Girls on Food


OktoberFEAST: Feasting for Cancer Research in Toronto

Instagram: @CCSGTA @CancerSociety

Facebook: Canadian Cancer Society

Website: OktoberFEAST

OktoberFEAST Shan 6

CCS logo
Canadian Cancer Society
OktoberFEAST logo







October is filled with Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, eh!), Halloween, Oktoberfest and, of course, it is Women’s Cancer Awareness Month. I was given the opportunity to attend a fundraising event called OktoberFEAST Toronto which was hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society. My boyfriend’s family has a history of breast cancer so anything to support the research, I am in! If you are interested in attending an OktoberFEAST event definitely check out their website to find a location near you! The night was filled with music, company, drinks and of course FOOD!


Steamwhistle beer

To start off, I’ll share our beer of choice of the night — Nico, my boyfriend, and I chose SteamWhistle, a local beer brewed next to the lakeshore in downtown Toronto. It is definitely our local beer of choice because it has a full body, yet is still light without being watery. When I get my hands on a favourite beer, better not accidentally take my glass otherwise I’ll take yours too!

Two glass filled now!
Two glass filled now!


Three different pokes available (front to back): Salmon, Ahi Tuna, Octopus
Three different pokes available (front to back): Salmon, Ahi Tuna, Octopus

Now for the food: first up, North Poke! Lately, poke has been a big trend in Toronto and there’s probably a new poke restaurant popping up every other week. This is my first time trying North Poke and I definitely enjoyed it!

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There were three choices of poke, and I went for the salmon poke which had gochuchang dressing, kimchi crema, radish, fried shallot, scallion and microgreens on a bed of sushi rice. Nico is not much of a fan of raw foods but he ate majority of this poke! This poke was not only fresh but made us want more and more. I will definitely be dropping by their store-front for a large size!

KANTO by Tita Flips

OktoberFEAST Shan 10

Next, we went back to our roots and got a Filipino classic from Kanto by Tita Flips. We are big fans of Kanto and were super happy to see that they partook in OktoberFEAST! Featured is a lumpia, a Filipino spring roll! They had a pork and a vegetarian option, but of course we had to go for the meat. The lumpia was perfectly crunchy and the meat was moist and flavourful. We can’t wait to have more!


OktoberFEAST Shan 11
Crunchy Cauliflower Trio and Siu Mai

Hawthorne Food & Drink was new to me. They serve “Farm-to-Fork City Food” using only local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. For this event, they brought out their Siu Mai and a Crunchy Cauliflower Trio. Not only were these dishes beautiful and colourful, but knowing that everything on these dishes are local makes the flavours brighten. I can’t wait to explore more of their menu!


Jerk Chicken on lentil rice with Oxtail Gravy
Jerk Chicken on lentil rice with Oxtail Gravy

Now, who doesn’t love a good Jerk? We indulged in some jerk chicken with rice, lentil and oxtail gravy and also some African coconut donuts from Hedwige Dumplings. The chicken was moist and the jerk was simple enough that it worked really well with the lentil rice.

African Coconut Donuts
African Coconut Donuts

Now those donuts, they definitely remind us of the Jamaican Dumplings which are fried sweet dough. Man, anything sweet and fried is bomb and these donuts are no exception. On top of that, the two ladies who own the booth are filled with so much energy and smiles that you can’t help but smile along!


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I don’t know how but we managed to have room for dessert! Here is the Turtle Waffel from WAFEL BAR food truck, a classic sweet Belgian liege waffle topped with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and pecans. Oh man oh man, so delicious and so perfect. The waffle has the classic hard outer shell but was still soft  in the inside. If you’re in the area, you have to seek out this truck!


OktoberFEAST Shan 15

The best part of this experience is that we were given VIP passes — and paying an extra few bucks is definitely worth it. Not only do you get the mason jar included, a cool orange bracelet, one free drink and a VIP lounge,  but you also get popcorn —  not your ordinary popcorn, no no, but gourmet fancy popcorn! And the best part? You get to take as many as you want!! Not going to lie, if I had a big bag with me then I would have taken all of these, but unfortunately I only took home three. The Toronto Popcorn Company is a local popcorn company that creates and sells some crazy flavours, from classic caramel to maple bacon to vanilla spongecake popcorn… they have ’em all!

OktoberFEAST Shan 17

Overall, this event not only had amazing food but also brought cancer awareness to a whole new level. We wish them all the best and cannot wait for next year! Two more locations will be hosting an OktoberFEAST event so definitely check out their website.


The Taste of Mexico Returns To LA

The largest all-inclusive Mexican tasting event The Taste of Mexico (TOM) returns on its 6th annual edition to Los Angeles and Girls of Food (GOF) was invited to the exclusive sneak peek event that showcased some of the food vendors that you would be able to try at the food festival.

Be sure to check out their site here.


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The first thing we tried was a sample of Los Javis Mezcal. It is a family owned Mezcaleria from Oaxaca, México that dates 3 generations back. This mezcal is incredibly smooth. It had a lot of flavor and body but it didn’t leave that burning sensation in your throat that you normally get from drinking mezcal.


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They also brought Chapulines (grasshoppers) and Sal de Gusano (salt with maguey worms).


Then we tried Anepalco’s Baby Corn which is their version of the Mexican street vendor corn. The Baby Corn was smothered in a Chile de Arbol Aioli, topped with Cotija cheese and grind up Chapulines sprinkled on top of it. We’re excited to try their new spot Maestro, in Pasadena, which is coming soon.

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From Caló Provisions we got to see Ted Montoya in action and to try his Pozole. Ted’s take on Pozole has a twist he cooks it with Chicharron Dashi and adds an egg. I really like the egg, it gives an extra layer of complexity to the Pozole.

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Our pal The Choriman was also at the Taste of Mexico sneak peek and he was making Chori Panes. A Chori Pan is a chorizo sandwich. He made his with his Zacateca’s style Red Chorizo, roasted Corn Salad and Salsa Macha.

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We also got to enjoy the delicious pastries from La Monarca Bakery. We had the strawberry cake, the fruit cake, the orejitas cookies and my personal favorite de Guava cake.

