The annual Los Angeles Epicurean Festival brought the best of food, wine, and spirits together under one roof this past Sunday at Vibiana in Downtown Los Angeles. One of the largest fests of its kind, the LA Epicurean Fest lives up to its name, especially since the name contains epic. A food fest typically sees guests sampling food from various vendors. Epicurean allows guests more privileges than merely sampling – guests gain a full experience in small packages at a time. With abundant wines to taste and pair, wine connoisseurs could not easily taste everything within the three-hour event duration.
All around the main hall, attendees could try many different foods as well, most of which have no substitutions. Take, for example, these cake truffles from Velvet Rope Bake Shop:
If you have eaten cakeball pops, think of these little bites of heaven as a cake pop, but intensely more dense. One of these truffles contains the same density as four cake pops. In addition to traditional flavors like Red Velvet and Double Chocolate, Velvet Rope Bake Shop crafts “adult flavors” such as Guinness, Chardonnay, and Dirty Martini. After sampling these flavors, I believe that Velvet Rope Bake Shop truly epitomizes the phrase “Often imitated, never duplicated.”
Right beside Velvet Rope Bake Shop, I tried this all-natural ketchup with sweet potato fries:
The sweet potato fries did not stand out, but the ketchup completely amazed me. I normally do not consume ketchup anymore because most ketchup out there contains high fructose corn syrup, which I try to avoid entirely. This all-natural ketchup still tasted sweet like it did have high fructose corn syrup, but also had a tomato tartness, where you can tell that the ketchup does not contain unneccesary added sugar.
I continued my scroll around the hall, slowly browsing through all four aisles of the fest:
Eventually, I circled around and discovered that an opened side door led to an entire outdoors area of the fest!
As I started to explore outside, the very first thing to catch my eye had the most important food words on its sign:
Ladies and gentlemen, Foie Gras had returned to me. I knew I recognized the sign from the petition back in June to attempt to overturn the Foie Gras ban, but for now, simply getting Foie Gras back in my lips satisfied me to no end.
Immediately past the Foie Gras booth, I found a French gentleman sampling not just any old iced coffee – nothing “any old” about this coffee. This gentleman carried glass bottles that resembled beer bottles, but contained pure black coffee. Consumers should drink this coffee straight up black – no sugar, no creamer. For a hot day, I definitely needed something cold to cool me down, so I humbly accepted an entire bottle.
Across from the iced coffee, a booth contained chips with gourmet salsas:
In front of that booth, a woman sampled shots of Hazelnut Espresso Vodka. It sounds strange, but after trying it, I really wanted to buy a bottle… but my wallet said no.
The next booth over from the salsa booth contained Caribbean food:
The last booth in that row had exotic meat sausages. From left to right: Llama, Kangaroo, Wild Boar. Finally, I could cross llama off my list of meats to eat.
Continuing my tour of the outside area before stepping back in to the main hall, I discovered a booth with meatballs made with 100% grass-fed beef:
Next to that booth, I spotted a giant rotisserie with various meats already spinning inside it:
Another booth outside had cold meat samples: Smoked Turkey, Applewood-smoked Bacon, Canadian Bacon, and Smoked Liver Pâté.
On my way back inside, I noticed a sign that said SooFoo in giant bold letters. This grains mix reminded me of quinoa, but with different grains and nutrients. Personally, I would stick with quinoa, but this healthier alternative (as they claim) could find its way into mainstream soon.
Back inside, after having sampled all that food, I searched for something cold or sweet. My search did not last long, as I stumbled upon this bakery serving cappuccino cream puffs topped with a caramel ring candy:
Going around to the next aisle, a lady served a few varieties of latkes:
Samples of crème fraîche lie in wait just beyond the last lady:
Continuing down this aisle, I saw these cute little fruitcake-like logs resembling works of art:
The best part of this aisle came at the end: chocolate truffles.
Down the next aisle, I finally found the escargot, which I as a foodster knew I had to try. Once you get past the fact that you just ate a snail, the texture and taste does not seem that bad.
Further down this aisle, a pastry chef set out mini pastry dishes for display:
Up near the main stage, a French gentleman named Stephane Treand worked away at crafting food art:
During the entire fest, cooking competitions took place on the main stage. These competitions pit two chefs head-to-head to cook dishes for the judges, in a similar vein to what Food Network shows.
That concludes my pictorial of the Los Angeles Epicurean Festival. Costing $100 per person to enter, do not take this fest lightly – should you attend next year, embrace everything around you, and take advantage of everything available to guests. I guarantee you will discover amazing food and drinks here.