Highlights from Artisanal LA

Over the weekend, thousands of food-loving Angelenos headed downtown to Artisanal LA, an event that gathered local food vendors and gave us the chance to put teeth in the word “locavore.”  A few vendors freely admitted that, before the event, they harbored doubts about the success of the event, but by mid-day Saturday, those doubtful ships had sailed: the huge turnout, big sales, and piqued interest in their stock completely changed their minds.  For food grazers like me, the ample samples, the chance to meet your neighborhood fill-in-the-blank, and the ability to buy, all in one place, everything from pumpkin pie to pickles to potholders all were more than worth the $10 price of admission.  In the end, everyone was very, very happy and jonesing for the next event.  Highlights from Artisanal LA, which you either missed (womp womp) or experienced (woot woot):

Lindy & Grundy’s Lord of the Flies moment

There are new butchers in town, and we’re not talking paper.  Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura will open their butcher shop, Lindy & Grundy, on Fairfax and Melrose in December.  Their focus will be on sourcing local, organic meats as well as making homemade sausages, roast beef, and pastrami.  As they explained during their butchering demo at Artisanal LA, their ultimate aim is to bring back the “lost art of butchering.”  Indeed, the only thing 20th century about their presentation was their assembly line: with a giant piece of pig on deck, Erika cut; a fellow named Tim twined; and Amelia wrapped.  As if to prove to you that they’re serious about all this, Erika opened the demo by channeling Mary Poppins and pulling out a pig’s head out of a deceptively small bag.  Because you should know where your food comes from.

Cafe de Leche’s pour-over coffee

Speaking of lost arts, Los Angeles is finally becoming a decent town for coffee.  Case in point: Highland Park’s Cafe de Leche, whose table hosted the longest lines of the day.   Why?  Because making good coffee takes time.  The coffeehouse utilizes the pour over method: grounds (here, Portland’s Stumptown beans(!)) are placed in a filter and hot water is poured in a continuous stream for a few minutes.  This is but one method to extract the most flavor out of your coffee.  Now, if we can get more cafes to stay open past 8pm …

Flying Pie Man’s Meat Pie

Yuichiro Sato – aka the Flying Pie Man – was crowned the winner of KCRW’s Second Annual Good Food Pie Contest in September.  And he deserved every ruffle on that blue ribbon.  His savory pie was full of delicious seasoned ground beef, olives, and mashed potatoes.

Santee Culinary Program Students’ Salsa

A few of the students over at the Santee Culinary Arts Program are chefs-in-training.  At Artisanal LA, they explained their program and showed off their homemade salsa.  A great program symbolic of the underlying message of Artisanal LA: we have excellent homegrown artisans here.  We should support them from the ground up.

TRU Vodka’s Liqueurs

This local distiller makes their libations with only certified organic ingredients.  The hibiscus liqueur was the highlight; with 20% alcohol, it packed a smooth punch.  Best news yet: they’re hoping to move to Downtown LA in the near future to bring their green drinks even closer to the heart of the city.  In the meantime, you can find them over at Bar Keeper in Silver Lake.

Chef Ricardo Zarate’s Anticucho Peruvian Salsa

A little smoky, not too spicy but still with kick, the Mo Chica chef’s salsa was delicious.  A drop of the salsa on a piece of rustic bread was offered as a sample, which seemed a bit stingy until you ate it and realized that the salsa was robust enough to carry the entire piece.

Creative tabling

Some of the vendors had great displays, proving that their artisan skills extended far beyond their kitchen table.  If I had these guys as a point of reference back in my college tabling days, maybe I would have convinced more people to vote.  Oh, well, sorry America.

Left to right: Bernod’s organic cotton candy tree; feral honey from bee rescuers Backwards Beekeeper, and bakery Bakelab’s microscope.

4 thoughts on “Highlights from Artisanal LA”

  1. I went on Saturday with my 12-year-old son and a good friend. We all agreed that it was an excellent event with lots of opportunities to taste and talk with the vendors. I was blown away by how interested everyone was to talk with people and share their take on their products. I would definitely attend again.

    The smallish size of the event was just about perfect. Too often in LA we tend to blow events into huge productions. I find events of this size and scope much more enjoyable. I would much rather see several smaller events than one large one. Heck, as it was, we were stuffed by the end of our 2.5 hours at the show. I don’t think I could have tasted anything else had I stayed the rest of the day. (LAUGH)

  2. Good LORD, I want me a meat pie. WITH OLIVES. How was the crust? I don’t if anyone can beat Marie Callendar’s tender, flaky crusts for their chicken pot pies. I know it’s not artisinal, but it’s still a good chicken pot pie!!

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