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Feb 28, 2010 07:51 PM

J. Gold's Sunday Food Fest

So, who went, and how was it?

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  1. P and I went, we went the previous year and LOVED it despite some first year grumbles (Food running out early, SUPER long lines, silverware shortage, no parking, annoying space...) We knew what the trick was, get there early, hit our favorites firsts and PACE yourself (I swear, I see people more GREEN after this event than I did in any of my clubbing years... LOL!!)

    Anyway, this year, the changed the local and it totally worked.... Plenty of parking, very airy and the booths were organized in a much better fashion. Further, these restaurants now KNOW what to expect, so they were able to churn out some truly AMAZING things and keep the lines moving! Last year we joked that every other booth had Pork Belly... this year the variety was truly astounding and really spoke to what this events were about (Stewed Lenga! Pigs Ear Bahn Mi!)

    Anyway, of course, on to the chow!!

    Border Grill: Blackened and Crusted Fish Tacos with Creamy Corn Salsa and Pickled Onions. This dish looked AMAZING... No wonder I was SO drawn to it but upon closer inspection, I thought it was total overkill. But on first bite, it worked. The fish was very meaty and flavorful so it totally stood up to the spices and toppings. And the toppings totally added to the fish flavor which would have been rather over done. It was a bright, rich pop of a taco. One of my favorites of the event FULL of Tacos...

    Lets Be Frank Hotdogs. We have been a fan of Sue's Hotdogs since she had a tiny cart across from the dusty shell that would be Father's Office L.A. We LOVE how much she's grown since then and send friends to her ALL the time. But most people say, Come on, How good can a hot dog be. Well sue will show you EXACTLY how GOOD a Hot Dog should be. She had a variety of dogs, was serving up GENEROUS tasting of them. Even better she revealed that she was now bottling and selling her Devil Dog Sauce!

    Beacon: Asian Style Short Rib Tostadas: Last year, Beacon’s Snap Pea salad was one of my favorite unique items of the event. This year, I looked forward to what they would have to offer (honestly, I was hoping for more snap peas!) and they did not disappoint with their little tostada that was everything right about the term “Flavor Bomb”.

    They also offered a wonderful fennel salad, which was a good thing to have because right across the way, Palate had one of the most TALKED About dishes of the event… Pork Belly and Pig Ear Bahn Mi. YES…. I.AM.SERIOUS. LOOK!!!

    We recently went to Palate and were so impressed with what they were doing over there with taking the most wonderful ingredients (such as pigs ears… look up any one of my Cochinita posts and you will probably find me telling people what an essential food ingredient they are) and not only cooking them to their absolutely best, but making them into dishes that even the most timid diner might be tempted to take a ‘little bite’. Because of the nature of the event, I would say, probably over half of the people had NO idea about the pig ears in this dish, until they took a bite and had an experience unlike anything else… a GREAT experience, but one that makes you go, WTF was THAT?! Pigs Ears…

    As much as a thing of beauty that sandwich was… I have to say, my favorite item of the event was Mozza’s Caponada with Ricotta Crustini…

    To me, this little bite was EVERYTHING this event was about. Nancy Silverton was there working with her team. Making sure each item was prepared properly, little bit of super flavorful caponada (With the most wonderful little olives ever… must find those…) and then freshly toasted bread with a generous HEAP of excellent quality Ricotta on top in which Nancy herself then generously poured imported olive oil over. A sprinkle of sea salt, a sprinkle of coarse cracked pepper and generous heap of fresh parsley. Then, forget the plastic spoons we all carried around in our sacks… she gave us the most adorable wooden spoon. So much care and pride for a dish to be consumed in about 30 seconds. THIS is why I love food and people who love it as much as I do. Nancy is my people…

    One thing that usually annoys me about these events, is when restaurants make dishes that they don’t even have on their menus! This being Jar’s first year at the event, I was so tickled to see them highlight one of their signature dishes, their Pot Roast, but they did deviate a bit and served it as a filling for tiny sliders with a SUPER pungent Horseradish sauce (Which you can get at the restaurant). Jar is such a formal restaurant that it WOULD be hard to translate at such a casual setting, but they totally hit it out of the ball park (And their having their chocolate and butterscotch pudding on hand also helped… A LOT!)

