My Experience at #EEEEEATSCON

This past Saturday, on May 20th, I experienced the FIRST EVER EEEEEATSCON put on by The Infatution. This "food festival for a new generation" was filled with panels from food innovators and experts and lined with a lot of different cultural tastes like the Indian/Canadian cuisine from Basmaash LA or the authentic Italian cannolis shelled out at EATALY.

Thanks to my line of work, I was offered the opportunity to cover this event and I am here to tell you a festival like EEEEEATSCON is here to stay.
 

Salazar (@salazarfrogtown)

Salazar is located here in Los Angeles and has the LA atmosphere you want from a taco spot.  This spot specializes in something most people on the east coast are unfamiliar with, Nopal tacos, also known as cactus tacos

Chef John starts off by oiling some cactus petals before throwing them on the grill. Once the nopales are finished, they are sliced and mixed with charred onions and pepper. Then, this mixture is placed on a corn tortilla, topped with cotija cheese, pickled red onion and a salsa.

The taco tastes slightly spicy from the pepper mix with a bit of a salty bite from the cheese. Overall, I can describe this new taste only very vaguely. The texture of the cactus was somewhere between a grilled bell pepper and a grilled zucchini--also very similar to grilled squash in taste as well. The taco was flavorful and filling.

My Rating:

Overall I give Salazar's Cactus Tacos: 8.5/10

The NoMad Truck (@nomadtruck)

Our second stop hails from NYC's NoMad Hotel and boasts elevated bar food from their hotel restaurant to their food truck. I was invited onto the truck, the first time I'd ever stepped foot on one. It's something I've only dreamed about from watching Food Network all these years!

 Chef Ashley greeted me warmly as she described the flavor of the chicken burgers I was dying to consume. She had me at foie gras and black truffle. Foie gras is placed in the burger and black truffle in the mayo that tops the burgers. Of course, not before swiss cheese melts on the burger as it sizzles on the flat top and is then topped with frisee and pickled shallot. 

Before I bit into the decadent burger, I was served up a cup of The NoMad Truck's most popular sell, the Milk & Honey Soft Serve. My taste buds were drowning at this point as I watched our chef crumble honey oat shortbread and brittle atop the soft serve. 

Hands down the best food truck I've been to thus far in my life. The soft serve may be the best frozen dessert I've ever tasted. They're doing something right with the milk based treat that helped us beat the 85 degree weather. And the burger---pure luxury on a bun. Did I mention they put crispy chicken skin in frisee salad? Easily this burger breaks the top 5 I've ever had or made, and safely the top 3.

My Rating:

My trip to The NoMad Truck: 9.5/10

Jon & Vinny's (@jonandvinnydelivery)

Jon and Vinny's is a dope Italian restaurant on Fairfax, known for a spicy fusilli pasta. When I asked the chef, "Why is it spicy?" He simply replied, "Pepper Flakes." Me being the spice bad ass that I am, I wasn't convinced this would burn me, but I knew what to look for. Their fusilli, which is a corkscrew shaped pasta, is tossed in a very creamy colored vodka sauce. Vodka sauce is traditionally made with a lot of cream and butter...you know, after the vodka has burned off. They serve their pasta by the heaping ladle and top it with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese. 

I'm not a huge sucker for red sauces, personally, so a vodka sauce is always a great bridge for that. Their pasta sauce is rich and fresh, with a slight kick in the throat when the pepper flakes set in.

My Rating:

My overall rating of the spicy fusilli: 7.5 (I definitely need to try more Jon & Vinny's, Italian food is my favorite!)

Badmaash (@badmaashla)

Badmaash is an Indian/Canadian infused culinary experience that you will never forget. What's a dope Indian chicken dish? Chicken Tikka. What's a dope Canadian dish? Poutine. Only someone as badass as a dope representation for his Indian roots and love for his Toronto home can bring us something as sick as a Chicken Tikka Fries (poutine style). But only for EEEEEATSCON did they bring us Chicken Tikka Tots. It began with some cumin and cayenne (plus some other things) seasoned tator tots, topped with white cheddar, silky beef gravy, shredded chicken tikka, pickled onion and cilantro, before being dubbed with the Badmaash flag. 

These tots are a drunken dream. However, I was sober as I could be when I tried them and truly my life was changed. Again, a dish of pure decadence as the hot gravy melted the cheese and soaked into each individual tot. 

My Rating:

My overall rating of the Chicken Tikka Tots: 8.5

EATALY (@eatalyla)

My trip to the booth set up for EATALY was kind of like my treat to myself. EATALY, founded by Mario Batali, one of the truest guides to authentic Italian cuisine, was first started in New York. Funny story, I worked not far from EATALY and passed by it literally every day for three years without ever walking in. I was so perplexed, I didn't know if it was a restaurant or a grocery store. Turns out it's all of the above and more of an experience than anything.

Still, I can't describe any personal experience of walking in there, but when I heard they were selling cannolis at the festival, I needed to try for myself. Two cannolis were served, $5 a piece: A citrus/ricotta filled cannoli and a chocolate chip filled cannoli. I've had plenty of cannoli in my day and it's one of my top favorite desserts (after donuts, because EVERYTHING comes after donuts). These cannoli had to be the most authentically Italian food I've ever tasted. The citrus was bright and fresh, tasting as if the zest of the citrus was shaved just for me, the cannoli shells crafted just for me and the chocolate ground into the cream just for me.

My Rating:

My overall rating of EATALY's Cannoli: 9.0 (authenticity and freshness always win).

EEEEEATSCON was definitely a food festival for a social media dominated era and puts forth valid reasoning behind my Instagram explore page being all food porn. Thank you to The Infatuation for taking over Barker Hanger in Santa Monica and exposing our generation to the future of food festivals...until next time EEEEEATSCON!