LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show 2016

Papillon International Bakery's Ponchiks at LA Cooke Con

The second LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show took place on February 6-7, 2016.  Expanded to two days, and moved into the much larger Los Angeles Convention Center, the sophomore show mitigated many of the issues that plagued the first show, mainly incredibly long times to enter the Pasadena Convention Center, and overcrowding on the show floor itself.

The layout of the show and spacing of the booths were decent for the number of participants and attendees.  Two VIP areas were set up, as were several modest demo stages beyond the main stage.  This helped reduce bottlenecks.  Some queuing issues were still present though, likely due to the unpredictability of certain participants’ popularity—who knew that the balloon animal booth, producing cute little balloon cupcakes and chef’s toques, would have one of the longest lines of the show?

The mix of demos and guests meant that there was something for everyone.  My wife and I, being the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans that we are, watched Sarah Michelle Geller talk on the main stage on Saturday about her company Foodstirs, while bloggers Tanaya and Nastassia from Tanaya’s Table and Let Me Eat Cake, respectively, demoed one of the kits.  On Sunday, our kids were crazy-excited to be able to meet and get a picture with Rosanna Pansino of Nerdy Nummies, and listen to her talk at her panel.

Of course, the sweets were what most people were there for.  My personal favorite of the show were Nutella-filled ponchiks (like a doughnut/beignet) from Papillon International Bakery.  I did wish they had a few more participants serving savory food, and more beverage vendors with drink samples, or perhaps a water sponsor with free water.  Paying $4 to the LA Convention Center concessions for a bottle of water felt wrong when surrounded by all-you-can-sample food.

All in all, the event was much more of a success compared to last year, and if they continue to improve, then the third time should be even even better!


11 February 2016 by The Offalo
Categories: Desserts, Events and Festivals | Leave a comment

The Essentials 2016 Ticket Giveaway

Click here to view this promotion.

Since you’re here, I’ll call attention to another food event that’s happening just two days before The Essentials…

09 February 2016 by The Offalo
Categories: Contests and Giveaways, Events and Festivals | Leave a comment

Komodo Venice

Kimchi Nachos at Komodo Venice

Komodo is a small, family-owned business consisting of a food truck and two cafes, serving Indonesian-Mexican-inspired food.  While I’m relatively close to the Venice location, and I had enjoyed the couple of food festival bites I’d had from Komodo, what got me to finally go into the shop was their Indomie Burrito special back in November:

As you can see, Komodo likes to mash up different cuisines, and they do it quite successfully.  The ramen burrito, while definitely starch-heavy, was really delicious, and actually quite handy to eat on the go.  The Indomie was only available for a month, after which they brought back their popular Phorrito:

Unfortunately, the Phorrito is also seasonal and just wrapped up its run.  Sorry to be a tease.  But those items did their job and got us into the shop, where I found many unexpected dishes on their regular menu that my family and I enjoyed quite a bit.

The most popular item with my wife and kids were the Fire Roasted Corn on the Cob; we ended up getting multiple orders of it.  One dish I really wanted to try was the Kimchi Nachos, which my older daughter—who loves kimchi—scoffed at, but after she tried it, she was hooked!

We did try a variety of their tacos, and liked them all.  My younger daughter was a fan of the Signature taco, with its uncomplicated ingredients:  steak, guac, cheese.  My wife liked the Fish n’ Grapes taco.  I really enjoyed the breakfasty steak-and-eggs MP3 taco.

The unlimited refill agua frescas and lemonades were excellent too!  We haven’t had time to go back more recently, but we’re glad to know there’s a solid place doing inventive yet comforting and delicious food near us.  And we’re looking forward to what new inventions they come up with.