    That being said, it was truly AMAZING to see what restaurants did with the limitations of the festival environment. Case in point… Good Girl Dinette… made individual servings of their famous Chicken Pot Pies… at the restaurant, you have to wait, at least 20 minutes as they make it order… so worth the wait… but still, very hard when you see other diners noshing on their other great menu items… at the event you just walked up and picked one up!!

    And they were still warm!! And the biscuity topping and flavorful filling, EXACTLY the same as the restaurant. Dang girls… you are good…

    The other how the heck did they do that?! Went to La Casita who along with showcasing their Tres Moles,

    They also made Mini Chiles en Nogadas. Now, it still wasn’t my favorite version of the dish, but I got so much joy that they actually were able to take this dish and make it available to people who might have never even tasted it, even if they went to La Casita (IN my many times there, it’ve notices it’s not ordered all that often) and made it so snackable!!

    And speaking of kissing and making up… I’ve said some harsh things before about Lorteria here… In my defense, I’ve been to their restaurants MANY MANY times and they are favorite of my office for catering events and a dear friend’s mom actually is high up in the Loteria empire (why it’s good to be incognito! ;)) . So I’ve gotten a HUGE sampling of their dishes… but there was one, ONE I had not tried… that I didn’t even know was ON their menu… and P. MADE me eat it… Lengua en Salsa Verde

    OMG!! It’s been a while since a taco just blew me away… and this one did. So tender, so flavorful, so ESSENTIAL to everything that a taco should be. I actually had to CHECK to makes sure that Loteria actually sell this… and they do (It’s part of their special dishes). I had a wonderful exchange with Mr. Gold after the event to thank him personally for the event, as it brought not only more people to know the wonders of Pig’s ears AND Beef’s Tongues…

    FINALLY, the sweets!!

    Huckleberry was there and I was just THRILLED!! The first stop for most people, they were wiped out QUICK… but not before I got mini versions of their famous Maple Bacon Scone !

    Although cute and full of flavor, the small shot was a bit dry… so it was a little bit of a let down… luckily I also picked up a mini version of their Bacon Cheese Croissant.

    OMG! This is the Huckleberry I know and Love… I’m not one for stuffed croissants, I like my croissants above all to be FLAKEY, and filling weighs them down. This one had just the right amount of pungent cheese and crisp bacon bits so it became one with the flakey airy pastry. Can’t wait to try the full size… if I get there before everyone else does…

    But the best sweets of the event was Bulgarini Gelato, for me, their Pistachio Gelato. I am a pistachio fiend, and quite honestly , I’ve never had a Pistachio dessert I went “OMG! That’s vile!” I’ve happily eaten all of them (One of my favorite Pistachio Ice Cream is Thrifty’s and I’ve been known to horde boxes of Pistachio Flavored Jello Pudding). But Bulgarini’s captures the essence of Pistachio like nothing else. So rich, just sweet enough without messing with the nuttiness that is essential… This was my last bite of anything at the event. No wonder I left happier than I’ve been in a long time…

    Ugh… I know this turned into a monster post, and I’m proud of ya if you made it through… I just KNOW how much work went into putting the event together, from the chefs and LA Weekly, and they did a truly AMAZING job and I DEEPLY appreciate it… I can’t wait until next year!!


    17 Replies
    1. re: Dommy

      You more than answered the OP's question, methinks...

      1. re: J.L.

        And now the Reader's Digest version....

        Definitely a step up from last year. Better venue and a great mix of food. Really nice desserts too. I was never a Bulgarini fan, but I am now. The Espresso Granita was fantastic. The first time I had a dessert that really tasted of good Espresso. Palate was amazing with the Pig Ear Sandwiches. I love Pig Ear and have never had it on a baguette! I want to thank Good Girl Dinette for having the Pot Pie, I had been there before and they were out. It is a really good dish. I will go there again and order it.