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There will be plenty of drinks at the festival some of the ones we loved at the sneak peek were: The I Love Micheladas, Tepaches from Ancho Reyes a Chile Liqueor and Los Javis.

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There will also have aguas frescas vendors like the Agua Lucha guys. They have flavors like: Mandarin, Lemon, Hibiscus and Tamarind. Not only that they donate some of their proceedings to retired Luchadores (wrestlers) in Mexico.

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The 2016 Taste of Mexico will be the best one so far and it will take place under the stars in the beautiful courtyard of the Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum in downtown LA. TOM has invited over 35 restaurants to cater the event and you’ll also be able to sample Tequila, Mezcal, Baja Wines & Spirits. And although the tickets might seem a little bit pricey keep in mind that it is an all you can eat and drink ticket so you only have to worry about what food vendor do you want to try next .The event starts at 7pm and ends at 11pm.

Piece of the Middle East (in Seattle): Anar and Mamnoon Street

A couple of days ago, my friend and co-worker, Quinn and I had a great idea to indulge in our pun obsessions and decided to try a little piece of the Middle East (Get it?  Piece?  Middle East?).  Essentially doing a food crawl and sampling everything at a local Middle Eastern restaurant and its vegetarian sister restaurant next door.

Mamnoon Street
2020 6th Ave Seattle, WA 98121

screenshot-2016-09-11-13-32-44The same people own both Mamnoon Street and Anar, Racha and Wassef Haroun.  They also own another restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, also called Mamnoon, but there you can sit down and enjoy cocktails with your food.

The Haroun’s came to the Pacific Northwest to work in the tech industry.  They decided to plant roots here and brought a bit of their Syrian/Lebanese heritage with them into the restaurant scene.  They have found their place amongst the foodies and have expanded their availability and visibility by opening up two more locations in the Amazon campus in downtown Seattle.

Our first stop during our food crawl was Mammon Street.  We opted to sit outside in the wind, as opposed to dining inside like a rational people would.  However, sitting outside when it’s NOT raining in Seattle is a treat one can enjoy when the opportunity arises.

img_1686I ordered both the lamb and chicken shawarma.  I had every intention of eating just a little bit of both to give a fair review, but as soon as I started to bite down into the lamb, I couldn’t stop.  I began to feel full right away, and I wasn’t even a 1/4 of the way finished with it.  So I knew that trying the chicken shawarma would have to wait until later, but it eventually went into the eager hands of my Uber driver later that afternoon.

Quinn wasn’t as ambitious as I was (since I suffer from eyes bigger than stomach syndrome), so he ordered a kefta arayess aka sandwich with a side of halloumi cheese.

img_1687Of course, there was no waiting to take a pic for this guy.  He’s all about business and just started noshing.  I was able to snag a little bite of the kefta arayess and was struck by the perfect balance of seasoning in the ground beef and the saltiness of the halloumi.

Eventually, Quinn gave up and decided he was full while I still wanted to go to Anar.




2040 6th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

img_1692Anar is right around the corner from Mamnoon Street.  The vibe inside looks like a typical juice bar with the display of fresh veggies.  I’ve been there before, and I die for their iced Turkish coffees.  But what I’m really all about is their lentil and brown rice dish called Mujadara.

Topped with pickled turnips and Greek yogurt, this dish is also extra filling.  I knew that I would be eating this for leftovers during the week because it might not look like a lot of food, but it’s a lot of food.  I did manage to take a few bites, but honestly I could have exploded at that point.

img_1693Also, I couldn’t leave without getting the chia seed pudding topped with apricot jam for the road.  Again, this is something to be enjoyed when you have room in your stomach.

The price points for both Mamnoon Street and Anar are relatively reasonable, and you get a huge bang for your buck.  I don’t recommend driving to their location because parking is awful in this part of downtown Seattle. If you are in the area and are looking for a better option than Thai food or a sub sandwich, either one of these fantastic places will be a welcome change for your taste buds!

The Inside Scoop at Las Vegas’ Gelatology

Las Vegas summers are brutal – and yes, it’s a dry heat, but 110+ is hot regardless of humidity. So besides bingeing on Netflix indoors, how does one cool off? Gelato is a great way to start, and while there are lots of places around the Las Vegas valley to get this frozen treat, my favorite is Gelatology.

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Lemon pound cake gelato, from a prior visit.

7910 S. Rainbow, Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89139

Gelatology just celebrated their 1-year anniversary, but while the location is new, Mastermind Desyree Alberganti is an old pro. Before Gelatology, Desyree operated another popular business near downtown Las Vegas, so popular in fact that the new operators are still using her old business name (changing it slightly by adding “The” as a prefix).

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Storefront, located in a small plaza.

Speaking of names, Gelatology is a bit of a play on words. Gelotology is the study of laughter, and how it affects the body. Signage in the dining area explains, “At Gelatology, the science of laughter meets the science of gelato. It’s good to be happy, scientists agree, and so do we…how about you?”

I definitely agree.

What sets Gelatology apart, is the quality, creativity, and passion found in each flavor. Everything you’ll find here is from scratch. The rice pudding? She made the rice pudding before adding it to her gelato base. The fruit? She chopped and pureed it. The base is so good you can just order it by itself – “fiore di latte,” but once you see the daily selections, you’ll probably opt for just a taste. (Pro tip: you can taste as many flavors as you like!)

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In addition to gelato, you will find a selection of equally creative whoopee pies (like Ube Velvet!), French macarons made by local baker Sweets 507, a variety of other baked treats, along with espresso drinks and homemade soda. One of the most intriguing offerings is the Fat Elvis. It consists of peanut butter gelato, strawberry puree, banana compote, and candied bacon…definitely on my winter-bod bucket list!

When I mentioned that Desyree was creative with her flavors, I meant it. When was the last time you tried chicken and waffles gelato? Or Black Sesame Kit Kat? Pear & Gorgonzola? Pineapple Tajin sorbetto? Cotija cheese with sweet corn? I could keep going; the list is ever changing. You might be wondering “Okay Ranae, these flavors sound flashy and exciting, but how do they taste?” MAGICAL. That’s the only way to describe anything I’ve ever sampled from Gelatology. Foie Gras is not something that would even dot the radar of things I would usually want to eat, but when it’s mixed with rosemary and Desyree’s fiore di latte? Sure, I’m down for that.

