October Fest-Guide: Into the Month of Madness
So unless you’ve been completely ignoring the media blitz coming at you from all angles, you’re at least somewhat aware of the Life Is Beautiful festival coming up in October. While it’s been mainly billed as some kind of music fest, a showcase of a bunch of people I don’t know (plus Beck), they kind of buried the lead with a really cool selection of foodstuffs. A lead even FURTHER buried is all the other really cool food events going on in the month of October! Five BIG events, and luckily the much anticipated roast of John, Al, and Max will be a month before. Need to plan a schedule? Well, that’s why I bring you…
The Second Annual leg of their NY/LA series of Asian food fests will be setting up shop for their “Night Market”. Last year it was actually pretty neat! Mixologist were putting out some really competent efforts in the form of drinks with caramelized pineapple puree (still to date my favorite Chris Hopkins drink). And I’m sure past attendees will remember the Fluke Sashimi with toasted Bone Marrow/Parmesan by Angelo Sosa, the standout winner from last year. The only thing I’m hoping is that they figure out a way to avoid the absolute MOB the crowd became after general admission started getting in. I heard it was some sorta Groupon thing, accidentally oversold by a couple hundred people. Truly became a living nightmare.
Jean-Louis Palladin dinner by the James Beard Foundation
Something I’ve looked forward to all year long is this dinner, one of the few James Beard things that we get in town. To honor the memory of a Vegas fine dining primogeniture, the 16 biggest exec-chefs in town do a course each for a few lucky (and loaded) patrons, all for the benefit of a charity for the education of young chefs-to-be. As you could imagine, this is one of the big deal events, the chefs really go all-out. I recall Brian Howard doing a sea urchin puree with a black pepper gel in a fishbowl, a great adaptation of an old Palladin recipe.
After the first one did remarkably well, doubled by not going all cliched “Bacon in everything, lol” during the height of that foolishness, there were two years of it not returning. I forget why, some kind of feud about not paying for this or slaughtering pigs in the bathrooms or whatever. Regardless, it’s coming back and I’m pleased as punch. If they stick around, and Bon Appetit’s grand tasting doesn’t change, THIS will be the mass-food event that puts a nail in their coffin. Things to look out for: someone slicing up Jamon Iberico de Bellota, a service I’m very glad is in vogue, and the “Ham Burger” with a patty of ground HAM and way less salty than it sounds.
Grapes and Hops at the Springs Preserve
Now, around this time of year there are roughly seventy beer-fests of varying quality going on. I’ve been to many, and the best by far is the Grapes and Hops fest. It has that rare mix of actually interesting beers, pleasing atmosphere (they make our blighted rock of a desert actually presentable), and a minimum of people who saw unlimited beer as an excuse to pound taster after taster of the most potent beer they have. They had some alright-ish food last year as well (Mon Ami Gabi had a fine croque monsieur).
Life Is Beautiful
Contrary to common thought, the main event is really NOT for the food-inclined. The Culinary Village and the Alchemy Garden are really cool, but they are a-la-carte, baby. That is all really more for the great big music fest thing to have a kind of food court. Culinary Crawl and Grills & Guitars, those are food things, and those look super cool. The Culinary Crawl will give you a glimpse of a fine food writer’s “busy day”, quite probably including the somber minute of taking pictures before anyone touches food.
Oh, but the few of you with five big ones, five hundred ten-dollar-bills, dollar-sign-five-zero-zero-zero, you can go to “Take A Stand”. This is a Three Square collaboration, eight chefs, eight courses, plus Elizabeth Blau (who, along with Mario Maccioni, imported the Vegas treasure that is Le Cirque) and Hubert Keller serving as master of ceremonies and basically just puttin’ on the Ritz.
Ok, so you chumps have the basics! Did I forget anything? This is going to be a busy busy month, but definitely one we can all find SOMETHING to do for kicks. Least Boring Month, I am ready for you.