        Thought the choices the restaurants made were very creative. And I was turned on to a few places that I now want to eat (Huckleberry). Thought the crowd and lines were manageable. No nightmares like I heard about at the Street Food Fest. After the initial rush, I found that I could go right back to some of my favs for seconds very easily. The Petersen was a good choice since there was parking and it was fun looking at the cars while waiting in line to get in.

        1. re: bsquared2

          "And now the Reader's Digest version...."

          Wouldn't that be the "Eaters Digest" version? ;-D>

          Thanks to you and Dommy both for very illuminating and compelling reviews that have now made me sorry I didn't attend. You have me wanting to take my wife to the Good Girl Dinette for a pot pie (one of her favorite things to eat).

          1. re: Servorg

            Oh right now it's a wonderful time to be Chicken Pot Pie Lover in L.A.

            The Good Girl version is truly a special thing because it's a Curry pie and it's made to order with this DENSE but wonderful Biscuit Topping... But because it's made to order takes a bit to order and when it's served, it's PIPING hot. Molten actually... you want so bad to take your first bite it's almost to the point of infuriating... LOL!! Here's a picture of the restaurant version (With a little vent in the corner I made to cool things along... LOL!)


            Also, a completely different beast, but I can not rave about it enough, the Pot Pie at woodspoon. More traditional crust that is SO Flakey and flavorful with a filling that has a whisper of brazil. It's the perfect size while still being so satistfying.




            1. re: Dommy

              Hey Dommy, glad you also approve of the Woodspoon chicken pot pie. In Brazil this is called empadao, and it is ubiquitous in Brazil. They make mini versions, and full pies that are individually sliced for customers, 100% Brazilian food, chicken and hearts of palm.

              1. re: streetgourmetla

                We had an all around fabulous meal there a couple of weeks ago and have been telling all our friends about it (Since it's an excellent value, casual, but still very nice service and there is plenty of parking in the area at Dinnertime.) and I SQEALED when it was featured at the most recent The Best Thing I Ever Ate (Go Giada!), from just our one visit, we knew that they truly cared about the food they were serving, and from their segment on the TV show, their commitment was oozing from the screen. :D


                1. re: Dommy

                  Natalia is a fantastic cook from Minas Gerais. You should arrange for her to do something from her state, like chicken with okra, called frango com quiabo. One of my favorite dishes ever. Hope they finally get their liquor license sometime soon.

                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                    They've had their wine & beer for a few months. Excellent sangria!

            2. re: Servorg

              It was really was one of the best food events. Usually at "Taste of Southgate" or other city "Taste of..." events, they have no name or people that paid to be involved. I like the fact that this event is curated. Far be it from me to question any of JG's choices and I thought they were all top-notch.

              You really could eat yourself silly. All the portions were generous. Plus there was a lot of wine. I also liked the fact that there were more desserts than last year. I met some friends and turned them on to Saffron Sweet ice cream (worth the trip to Artesia though).

              I still have a jones for that Palate Banh Mi. I need to know if it is on the menu because I will drive there this weekend and eat 2 of them.

        2. re: Dommy

          WOW! Dommy, thank you, thank you, thank you. You certainly answered my question.

          1. re: Dommy

            it seemed like huckleberry was the star of the show. their pastries were all excellent including the mini chocolate cupcakes. the winter vegetables with burrata was great too.

            i thought mo chica's albacore cevechi was very good as was little dom's fried oyster sandwich. hungry cat's play on a rueben with cured salmon was great too. bistro lq had a great braised oxtail as well as a full cheese spread.

            very fun event. well organized. considering how many people were there, it was well run. already planning for next year.

