In 2015 and 2016, Kings Dominion introduced a new food festival labeled Spring Bloom, which featured cuisine inspiration from various regions around the world and took place along International Street. We were big fans of the event, though it was a little early in the season (usually within a week or two after the park opened) so there were lighter crowds which may have lead to its demise. In addition, the name “Spring Bloom” did not really tell the guest what they would experience.
Fast forward to 2017, and Kings Dominion has rebranded the event as the Taste of Virginia, which harken back to its local heritage and cuisine. The event is also being held in May, capturing a wider audience of guests that venture to the park.
While Kings Dominion searches for a new Executive Chef to head the food and beverage team, they worked with Chef Kris Siuta (Carowinds) and Chef Bobby Obezo (Knott’s Berry Farm) to prepare the right dishes that reflect upon the various regions of Virginia. The team selected 3 food options from the Tidewater, Chesapeake, Blue Ridge Mountains, Colonial, and Piedmont regions to highlight at the event.
For additional details on the event, like pricing, etc., please review our Taste of Virginia guide.
Review Kings Dominion Taste of Virginia
All food options were tasting plate size.
– Crispy Crab Cakes (4 tokens): The tasting plate included two mini crab cakes with a white cream drizzle. The crab cakes were nice and crispy and once the lemon wedges were squeezed onto the dish, there was a great combination of flavors that made this an excellent dish.
– Flounder Corn Chowder (2 tokens): The corn chowder was served with two pieces of fried flounder which were great to dip into the stew. The chowder was very flavorful on its own, and the added fish was a nice combination.
– Shrimp and Grits (4 tokens): Traditional dish of grits with some shrimp. This is one of those quintessential southern dishes.
– Seared Oyster Cake with Bacon Aioli (4 tokens): One of the most exciting aspects of travel is tasting the local cuisine and venturing outside of your comfort zone to try something you may not back home. We love fresh seafood and were excited to try the oyster cakes. The “cake” is fried with a whole oyster inside each piece.
The first we tried was slightly underdone and fell apart, but the second was slightly crispy and held together enough for us to pick up and eat. The dish really picked up its flavor from the bacon aioli for dipping.
– Chesapeake Mac N. Cheese (3 tokens): The dish was prepared using lump crab meat with shell pasta and Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. While eating the dish, it had a similar flavor to the tuna casserole dish we had growing up. The abundance of Parmesan tended to make the dish slightly salty.
– Pecan Praline Pie (3 tokens): Wow! While we LOVE pie, we are not normally a huge fan of pecan pie. However, this was probably our favorite dessert of the entire Taste of Virginia. Dare we even say it was the best pecan pie we had ever eaten. The pie was fantastic and served with candied pecans, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. Superb!
We also greatly appreciated that the pie was served cold, as it would not have been the same experience if it was room temperature or heated.
Blue Ridge Mountains
– Brunswick Stew (3 tokens): The Brunswick stew was packed full of vegetables and served with an excellent piece of corn bread. Kings Dominion really did a great job with all of their soups/stews/chowders!
– Fried Chicken and Creamy Dumplings (4 tokens): The park uses their new hand breaded chicken tenders being served in Jukebox Diner and Chicken Shack to pair with creamy dumpling soup. This tasting plate was excellent and our kids loved it!
– Peanut Butter Fudge with Glazed Roasted Pecans (2 tokens): Make sure to save some tokens for this classic fudge that has been stepped up with roasted pecans, caramel and chocolate sauce. The richness of the dish makes it perfect for sharing.
– Sweet Potato and Roast Duck Popover (4 tokens): The popover is split open and filled with sweet potato and paired with slices of roasted duck. The sweetness of the potato paired nicely with the duck.
– Smithfield Ham and Cheese Empanadas (3 tokens): The empanada is stuffed with diced ham and cheese, transporting us back in time to when this meal would have been quick and easy for the hard workers of the Colonial period.
– Creamy Peanut Soup with Crushed Peanuts & Onions (2 tokens): While the Carowinds Taste of Carolinas version of Peanut and Oyster Stew was interesting, the Kings Dominion Peanut soup was fantastic and one of our favorite dishes of the event. The soup was creamy and paired amazingly with the crushed peanuts and green onion on top. Make sure you do not skip on the toppings because the flavor profile is incredibly dynamic with all three items together.
– Biscuits with Local Apple Butter (2 tokens): Consider this a simple comfort food item. Adding this dish to one of the soup items would make a great combination.
– Fried Winesap Apple Pies (3 tokens): This giant fried pie is packed full of apples and placed onto a scoop of apples before being drizzled with caramel. This was another AMAZING dish from the event that not only reflected on southern Virginia cuisine but also the perfect food we would expect to see in an amusement park. We would love to see these sold in the park following the event!
– Shitake Turkey Meatloaf with Country Ham Gravy (3 tokens): Nice slices of turkey meatloaf paired with shitake mushrooms with gravy. This is a hearty plate worthy of sharing.
After having now been to both Spring Bloom and Taste of Virginia, we definitely think the new event leads to a better representation of the region. The event is now held in the Candy Apple Grove which was an EXCELLENT decision due to the natural beauty of the area and the foot traffic. Live music, regional beer, wine, and distillery tastings and food cooking demonstrations helped round out the event.
Congrats to the Kings Dominion team on an excellent event!
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