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My most recent visit coincided with their 1-year anniversary celebration, I would say that was good timing, but in reality, I had been there a few days prior, and she had filled me in.  (In my defense, it’s next door to a Korean barbecue restaurant we were trying, it would have been rude not to say hello.)

Even though there was a line, the whole Gelatology team was friendly and encouraged my husband and me to try several flavors. (Desyree has a way of making everyone feel like a VIP.) After much deliberation, my husband chose Ferrero Rocher and Pistachio Baklava, while I went with Halo-halo Rocky Road, and Goat Cheese and Fig. He was not in a sharing mood, but the bites I managed to steal while he got some extra napkins were perfect–whole pistachios, caramelly honey, and oh-so-creamy. Mine contained plump bits of fig in a slightly tangy base, and the Halo-halo Rocky Road had a slightly toasted marshmallow taste and a gorgeous purple color from the purple yam.

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Split cups L-R: Halo-halo Rocky Road, Goat cheese and fig, Ferrero Rocher, and Pistachio Baklava

Gelatology is located in the south-western part of the Las Vegas valley, around 20 minutes from the strip for you tourists. Relatively easy to get to, and definitely worth the trip. It makes a great pit stop if you are doing any exploring at Red Rock Canyon, and want to cool off before returning to your hotel. Follow them on Instagram and check out their Facebook page (linked above,) for daily flavor updates! They offer vegan and gluten free flavors, and sorbetto in addition to gelato. The vegan pumpkin gelato is the best pumpkin gelato I think I’ve ever had, and I’m not a vegan.

Everyone knows “money can’t buy happiness,” but it can buy gelato from Gelatology, and if you swap the ‘A’ for an ‘O’ it is technically the same thing.

Eat Drink SF: The Best Bites & Booze in the Bay

Like I said in my preview post, San Francisco is a hub of fresh produce. Better yet, some of the country’s most innovative chefs seem to recognize this, setting up shop all along the peninsula. And with so much good food and so much real talent, it’s hard to taste everything this part of Northern Cali has to offer. Luckily, that’s the whole premise of Eat Drink SF — get the best bites and booze of the Bay in one place so the public can sip and sample the day away.

EDSF Entrance

Now, I’ve struggled with how to describe this event because it’s, in all honesty (and to a writer’s chagrin) hard to capture with words. There’s such a large variety of cuisine and cocktails; it is a bit overwhelming — for the mind as well as the stomach. So I’ve decided the best way to share my experience is with a few photos of my standout samples.


Peruvian Sea Scallop

Shrimp Escabeche served with shallots, cilantro, celery, and a coconut foam – The Market

This dish was my first bite of the day. Off to a great start with familiar flavors in a unique combination.


Panzanella Spiedini – Zero Zero

The fresh pancetta brought me back to Italy for sure…Bellissimo!


Summer Tabbouleh – Terzo/Rose’s Cafe

Simply celebrating summer’s freshest produce.

Delfina Pizza sample

Pane Al Pomodoro: Grilled Bread, Crushed Early Girl Tomatoes, Ricotta Salata – Pizzeria Delfina

Cheers, guys, but I’m still a major fan of your Broccoli Rabe.

Sea Scallops

Peruvian Sea Scallop with Corn and Blueberries – Brasserie S&P

Chilled scallops garnished with a corn puree that tastes like sweet buttercream, blueberries for freshness, need I say more?


Someone recently asked me if I liked caviar. My response was that I hadn’t had it enough to like or dislike it. I’d like to update that answer — love it.


White Sturgeon Mousseline (garnished with caviar) – Michael Mina

I never thought I’d have the chance to eat at Michelin-star restaurant Michael Mina. Well, if this bite is any indication of what their full menu features, I better put my name down now. This sample is truly what food critics mean when they say a dish has “balance of flavor” — sweet, salty, sour, spice, and that elusive umami, all tucked into one delicious mouth-full.

E&O Kimchi Rice

Slow Braised Pork & Kimchi, Rice Cake, Seasoned Nori – E&O Kitchen & Bar

The longest line of the day and I can tell you why. While there were quite a few Asian and Asian-inspired samples out there, this one tops them all. Pork meat that just melts in the mouth, fried rice cake delicately coats the palate with oil, while the Kimchi adds just the right amount of funk. And that seasoned Nori? Well, I could just eat a bag of that like potato chips. Brava Chef Sharon Nahm who was working the booth herself — at lightning speed, I might add, keeping up with all of us greedy customers.

Spaghetti Bro Balls

Meat Balls Alla Marinara – Spaghetti Brothers

Spaghetti Bros Chefs

Spaghetti Brothers, Chef Eric Lowe & Aaron Toensing

Luce Brown Butter Prawn

Chilled Blue Prawn & Cucumber, Brown Butter, Pistachio – Luce

Another bite from a Michelin-star restaurant and tied for my personal dish of the day. Those pistachios added an extra something to this (crunch, body, flavor) — nice touch, Chef.

smoked hamachi wente restaurant

Smoked Passmore Ranch Sturgeon – The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards

I love me some Wente wine, so I was so pleased to see that their Executive Chef, Chef Mike Ward, was at EDSF representing The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. And this simple smoked fish garnished with a bit of sweet from the raspberry coulis and a bit of salty with that (oh yes) caviar is the other dish in my two-way tie for the dish of the day.

Wente Chef

Chef Mike Ward gets bonus points for posing for a Silly Stacy Selfie. Cheers, friend!


Tasting all this food, yeah you’re going to get thirsty — luckily there was no shortage of craft cocktails, beers, and wines available.


Kalifornia Kolsch – Magnolia Brewing Company

Crisp, refreshing, and light with just a hint of herbaceousness — perfect for the non-beer drinker.