            1. re: cdub

              Bistro LQ was one I missed because it was constantly hidden by the line at Bulgarini... by the time I realized where they were, they had closed up shop... Ah well. :)

              1. re: Dommy

                almost forgot about the chocolate bar dessert at bistro lq. incredible. it seemed like the bistro lq line was just obscene due to their cheese guy who was giving out huge portions of 6 cheeses or so. it seemed like their line completely covered tiara's booth. barely knew tiara was even there.

                1. re: cdub

                  Yeah, I also missed Tiara, but I always get my fill of them at Unique LA Events, so they weren't on my hit list. :) Ah well, I guess I have to try their cheese service at their REAL restaurant then...;D


            2. re: Dommy

              Hi Dommy!

              Great review / post. Thanks so much for the enjoyable read, information and making me salivate as I type this. (^_~) I'm really happy to hear it went smoothly this year and I can't wait to try it next year.

              The Pig Ear Banh Mi sounds wonderful and pretty much everything else you gushed about. :) Thanks!

              1. re: Dommy

                Awesome job! Now I sort of regret not going. I'm usually not one for food fests finding them more trouble than they're worth. But sounds like this was well organized and worth the admission fee.

              2. I thought the event was really well organized and the food was really good. There were a LOT of wines to sample too. Definitely worth going to next year, for those that were on the fence and didn't go this year.

                3 Replies
                1. re: noahbites

                  That is my other absolute favorite part of the event, the WIDE variety of wines and for me, Bubbly!! So many yummy sparkling wines... the Rose Cava went beautifully after a few bites of the Pig Ear Bahn Mi!


                  1. re: Dommy

                    Thank you both for a great report. Mrs. S and I are envious. The real question is how come we dhdn't know about this? We try to read LA Weekly (weekly). I've put your post into our "food events" file so we'll know next year what to do (and not). Thanks again!

                    1. re: TomSwift

                      I'll second Mr. Swift's thanks, and his envy. Unlike him, we did have adequate notice, but had obligated ourselves to host a dinner party that day. It was very nice and we had a good time, but nothing like what the GoldFest apparently was. Especially hard for me to miss because it was at one of my favorite museums! Maybe they'll do it there again...??

                2. We went last year and had a great time, and it was even better this year. We did the VIP tickets, which for an extra $20pp allowed us to enter the event an hour earlier and beat the crowds. It was definitely nice to enter early and get to sample all our top picks without any wait, but the lines didn't seem too bad once general admission entered anyway. Some standout items were the albacore ceviche at Mo Chica (which was really more of a sashimi with a delicious spicy sauce), the smoked salmon dish at Sona, and the signature pot roast sliders and chocolate pudding at Jar. Ludo had a smoky, creamy cold chorizo soup with a cornichon sorbet in it that my husband loved but I found a bit overwhelming. Lots of other great and interesting dishes as well.

                  1. Just thought I'd throw in my .02 and say that this year's event, unlike last year's, was so smooth and fantastic.

                    We just did General Admission, and felt we MORE than had everything we wanted. I believe we actually tried every item from every booth. There were a few lines, but for the most part this ran like clockwork -- my praise to The Peterson and the LA Weekly staff for making everything so nice and smooth.

                    I definitely felt we got more than fair value, and we all had a wonderful time. Others have gone over the dishes, so I'll skip that with the exception of Bulgarini's Yogurt Ice Cream with Olive Oil -- simply sublime. That's two weekends in a row I've had it, and it is out of this world good. Unfortunately, it was only available at the end of the event, so I'm not sure how many stuck around for it.

                    Kudos, and I'd highly recommend everyone go if you can next year.

                    1. wow I guess I'm in the minority on this one. Yes the logistics of the event were 100% better than last year. Plenty of parking, shorter lines for food, less crowded, etc. However, compared to last year, i thought the food was very disappointing. Sure I left the place full, but nothing really stood out where I thought it was amazing. In fact, most of the dishes that were served were very mediocre. Some of my friends that I went with because I raved about how great the event was last year, said that the friend chicken from Kyochon was the best thing they had that day, and that's something they've had many time before. $60 and best thing is fried chicken wings? I'm not sure I'll be back next year.