By Laura Medina
The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival has come a long way, busting the "Hollywood" stereotype of the anorexic starlet and living on nothing but salad and diet soda.
Okay, okay, they still subsist on cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juices but California grows the best produce and raises one of the cleanest cattle around, which attracts the best chefs...in turn, awesome restaurants pop up, turning former vegans into artisanal meat lovers and hard-core carnivores into pastry patrons.
The match-up of great produce with talented chefs have risen Los Angeles' foodie game to the point that it is very much fashionable to be a foodie in LA.
The middle and second night of the festival, Night Market highlights what's trendy in Los Angeles' foodie scene.
Last year's Night Market showcased the hottest Asian dishes underneath the moon-literally.
This year's Night Market spotlighted All-American fare well done. That night's host, Tyler Florence (a Charleston boy done good) fried a batch of fried chicken with herbs mixed and fried into the batter. His staff served them on a huge platter to the eager foodies, right off the gate, right at the start. Boy, was that chicken juicy without being notoriously greasy.
Well done, Tyler Florence!
Also in attendance and walking into the festival at the same time was Chef Aaron Sanchez and his posse of friends. Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival is the only time chefs are treated like rockstars...with an entourage.
Nothing says "love" like an Okonomi Hot Dog.
Night Market Night also reflects the changing demographic's taste which mirrors the changing demographics, as in the fan favorite, Okonomi Hot Dog which will open in Little Tokyo soon.
The folks manning the bustling Okonomi Hot Dog described it as cross between a Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich and a traditional All-American hot dog. Basically, it's a juicy, plump wiener topped with Banh Mi dressings.
The Okonomi Hot Dog was so ample and juicy that couples share. How's that for a Valentine's?!
Last year's Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival was sorely lacking in desserts and beverage options, other than water and wine.
This time, they made up for it, appropriately for August's Dog Days of Summer.
Since Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival spotlights what's trendy and what's hot (it was literally sweltering hot), another concoction reflects the changing demographic's taste. How about healthy, organic, ethnic-flavored cotton candy.
This is no "yuck" moment.
Since gourmet food festivals attracts highly educated and cultured foodies i.e. adults, these adult foodies were quite taken by Bon Puf's not-too-sweet, all-natural, organic clouds of cotton candy.
This scribe found the grapefruit cotton candy clouds refreshing. The crowd's favorite was the mango chili cotton candy. Yep, you heard right. It was a cute little cloud of bright yellow (no fake dyes) sprinkled with red chili pepper powder.
Bon Puf is cotton candy grown up, http://www.bonpuf.com/
This scribe first discovered Bon Puf a year ago at fashion event. Too bad that fashion boutique went belly up but glad that Bon Puf is going simply strong.
Everything Los Angeles Food and Wine touches is classy, even the most fundamental of stuff, like water and soda.
After chowing down on food and guzzling wine, people's systems need to digest appropriately.
Thank god for San Pellegrino. Not only there were gallons of mineral water, this is the few moments that people, en mass, can guzzle San Pellegrino not-too-sugary-Lemon and Grapefruit sodas.
What a relief on an hot August night.
Have you ever wondered, especially after working out and/or on an hot, sweating Summer day, about taking those juice cleanses or cold-pressed juices or even smoothies and freezing them into a Popsicle?
That's another food trend this thirsty scribe noticed, especially after sampling beer and wine, frozen juice cleanses on a stick that calm and cool you down. There were two such companies making their debut at the L.A. Food and Wine Festival 2015.
@EatPops booth, they were offering frozen samples of frozen kale juice (yes, you heard right) to detox the beer and wine right out of you, so you can drink again or frozen beet juice to active you through-out the night or frozen lemon cleanse to ease your hangover.
They can only be found at Whole Foods NYC and Amazon Fresh. Come on Los Angeles and Charleston, do something!
Of course, directly across from @EatPops, is the equally healthy but more available Ruby Rocket's frozen veggie and fruit juice cleanse popsicles. For Los Angelenos thirsty for a frozen, healthy treat to cleanse, recharge, and cool, you can find Ruby Rocket's popsicles at Gelson's, Fresh & Easy, Lassen, and Vicente Foods.
Chef Nancy Silverton is also stepping into the frozen treats ring with her Nancy's Fancy Gelato and Sorbetto. What she had done to Italian cuisine and pastry, Nancy have done to Italian gelato and sorbet.
Her Frutti di Bosco, Mixed Berry in a frozen Greek Yogurt base tasted pretty healthy to this sweet-loving scribe but fell in love with the Butterscotch Budino with a Caramel Rosemary Swirl; and this scribe is a chocoholic.
Nancy's Fancy Gelato and Sorbet can be found at Vicente Foods, Gelson's, and Bristol Farms.
The hottest frozen confectioner is McConnell's Ice Cream. This frozen custard provider was later spotted at an Hedley and Bennett party where they were scooping their signature Eureka Lemon & Marionberry frozen custard.
People found that flavor refreshingly different from the cloyingly sweet chocolate and caramel...not that's anything wrong with them.
However, McConnell's Lemon and Marionberry Ice Cream was a nice change of pace.
Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival is also a great time to introduce oneself into L.A.'s influential taste-makers. This scribe simply followed the longest line. It was for Portland-implant, Salt & Straw's strawberry ice cream dolloped over shortbread cake with a topping of fresh whipped cream. This confection was so tempting that whoever is in line, is willing to skip the headlining entertainment, QuestLove & The Roots...just for a few moments...to indulge into this heavenly cool whip of strawberry ice cream and whipped cream over shortbread.
Speaking of the headliners....
This scribe and everyone else thought having Common as last year's headliner was cool enough. Los Angeles Food and Wine upped the ante when they got Jimmy Fallon's band and legendary hip-hop/conscious funk, QuestLove & The Roots to bring this foodie carnival to a close.
Since the head of the festival is an emerging established Gen-Xer, the Gen-Xer and Yer majority was happy that QuestLove & The Roots got them jumping to burn off the calories they've been gobbling up all night.
This is what makes Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival so distinctive among other gourmet food festivals. They got rockers! More likely, hot hip-hop artists and performers who love food as much as anyone, if not more.
Sure, they did their old-school classics but they did spin Led Zeppelin and twisted Gun n' Roses' "Sweet Child of Mine."
This Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival of 2015 was a well-balanced system between indulgence and cleanse and get rockin'.