This year I have had the amazing opportunity to attend various food events throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. Each event brings new opportunities to learn more about the industry in this booming city. But let me tell you, The Food Event, Los Angeles magazine’s ninth culinary extravaganza, surpassed all my expectations in terms of what this kind of affairs have to offer.
Keep reading to find out why I loved this event so much.
When I was walking around trying to decide what booth to visit first, I heard this girl saying: “I feel like I am on vacation.”
I think that was the perfect way to describe the event venue, Saddlerock Ranch in the Malibu Hills. The ranch, nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, boasts acres and acres of natural beauty (including awesome rock formations) and rolling hills. It is also home of a wine tasting room and 60,000 vines scattered around 65 acres. The property has been featured in over 100 movies, commercials and television shows.
To make things more interesting, the estate is home to dozen of horses and exotic animals (llamas, camels, zebras).
In addition, the small details sprinkled around the property were so beautiful. Imagine walking around wood swings, sheds, old school buses and, even, a colorful carrousel. It felt truly like we were all on vacation.
Now the setting was beyond words but the food was awesome too. The day included samplings from over 40 of LA’s best restaurants and celebrity chefs. All participants were hand selected by the magazine’s James Beard award-winning dine editor.
Here are some of the highlights (I think I did a good job trying almost everything).
The Strand House
Crab with Sweet Corn Puree
Chilaquiles en Salsa Verde
For some strange reason, I do not have good pictures (all blurred) of the food prepared by Spago (salmon over fried kimchi rice), Cut by Wolfgang Puck and Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air. Even though I do not have pictures to show, I have to say these restaurants cooked some of the best meals of the day (Spago was my favorite of the entire event).
The food of Lemonade surprised me. I wasn’t expecting something so good (arugula,blue cheese and persimmon salad + pulled pork and mac and cheese sandwich + salmon with crème fraise and curried cucumber and pomegranate chutney).
Saddle Peak Lodge
BLT Gougera (with wild boar bacon and heirloom tomatoes)
Petty Cash Taqueria
Dia de Campo
Curried Grilled Shrimp
Pulled Pork, Grapes and Walnut Salad
Bourbon Steak Los Angles
The most unusual dish of the day was served by Black Market Liquor Bar. It was difficult to determine what it was just by looking at it. We were able to see a black ball over a plate. After calling the dish the grilled rat (awful I know) while waiting in line, we discovered it was black cod in some sort of black tempura batter. It was super good though.
The Front Yard
Korean Beef Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Vegan Cabbage Salad
Malibu Pier Restaurant
Smoked salmon with lemon sauce and brown sugar
Octopus with fresh ricotta cheese, peppers and tomatoes
Chinese Caesar Salad
Manhattan Beach Post
Pasta with Sausage
Faith & Flower
Pumpkin Panna Cotta topped with lemon granita, red peppers, pumpkin seeds and mint
McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream
Rustic bread topped with ricotta cheese, honey and walnuts
Crossroads Los Angeles
Beef with apple, raisins and mushrooms
Crispy sweet jumbo shrimp with spicy sauce
Jitlada Southern Thai
Tar & Roses
The Sunset Malibu
Pumpkin Spiced iced Coffee
The event was possible thanks to the fantastic sponsors. I have to give a big applause to Infiniti (presented the latest in luxury automotive), Celebrity Cruises (presented gift bags and drinks to attendees, also was giving away a free cruise), Don Julio Tequila, Stella Artois, Lone Mountain Wagyu, Grand Avenue Coffee and Clif Bar (with their Luna Bars too).
I am still trying to take in all of the food and sights (some people came to Los Angeles just to eat!). I have a huge list of restaurants I want to try (good way to go bankrupt). Proof of all the creative talent we have in Los Angeles. Make plans to attend next year if you love food. Best event of the season hand down.
If you plan to attend next year, take into consideration the following:
- Come early to maximize your eating pleasure and decrease the time you have to wait in lines. The event gets really crowded (there is enough space to move and walk though)
- Dress casually, bring a hat and sunglasses
- There are not a lot of seats or tables. I liked the idea of taking a towel and blanket and enjoy the food and drinks picnic style
- Parking lot is dusty, some areas are muddy and you have to walk a lot over uneven surfaces. Bring the proper pair of shoes to deal with all that
- Come hungry, really hungry
What is your favorite food festival?
Disclosure: I attended the event with a media pass. However, all the opinions expressed here, as always, are my own.