I happened to be traveling to LA on a weekend that happened to contain BOTH the Beverly Hills Food Festival and the LA Times Food Festival. Unfortunately, I had to choose, so I went with the LA Times Food and Wine Festival that happened an inexplicably long time ago (September 5th, to be exact).
Perhaps it’s just because I’m not from LA, or perhaps our tickets purchased online were lacking in information, but we seriously had no idea where to park, and there were no signs. A bit of digging and we figured it out. The festival was actually right on the Paramount Pictures Studio Lot… which was pretty damn cool.
It was an insanely hot day, yet we sat in the blaring 90+ degree sun for an hour to hear the first talk: Food Blogging & Beyond featuring Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman); Aarti Sequeira (Aarti Paarti/Winner, The Next Food Network Star” Season 6); & TBD, moderated by Rene Lynch (Assistant Food Editor, Los Angeles Times). This is where I got to know about The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond for the first time.
The panel was really interesting and completely inspired me. Aarti convinced me to try to do a video blog (coming soon) and Ree really showed me how artful recipe photography could be. They were very down to earth. I don’t know if I really learned much, but it was great to see them and I really enjoyed it.
We were so warm by the time this was done, that we needed a drink. The lines were quite long at each booth, so I high-tailed it to the very back of the lot and found The Sweets Truck there selling homemade lemonade and limeade.
I’m not sure if it was just because of how parched we were, but I would say this was the best of both I’ve ever had. I was looking forward to coming back to try their baked goods at the end of the day, however, they were sold out by then! Glad we snagged the drinks when we did.
While I was on a quest for liquid, Mike stood on the long line for the Nom Nom Truck (as featured on The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network).
When I heard they were going to be at this festival, it really sealed the deal for me. Not only do I love Bahn Mi, but COME ON, they are called the NOM NOM truck. It is meant to be. Even when the line was soooooo long.
So long, in fact, that I accidentally took a picture of the ground while waiting. I liked the shadows, however, so I will share it.
Finally we drew close.
And we ordered the lemongrass chicken tacos.
And of course the banh mi.
Which was filled with deliciousness. I actually liked the tacos even more than the bahn mi. But it was all delicious and all worth the wait.
As we walked back into the main grounds, I noticed Alex and CJ from Top Chef talking about “Life After Top Chef” as moderated by Krista Simmons. I only stuck around long enough to shoot this quick pic.
I was fortunate enough to meet up with my very cool Aunt Farrell at the festival and she ordered a custom made ice cream sandwich. I think it was potato bread cookie with bacon ice cream. Unfortunately, the picture is blurry… but it was DELICIOUS. I really wanted one of my own, but by the time we got there the line was prohibitively long and we were excessively tired and on our way to catch the plane.
Our next stop was at a cooking demonstration by Noelle Carter.
She made shrimp skewers.
However, they had spices… so I missed out and gave my bite to Mike.
Our next stop was for dessert at Nana Queen’s Puddin’ and Wings (also featured on The Great Food Truck Race).
While I’m sure the wings are good, we were in it for the puddin’.
It was good, but nothing special. I’m pretty sure it was advertised as coffee/toffee and neither of those flavors were really present. But the texture was perfect.
We didn’t stop at many of the tables selling food due to the lines, however, we heard good things about the Mark Peel station so we decided to try it. He had a beautiful cookbook displayed.
They were out of most things, however, the duck confit sliders were left, which was fortunate since that’s what we came for.
I knew the chef’s name sounded familiar and he looked like someone I knew, however, I didn’t put it together until later that he was on Top Chef Masters. Luckily, he made an appearance while we were there.
I somehow missed taking a picture of the duck sliders, but they were REALLY good and I will definitely be trying Campanile next time I’m in LA.
Our final stop of the day was supposed to be dessert, but this was when we couldn’t get online at the ice cream sandwiches and found out that The Sweets Truck was out of stock. So we went with Korean food! I got a bulgogi taco (which was basically the meat and rice in a taco shell) and it was goooood.
I think the best talk we did all day was actually the one that didn’t lend itself well to being photographed. We went to a wine chat with the head wine guy at The Palm, Jonathan Mitchell. I learned so much about wine in that half hour and he was an excellent speaker.
This was a lot of fun, however, we paid $55 to get in and there was basically nothing to eat without paying more. You got drink tickets, but we weren’t gung ho about getting wasted before driving to the airport for a 6 hour flight. I guess that it makes some sense since most food festivals with free food cost closer to $100, however, it made the lines move very slow and I wish they would have told us more details about there being no free food with the entry price.
I’m glad we went and had a chance to try so many places that we definitely wouldn’t be able to try in NYC. It was a fun and a great way to end our LA trip.