Shop – Eat – Drink – Learn – Repeat
Something people don’t know about me is that I love entering sweepstakes. I know. It is usually just a marketing ploy to get you to sign up for the company’s mailing list. But I don’t care. I love to win, and the chance of winning is drive enough for me. Besides the more sweepstakes you enter, the greater your chance of winning any of them, right?
So, when I saw on Instagram that Foodie Con was partnering with Kyla Hard Kombucha to give away 2 free VIP tickets, I immediately signed up. I attended Foodie Con last year. (You can check out that blog post here.) So I was keen to meet new vendors, and visit with old favorites. The contest was simple. Just like both accounts and comment who you’d like to take with you to Foodie Con. As a lover of puns I couldn’t resist the comment, “Wontcha Kombucha with me to Foodie Con?” Clever? Maybe. Corny? Totally. Someone at Kyla shares my nerdy wordy humor, because I WON!
We arrived on Saturday morning. VIPs get early entry to the event along with full access to both the food and alcohol sampling areas, and the VIP lounge. After snagging cheap street parking, we walked up to The Reef on Broadway in downtown LA. People were already inside lining up. I think they needed a few more staff members to corral us early risers. First we were told we couldn’t line up yet, so we had to wait in the lobby, others were told to wait outside. While the staff was running around trying to get everything set up, a few attendees would wander in and line up anyway. It didn’t matter we would all get in with plenty of time to explore. But some people were a bit annoyed with the line jumping and general disorder. Thankfully it was short-lived. As soon as the clock struck 10:30am we were allowed to enter the line.
We approached the check-in desk, showed our IDs and tickets on the event brite app. Another staff member handed us our tasting cups. Hooray! This is new from last year. Just like at a wine tasting event you get one glass to cut down on waste. Plus the design is adorable. Up to the 2nd floor we go!
I love getting in early. The floor isn’t crowded at all and you get some breathing space as you wander up and down the aisles. Normally I would start at the far aisle and systematically go up and down each in a organzied pattern so as not to miss a single vendor. But not this time. I wanted to hit up some of the best food places first, before the crowds arrived.
I meandered around looking for the tastiest bites.
Then I spot Spicy Tuna!
Okay so not “Tuna” exactly. Prime Roots created a super protein made from fungi. I swear it is way more appetizing than it sounds. As someone who eats a lot of spicy tuna I can attest that the texture was spot on. I’m excited to see what other proteins this company creates. Plus if you join up as a member, you can gain access to other tasting events, share recipes and more.
Next up! More alternative food sources.
I explored the Keto diet last year which began my foray into almond and coconut flours. But did you know you can make flours out of fruits and vegetables? I didn’t but Hearthy Foods does. Beets, Pumpkin, Squash, Spinach, Apple. You name it, they’ve baked with it. The apple flour cookies were my favorite.
Let’s talk pickles.
Pickles were something I hated as a kid. Now I can not get enough of them. I’m not a sweet gherkin fan, more of a big juicy dill fan. So I was tentative when I saw Pickle Licious offering fruit infused flavored pickles. First up, I tasted the Peach Mango. Not nearly as sweet as I thought. You get the punch of peach up front, but it’s really more tart than sweet. Nana’s Green Apple was my favorite. If you like pickled watermelon rind during the summer, than the Strawberry Watermelon Galore is for you.
What I loved the most about Pickle Licious is their packaging. You get a sleek zip top bag with long pickle slices. Chomping into a full pickle is a commitment, if you don’t finish it all, it goes to waste. This way you can take out a slice or two (top a burger or a sandwich) and save the rest for later. Love it!
At this point I realize I’m bouncing back and forth between sweet and savory. Sweet and savory. Which is how I like to eat. I wonder if the event staff set up the floor that way on purpose. Instead of combining like with like, they have all the flavor mash-ups living together.
P.O.P. Candy Co creates small batch butter crunch gluten free candy. Of course I was immediately drawn to the flavors that combine sweet, salty and spicy. Fire Pistachio has a heat that creeps up on you and c-c-c-curry has a flavor profile that continues to change in your mouth as you eat it. I’m not usually the biggest toffee fan, but this company could seriously change that.
“It’s like being kissed by a lusty mermaid.”Niles Crane — Frasier
Caviar is an acquired taste. And my wallet is sad that I’ve acquired it so lustily. Tiny delicate fish eggs perched on a mother of pearl spoon. Is there really anything more decadent in life? Decadence is often accompanied by guilt when you think about sustainability and the environmental concerns of shipping from far away locations.
Tsar Nicoulai Caviar produces small batch high quality caviar in California utilizing aquaponics to save energy, land and water. As well as produce some of the cleanest tasting caviar I’ve ever eaten. For those that think caviar tastes “fishy” this is the gateway caviar for you. They had three varieties to sample at Foodie Con. We started with Ginger Whitefish. Very delicate in flavor with just a slight kick of ginger at the end. Then moved on to the Classic American White Sturgeon. Which is exactly what you think of when you think of caviar. Dark, creamy and just a hint of brine to finish. Lastly we sampled the Smoked Trout Roe. Big bold beads both smoky and sweet. If mescal was a roe, it would be this one.
My husband’s family has a tradition of eating caviar and creme fraiche at Christmas. I will definitely be ordering from Tsar Nicoulai for our future holiday gatherings.
Time to collect my winnings!
With the main floor beginning to get crowded it was time to head over to the alcohol sampling area and meet the Kyla Hard Kombucha crew. I walked up to the bar and told them that I was their Instagram winner. Along with my VIP tickets I also won two insulated Kyla Kombucha tumblers. The staff was so friendly. I took some photos and got right into tasting.
I love Kombucha. And I love cocktails. So this felt like a match made in heaven for me. With only 4.5% alc by vol these beverages are light, fizzy and very refreshing. We started with the Hibiscus Lime which is the mildest flavor. Then moved on to the Grapefruit. YES! Where has this been all my kombucha loving life? I honestly could drink this all the time and never get sick of it. The bright tartness of the grapefruit really pops. The final flavor is Ginger-Tangerine. If you like ginger this one is for you. Ginger is usually my go to flavor for kombucha so I was on board right away. It would be spectacular in a moscow mule as a replacement for ginger beer. Plus Kyla Hard Kombucha only has 100 calories and 2g or less of sugar/carbs.
I noticed two types of packaging. Traditional kombucha style bottles and slim cans. Perfect for the outdoor cinema scene that takes over Los Angeles during spring and summer. These locations often allow alcohol but no glass bottles. The way they’ve fermented this kombucha it’s shelf stable and does not require refrigeration to keep the culture alive. Plus it’s vegan friendly and gluten-free. Everybody wins!
I said goodbye to my new Kombucha friends and hello to an old one. Sake One.
I met Sake One at Foodie Con last year. They had so many different sake types on hand for tasting. We decided to skip the ones we’d already tried and give the new ones (well new to us) a taste. Kimoto Extra Dry is a very complex sake. Big umami flavor in this one, with a super dry finish along with notes of dried fruits and nuts. Winter Warrior is at the exact opposite end of the spectrum. With a honeydew melon/chardonnay like quality. Light and tropical. Scarily easy to drink.
We finished with Yomi Junmai Ginjo. Another slim can sensation. I see this beverage trend is catching on like fire. Portable and perfect for outdoor parties. It was refreshing and crisp. Not too sweet, not too acidic. The gentleman leading us through our tasting told us, that when they enter new beverage distributors with bottles of sake, they’re told, no we can’t sell this. But when they enter with the slim cans of sake, they think, now this is something we can move off the shelves. Very interesting.
It’s officially beer-o-clock.
Lagunitas brewing company is a classic. A long time favorite of mine consistantly serving up delicious beer. I’ve been IPA’d out for a while now, so I was looking to try something different. Secret Agenda is all about spring. A pale bock beer with a bright citrus flavor. Plus the staff on hand were so friendly and generous with their pours. They even let me try my hand at pouring a pint.
14 Cannons was new to me. A craft brewery located in Westlake Village. They had a few beers on tap including an IPA and a Mexican Lager. But the Peanut Butter cup had me intrigued. A dessert ale with liquid cacao and roasted peanuts. This one has to be tasted to fully understand just how spot on the flavor comes to a traditional pb cup. Is it the type of ale you drink all day at a bbq? No. But when you’re craving something unique and sweet, this satisfies.
Food coma? Need a break?
If you need some respite from indulging. Foodie Con also offers a variety of other activities like cooking demos with chefs and culinary experts, a silent disco to help you dance off some of those calories and plenty of other sweepstakes to enter. Such as, Amazon gift cards and Napa Valley vacations. There is also a lot of food for purchase if you need something more substantial than samples.
If you have VIP tickets you get access to the lounge. Which was much more sparsely appointed than last year. (Rumor has it, they had a big vendor drop out at the last minute…rude.) One side of the VIP lounge had some massage chairs set up and a step and repeat banner for foodie photos. Along with lots of cozy seats where you could rest your feet and take a minute to share your social media pics. Free Wifi would be an excellent perk for next year!
The other side had a fully stocked Kyla Hard Kombucha bar. Where they were pouring all three flavors and giving out cocktail recipe tips. On display was the variety pack, which contains all three flavors and is currently available in some local Costco stores. Yes! The staff recognized me, because the other Kyla booth sent over my winners pic and congratulated me on my clever entry. Everyone was so genuine and made it a special experience for me, making sure I left with fun Kyla swag like lovely rocks glasses and bottle openers that double as coasters.
My favorite part of Foodie Con is meeting all the local vendors who are excited to talk about their product. It’s an educational experience as much as a tasting one. I left with quite a few coupons so I could go buy full size versions of the products I’m now in love with, at discounted prices.
I honestly could go on for another 400 words about all the amazing food and drinks I tasted, but there just isn’t enough time, or attention span to cover it all. Here are a few other companies products that are worth checking out.
- Good Farms Cold Pressed Organic Strawberry Juice. It tastes like summer in a glass. They press the strawberries that are not deemed “pretty-enough” for sale into juice. Utilizing everything, wasting nothing.
- Primal Kitchen Condiment Family. I’ve tried to sneak sugar free or low sugar sauces/condiments into recipes before and my husband always catches me. Saying it tastes funny. So when he pulled me over to this booth to try their BBQ sauce, I knew it was special. They also have a delicious selection of fresh tasting dressings/marinades. The Lemon Turmeric Vinaigrette was my fave.
- Califia Farms Cold Brew Coffee. Plant powered, shelf stable and delicious. I highly recommend the Cafe Latte with almond milk.
- Middlebar is a bruncherie in Inglewood. They were sampling their homemade bloody mary mix. Usually with my bloodies, I’m reaching for the hot sauce immediately. This one had a nice kick all of its own.
Big thank you to Foodie Con and Kyla Kombucha
for hosting the VIP contest.
Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @rockme-re for more foodie adventures!