Monday, September 3, 2012

LA Street Food Fest @ The Rose Bowl (Pasadena)


The program/map/guide.

As you can see, this was the 3rd festival of it's kind - and my first time attending.

The line half an hour before entry for those who didn't want to shell out 65 bucks for early admission.

The event was held at the Rose Bowl again, but most of the stands were around the stadium this time around.  I guess the field was damaged before?  Either way, I'm glad they set it up the way they did, as most of the shaded area was where the food stands were.  

Besides, this allowed for ample room to lay out on the field, to eat, to rest and recuperate before heading back out for more grub.

 Mariscos Chente - head-on-shrimp aguachile.  

My favorite food truck was here.

They were serving up their famous Tacos Dorados de Camaron.  Biased or not, these guys were my favorites early on to take the crown for best street food at this event.

But there was stiff competition to be sure.

Rather than giving out their popular Vampiros, Mexicali Taco & Co, was serving up my favorite Cachetada.  Damn, already I was torn between these two.  You can make a case for either.  Both are stalwarts in the Los Angeles street food scene.  And yes, I am fully aware that Mexicali has a restaurant now.  But they made their bones on the street and continue to serve street food albeit in a restaurant setting.

Bling Bling's Cheeseburger Dumpling.

Ginger Pork Dumplings.

 Starry Kitchen's Viet-Minced Beef-Tacular was almost a meal onto itself - almost!

As much as I enjoyed their "entree," I loved their Lychee Panna Cotta that much more.  It was my favorite dessert of the event and top 5 food there.

 Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, was Rice & Roll Onigiri.

We tried the edamame onigiri and salmon onigiri.  Both were, by far, the worst things at this event.  Not our least favorite but the worst.    

Tiara Cafe's sweet potato balls and pork belly bites.

There was a long line for The Mighty Boba Truck.  While they didn't have much else aside from Boba Milk Tea, I think they were slammed because 1) despite the shade, it was still damn hot and 2) the water that was being handed out was warm and only available at the entrance.  So everyone wanted something to drink and few others had beverages.

They did have 1 item of food to hand out though and these were brought out to the throngs of people waiting patiently in line.  The Mighty Boba crew did a great job handling the crowd.  Props to you guys!

Texcoco's Tacos de Barbacoa with papalo (short for papaloqulite), or summer cilantro, indigenous to Puebla.

My two-way tie for first place between Mexicali & Jalisco was decided here, at the Mariscos "La Guerrerense" stand.

Their sea snail tostadas with everything won me over.

I loved these so much, I went back for 2nds, 3rds and a 4th helping.

The seafood tasted so fresh and the array of salsas, including a spicy peanut condiment put these over the top for me.  I highly recommend everyone try their tostadas.  They're in Baja California but definitely worth seeking out.

Antojito Sofy's Corundas - These tamales were my least favorite amongst the baja chef's offerings. I found them too dense as they were primarily masa and very little cheese.

 Kokopelli made their U.S. debut with...

Black Harder - Ceviche cooked in lime and squid ink.

 Another of my favorites also came from south of the border.

Mariscos el Mazateño had this huge pot of spicy shrimp that they spooned next to a quesadilla.

Their Taco de Camaron Enchilado was so delicious.  I wanted another helping but by this time, my stomach was reaching its limit and I still had more than half of the stands to go. 

Trekking on, we hit up Javier Plascencia's Mision 19.

He was cooking up "goodies" inside a caja china. 

By "goodies" I mean, pork wrapped in fig leaves.

This dish had so much depth going on.  It consisted of shredded pork shoulder, fig leaf, pickled veggies, coleslaw & heirloom beans.  This did not feel like street food, but I didn't care.  It was good.

I was getting tired of walking around so we headed for the field to rest a bit.  On the way there, however, we came across a truck with no line.  I felt bad for the guys so I stopped to grab a chicken chimichurri slider from the Cambalaches Truck.  This was too big, bready, dry and relatively flavorless for my taste.  It didn't help matters that I just had my taste buds bombarded with the Baja Chefs. 

