Saturday afternoon’s Field to Fork hosted by Russ Parsons and Gary Menes focused on locally sourced seasonal dishes. There were a number of creative vegetarian and vegan dishes. Toca Madera fooled the palate with a ceviche of fresh young coconut, lime, Roma tomatoes, cilantro, pickled onions, and avocadoes on a plantain chip. Along with their popular nitrogen candy, “Nitro Fruity Pebble Meringue,” that makes you blow smoke like a dragon, Superba Food + Bread created a vegan chicharron that was similar to Asian “shrimp chips.”
Gadarene Swine’s Castelvetrano Olives stuffed with sweet potato and Kalamata olives, beer-batter fried, then tossed in an apple-lime syrup had a complex combination of salt, brine and sugar that made the perfect bar snack. Doomie’s pleased the vegetarians with their pulled “pork” sandwiches. I was initially disappointed to see that Son of a Gun “only” had salad, but how can you be disappointed with the “Cucumber Salad of Happiness?”
M Café de Chaya stuffed tofu inari pockets with the ocean vegetable hijiki, Japanese greens called mizunaw, pickled burdock and daikon with sticky rice. It turned out to be one of the best things I ate all day. The combination of flavors, especially the pickling, gave me a new appreciation not only for vegan food, but for Japanese food in general. The District served Hannah’s signature handmade noodles with a mint pesto and a “secret” sauce.
People were defnitely not afraid of meat, either. BOA cooked up a mouthwatering slider with a patty of New York strip steak and short rib. Belcampo Meat Company did a cute take on Pigs in a Blanket with a skewered sausage and puff pastry. Public House topped a huge Cape Cod Chip with smoked chicken, Romano and a lovely fresh succotash with red pepper.
Texcoco served a “traditional lamb BBQ” taco. I could tell it was head meat by the big eyeball staring back at me from the chafing dish. Pinches Tacos had a very long line for their carne asada, al pastor and pollo tacos, which took a long time due to handmade tortillas and each taco being made to order. They wanted me to admire their floral arrangement, telling me it’s a side business. I’m not sure if he was pulling my leg or not. They were nice flowers.
Asian Box, a concept of assemble-your-own Asian plates along the lines of Subway, Chipotle or TAP Buns and Bowls with storefronts, pop-ups and catering, was inspired by the fast turnover and freshness of Asian markets. The was in their element with a philosophy of using sustainable, locally-sourced food and biodegradable packaging. Their lamb meatballs and glass noodles were interesting, but we were really taken by their Vietnamese version on congee with pork. Pedaler’s Fork served three different dishes but impressed us most with their Skuna Bay Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs.
Bottega Louie had a variety of French macarons, including strawberry and the gold leaf-dusted Earl Grey that were in some peril from the bright sun. Ice cream was the dessert of the day. Quenelle, my Burbank locals, served a variety of ice creams. I really enjoyed the Thai Tea. Choctal presented their geographically specific chocolate and vanilla ice creams from around the world. Soon they will be offering ice cream flights at restaurant. Stay tuned for more details.
Dandy Don’s Ice Cream had make-your-own sundaes. Have you ever taken your first mouthful of food, expecting one thing, and been so surprised that you stopped eating and looked around for someone to share your amazement? I had expected the ice cream to be flavorful, having seen the black speckles of vanilla bean, but it was possibly the best vanilla ice cream I have ever eaten. I returned to the booth to rave, and was introduced to Dandy Don Himself. Clad in a red and white striped shirt and ice cream cone tie, he was like the Orville Redenbacher of ice cream, or maybe even Willy Wonka.
I loved Avion Tequila’s lemonade, lighter and less sweet than a margarita. Over at the Kirin booth, their Ichiban Shibori Frozen Draft was served with a topping of frozen beer foam from a special machine that dispenses like soft serve ice cream.
Photos by Elise Thompson for the LA Beat and by The Offalo