Sipsmith London Punch

London Punch – SipSmith

Sipsmith London Dry Gin, Earl Grey Tea, vermouth, citrus, and blackberries make up this funky little cocktail. I loved the addition of the Earl Grey tea, which truly added a woodsy aroma and aftertaste. But my favorite part was that you could taste the gin — and all those other elements just uplifted that classic, pseudo-sweet flavor. Well met, mixologists.

Old Tom & The Sea

Old Tom & The Sea – Anchor Distilling Company

My favorite cocktail of the day goes to the Anchor Distillery’s “Old Tom & The Sea.” Something about the mix of the sweet cherry liquor and the sour lemon juice just felt fun and fresh. And, like the London Punch, there was the right combination of all those other ingredients, and they highlight the purity of the gin. I find so many cocktails work to hide the alcohol, but this one uplifted it and made me appreciate it as a form of produce. Bonus: they gave us the recipe. Adults, try this at home:

.75 oz Anchor Old Tom Gin

.5 oz Tempus Fugit Kina L’Aéro d’Or.

.25 oz Luxardo Sangue Morlacco Cherry Liqueur

.25 oz Lemon Juice

Lemon and cherry flag for garnish.

The Treasury Mixologist

Flash – The TreasuryThe Treasury %22Flash%22

very close second for the cocktail of the day goes to Elisa Gallardo and Carlos Yturria of The Treasury for their gin, kiwi, cucumber and lemon concoction called “Flash.” So refreshing — almost smoothie-esque — this is the drink you’d reach for if you didn’t want to taste the alcohol. There’s enough Gin to add a bit of sweetness to the otherwise sour fruits, but not so much that you felt like you were drinking Gin. So, depending on what you’re looking for in a cocktail, this may be the one for you.

Herbal Spritzer

Herbal Spritzer – CUESA

Of course, for those who to prefer to get high on life, there was an abundance of non-alcoholic beverages to sip and savour as well. My personal fav was the make-your-own herbal spritzer booth presented by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA). A little bit of sparkling water and a shot of rosemary infused simple syrup, and you’ve got a fun mocktail the whole family can enjoy. I’ll drink to that.


But what about the wine, Stacy??? Yes, Wine Enthusiast did present a few wineries to share their current releases. Admittedly, most were common names you could easily find in stores. And why not? If you try something you like, you’re going to want to be able to buy it. But the real wine party was at the SF Wine School presentation theatre.

Wine School Class

There were three different classes to attend, but with so much going on I had to choose just one. And this Cali girl just couldn’t deny the opportunity to learn even more about excellent oaky Chards.

wine school Chards

Well, they weren’t all oaky, and they weren’t all California either. In fact, we had the opportunity to taste a Chardonnay from France, one South Africa (that was new to me!), and one from California. We learned that different Chardonnays present in a variety of ways depending on how much and what kinds of oak is used during barrel aging. Our presenter, Chris Gaither, AS, even took us through some wine-nerdom as he explained the role of malolactic fermentation. Honestly, I wish the class could have been longer, but I guess I’ll have to start thinking seriously about the CWS cert from SF Wine School.

Wine School selfie

Silly Stacy Selfie Featuring: Chris Gaither, AS, Stacy Briscoe, and David Glancy (SF Wine School Founder)

Wine School Tatts

Stacy and David sporting their cute SF Wine School Tatts — Cheers!


For more information about any of the vendors, restaurants, or sponsors, or to learn more about Eat Drink SF, please visit the Eat Drink SF website.

*All photography by Stacy Briscoe*

**Want to have your Bay Area wine event, winery, vineyard, or tasting room featured? Please Contact the Author via her blog**

Shanlli at the Sweetery in Toronto

What’s cooler than an ice cream cone on a summer’s day? A ton of sweets, treats AND ice cream! Welcome to the Sweetery Toronto, Toronto’s one and only solely confectionary festival. This festival is their second time around and with the help from the City of Toronto, they hosted a FREE festival out on David Pecaut Square located right next to the Roy Thomson Hall.

Guests are allowed to interact and take photos with this Sweetery Installation.

With over 25 vendors and food trucks, there was more than enough sweets and treats for the day. The event is held over a two-day period, August 20-21, right in the downtown core.

Treats created by George Brown Pastry Chefs
Treats created by George Brown Pastry Chefs

This year they collaborated with the George Brown College’s Chef School. The sweets and treats created by the Post Graduate Pastry program students were part of their final grade and the profits obtained are used to help elevate their costs for their semester learning in France.

Left: Crumble Mountain Right: Rainbow Giant – From Cool Beans (

We got to sample multiple different treats from coffee based creations to artisan marshmallows, to matcha everything! Cool Beans has a refreshing new take on the cold brew.

Left to Right: raspberry lemonade crush, pina colada paradise, sassy sangria, merry mojito – From I LOVE PUFFY LOVE (;

Want fancy and unique marshmallows? Well, I LOVE PUFFY LOVE have you covered with these crazy creations; I loved the pina colada paradise!


Matcha Chiffon Cake & Matcha Soft Serve – From Matcha Tea & Desserts (;

One of this summer’s craze in Toronto is Matcha everything. Matcha Tea & Desserts provide matcha soft serve that tastes very matcha like and their cake is just so light and match filled!

Clockwise: Asian themed animal macarons (Maple Lap Chong, Duck Egg Custard, Rare Tofu cheesecake), matcha chestnut cake (the same cake that Veronica created on the show!), HK milk tea crepe cake, matcha rare cheesecake

As a wonderful bonus, we got an opportunity to try some goodies created by Masterchef Canada Season 2 Top 5, Christopher Siu, Masterchef Canada Season 3 Finalist, Ernie Chow, and Masterchef Canada Season 3 Top 4, Veronica Cham. Christopher Siu also sells custom cakes and treats through his company, Daan Go.

A wide variety of cookies from red velvet, to fudge, to pistachio! – From Golden Crumb Biscuit (,

Oh, and of course, we cannot forget the simple treats in life, cookies, and pies. The pistachio cookie from Golden Crumb Bakery (along with others) was super soft and delicious!

