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Last month I attended the Lemon Zest and Garlic Fest because Faye's Fork had an extra ticket (actually there were two tickets, but Dennis couldn't go). Food festival? Yea, I'm there! Little did I know how fun the weather would be that day...
I woke to some rumbling, thinking the neighbors were moving around their trash cans loudly but quickly realized it was a thunderstorm... what?! That's not typical San Diego weather! As luck would have it, that day's weather report showed rain at 8am (when I woke up), between 11-4 (when the festival was going on) and nothing the rest of the day. The timing was crazy! I packed an umbrella and headed out, ready to face the world. And eat lots of food.
The festival was held at San Diego Waterfront Park, which I've never been to before. It's about a block away from the SD Trolley station so I took public transportation that day. It was a little drippy when I arrived but nothing I couldn't handle! After picking up my ticket, I headed inside! I met briefly with Faye but we separated so she could make her rounds before leaving early. Her recap is here.
The first station I stopped at was Spike Africa's. Chef Chef Kevin Bryan was doing his thing and prepping the samples. I hid underneath the tent to stay dry and chat with the guys there.
They were serving ceviche, very fresh with a light citrus zest, and a delicious starter for the event. This ceviche was much improved from the version at Taste of Downtown 2014.
I skipped a few stalls and next tried a gluten free waffle from The Primative Waffle.
They also had a cute water station. It may seem so trivial but it's like finding an oasis in the desert. Except for today because of the rains!
On the other side of the tent was Rubicon Deli. Their Rubicon special has roasted turkey, smoked gouda, and roasted red peppers on garlic cheese bread, a tasty combination!
I'd barely hit three stands and it started POURING HARD! I had to play the balancing game... umbrella stick resting on one shoulder, holding the food in left hand, and taking pictures with my right hand! And hiding under the tents when possible!
The next tent was my favorite vendor of the day, Chesa Kusina, with filippino/pacific islands influenced food . They are a catering business run by family so unfortunately you can't just drive over to a brick and mortar for grub. In the background, JR and Mikey were working the grills while sister Emi and husband David helped the folks up front.
This sample of garlic fried rice had a great balance of garlic and nice chunks of meat in it.
They also had this zesty chicken on chips which was also fun! It's called chicken "kelaguen" which is a traditional dish in Guam.
This drink was unique and refreshing and I could taste a slight tart from the kumquat!
I found MACARONS nearby at Le Parfait Paris! The left one is passion fruit while the right is lemon flavored. I was eyeing that tower in the background, trying to decide if I should eat more or continue onward!
Their two quiche samples were scrumptious bites, one with bits of ham and cheese and other a florentine style.
Souplantation had their seasonal special of lemon muffins. I believe they also had them at the Discover Fresh event I attended earlier this year because it was lemon month!
Roy's Famous Chocolate Popcorn is a family run business. How cute that everyone is here working together!
They sampled a few popcorn flavors. The lemon-ted edition version was cutely named and created for the festival!
Jeni's Cookies & More sampled multiple home-made desserts such as this lemon brownie! Everything is baked in a home kitchen! Made with love.
The London Bakery was sampling tons of jam! Joanne the owner had the cutest accent and offered her homemade lemon cupcakes as well!
There was a huge display at Jerky's Gourmet. I tried all the non-spicy ones to the right but original was my favorite!
I've only eaten sandwiches from Corner Bakery Cafe so it was nice to sample something different. I loved the pasta the best. The farro-type grain was too firm and the bruschetta was wet from tomato juice. The lemony blueberry item was soft and fluffy but seemed a lot to eat!
Mmmmm to rice and chicken kabab at The Kebab Shop.
Brigantine's had a chimichanga type item and seared ahi on cucumber. They are run by the same company as Miguel's Cocina so the napkin is only there for photo identification purposes!
This lemon garlic sorbet from Leucadia Liscious was a bit out there in taste for me... a rainy day just doesn't encourage my ice crearm cravings.
A garlic inspired meatball from The Safehouse.
Fuddruckers brought a lemony chicken slider.
The mashed potato sample from Haritna was way too garlicky unless you like it strong! At least they are going with the theme of the festival!
I see olive oil type tastings at multiple events. This station was provided by Rideout Bistro Oils.
Gayle's Rum Cakes were great, moist samples and she definitely knows her ad spiel well.
Ms Gayle was sitting up in a high chair... very smart since the ground beneath us was now a swamp! Thanks rain. Us visitors got to wade through water instead!
George's Fish Bucket had a seafood spread on a cracker.
This chicken al ajillo from Spacebar Wine were extremely juicy and poked with colorful toothpicks! They also had a hulk smoothie and pitaya smoothie samples.
Pike & Sons sampled many of their fudges. They had created a special garlic infused fudge for the festival... nice try but I think I'll stick to sweet instead. Their lemon infused version was better.
Blendees had a delicious smoothie mix sample which I believe was apple(?) spinach and pineapple juice.
The Pampered Chef planned on demonstrations that day but the rain kept them at bay. Instead, they sampled a garlic spread with crackers.
Members of the Pacific Photography Society, a photography club, were here taking photos of the event. We also took pictures of each other hehe!
I passed by a huge pink truck from Lil' Miss Short Cakes with the hopes that they were still serving food!
Indeed there were still lemony cupcakes and rice crispy treats! Also a sip of lemonade to wash it all down!
I was curious about this CSA produce booth but the person running it was MIA.
After circling around twice to hit all food vendors, I finally made it to the event's beer garden. Here's Fat Cat Beers.
There were a few varieties of red and white wines on the other end of the garden.
Here's the special festival mug we got to use and keep for the beer garden! I think I liked this wine best too! I was starting to feel a little miserable though because my jeans were quite soaked at this point. Despite best efforts, the rain was really dragging the event down. I went around the event once more to grab more garlic fried rice (those guys at Chesa Kusina were super troopers) then headed back to the trolley station. The winds were really howling and my umbrella was straining! It's definitely home time!
I am proud to announce that I'm officially trained in the art of umbrella holding foodie photographer.
Compared to other events I've attended, this event leaned heavily toward independent business owners, with about half of them being non-food businesses, so it almost seemed like a street fair. Sure there were unlimited food samples but they were also trying to sell you things on the spot. It's good exposure for those who don't have a storefront though and I found a couple of great ones through this! I feel the price is a bit high for this event in general, $50/person and such a tiny 'beer garden' but if the price were lowered, I think it would be worth checking out! I guess the upside is that the event IS partnered with a charity (NSEFU Wildlife Conservation Foundation) so I hope some of those vendor proceeds benefitted them as well. Hopefully next year's event will have the typical beautiful San Diego weather we all know and love!