As announced in a post I published last week, this past weekend I attended the Latin Food Festival in San Diego.
For those of you who are not familiar with the event, on Saturday, I was part of the main attraction which is known as the Grande Tasting. Think about this tasting as a four hour long, all-you-can-eat journey through Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Spain.
In total, there were more than 50 local restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries, markets and food oriented companies offering tapa-sized dishes to hundreds of attendants.
This post is my attempt to describe the flavors, aromas, textures and sounds of the festivals in about a thousand words.
The event took place at the Broadway Pier located on San Diego’s North Embarcadero. The pier overlooks the San Diego Bay and Skyline. As an additional treat, the USS Midway (an aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum) is visible from the festival grounds.
The Port Pavilion (serves as a cruise ship terminal) housed part of the event (VIP lounge).
Let’s get to the most sought after part of the event: the food. Here are details of what was served during the four hour event.
Fogo de Chao
I have to take my hat off and salute the chefs / servers of Fogo de Chao. They served food non-stop from the beginning to the end of the festival.
We didn’t want to miss their delicious cuts of meats, so, we visited their booth first.
They served three cuts of meats (picanha, bacon-wrapped chicken and linguica (Portuguese sausage)). All this was served with potato salad and marinated peppers. Every bite felt way too right. I have to admit that I went for seconds.
This restaurant specializing in Mexican street food served fish tostadas. I love Puesto. Therefore, I couldn’t be happier with their samples.
This is another of my favorite restaurants in the San Diego area (they have a super cool and funky vibe). This time they served tuna tostadas and vegan cauliflower / carrot ceviche. The tuna tostada was really good but the vegan sample surprised me. These people can make anything taste good!
Aqui es Texcoco
This restaurant is famous for its barbacoa. The word barbacoa can be translated to English as Mexican Lamb Barbecue.
Traditionally, barbacoa is prepared by slow roasting the meat for more than seven hours in an underground fire pit covered with the succulent leaves of the maguey plant. The restaurant replicates the process using a special oven.
They cut the meat and put it in a tortilla. You garnish it as you want. I do not have to get into details about the tenderness of the resulting dish.
The market offered carnitas tacos, guacamole, fish ceviche and agua frescas. I kept going back to their cinnamon infused horchata all afternoon. My husband preferred the watermelon flavor.
This is another establishment that surpassed my expectations. They brought to the event a huge paella covered with seashells and Spanish chorizo. On top of that, they were also offering pulpo a la gallega (Galician style octopus). I couldn’t help it. I even licked my fingers.
This gourmet Latin seafood restaurant presented attendees with melt-in-your-mouth octopus ceviche and a tuna sashimi with a Latin twist.
A plump shrimp was served over a piece of pita bread dressed with guacamole. All the ingredients were topped with chimichurri resembling pesto sauce.
The Hopping Pig
To me, this was one of the most creative dishes of the day. The sample consisted of sous vide octupus served with achiote paste, plantain chips and pineapple.
I found this dish inventive too. They did a take on an octopus ceviche with cucumbers and pickled red onions. The crunchy element was added by a fried plantain chip (instead of the usual tortilla chip).
West Coast Tavern
Who can say no to a sope? The ones from West Coast Tavern were topped with shredded chicken, guajillo salsa, refried white beans, queso fresco and lettuce. Judging by the lines, these sopes were a total hit.
One of the most iconic dishes of Mexico (and of Puebla), the Chile en Nogada had to make an appearance in the festival. This is a seasonal dish so I try to order it as often as possible when I see them in menus.
Bush’s Beans Comida Latina
This sponsor was giving out bean and cheese tacos.
I know I have praised a lot of restaurants in here but I have to do it once again. I am just in love with the guys who have invented these beyond delicious tacos and tostadas. I tried the salmon, watermelon, mango, tamarind and Serrano chile tostada. And that is not all! You were able to garnish your tostada with one of their excellent sauces (peanut, tamarind, berries and one called Lucifer tears).
I do not have to go into details of why their fame had spread in both Californias.
Do you think that was it? Well, no. There was an entire VIP section where famous chefs were serving food and drinks.
The folks from West Coast Prime Meats were serving Spanish–style cured ham. Take a look at the pig’s leg below. That was gone at the end of the show.
Fresh oysters (opened on site) and juicy shrimp were served as a courtesy of the Pacific Wild Shrimp Company. My husband was elated since he adores oysters.
Chef Mario Medina, who is considered a celebrity in San Diego, and his staff were serving tuna tostadas.
Chef José Bossuet Martínez, with restaurants in San Miguel de Allende and Valle de Guadalupe, was serving duck tostadas.
The VIP Lounge offered other amenities such as tequila, champagne and wine tasting.
Chef José Bossuet Martínez demonstrated how to prepare duck tostadas.
Chef Mario Medina prepared an awesome braised octopus (served over tostadas).
Ana Saldaña, cookbook author and TV presenter, gave step by step instructions on how to prepare shrimp and huitlacoche (corn smut) sopes. She also showed how to prepare shrimp over a bed of salt.
The happy note was introduced by the San Diego based band Todo Mundo. They played tons of fun pop, reggae, rock and tropical songs
All these fabulous food was possible because of the sponsors and exhibitors.
Here is a partial list of the sponsors present at the event.
Lincoln Motor Company
Bush’s Best Cocina Latina
Mexico Tourist Board
¡Viva la comida latina!
- Find more information about the event: http://latinfoodfest.com/
- Subscribe to the event’s mailing list for to keep up to date with upcoming events.
What are your thoughts on Latin food?
Pin it for later?
This post is part of Wordless Wednesdays at image-in-ing, Wordless Wednesday at Oh My Heartsie Girl, Wednesdays Wanderlust at My Brown Paper Packages, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox , Photo Friday at Pierced Wonderings, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Travel Tuesday at Bumble Bee Mum and Monday Escapes at Packing My Suitcase. Pay a visit to these wonderful blogs!