Italian waffle cookie with gelato – From Carla’s Cookie Bar (,

While the fresh cookie and gelato from Carla’s Cookie Box were perfect during that hot weekend

Butter pecan pie – From Andrea’s Bakery (,

Now, we cannot forget the tarts and pies from Andrea’s Bakery.  The pies had the perfect balance of sweet and flaky.

Pictured is a guest partaking in an activity. These are activity tents where guests compete for sweet rewards while donating money to Second Harvest.

Once you’ve had your share of sweet treats, guests are welcome to compete in their various activity tents. Guests play to win prizes with their payment for the activity donated to Second Harvest, “the largest food rescue program in Canada.” Not only do guests benefit from the prizes and fun but they are also giving back to the community.

There were a lot more other vendors that I was not able to capture, but this is just the beginning for Sweetery Toronto. Be sure to follow them to stay up to date for their next event in 2017!

Instagram: @sweeterytoronto Facebook: Sweetery Toronto Website Hashtag: #SweeteryToronto

The Harry Potter Bridal Shower of Every Witch’s Dreams

I am a huge Harry Potter fan. My family members are big Harry Potter fans. My cousin, who is getting married this year, is a big Harry Potter fan – so much so that she got her fiancé into Harry Potter as well. Christmas is always so easy – harry potter gifts ideas – done. So naturally, when it came time to throw her a bridal shower, we had to make it Harry Potter themed! However, there’s a fine line between making it kiddish and/or Halloween-ish, so we needed to age and class up Harry Potter. That was an interesting task. After weeks of internet research, e-mail chains, and WhatsApp chats, we somehow got it all together! If you are a fan of Harry Potter but don’t have a bridal party to plan, then you might be interested in checking out something like this Harry Potter Airbnb. This could be a nice way to spend your weekend if you want to get away for a bit. However, if you do have a bridal party to plan for then keep on reading. Don’t forget that you need to make sure that the bride has everything else sorted before her big day. The bridal party is something that suould happen once she’s found the perfect location, the perfect dress. If you are struggling to find the perfect dress then it might be worthwhile checking out this Winnie Couture Atlanta location. Once everything is sorted, then you can plan the bridal party and give the bride something to look forward to and enjoy!


The bride mentioned that she wanted long tables – like those rustic, communal long tables where everyone sits and has a meal. She also wanted it outside. While their backyard would’ve made an amazing Forbidden Forest, we out here in 100+ degree Fresno heat, so no one was about to do to that (heh). Instead, we brought the tables inside to recreate a smaller Great Hall and had four total – one for each house! Most of the things we purchased – either on sale at Michael’s or at the dollar store – but the tables, chairs, napkins, and water goblets were rented.

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The chocolate frogs resting on top of each table setting were completely homemade! These were part of our favors for our guests. My sister and I (she did a lot of the work to be honest) configured a template for our Cricut, which cut them all out, but then we had to sit there and fold every single box (as did the rest of the planning squad). So many little tabs to glue and tape in! I found a template for a chocolate frog card that matched the ones you can buy at the park, and inserted the bride onto it. I also wrote a fun little bio on the back, which combined attributes of her favorite characters! For the actual frog, I simply purchased a frog mold from Amazon, bought Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Milk Chocolate, melted them down into the mold and cooled them. It’s so simple to make – and they tasted incredible.


Onto everyone’s favorite part: the food. We divided the Great Hall into two separate sections. You saw the first part, with the Great Hall tables. This is the actual Great Hall feast, which greeted our guests right when they entered! The dining room had a ton of space for our plentiful spread and a great chandelier, too. The “Muggle to Mrs.” burlap banner was purchased on Etsy.


Since it was lunch time, we wanted to keep our food light and easy for our guests. Most of our food was homemade, with the exception of the salads (though that awesome kale salad was a mix we had to put together!). We had deviled “dragon” eggs, and two types of tea sandwiches (cucumber/mint and chicken salad). Each of our menu items had a fun Harry Potter related name too – such as Severus Snape’s Shepherd’s Pie!

IMG_2707 What’s British food without shepherd’s pie? We had to class it up, of course. One of our friends made a deconstructed shepherd’s pie with the biscuit, the filling, and sauce one on top of the other. Oh, and rosemary for garnish, because we’re just fancy like that.

The hand pies – better known as Cornish Pasties in the U.K. – were my specialty. After we all had them at 3the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, we knew we had to serve them at the bridal shower. We made a mushroom-spinach-feta one for our vegetarian guests and a jerk chicken flavor. Pasties are incredibly easy – all you need it pie dough, cut them into circles, fill them with your ingredients of choice, and bake them! The possibility are endless – both sweet and savory. Our drinks (besides Gillywater, a.k.a. regular, refreshing H2O) were Amortentia (pink lemonade) and – you guessed it – Butterbeer! I have made other recipes in the past, but the foam still was not to my liking after having multiple drinks at the parks. I think our mix of heavy cream and marshmallow cream on top of good quality cream soda was the best imitation yet! Our guests could choose whichever they liked and sip on them in mason jars with little house flags.


I know, you were wondering where the dessert was. Don’t worry, I gotchu. We all enjoy sweets (probably the bride’s fiancé the most – but he was, unfortunately, not in attendance), and our bride liked the idea of a dessert bar instead of a cake. And so, we fulfilled that request. We set up our Honeydukes in the breakfast nook of the kitchen, conveniently located next to the Great Hall tables. There was something for everyone – from cupcakes to cookies to butterscotch pudding!


These gorgeous cookies deserved a picture on their own! Fresno bake, Gracie Bakes, did a brilliant job of executing our requests. After perusing through everyone’s party planner, Pinterest, we simply had too many ideas for cookies! The top were Weasley sweaters, with the bride and groom’s first initials, respectively. They’re both Ravenclaws, so they should’ve been blue, but I guess the purple and gold works alright since they’re from Southern California, heh. We also wanted the sorting hat and broomsticks, which were so cute! The bottom left cookies said “She’s Found a Catch” and “He’s Found a Keeper,” which are Quidditch related! And then there are Amortentia love potions next to it. They were honestly too cute to eat. Even if I did take one of each, later on. >:)


You didn’t think I forgot about the cupcakes, did you? They deserved a giant picture on their own, too. Fresno baker Bell Kitchen did an AMAZING job on these! We requested house scarves, house crests,and Platform 9 ¾ signs. She totally delivered. And to my surprise, there were several different flavors! There was vanilla funfetti, red velvet, chocolate, and lemon raspberry. Each of them had a delicious filling as well. Again, these were so pretty that it was almost difficult to eat. Almost. They were amazingly delicious.

