Artisanal LA has long been my favorite event for one-stop shopping and discovering new favorite, local artisans. And even though Artisanal LA Spring 2014 was smaller than in the previous year and I couldn’t find my past favorites from that fall 2013 show, like Donut Snob and Phoney Baloney’s vegan bacon, I still managed to wade through the jams-jerkys-coffee vendors and do some serious damage to my bank account.
My Most Favorite Finds at Artisanal LA Spring 2014
Spoon Me Sweetly may have lured me in with its “Fresh Unicorn Poop” sign but they got me with their Banana Roadhouse banana bread pretzel crisps snacks. I thought for sure I’d be buying bags of the salted caramel pretzel crisps but that flavor just didn’t taste as good as the exotic-sounding Banana Roadhouse. It wasn’t uber sweet which made it possible to eat more than just one of these white chocolate dipped chips. Even my boyfriend who doesn’t have one sweet tooth in his mouth couldn’t stop eating these.
Outpost’s Cold Brewed Coffee stood out from the other coffee vendors at the show for the simple reason of packaging. I mean, their coffee was good, too, having been made by folks who used to work at Handsome Coffee. But the fact that their cold brewed coffee came in that familiar, long-neck bottle seemed to catch everyone’s eyes as the Outpost stand was always packed. I lined up with the intention of getting one bottle for $4 but then ended up walking away with a six-pack for $21. Figured with the weather warming outside, a cold brew would be a nice thing to come home to. The coffee itself wasn’t as strong as I tend to prefer but that’s just as well since my ideal potency would probably alienate everyone.
Even though it was cold, Taart Pan‘s vegan curried lentils handheld savory pie was one delicious breakfast. The stand had an array of delicious offerings like the mushroom ricotta but since they were selling them chilled to go and not heating them the curried lentils was the only one I could get “uncooked.” The pastry was a bit spongey, the curried lentils savory. It was as satisfying and tasty as a cold pizza.
Back in the day I used to work at Crabtree & Evelyn, an English-themed bath and body skin care store, so am really picky about lotions and soaps. When I came across the Naiad Soap Arts booth and its scrumptious-sounding flavor combinations I was skeptical. Usually scents for such “gimmicky” flavors are too much, the body cream thin. But here the scents mellowed out, mixing with my chemistry into something lovely. Sure, some of them made me want to eat my own hand but that’s good, right? The booth enticed me to buy more than one cream with its “Buy 3 for $40” promotion. So I picked the lavender vanilla, cardamom vanilla and island gardenia.
“Ready to go on a tour?” asked the lady manning the Choctal booth. Once she asked that I realized that’s why there was a wall five-people deep in front of this booth. And I was grateful to finally have made it to the front. Before us were four buckets filled with ice cream: three vanilla variations and one chocolate. We started with the vanillas — Madagascar Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla and Papua New Guinea Vanilla. The Madagascar was my favorite, surpassing in flavor one usually associates with vanilla. So rich and warm in flavor. The Mexican tasted a bit coconut-y while the Papua New Guinea offered up a hint of cherry. Honestly I forget which flavor chocolate we tried but it seemed to pale in comparison after the vanilla ice creams, a mean feat. However all were creamy and the flavors well-balanced and serious. This was a grown-up’s version of ice cream. Fortunately Choctal will be available in Bristol Farms this week.