How to Navigate a Food Festival

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If you’ve ever been to a food festival, where the beverages are flowing and the food is seems unlimited, you’ve most likely rushed to the first food-laden tables and wine offerings, downing everything in sight. For goodness sake you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of it, and be left hungry and thirsty!


Gorge Restaurant Chefs Elia Aboumard and Uyen Nguyen teach Food Event goers how to make sausage.

Well, if you attended the Los Angeles Magazine’s Food Event, as I did this past Sunday at Malibu’s SaddleRock Ranch, there was no need to fear missing out. There was so much to taste and imbibe that it was practically impossible to try everything. The event, hosted by the producers of Malibu Family Wines, and sponsored by the likes of Celebrity Cruises and Infiniti, was so chock full of restaurant vendors, wine purveyors and even tequila and beer brands, it left me dizzy with delight, and quite full. However, I employed some tactics so I wouldn’t go overboard in the first ten minutes, and therefore miss out on the delicious offerings on the other side of the Semler residence. I’ll share them with you here, so next time you go to a food orgy, you can enjoy as many offerings as possible.

1.  Don’t go on a completely empty stomach, otherwise you’ll just want to gorge yourself the first 10 minutes. Make sure you’ve eaten at least three hours prior to such a foodie extravaganza.

2.  Pick up a map of all food and wine tables, so you know where to start, and where to end, and also so you pick out any favorites (although the favorites had impossibly long lines).

3. Proceed with grace and patience, if the line is long, to your first beverage table.

4. Taste the wine, but don’t down it. Save some to go with your first food tasting.

5. After you taste your first bite, and wash it down with your beverage, go find another wine table, and then back to another food both. Continue to alternate the rest of the day. But make sure you take breaks to enjoy nonfood offerings, and give your gut a rest.

L.A. Mag provided unique plastic plates with a slot in which to hang a wine glass, making it easy to stand and eat, without searching for a place to set your glass. The first place I headed to was the Bordega Norton wine booth near the entrance, where I enjoyed a refreshing Demi Sec. After a sip, I headed over to the Angelini Osteria booth, and picked up a small dab of lasagna to enjoy with the wine. Finished, I headed back to the wine tables and filled my glass with a beautifully smooth and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc from LangeTwins Family Wine & Vineyards. Being as the Animal restaurant booth was backed up with a long line, I tried instead a delicious pork dish from Jitlada Southern Thai, which went well with the blanc.

The rest of the afternoon I followed the same pattern, wine then food, and back to wine, with a few breaks in between. I sat and admired the luxury Infiniti car on display (unfortunately no raffle took place for the car), as I finished my Thai caesar salad from Barbrix Restaurant & Wine Bar, accompanied by a lovely Pinot Noir from Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery. A sausage-making class by chefs Elia Aboumard and Uyen Nguyen from Gorge Restaurant and Charcuterie House (great name for a restaurant, eh?), provided another place of rest while feasting.

By the time I got to the other side of the Semler pool, I was quite satiated. But I couldn’t give up trying a scrumptious scallop with a dollop of caviar from The Sunset Malibu Restaurant. At the next booth, Estérel Restaurant offered up bites of shrimp in a cloud of greens, and The Strand House was handing out some sweet little cups of strawberry shortcake. But before I got to the sweets, I slurped down some tasty ceviche from Petty Cash Taqueria, and complemented that with slightly spicy chilequiles from the Loteria! Grill.

I stopped by the Celebrity Cruises booth on my way out and received a recipe book filled with ingredients and instructions on how to prepare your own Blackened Ahi Tuna, or Cream Cheese Wontons, as well as a host of other recipes, including cocktails. But you could just go on a cruise and have your meals and drinks prepared for you instead while you lounge on a ship deck. Now, how does one navigate a cruise where the food menus are created by Chef James Beard?




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