The James Beard Awards may be a big deal nationwide, but in my years in LA and Pittsburgh, I didn’t feel like there was enough official recognition of local talent. Not so much in Arizona, which just had its Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame Awards. The event was at the snazzy Wrigley Mansion in the Phoenix Biltmore area and had some light apps to go with the awards.
Being in the media has its advantages. Case in point: getting to check out the menu and beers at SanTan Brewing Company in Chandler. For this event, SanTan wanted to highlight beer pairings and the normal menu without any specials, but also showed off the backroom where the brewing is actually done. Unlike other breweries I’ve been to, we were encouraged to bring a beer along for the tour, and that beer was the StrataBlaster IPA, part of the brewery’s pilot series and a great place to start.
There’s something about state fairs that brings out the best America has to offer in terms of food creativity. Screw molecular gastronomy, I want to know what the latest in fried, bacon-wrapped and Flaming Hot Cheetos is in the world. And while the Arizona State Fair isn’t known as well as some others, there was still room for some interesting bites. One thing I didn’t bite, by the way, was a turkey leg, because, well, booooring.
We can all agree that Phoenix is not LA. Good, now that that’s settled, Phoenix does appear to get an event or two on occasion, and the first since I made the big move was the 8th Annual Arizona Taco Festival, which converged at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. While the place is better-known for MLB spring training, the vast field was put to good use in hosting dozens of vendors pushing mostly tacos, but also drinks, desserts and the occasional t-shirt.
There is, perhaps, no prettier place in the world to host a food event than the Saddlerock Ranch. LA Magazine knows this and that’s why I found myself at Saddlerock in Malibu for The Food Event on October 16th, 2016. I arrived a bit late so a few stalls were already out of food, but I immediately set to work on eating and drinking.
Below are the highlights:
There was a time when Diners, Drive-ins and Dives was pretty much the best food-related alliteration. Then came Los Angeles Magazine’s Burgers, Bourbon + Beer, laying out some of the best consumable things in the world. The event took place in Santa Monica at The Victorian and showcased a number of bite-sized burgers (no, not sliders), a few bourbons and beers from Golden Road. Oh, and there was ice cream, chocolate and music as well. But you’re at Unvegan.com, which means everything took a back stage to the burgers. Better yet, this was a competition, so instead of just mass-producing burgers, these were all cooked to perfection. Not even I could eat all of them, but I did my damnedest.
A couple of weeks ago, The Backyard Bite invited me to The Burger Culture Clash, sponsored by Stussy (which apparently still exists) and Plan Check. Plan Check, by the way, is a sort of new (since February) restaurant in West LA with Chef Ernesto Uchimura of Umami Burger fame. As my love of burgers, especially those of the umami variety, I jumped at the opportunity.
Although I arrived alone, I was not the only lone eater. Just next to where I was seated, I met e*star LA and we decided to share a meal called loneliness, because it’s better than eating alone. We made quick friends over our respective blogs and Midwestern roots, then got to work at dissecting the special menu, which Plan Check will be featuring for the next month if anything tickles your fancy.
Guest blog courtesy of Joel Danto and Bacon.
December 4th was a very momentous day. You may be wondering, just as my people do during Passover, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” Well, friendos, prepare to be shocked and possibly appalled, as I have done something completely reprehensible. I…ate…bacon. And I didn’t just eat bacon, I threw a BACON BASH — complete with a six course menu. Yes, if it existed, I would probably be going to Jewish Hell, which likely consists of strapping me to a chair and making me watch Joan Rivers television shows on repeat with a bagel, cream cheese and lox slightly out of reach. Hopefully this is a Hell that few will ever have to experience.
Today is the day to celebrate that painfully expensive cut of steak, the Filet Mignon. It’s hard to think of the Filet Mignon as a manly meat, considering it is French for “dainty fillet.” Nonetheless, it is quite tasty and really every day is a day for tasty meat.
On Saturday, my friends and I headed down to Koreatown for the Korean BBQ Festival and Cook-Off. Korean BBQ is known to be heavy in meat, so I felt this would be a great opportunity to tackle my daily meat intake.
The festival ran from 12:00-5:00 and although we arrived around 1:00, the lines were already getting pretty long. I wasn’t too surprised by the long lines since the event was free, plus $10 per plate.
Assuming the longest lines had the best food, I jumped into one of the lines without
even knowing what it was.