Savory dishes served up at 5th annual Taste of Milford

On May 30, the fifth annual Taste of Milford took place around the Milford Oval were local eateries served up a variety of tasty dishes to those in attendance.

The event, which is put together each year by the Milford Improvement Team, allows attendees to sample food from more than 25 different restaurants. Though the weather was drizzly, the sidewalks were full of excited and happy eaters of all ages. There was a convivial atmosphere as patrons, volunteers and restaurant employees enjoyed the company of old and new friends.

Entrees as diverse as gourmet pizza, crab meat ravioli and cinnamon buns were prepared and served to people who bought tickets either in advance or at the festival.

Joe Oneal, of Papa Joe’s Humble Kitchen, was grilling burgers in the light mist outside Karen’s Kollectibles. He said he notices the Taste of Milford getting bigger every year, and that he was almost out of his 400 prepared samples.

“The set-up is frantic,” said Oneal, but the atmosphere is fun once it starts, “and you’re on the open road, with people honking, and you’re waving and talking.”

The restaurants weren’t the only places teeming with people, as stores of all types opted to host different restaurants’ menu specialties. Hometown Insurance housed the Red Arrow Diner’s special, while Souhegan Cycle hosted both Carole’s Cake Creations and Chapanga’s, which served up a great spinach and artichoke dip.

The Frame Depot, owned by Paulette Braffitt, hosted the Pasta Loft’s entree, while her daughter, Marlena Phillips, and granddaughter, Victory, 8, took turns providing singing entertainment. Victory performed a rendition of “The Loco-Motion,” that drew a crowd of passers-by into the store.

“The Taste is outstanding for Milford,” Marlena said. “It makes residents aware of the abundance of great businesses we have in the area. It’s motivational and exciting for the restaurants. I think it gets better every year.”

There was a big crowd in Foodee’s as Peterborough musician Stephanie Hurley played her guitar and sang. Gourmet pizza was served, and Jake’s Ice Cream was scooped across the room. Dale Vetter, of Jake’s, agreed that the Taste was a wonderful thing for the town in that it showcased a surprising number of great restaurants in the area. The good restaurants “are not all in Nashua,” Vetter said.

The head chef of Clark’s Tavern, Sue Carmen, served up some savory pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw. Musicians were loading in to perform as the bar was packed wall to wall with customers and tasters. Carmen admitted that preparing for the event was a lot of work.

“It’s taken me all week long to prep for 300 servings,” said Carmen, adding that each batch of pork takes 16 hours. “But it’s such a good thing for the town, and it grows each year.”

The weather didn’t put a damper on the event at all.

“It was a little damp tonight, but other than that everyone was festive and had a lot of fun,” said Richard Balsama, who volunteers every year with his wife.

“The rain just adds a whole other dimension to it,” laughed Joe Oneal, as he fired another burger onto his grill. “I ran out and got a 10-by-10 pop-up [tent] to grill under, but it wouldn’t fit. I’d be grilling in the road.”