CIMG1749One of our games was for guests to try Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and guess the flavor. Well, I purchased the beans, so I got a little mean and made almost all of them the ugly flavors! There was earwax, dirt, Tobasco, and rotten egg, among the flavors. When I was explaining to the employees at the Bertie Bott’s store in Gilroy what our plan was, they got a kick out of it. It was priceless watching everyone’s disgusted reactions and the answers afterwards! CIMG1755

Is it even a party without a photobooth? We had a simple background with glasses, snitches, and thunderbolts. We purchased a set of photobooth props from Etsy that were bridal shower and Harry potter themed. But, I also had a bunch of Harry Potter stuff lying around my house, so we had real wands, scarves, and glasses that our guests could wear. I also brought Ron’s Weasley sweater that was incorporated into our decor.

Overall, our guests had a brilliant time at the shower! From the decor to the food to our party games, everyone was in awe of the attention of detail. Most of all, our bride to be was in love with the bridal shower! She couldn’t get enough of all of the decor and our favors. 🙂 I think we can call this a success! Mischief managed, indeed.

SF Foodie Fest Preview: Eat Drink SF 2016

Photo by Gamma Nine

I know everyone always claims their hometown food is the best — but when you live where fresh bay water meets sea salt and sand, it’s hard to deny that San Francisco is where it’s at when it comes to fresh produce. Now add the fact that some of our country’s most innovative chefs set up shop all along the peninsula, and us San Fran kids really have something to be proud of. So this year, I’m joining the crowd to celebrate the best of the Bay’s homegrown food, world-class chefs, restaurants, somms, mixologists — and all things to eat and drink in SF — at Eat Drink SF 2016.

Photo by Gamma Nine
Photo by Gamma Nine

About the Eat Drink SF

Each year, Eat Drink SF invites foodies, wine-nerds, culinary enthusiasts, and just plain hungry and thirsty people to meet and greet with top local chefs, bartenders, and sommeliers. The three-day event, running from Thursday, August 26 – 28, will include over 160 restaurants participants who will provide tasty treats, cooking demonstrations, and more.


Photo by Gamma Nine
Photo by Gamma Nine

Those looking for a little more to munch on will certainly be able to find it. Participating restaurants include:

1300 on Fillmore, Alembic, Brasserie S&P, Cafe Claude, Cathead’s BBQ, Chiaroscuro, Cross Hatch Eatery, Delfina Pizzeria, Dragon Beaux, E&O Kitchen and Bar, Gaspar Brasserie, Gitane, Hog & Rocks, Humphry Slocombe, Huxley, Konjoe, Lemonade, Luce, Michael Mina, Precita Park Cafe, Roka Akor, Souvla, Spaghetti Bros., SPIN San Francisco, Terzo, The Keystone, The Market, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, Tratto, Zero Zero

If you’re interested in learning a few kitchen tips and tricks, you’re certainly going to want to check out the Main Stage where lectures, demonstrations, and Q&A with industry experts will be featured all day. Check out the Events Page for details.

And let’s not forget about us drink enthusiasts! This year, Eat Drink SF will feature over 70 bars, distilleries, breweries, and wineries who will provide the events drinks as well as host tastings and seminars. Featured beverages will include:

Bass Note Sangria, Beaujolais Wines, Bodega Norton, Buena Vista Cafe, Ca’ Momi Winery, Carpano Antica Formula, Chateau Gassier, Concannon Vineyard, Fernet Branca, FloWater, Joel Gott Winery, Kikori Whiskey, Korbel California Champagne, Junipero Gin, Mr. Espresso, Provenance Vineyards, Pure Leaf Iced Tea: Tea House Collection, Purity Organics, Robert Mondavi Winery, SIMI Winery, Singani 63, Sipsmith Independent Spirits, San Francisco Brewers Guild, S. PELLEGRINO® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, Spirit Works Distillery, Stella Artois, Stella Artois Cidre,Templeton Rye, Teeling Whiskey, The Glenlivet, The Hess Collection, Torres Brandy, Trinchero Napa Valley, Trumer Pils, Tullamore D.E.W, Wente Vineyards, Woodford Reserve, Zaya Rum, and Zodiac Vodka.

Photo by Gamma Nine
Photo by Gamma Nine

And just like the culinary kids, pros in the beverage industry will be hosting several educational seminars throughout the day as well in the San Francisco Wine School Beverage Classroom. I’m personally excited for Saturday’s Chardonnay: Burgundy, Butter & Beyond with Chris Gaither, AS.

Oh, but I do hope the SF Wine School brings more cute tattoos…

SF Wine School Tats

Join Us!

Hungry for more? Tickets are still available on the Eat Drink SF website. And whether you’re there for just one day or the whole weekend, I guarantee you won’t go thirsty or hungry.


Eat Drink SF is presented by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association — the local restaurant representative organization and political advocate.

All photos of EDSF are from the 2015 event. Photography © 2015 Marc Fiorito w/ Gamma Nine | All Rights Reserved

Girls on Food Prefer Blondies (by Bonnie)

I’ve finally achieved my idea of the perfect blondie. (A blondie is a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie.) While there may not be such a thing as a BAD Blondie, there are definitely sub-par ones.

blondies2 text

I was looking for a moist, chewy, chocolatey blondie with a salty crunch. Is that asking too much? NO!!! Tinkering around with a pretty good recipe, I decided to brown the butter rather than simply melt it, as directed. This added a deeper flavor.

I also found that removing them from the oven promptly at the 22-minute mark (cooking directions suggested 22-25 minutes) was key to a moist result. Even if you don’t think they are ready, fear not – they’ll continue to bake in the hot pan out of the oven.