Inside of the stadium, there were a few more stands.  Wine, tequila and mezcal were available to taste.

My Mezcal courtesy of Los Javis.

Being a sports nut, I was pretty excited to spend some time on the field - and not just any field, but the grand daddy of them all.

Laying out on the field, I wish I had brought a pigskin with me to chuck around.  Next time!

Once we were semi-rested, we went back for more.

We hit up the My Delight Cup Cakery Truck.  They had 2 cupcakes at the time.  So naturally, we grabbed them both.

I was drawn to the Breakfast Cupcake.  I liked the frosting and bacon topping more than the cake itself.

I don't remember the flavor of this cupcake but I liked the cake on this one better.

SpiceTable's Spicy Wings.  

Mo Chica's Picarones - Kabocha Pumpkin Beignets with Chancaca Sauce (raw unrefined sugar crystallized with honey).  I'm starting to think Ricardo Zarate is texturally challenged.  I'm kidding.  But I find that a lot of the food I've had from him are soft and mushy.  I gotta try Picca now. 

John Sedlar from Playa provided the event with Cielo Verde Comets.

I'm not sure what business this menu had here other than self-promotion.  But looking over the cocktails. I was beginning to get thirsty again.

A closer inspection of the "comet."  The salad is made from John Sedlar's Cielo Verde/rooftop garden at Playa.  Among other things, this salad is composed of micro greens, pac choi, arugula, spinach and chipotle dressing.

This was another favorite dish of mine.  Again, I'm not sure it classifies as "street food."  it was delicious, nonetheless.

It was provided from a yet to open restaurant in Downtown LA.  Bestia, when it opens, will be another welcome addition to the renaissance in the Arts District.

 Cochinito Pibil Taco from La Flor de Yucatan.  I thought it was a little dry. but I did enjoy the habanero sauce.  

 I drove out 15 miles or so for guava/cheese puff and chicken/chipotle pastries when these guys are less than 2 miles away from home.  They were okay.

 Haven Gastropub brought some sticky fresno chile and tangerine pigs ears.  They were too sweet for my liking but perfectly crunchy with enough fattiness/cartlidge on them to remind you that you were eating pork ears.

 Another dish Haven brought to the masses was this Cola Glazed Berkshire Pork over Corn.

Hendrick's Gin had a booth and they served up 2 dainty cocktails.

I enjoyed both but the serving size sucked.

Next year, I'd prefer an option for the purchase of a full drink, if this is all they're gonna be giving out.

I'd also appreciate full pours of beer and not half pours.  And start promoting local breweries already.  Craftsman Brewery is up the road and you can't support them?  C'mon, get with it!

Nonna's Kitchenette, of current Food Network fame, made these Maple-Glazed French Toast Crostinis.  They were okay but didn't stand out in any way.  For the record, I predict Seoul Sausage will win the Great Food Truck Race.  I wish I had tried their balls, as well as other items of food at this event, but my stomach had about enough at this point.

On the way out, we grabbed some more sweets from the ice cream social area of the event but by then so was everyone else.  We managed to grab a few things.  These refreshing snow cones cups from Ice ice Shavie.  One was Blackberry; the other, pineapple cilantro.

Like I said, I wish I had more time and room to have tried other things.  I also wish I hadn't tried some of the heavier items.  I photographed almost everything I ate, with the exception of maybe 4 things.  One of them was cow brain in coconut cream soup.  I liked the soup but the brain was a little challenging to chew.  Perhaps I should have shot it?  

All in all, I enjoyed the event - especially the baja chefs.  I hope they will be asked to return because that might be enough to entice me to check em out next year.  The awards were given out at some point but I was in a food coma somewhere.  Here are the winner as chosen by the judges and public.  From what I ate, my favorites were: 1) Mariscos La Guerrerense  2) Mariscos el Mazateño  3) Bestia  4) Starry Kitchen's Lychee Panna Cotta  &  5) Mision 19.


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