Road Trip: Oxnard Salsa Festival in Oxnard, CA

On Sunday, July 27, 2014, we took a leisurely drive up the 101 freeway from swelteringly hot Los Angeles County to what started out to be cooler and overcast Oxnard, CA. Oxnard is approximately 35 miles west of Los Angeles. The city loves festivals, the Oxnard Salsa Festival (in July), California Strawberry Festival (in May) and the California Beer Festival (which starts next weekend). Oxnard is the agricultural center for strawberries and lima beans and a major transportation hub with many rail and bus lines stopping here. Due to the diversified landscape in Oxnard, there is a hometown, on the farm, and beach city feel all coupled into one.

Our commute was quicker than expected so we decided to park and eat breakfast near Plaza Park. Free parking in downtown Oxnard was definitely a plus. We walked to BG’s Café for breakfast. It’s a family-owned, hole in the wall restaurant. What caught my eye was the shoyu on the table. Historically, there were a lot of Japanese immigrants who settled here decades ago and began the strawberry agriculture that exists today. One of my friend’s families is one of them. BG’s Cafe had me at Bacon Pancakes. They were so good! This carb-laden breakfast helped coat my stomach for the salsa judging to be had shortly. If I’m in the area again, I will definitely stop by for breakfast or lunch. Rating: 5/5 stars

It was 10:45am and time to check in for the salsa judging at the Oxnard Salsa Festival. There were 22 entries ranging from mild to hot in different styles like all tomato, tomatillo, and add-ins like mango and nopales (cactus). The process took two hours as we judged each salsa in regards to appearance, flavor, and the submission heat category (mild, medium, and hot). As the submissions were weeded down, some had to be tasted multiple times to choose a winner for each category. And the winners were: