Last Saturday’s LA Food Fest offered an entire hour and a half of exclusive VIP time before general admission. This time allowed us to leisurely enjoy the the event, which was blessed with perfect weather. It also meant we had time to try almost all of the restaurants’ offerings.
If there was any doubt back when Roy Choi started the popular concept, stoner food is huge. Casa served up burgers on pan dulce conchas, while right next-door, The Naughty Churro was serving up fried chicken and churros on a stick. But my favorite munchies were the fried mac and cheese balls from Fred 62, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. Somehow they manage to be rich and decadent without being greasy. Chef Fred Eric has always managed to just tread the line of going too far. Starry Kitchen slung their light and vegan tofu balls rolled in tempura flakes. You can find the recipe in their new cookbook.
There were the always dependable tacos, with Chori Man leading the pack with his Toluca green chicken chorizo taco. Petty Cash Taqueria was almost neck-and-neck though, offering a tender and juicy Chicken Machaca Tostadita made with Slow roasted chicken with tomatoes and poblano peppers, guacamole, pickled onions, roasted peanut sauce, and micro-cilantro. The meat was so rich I had to double-check because I thought it might be carnitas.
There was an entire section devoted to vegan food, with sweet bread from the Ensamaya Project, boba, and Mushrooms en Mole from Todo Verde. Also cooking for team vegan was 5 Elementos with their spicy chipotle Mexicali tacos.
Perhaps the vegan food was meant to counter the carnivorous orgy in the ” Nuevo Gastropub,” with chefs barbecuing a whole cow, two goats and two pigs over an open flame in the South American tradition. Chef Chris Oh made carnitas tacos and chefs Christian Page, Tomas Bermudez and Kris Morningstar made a brisket prepared with a marinade of vinegar and spices.
Some old favorites we enjoyed were Jambalaya from Little Jewel of New Orleans and Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, in spite of that misplaced apostrophe.
New favorites for us were Ceviche Stop’s Peruvian ceviche served in a coconut shell, Tuccio’s light Lightly cured Tasmanian sea trout, avocado puree, pickled mustard seeds, fresh dill and ciabatta and exciting Rays BBQ whose brisket game was strong.
The Ice Cream Social section provided the perfect ending to the day. We loved Salt & Straw’s decadent Salted Caramel, Wanderlust Creameries’ little cones, Jen’s Splendid Ice Cream and cereal ice cream from Afters. Hot Fat made three kinds of donuts (glazed was our favorite). Then we got the best surprise of the day — Nana’s Puddery! What’s better than banana pudding? Straw-nana pudding! It was a great day all around.