A bonus feature of my Blondies is that they’re better the next day, once they firmed up a bit. I love recipes you can make ahead of time! (Don’t get me wrong – they’re DELICIOUS the same day! It’s just they’re still soft and gooey….not exactly a bad thing, but a little messy for guests.

Finally, I added 1/2 cup of 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli was best) AND white chocolate chips, then topped with toasted pretzel bits for a salty crunch.


NOTE: For the flour and brown sugar I put measurements in both weight and cups. Weight is a far more accurate measurement, which is important in baking. So if you have a scale, use it.


  • 7 oz all-purpose flour (1 2/3 cups)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 T salted butter
  • 10.5 oz dark brown sugar (1¾ cups)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup walnuts (or pecans, cashews) – chopped & lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup 60% bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)
  • 1/3 cup pretzel sticks, broken by hand into small pieces & lightly toasted (unless the bag is fresh)

NOTE: Take care when breaking the pretzels that you don’t knock off the salt.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, swirling often. Keep cooking until butter darkens and becomes aromatic, but doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Let cool a few minutes.

butter browned

Mix the sugar into the melted butter. Stir well, smashing out any lumps.


Beat the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl. Pour approximately half the eggs into sugar mixture and blend. When smooth, stir in the rest of the eggs.


Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

Pour in the flour mixture, folding gently until most of the flour is incorporated.


Add in the chips and nuts, blending just until flour disappears – over mixing toughens the Blondie.


Pour into a greased and floured 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Spread batter to cover entire pan, smoothing top. The batter is very thick, so take care when spreading that you don’t scrap off the greased/floured coating – just gently push the top toward the edges. Sprinkle the pretzels on top, lightly pressing into the batter so they stick.IMG_3276

Bake at 350º Fahrenheit for 22 minutes exactly.  Don’t worry if they don’t look quite done – they’ll continue to cook in the hot dish. Place on a wire rack to cool for, at least, 3 hours before slicing.


Be sure to check out my blog for lots of yummy vegetarian recipes:  VEGETARIAN COOKING FOR CARNIVORES BLOG.

Girls on the Best Foodie Films

The bloggers of Girls on Food are all friends with each other on Facebook, and a lot of us LOVE staying in and binge watching Netflix food related docs. These docs have been mouth-watering, but the film biz has been lacking in great “foodie” movies lately. Has anyone else noticed this?

Today, we’re dishing on our favorite feature films that have the best in food and drink.

Dawn Fried Green Tomatoes was a great book and an even better movie. The characters are as richly developed as the food served up at the Whistle Stop Café owned by Idgie Threadgoode. Set in 1940s Alabama, the film will take you on a trip through time back to the 1940s. Idgie Threadgoode owns and runs the Whistle Stop Café serving up homemade southern cooking made from scratch by mother and son team, Sipsey and Big George. The amazing cast includes Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker and Cecily Tyson.

Image: Universal Pictures

I recommend reading the book first. At the back of the book, you will find a gold mine of mouth-watering recipes including Sipsey’s Southern Fried Chicken, chicken and dumplings, coconut cream pie and, of course, fried green tomatoes. Get ready for a roller coaster ride of loss, revenge, murder, love and deep friendship.
Reno Tastebuds – If you have ever worked in the food service industry behind the scenes as a Chef, then you can relate to the stress and feeling of the dinner rush that gets your adrenaline pumping on a daily basis!

Image: Open Road Films
Image: Open Road Films

After watching the movie, Chef, I fell in love with my career all over again. That satisfaction of feeding thousands of people and watching the smiles your food brings to their face are priceless. But being a Chef isn’t all sweet smiles and warm fuzzies, you also get your “critics” who waltz in, judge your hard work harshly and drop their opinions which may or may not always be accurate. The frustration and flared tempers that were portrayed in the movie towards those “opinions” were 100% dead on in real life. Be kind to your Chef, after all, they’re the one that has been working in front of an 800-degree grill and preparing your meal for the last 6 hours just to meet your satisfaction!

Katie – When Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets a magic crab and a witty sous chef, you know you’re in for a great movie experience! This film actually coins the phrases “emotional eating” and “all the feels!” And I love it for that!

Image: 20th Century Fox
Image: 20th Century Fox

Simply Irresistible is one of the last of the great late 90’s chick flicks – lighthearted, utterly silly and enjoyable. Gellar plays Amanda, a terrible chef, who thanks to a magic crab and a pair of “good luck” earrings, becomes an incredible chef, who creates fabulous food renown not only for their flavor but for the emotions they evoke in the person who eats them. Anger in a chicken paillard ends up with a patron throwing plates around the restaurant; passion ends up with an intense scene in an elevator over caramel éclairs.

I might include this movie on my short list of factors that got me interested in food in the first place! Scenes in a farmers market. Whipping up fabulous gourmet meals without batting an eye. Baking incredible desserts that waft out of my television screen….Sarah Michelle Gellar slices an apple perfectly, adds vanilla flowers to her desserts; even cooks a peach dessert so when opened, a vanilla fog floats out. If you haven’t watched this, or it’s been awhile, definitely put it back into your mix of cheesy feel good movies. It’s on Amazon Prime for $5. As a bonus, I found a recipe to the caramel eclairs!

Nin – I didn’t run to the theater to watch Julie & Julia when it came out seven years ago, but I really should have. This film is my absolute favorite food-based movie. I can relate to Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) but aspire to be Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep), almost like Julie Powell tried to do in her real life blog the “Julie/Julia Project.”

Image: Columbia Pictures
Image: Columbia Pictures

I’ve had a lot of trials and a TON of errors in the kitchen. The idea that Powell had to blog her way through each recipe in Child’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” for a year was as brilliant as Child’s actual attempts to master the French cuisines herself during her time spent in France at Le Cordon Blue after the second world war.

