Friday, September 20, 2013

Review: Taste of the Town

Summary: College football culture is captured through the food, small town characters, and college life that makes Saturdays in autumn something fans look forward to every year. 

 In TASTE OF THE TOWN, Todd Blackledge, host of the enormously popular ESPN segment "Taste of the Town," focuses on popular college towns by telling you where to eat, what to eat, and great stories about college football traditions across America. With over 100 recipes from the chefs of the featured restaurants and the coach (or wife) of the hometown team you will be left hungry and excited to try out the popular football food for yourselves! 

Behind-the-scenes photos, shot on location, enhance the energy of the fun and food featured in each town. This book about football, food, and college culture showcases the coaches, players, chefs, and rabid fans who regularly join together to talk about their common passion. - Center Street

I was so excited to receive a copy of TASTE OF THE TOWN: A GUIDED TOUR OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S BEST PLACES TO EAT by Todd Blackledge and J.R. Rosenthal. I have been a huge fan of Mr. Blackledge's for quite some time. It began when I was in middle school and he was the starting quarterback for Penn State. After he led PSU to their first national championship, I continued to follow his time in the pros and then his career in broadcasting. Recently, I respected Mr. Blackledge even more when he spoke out about the Sandusky scandal and how Penn State handled it. So combine Mr. Blackledge and a cookbook and I'm definitely in!

College football fans probably know Mr. Blackledge for his ESPN feature called "Taste of the Town." This segment which showcases famous eateries in college football towns has become very popular. Not only does he taste some of the specialties, but he also shares some of the amazing college football traditions in each location. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing quite like college football, and Mr. Blackledge does a darn good job of sharing his love for the sport.. and food in TASTE OF THE TOWN.

It will come as no surprise that I loved TASTE OF THE TOWN. It's a terrific resource for fans who follow their college teams to away games, but it also has some wonderful recipes. I am pretty sure that any fan of the ESPN segment or college football will find a few things to like about this book.

The book is set up by college divisions with the SEC at the beginning, then Texas and the South, to The Best of the Rest. A total of twenty different colleges/college towns are featured including University of Alabama, Ohio State University, and Florida State University. The last two chapters are titled "Coaches Can Cook" and "The Blackledge Family Culinary Tradition;" and I thought these were fun sections too.

Naturally, Mr. Blackledge featured Penn State; and of course, it was my very favorite chapter. I had a feeling that I already knew which restaurants he would feature, and I can tell you that I've spent quite a bit of time and consumed many calories in a few of them.

To give you an idea of what's included for each school, I thought I'd use the Penn State chapter as an example. It begins with The Berkey Creamery, the on-campus dairy store which has the most amazing ice cream. He provides a little history on the Creamery and then describes some of the most popular flavors. (Penn State is one of my very favorite places in the entire world, and the Creamery is a place I HAVE to visit every time we go to State College.)

Mr. Blackledge lists a few more of the popular restaurants in State College with a description of the must-have dishes! Then, he provides recipes from some of the restaurants including the Berkey Creamery's Penn State Ice Cream Mix. There are also photos of the various restaurants as well as some of Penn State.

Finally, Mr. Blackledge gives some fun information about the football traditions at Penn State -- Riding the Blue Buses, The Uniform, We Are... Penn State, and Success with Honor. Mr. Blackledge played for three years under Joe Paterno and he remained friends with the Paterno family; and I absolutely love how he addressed the scandal that has rocked our university. It actually made me cry!

Joe Paterno established "Success with Honor" as the Penn State football mission statement during his illustrious career as the head coach. Penn State teams were made up of men who competed just as hard int he classroom as on the football field. We won games, went to bowls, and competed for championships, while at the same time annually graduating one of the highest percentages of players in the nation. Doing things the right way, not occasionally but all of the time, was the Penn State credo. That is success with honor, and despite what some uninformed outsiders have said in the past couple of years, the phrase defines the true football culture at Penn State. That mantra was always adhered to during Joe Paterno's forty-six-year tenure as head football coach, and will continue to be upheld under Bill O'Brien's watch.
*Quoted from ARC

Overall, I enjoyed TASTE OF THE TOWN, but I especially loved how it focused on the amazing traditions of college football! Of course, the food and recipes didn't hurt either!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

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Sandy Nawrot said...

This is so much fun! I am wondering if Purdue is in there? There is one place called XXX (I know it sounds bad but is a total dive and has the BEST food) that was actually featured on The Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show. If Purdue is in his book, I bet XXX is there.

bermudaonion said...

I love college towns and campuses so I love Taste of the Town too. That book sounds like a real gem!

Beth F said...

I'll have to look for this. I'm curious what other restaurants he featured. I love the Creamery, but we usually go to Meyers so we don't have to fight traffic or deal with campus parking.

Joy said...

What a great way to combine football and food that isn't the more traditional tail-gate party or snacks to serve at home. I love how this gives such a great sense of place. College towns are great!

Joy's Book Blog

jama said...

Interesting -- love guides to regional cooking around the country. I'm not much of a sports fan, but I think it would be interesting to learn more about the different colleges, their teams, and what eateries are featured in this book.

Dana Tanaro Britt said...

I really enjoy books like this and doubly enjoy looking for and trying the places--thanks for sharing :)

Sandy, we've been to the Triple X, too-we live about 30 minutes away--and I second your sentiment! SO GOOD!


JoAnn said...

There's nothing like a college town during football season... unless you're in Syracuse for a basketball game ;-)

Seriously though, this sounds like my kind of book!

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I just spent some time perusing this at Barnes & Noble, it looks so interesting. We actually ate at the Thurman Cafe in Columbus, Ohio on a football trip last year. We waited two hours for a table!

Carole said...

Being from New Zealand I find American football a complete mystery - we call it Gridiron for some reason. Football or footy in NZ refers to our national sport of Rugby. Best wishes from DownUnder

Heather Webb said...

What an interesting idea for a book. I'm not a huge football fan per se, but I am seduced by the idea of fun game day foods and all of the camaraderie.

Esme said...

I am not a football fan-but this sounds fun.

Kerry Ann @Vinobaby's Voice said...

This sounds like it would be a great gift for a college football fan. (Can you tell I'm thinking about the holidays already?) Saw you mentioned FSU--wonder if UF is listed...?