Artisinal LA: A Fun Way to Shop

Artisanal LA Spring Show 2011 at Santa Monica Place

This past weekend was the Artisinal LA show in Santa Monica.  I wasn’t lucky enough to attend their previous events (sometimes I feel like I live under a rock).  This year the event was held at the Santa Monica Place.

This was my first time at the recently remodeled Santa Monica Place and I have to say, I was impressed.  I loved the open air, beach breezes quality (completely different feel and vibe than the Century City mall).  And of course, the views were amazing.  Now if we could just do something about that traffic and the parking situation all would be good.

The event itself was awesome.  I went late on Saturday so the place was pretty empty (and crazy hot).  It was easy to move around and taste all the great foods and drinks.  Looking over the photos in the Artisinal LA Flickr pool, I obviously missed out on quite a few vendors.  That might have explained some of the empty booth spaces or I could have just made a wrong turn and missed out on something awesome.  It happens.

Some of my favorite products were (in no particular order):

  • Cookie Good – Wow, these were some amazing handmade cookies.  My favorite was the Peanut Butter Candy Bar cookie (it didn’t make it out of the parking lot before my husband and I devoured it!).  And I must say, I loved chatting with them (and am considering contacting them for an interview on my podcast series…when I get that up and running – LOL).
  • Gotta Have S’more – I’ll admit, I’ve known of Carmen for a while now as we’re both in the Crave LA book.  If you haven’t yet tasted her version of s’mores (and I typically don’t like s’mores at all), you will be in head-over-heels, can’t put it down, love!  They’re that good.
  • Sugar Bird Teas – I love tea.  A lot.  So I was thrilled to be able to sample some new tea blends.  Their Earl Grey with Vanilla sounds divine.  But I was impressed with their English Breakfast, a long time favorite of mine.
  • Brandt Beef – You hear about how much better corn-fed, hormone-free, sustainably farmed meat could be, but I wasn’t ready for just how amazingly good it was.  With how infrequently we eat beef in our home I just might be able to convince my husband that this is the way to go.
  • VeeV Açai Spirit – Vodka is my alcohol of choice, but to be honest, depending on my mood, I’ll pretty much drink any spirit (as long as it’s not beer, I’m good).  This was my first time trying VeeV and it had a very smooth, vodka-like taste to it – so I would basically use it in any sort of cocktail that called for vodka.  The Spa Cooler they were sampling was so very, very good.
  • Global Gardens – These guys had some great olive oils and vinegars on hand.  Their olive oil was nice and fruity, but it was their walnut oil that wowed me.  Made me wish I was a bit more confident in my cooking to play around with quality oils.  Both their fig and their pomegranate vinegars were beyond good.
  • Imaculate Confections’ Liquor Cakes – I mentioned that I’m a fan of liquor, right?  Well, it goes without saying that this gal also loves cake.  So combine the two and I am ALL OVER IT!  No really, I make a mean rum cake!  While I was tempted by all their awesomely, boozy cakes, I figured the hubs needed a treat, so I picked up the Dark Chocolate Stout (Guinness) Cake with Vanilla Tinted Glaze.  Um…I don’t like beer, but I loved this cake. Yes, I could taste the Guinness, but I could also taste the chocolatey goodness.  Plus I served it with sliced strawberries so that helped mellow the stout-ness.

I’ll say that I bought a gift for a friend at one of these booths mentioned above, but since she follows along I don’t want to ruin the surprise.  There were many other yummies to partake of, but these guys were by far my favorites.

The cool thing about all of this…in late May (5/21), many of these artisinal food purveyors will be setting up shop in a more permanent way at the Santa Monica Place’s new Market Place.  And my favorite cooking school, The Gourmandise School will also be setting up shop there.  I can’t wait (bet you can’t guess what’s on my birthday wish list?).

I didn’t think to bring my own camera (and my lemon of an iPhone takes horrible photos and has even more horrible connection capabilities) so I borrowed a few photos to share below.  But I do encourage you to check out the pool of photos on Flickr to see everyone that was there.

The KleanSpa table

I do love my Klean Spa products!!

p.o.p. candy

P.O.P. makes some awesome toffee!

Pork nuts aren't what u think @CastIronGourmet heh @ArtisanalLA

Pork Nuts...not quite what you might be thinking ;-)

Photo Credits via Flickr: greenlagirl, marco1019 & Caroline on Crack

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