Zaxby's on a day when they're offering their Family Day Special, you're in for a treat. For $20, you get enough of its chicken fingers -- around 20 -- and fries to feed a family of four. Also included in the price are Texas toast, four cookies and four drinks. That brings each serving to just $5, which is quite a bargain for your pocketbook.
With just my husband and me to feed, we had enough left over to make two chef salads for another meal. I'll be getting this deal again.
Family Day Specials are offered on Wednesday at the Soddy-Daisy location (9347 Springfield Road). On Monday, the special can be found at restaurants located at 7634 East Brainerd Road, 2541 Battlefield Parkway (Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.) and 8884 Old Lee Highway (Ooltewah). The store at 4815 Highway 58 offers the special on Sunday, and at 623 Signal Mountain Road, it's offered on two days each week -- Monday and Wednesday.
Also, if you haven't tried Burger King's new veggie burger, I would recommend doing so. I tried one on our way back from a vacation, where I gorged on meat every day, so it was a nice break. I was a little surprised to see that it had 410 calories, as listed on the restaurant's website, but ordering it with mustard instead of mayonnaise reduced the calorie count, and I did feel as though I was eating something a little more healthful than a Whopper.
Good going, Burger King. I'll be trying the turkey burger next. Have you? I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts.
Contact Anne Braly at email@example.com.