For the past two years, Jesse and I have been attending Artisanal LA’s Spring and Fall shows. This biannual, pop-up show brings together nearly 100 small businesses from around the country offerings a variety of goods including food, clothing, beverages, skincare and more. I instantly fell in love with this event the first time I attended! Not only can you sample and shop around the various vendors, but the organization also puts on both free and paid programming ranging from DIY crafts to beer tastings.
To be quite honest, we typically come strictly for the shopping. Where else can you find so many niche products under one roof with the chance to sample before purchasing? Some of the products found at Artisanal are already being sold in stores like Whole Foods or Erewhon, but a lot are only available online.
This year it was housed at the California Market Center Penthouse (the same place it was held in Fall of 2016). If you’re trying to penny pinch, be aware that street parking can be difficult to find; however, parking is easy and relatively cheap (under $20) at the CMC. For newcomers, I highly recommend allowing yourself at least 3 hours there. With the abundance of vendors and time spent getting to know each brand, you don’t want to limit yourself on timing. They typically have food vendors available on site to purchase full meals from, but if nothing interests you, you can usually find 4 or 5 food trucks stationed outside as well. Don’t forget, you’ll be eating a full meal of samples too!
A lot of our favorite vendors were back this show from previous shows! Right when we walked into the venue, Carlitos Gardel Restaurant was the first booth we saw. Last Fall we picked up their delicious chimichurri sauce, which was being sold again this time along with their new aioli spread. We had such a great time getting to know the guys last time, we ended up doing a nice dinner out for Jesse’s birthday at their restaurant on Melrose in Los Angeles. For those nights of ballin’ without a budget, I highly recommend it! The steak was incredible, the service impeccable, and the restaurant has a nice home-like feel to it.
We headed over to the 21+ area where a few beverage companies were sampling beer and spirits. I really loved the Session IPA that Eagle Rock Brewing was sampling.
Another unique product we tried was Ventura Spirits‘ Strawberry Brandy. The gentleman sampling explained that the spirit was made from the bruised strawberries that the farmers in Ventura would normally discard, but made for the perfect alcoholic beverage. It was delicious! Made in the same facility, the neighbor booth Amaro Angeleno mixed their sweet and light liqueur with a tiny bit of soda water for us to sample as well.
As with all of the last shows I’ve been too, The Sanctuary at Soledad once again had the goats here, but this time there was a baby! The Sanctuary at Soledad rescues abused, abandoned and neglected goats (along with other animals), saving them from being euthanized. They had candles on sale along with a few other items, for which proceeds help fund the sanctuary.
One booth that was hard to miss was The Hummus Guy. A loud, energetic man with half of his face on the cover of all of the hummus packages, handed out samples to passerbys, letting them know he had the best hummus in town. I have to admit he wasn’t incorrect in that statement!
We also fell in love with Paragon Jams. We took a jar of the Pear Tarragon Jam home and made a whiskey and tea cocktail with it that night! Another awesome jam vendor there was Indie Jams, selling unique combos of flavors.
Califia Farms continues to pop up at a lot of events I’ve attended with their cold brew coffees mixed with different non-dairy milks. I’ve always really enjoyed their product, and personally prefer the Black and White (cold brew mixed with almond milk).
We grabbed some delicious granola to use in our acai bowls from Sommer House, who also had a delicious chocolate flavored granola.
If you’ve been to any of the major farmer’s markets throughout the LA area, you’ve probably seen Leonardo e Roberto’s Gourmet Blends. They have an incredible line of infused oils and vinegars. We have several at home ourselves including the Passion Fruit Balsamic Vinegar and the Lemon Olive Oil. They’re great for marinades and dressings!
Last year we went home with Ag Standard’s truffle almonds, and this year we tripled the amount we took home! They added a new flavor, a chocolate almond, to their already incredible line of flavors. Seriously though… truffles + almonds.
Hands down the most insta-ready booth was Plant Puns. Succulents, ferns, herbs, and other plants lined shelves with witty puns like a fern with “Fernie Sanders” written on it and “Catnip Everdeen” written on a pot with catnip.
We took home Lahtt Sauce this time around, and boy am I happy we did! We picked up the vegetarian sauce (an asian, all-purpose chili sauce) and have already had a chance to use it! I tossed it in with some quick stir fry and it made for the perfect, quick dinner.
I could go on and on about all of the amazing things we tried! But, to spare you the even longer post, here are some of the other unique products we enjoyed and/or took home:
- Mary’s Chicken (Before moving to a primarily vegetarian diet, their Air Chilled Chicken was my go to!)
- Indie Jams
- Bond Bar
- Brothee (Love the vegan Mushroom broth!)
- 36 Degrees Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Creme Creations
- Iggy Chips
Thanks for the great event, Artisanal LA. We can’t wait to come back in the fall!