Over the weekend, I got a chance to check out Artisanal LA, a 2-day showcase of local bakers, chocolatiers, chefs and other food artisans held at the Cooper Building in Downtown L.A. It was nice to go to a food event that was extremely inexpensive ($10 tickets, if purchased in advance) where you actually get to speak at length with the people behind the yummy food, all of which were being sampled. Uh, sign me up!
The airy, well-lit loft space was well organized, and my parents and I decided to tackle the event from one end to the next. We immediately were drawn to these beautiful baguettes from Homeboy Industries (me + bread = happy) and almost gave into the smell of tacos coming from their flattop but we resisted since we had to save room for all of the other goodies being dished out. I was glad to see Homeboy Industries represented, and got a chance to congratulate them on the upcoming restaurant in LAX that will in the near future. The person I spoke with said that although they are happy about having an income source for the struggling company, the location (in an international airport) prohibits ex-felons from working there…which kind of defeats the purpose of having a Homeboy Industries restaurant, since the mission of the company is to help ex-convicts to get back into the work force. It’s unfortunate, and I hope the company will be able to open up additional businesses that can actually employ they people that they are helping.
As we walked around, our eyes darted from cupcakes to pies to salsas, cheese and crackers; I was in foodie heaven and tried my best to sample everything. One particularly gorgeous display was put on by Compartes Chocolatier. I mean, they are almost too pretty to eat:
Ok, ALMOST. I got to sample a honey-peanut-butter filled dark chocolate and it was insanely delicious. The filling tasted like real, natural peanut butter and wasn’t too sugary or sweet- a perfect partner to the smooth, dark chocolate. I made a mental note to myself that next time I needed to give one of my sweet-tooth friends a gift, I’d head over to the Compartes shop over in Brentwood.
Much of the food offerings were of the sweet variety, but there were a few savory items, such as Yuichiro Sato's meat pies. Sato won Best In Show at KCRW’s Second Annual Good Food Pie Contest which I’d read about in the LA Weekly, so I was happy to see he’d set up a booth and I got to try the rich meat pie. It was really tasty- kind of like a pot pie with a shepherd’s pie filling. Although Sato has yet to open up a shop, I’m sure there is one in his near future since his product is a really good one.
Cast Iron Gourmet, I was getting pretty full. I did purchase a bottle of spicy anticucho from Chef Ricardo Zarate of Mo Chica and Test Kitchen (which I used on last night's shrimp tacos), plus a large jar of Hell Fire pepper jelly from Jenkins Jellies. I remember a few years back I went to a friend’s BBQ, and someone offered me some neon green jelly and cream cheese on a cracker, and although the color alarmed me, I still remember how the sweet/spicy jalapeno and smooth cream cheese was a match made in heaven. Luckily Jenkins Jellies version of pepper jelly is all natural, so it doesn’t resemble some scary green Jell-O. I think I may just plop a brick of cream cheese onto a plate, dump half the jar of the Hell Fire jelly on top, bust out a box of crackers, lock the door, draw the curtains and go to town!
Between the bites of cheese, chunks of brownie, pieces of cupcake and a ridiculously good snack of trail mix and candied, thick cut bacon called “Couch Mix” from the evil minds at
I hope there are many more events like Artisanal LA, and I look forward to attending again next year.
Did any of you attend? What was your favorite local food item??Chef Ricardo Zarate