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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Latin Food Fest celebrated Latin food, wine, and spirits in Los Angeles, California



On Saturday, March 19, 2016, visitors from all over Southern California descended upon Grand Park in Los Angeles for the 4th annual Latin Food Fest. The event was packed with live music, cooking demonstrations, and local chefs serving up amazing flavors of Latin America, Latin-inspired foods, drinks, wines, and spirits.

Best of the Fest awards were awarded to Chef Paul Serrano, of Sarita’s Pupuseria, for “Best Chef” and Chef Mario Christerna, of The Briks, for “Best Dish”.

Let’s take a look at some of the restaurants and food purveyors:

Coca-Cola® had a beautiful shaded booth with the recognizable red and white coloration throughout from the sofas to the carpet. Ice cold Coca-Cola was served with a smile. They were serving twist-cap aluminum bottles which have a sleek design.

Diabolo® Blueberry Lemonade combines South American blueberry and Italian lemon flavors into one refreshing drink. They always have a great check-in at festivals. When you like them on social media, they give you a full size beverage to drink or take home with you.

UFC® Refresh is 100% natural coconut water without any additives or preservatives. It is certified by Thailand Trust Mark (endorses only selected high-quality products from Thailand) and verified by the Non-GMO Project. It has a very clean taste for a rehydrating beverage or use it as the liquid base for a fruit smoothie.

Chobani Flip™ is part yogurt and part toppings. After peeling off the cover, simply “flip” the toppings into the yogurt and enjoy. Almond Coco Loco is coconut low-fat yogurt with honey-roasted salted almonds and dark chocolate. It tastes like an “Almond Joy”. Key Lime Crumble is key lime low-fat yogurt with graham crackers and white chocolate. This is amazing and tastes exactly like key lime pie.

Jarritos Mexican Cola is made with 100% real sugar from Mexico. It has a nice smooth cola flavor. The mango flavor has an almost creamy feel and tastes very close to the actual fruit.

Fogo de Chão served up bacon wrapped chicken breast, Beef Ancho (ribeye), and garlic mashed potatoes. All of the meats were grilling on-site and the aroma just stops you in your tracks. Brazilian churrascaria is one of the best ways to eat meats as they are seasoned with just salt, and maybe pepper in some cases. This way of cooking showcases the natural flavor of the meats presented. It is a carnivore’s delight!

Banana Water is another option to keep you hydrated. Banana Water is made with natural ingredients, the potassium of two medium bananas, no added sugar or colors, fat/cholesterol/gluten-free, and only 70 calories per bottle. If you like using coconut water as a base for your smoothies, Banana Water is another great option as well.

The Briks presented a mini chorizo tostada. The chorizo was flavorful and would be wonderful in The Briks or Cocas like on their menu. It was amazing and makes you want to keep coming back for more.

Las Molendera Restaurant served up Chicken Mole Tacos. It had a deep chocolate, cinnamon flavor that thickly coated each piece of chicken. It was amazing in a taco, but would be great atop rice.

Soca Chef served up some Cod Fritters, Soup, and Doubles. Doubles is like a sandwich made with bara (a flat fried bread) and filled with channa (curried garbanzo beans). The Caribbean flavors were a refreshing break from Latin food with the different spices and culinary technique.

Northgate Gonzalez Market served up carnitas tacos, jugos, and guacamole & chips. Their team fed the crowds well and all with smiles. The carnitas were amazing and they really packed the meat into the taco. The guacamole was creamy yet till had some avocado chunks mixed within it. The chips were crispy and perfect for dipping. They would also be great for nachos! They had a variety of jugos available. The strawberry jugos was refreshing and not too sweet.


Aqui es Texcoco served up their Traditional Mexican Lamb Barbecue (Barbacoa) inside of tacos. This style of cooking is similar to the use of the imu in Hawaiian cooking. The lamb (Borrego) is slow roasted in an underground fire pit for 7+ hours, covered by maguey leaves. You’ll definitely taste the care that the slow roasting process does and will make you want to visit their restaurant. The menu looks amazing!

Ibarra Mexican Chocolate tried to serve up their chocolate in smoothie form but was having problems with the blender. They gave out their chocolate bar which is in disk form. It is made with cocoa, sugar, cinnamon. All you need is some hot milk to melt the chocolate and you’ll have the perfect traditional Mexican chocolate drink.

Mexico Lindo Salsas is part of the Castillo Salsas family of products. They gave out a variety of full bottle salsas to take home, like Habanera Roja, Salsa Habanera Verde, and Salsa Picante Negra.

Ubatuba Açai Bowls served up their açai with a variety of different toppings from fruit to nuts to chocolate. It was cool and refreshing on a bright sunny day.

World Empanadas served up their Beef and Santa Fe Chicken empanadas. The Beef Empanada is filled with ground beef simmered with potatoes, green olives, bell peppers, onions, garlic, lemon, and spices. The Santa Fe Chicken Empanada is filled with chicken breast simmered with black beans, corn, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes with spicy cayenne seasoning. The pastry on the outside is perfect, not too doughy and golden brown on the outside. Each of the fillings were full of flavor and make you hungry for more.

Coni’ Seafood Restaurant served up Borrachos (drunken shrimp) and shrimp ceviche. The Borrachos was served whole and cooked to perfection. The sauce was addictive and had you craving more. The best tasting part is the head of the shrimp! The shrimp ceviche was pretty good. Shrimp can get a little starchy when sitting in the leche de tigre mixture too long causing a little bit of cotton mouth. Fish is probably better to use at a large event like this.

Bush’s Cocina Latina® has a latin-inspired product line of frijoles and hominy. They served a Black Bean Fritter with guacamole. It was interesting and tasted like a vegetarian black bean burger in a fritter configuration. The guacamole added a creamy texture to the crunchy exterior of the fritter.

Café Alba served up their version of beef and egg empanadas. Their pastry was a little softer and could have used a little bit more time in the oven. The beef and egg fillings were delicious. The egg filling had a breakfast flavor with the fluffy egg inside. The beef could be eaten at any time of day.

Latin Food Fest is a definite must-do/eat. Make plans to visit the San Diego Latin Food Fest in August 2016 or Los Angeles Latin Food Fest in March 2017. 

To see more photos, please visit OC Food Diva's Facebook and Instagram pages.

For more information:
Save the date for San Diego: August 12-15, 2016
Save the date for Los Angeles: March 17-20, 2017

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