Sunday, September 14, 2008

Special Foodventure #71: LA BBQ Fest and Jin Patisserie (Santa Monica / Venice)

The closest I'll ever come to doing a food marathon, this past weekend was nothing but pure gluttony. As it so happens, three interesting food events coincided these past two days -- so the obvious solution is to attend them all! (and then eat and drink some more in-between!)
Starting off this feast is the LA BBQ Fest in Santa Monica, featuring some favorite barbecue pitmasters from around town and across the nation. It was right next to the pier, and the food is reasonably priced ($10 for main dishes, $2-5 for sides, desserts and beverages)

Given that I can always visit the local 'cues whenever, me and my foodie friends (Aaron from Food Destination, Will from LA Food Hunt and T from FoodDigger) focused on the out-of-state stuff.

Starting off, I had a hot sausage and beef brisket sandwich platter from Elgin, TX-based Southside Market. It seemed rather hard to eat it as a sandwich (especially with a whole sausage) I picked it apart with a fork and knife. The brisket was tender and moist, albeit a bit too fatty, but flavorful enough that it didn't really need BBQ sauce (but that was tasty too). The sausage, on the hand, was just OK since it wasn't nearly as spicy as I expected. Even with their signature hot sauce I still wasn't feeling the heat, but it was decent for a non-spicy sausage and was great when eaten with the raw onions.
Moving on, Aaron and I shared a plate of spare ribs and barbecue beans from L.C.'s BBQ in Kansas City. Sinfully tasty, the meat - crispy charred on the outside, succulent on the inside - practically falls off the bone and the sauce was a perfect mix of sweet, sour and smoky for me. The beans was also pretty awesome, slighty sweet and with little rib pieces and drippings mixed right inside! I can see why the lines stretched hours long by the time I left. Thankfully, I arrived right at the start of the event and so only waited about 15-20 minutes, made much shorter by my chattering about food with the bloggers -- also met Jeni from Oishii Eats & Dylan from Eat Drink and Be Merry here too! (Tip for future: totally worth springing the extra $$ to split a VIP pass with a group of friends to avoid such a long, horrendous wait in the sweltering heat; yes, it's right next to the ocean, but there also dozens of grills blowing hot smoke too!)
We also splitted a plate of St. Louis' style spare ribs and beans from Bandana's BBQ. Decidely more vinegary and with smaller, leaner spare ribs -- I thought they were a little dry but otherwise OK. The beans (not pictured) were too syrupy for my liking, however. I guess I am not as big a fan of dry-rub 'cues with the thinner, vinegar-based sauces -- though they are still more flavorful than the usually-too-sweet "barbecue flavored ketchup" as I like to call them that's served at chain places and sold by the bottle in supermarkets.
Ending on a sweet note, I got some "pink velvet" and "strawberilicious" cupcakes from Leyna's Kitchen, one of the very few cupcakes I like (and thanks to Caroline for introducing these to me) As I expected, they were moist, not too heavy or sweet, with a delightful surprise in the center (cream in the velvet, jam in the strawberry).

After all this smokey meat, the first thing I want to do is to cleanse my system. Thankfully, there were samples of POM Juice freely given out (I am sure an ounce of fruity antioxidants will counteract the over two pound of carcinogens I just ingested!), and I took a leisurely drive down to Venice where I relaxed and detoxed at Jin Patisserie . . .
. . . where I had a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Apparently they switched from Les Palais des Thes to The O Dor (another French brand); gone is my beloved Des Concubines tea, but I think I may have found a new favorite: Act II, a green tea described as "an ensemble of berries, cherry blossoms, rose and other mysterious flavors" -- the fruity and floral perfume is ever-so-slight, and it's a very delicate, light and clean-tasting tea that was heavenly to sip and actually put a smile on my face as I mellowed out in their courtyard. As for the cake, which I gotta have when I go to Jin, I got my favorite, the Spring Bouquet made with meringue pieces rolled in a light cream with strawberries and mangoes.
A nice little break that helped me jumpstart my two-hour walk to and along Venice Canals, beach and piers to burn off some calories . . . before I load them up again, and then some, at the Hokkaido Fair in Torrance Mitsuwa later that day! (to be posted soon.)

Jin Patisserie on Urbanspoon


gourmetpigs said...

The spring bouquet is also my favorite! :D Can't wait for my birthday (I get a 8" of it every year!!)

I was disappointed by LC's - 1 1/2 hour line since they keep running out. I think they were also rushing and didn't pay attention. Meat was tough, not really falling off the bones :<

H. C. said...

Yea, I can see how things can get sloppy as the lines build up and the pressure's on the servers (many of them Cordon Bleu students @ the BBQ Fest, btw!) to get 'em out fast.

That's one of the reasons why I tend to go to food festivals early as possible, better quality and much less likely that food will run out.

ila said...

oye, ambitious, aren't we?
i don't know how you stay so slim with all that food going in!

Anonymous said...

By the time my friends and I arrived yesterday at the LA BBQ Fest, it was 4 PM and we were forced to sift through the scraps. Southside Market had been sold out of meat for a half-hour. I've eaten at Southside Market in Elgin, and while it's good, it's no longer an elite Hill Country establishment. LC's is a second tier Kansas City spot, good but not great. Certainly not worth a two hour wait, which is where the line stood. The local spots were uniformly lackluster. Still, it's good to see so many Angelenos passionate about 'cue, especially considering there isn't a single notable barbecue spot in L.A. County. Hopefully the big turnout will lead to a second BBQ Fest with more out-of-town pitmasters and higher quality 'cue.

H. C. said...

Ila, ha, me -- slim?! Oh that'll be the day. And I don't know if I have the ambition to keep this up every weekend!

FoodGPS, that's what I heard from most folks who went later too, and yea -- it's nice to see that so many people are lookn for good 'cue. And yea, with food events I make it a point to go right when it starts--before food runs out and when it's fresh.

FoodDigger said...

It was great meeting up with you at the BBQ fest. I'm so glad we got LC's before that line became ridiculous. We'll have to go on some more foodventures together soon.


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