Komodo will be at Taste of Night Market this Friday and Saturday.  Tickets are still available!  Here’s a bonus shot of the Kimchi Nachos:

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Komodo Venice
235 Main Street
Venice, CA  90291
(310) 255-6742

04 February 2016 by The Offalo
Categories: Indonesian, Mexican, Southeast Asian, Tacos | Leave a comment

Tar & Roses Returns

Hanger Steak from Tar & Roses

Santa Monica’s Tar & Roses is back!  A half-year after closing due to a fire, T&R (for short) has finally reopened, with nary a visible change in sight.  The food should be familiar to anyone who’s dined at the restaurant in the past, with bacon popped corn, oxtail dumplings, and wood roasted English peas all still on the menu.  My family and I went back about a week after they reopened to resample some of the classics and try a few new dishes.

The aforementioned peas were one of our favorite dishes of the night; the entire family fought over who got the last pod.  Another highlight was the lemon ricotta gnocchi, with a very light choux pastry base for the pasta.  The surprise hit with the family—I thought I was going to get the dish all to myself—were the pig tails!

We got some perfectly charred octopus skewers and a great hanger steak to round out the savory phase of our meal.

For dessert, my wife’s never been able to resist the sticky toffee pudding at Tar & Roses.  The kids opted for sorbets by LA Creamery, which were some of the most true-to-fruit flavorful sorbets I’ve ever tasted.  I had the strawberry ricotta crostata, with another great LA Creamery ice cream flavor, honeycomb.

Tar & Roses is back, and in full swing!  When we were there, it was as packed as it had been, like they’ve never closed.  It’s refreshing that chef/owner Andrew Kirschner was confident in the strength of his concept and the loyalty of his customers, that he didn’t try to put a new twist on the place.

Of course, part of what made Tar & Roses great was the seasonality of the menu, so naturally the menu will change, but the restaurant stayed true to itself.  Suffice it to say, if you loved T&R before, you’ll love it again.  And if you didn’t, you probably won’t change your mind.  But if you haven’t tried Tar & Roses, do yourself a favor and try it at least once!  It’s one of my wife’s favorite restaurants in LA, and mine too.

Tar & Roses did switch to using Reserve exclusively for their online reservations; you can always make a phone reservation too.  If you go to T&R’s website, Reserve does allow you to pick a date and time, a la OpenTable.  You can also use the Reserve app—promo code for first time users can be found on the sidebar to the left—and it looks like they’re currently waiving the $5 concierge fee for in-app requests.

Update:  I posted a few pics from a second visit (disclaimer: a media event, with food and drinks hosted) to my Instagram today, so I’ll include them below too.

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Tar & Roses
602 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA  90401
(310) 587-0700

29 January 2016 by The Offalo
Categories: American | Leave a comment

Los Angeles Magazine Best New Restaurant 2016 Celebration

Los Angeles Magazine held its third annual Best New Restaurants celebration on Wednesday, January 20 at 440 Seaton in the Arts District.  While “2016” was attached to the event’s name, since that’s when it took place, the idea was to honor the best restaurants that opened in the past year, and a bit—honorees Le Comptoir, Love & Salt, Redbird, and Terrine all opened in late 2014.  Two participants, Faith & Flower and Union, were past Best New Restaurant honorees, but were called in to fill a void left by Odys + Penelope, according to The LA Beat.  Rounding out the participants were Birch, Broken Spanish, Cassia, Jon & Vinny’s, and The Bellwether.

My top three bites of the night were Birch’s chicken liver and foie gras crostini, Love & Salt’s lamb tongue panini, and Redbird’s shrimp & grits.

Other highlights included Birch’s salmon tartare (photo below by Tanaya’s Table), Broken Spanish’s camote, Cassia’s chopped escargot, and Jon & Vinny’s meatballs.

Though the above ranked as my favorites, all the dishes at the event were good-to-great.  With such a well curated list of participants, selected from among the best new restaurants of the past year, I wouldn’t have expected any duds anyway.  With apologies to chef Kris Morningstar and his restaurant Terrine for not getting a suitable pic of his knockwurst and sauerkraut (that’s what she said), photos of dishes by the other participants can be seen below.

As I mentioned in my January/February food festival preview, this is my first food event of 2016.  Thanks to Los Angeles Magazine for loading the deck with such heavy hitters and throwing a great party!

25 January 2016 by The Offalo
Categories: General | Leave a comment

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