Even though there are high profile stars in Streep and Adams, the real star(s) were the dishes of yummy looking nosh. I believe the term “food porn” was created specifically because of this movie. With all the mouth watering images of the meals both women prepare, the food preparation also symbolizes the “courses” through life each woman experienced in their journeys. An analogy for life was conveyed throughout this film. If you let things simmer too long, it can boil over, but if you pay attention and take great care in all of the details, you can have a delicious outcome. The same can be said if you rush to do anything, you will wind up either getting burned or undercooked/underwhelmed.

Not only is this a movie about cooking, but it is about putting your mind to something and to go through with it. I haven’t been as ambitious as Julie and Julia in life when it comes to trying to make my mark in the world, but some (ok maybe all in my opinion) of the movie’s little anecdotes can and do apply to all people if you really (over) think about it.

Image: Fox Searchlight
Image: Fox Searchlight

Amanda – One of my absolute favorite food movies is a little indie film for pie-lovers (or bakers in general), called Waitress (2007). In this movie, Jenna (Keri Russell) is a pie genius at an old-fashioned diner (but thankfully for the pies, without roller skates). Her confections are described as “biblically good” and “a thing of beauty”—high praise a baker can only hope to attain. A true artiste, Jenna channels her unhappiness in her life and marriage into culinary masterpieces, and she names her pies accordingly.

A surprise pregnancy invokes “Bad Baby Pie,” a brie and ham quiche. Her particularly nasty spouse, Earl, (Jeremy Sisto) inspires an oddly-delectable “I Hate My Husband Pie,” a mélange of unsweetened chocolate “drowned in caramel.”  Waitress is funny, heartwarming, and at times, genuinely poignant. But be warned: don’t watch it if you’re on a diet; you’ll be up to your elbows in pie crust before the credits stop rolling.

Image: Columbia Pictures
Image: Columbia Pictures

Fatboi Tendencies – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is the animated adaptation of the popular children’s book of the same name. Growing up, it was one of my absolute favorites. Who wouldn’t want to live in a town where it rains orange juice and hails meatballs?! The film follows the misadventures of budding scientist Flint Lockwood of the small island Swallow Falls, and his pet monkey Steve. Once the town’s sardine business fails, he creates an invention called the “Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator”, or FLDSMDFR for short, that can turn water into food. Flint finds a new friend in Sam Sparks, a weather intern for the local TV station when she is sent on a mission to cover his new invention. Cheeseburgers rain from the sky as the townspeople rejoice, becoming increasingly greedier from their newfound fortune. The town is renamed to Chewandswallow and becomes a hit tourism spot.

This film is my absolute favorite food film because it plays on every kid’s dream of endless ice cream cones, pizza slices, and french fries the size of buildings. As every good family film has a lesson, it highlights the effects of greed, gluttony, and tampering with mother nature. At the same time, it also stresses the importance of family, friendship, and coming together as a community. If you can’t get enough of the first movie, there is a sequel that I believe to be even better than the first, where these monstrous food items come to life. Both films are must-sees for foodies of all ages!
-Jess (@fatboitendencies)
2909248258_1372b033b2Julianne – Collaborations are some of my favorite posts here to edit because I get to see who writes what and write based off that. This post is tough because I love Chef, Julie & Julia, and Simply Irresistible. So I was slightly scratching my head trying to remember a film where the scenes featuring food that were memorable for me.
Then I remembered the movie that caused me to binge on French pastries so hard I got sick after, (totally worth it, though!) Marie Antoinette. I wouldn’t say this was a great movie, but the art direction, wardrobe, 80’s new wave soundtrack and scenes of pure hedonism make it worth watching.
I don’t even have much of a sweet tooth, and even I was craving eclairs, petit fours, and tarts after watching this film. I remember rushing to my local European bakery, Ettores, (#sacramentoproud) after watching this. I can still taste that slice of princess torte I ate alone in my shoebox-sized studio apartment ten years later. Let them eat cake!
Be sure to follow Girls on Food on Instagram and Twitter, @girlsonfoodblog! 

Hungrily Awaiting This Weekend’s LA Food Fest

Hey Foodies,

One of the coolest things about living in Los Angeles is that there’s always an event with lots of eats happening. I LOVE a good food festival and LA Food Fest, 7/8-7/10 at Exposition Park, has me pumped with excitement for this coming weekend! Here are the top reasons why you should check out LA Food Fest this weekend (get your ticket here):

la food fest map
LA Food Fest map

The chef hosted an opening party – On Friday, 7/8, at 7 PM,  the LA Food Fest kicks off with an intimate long table dinner (informal of course, this is LA) in their Rose Garden Pop Up Restaurant.

This multi-course, family style dinner will include meals prepped by popular local chefs Chris Oh, Nguyen Tran and Johnny Ray Zone. What female foodie in their right mind could resist a dinner with such cute chefs? (insert heart-eyed Emoji here)

There will also be plenty of beer and wine selections to pair with the dinner. Tickets to this event are $150, but you will still have access to Saturday and Sunday’s festivities. #worthit

birdies 6
Our friends from Birdies will be there! Pictured: Lemon Thyme Pistachio & Spicy Birdie w/ fried egg

Over 100 + food and beverage vendors – Saturday, 7/9 and Sunday, 7/10, LA Food Fest will pack  Exposition Park full with all its various goodies. Be sure to wear your “eating dress”!

The vendors I’m looking forward to tasting are:

Cento Pasta Bar
Waffle Jack
Ceviche Stop
Fritzi Dog
Pirozhski Truck
The New York Pig– 2016 James Beard Foundation Nominee for Outstanding Restaurant (NYC based)
Free Range LA
Vendors are being added daily, for a complete list check our the LA Food Fest list here.

You can attend LA Food Fest on a budget – Tickets start as low as $15 to get in, and all the vendors are guaranteed to have one $5 food item available (while supplies last). So if you only have $40 to spare, you can still leave satisfied.

If you have more to spend, you should check out the Golden Hour option, which is $69. At this price, attendees receive two hours of all-inclusive sampling before the main action starts.

Amazebowls, who we've reviewed before, will be there as well!
Amazebowls, who we’ve reviewed before, will be there as well! Pictured: Coconut bowl

This family-friendly festival also features charity partner Peace4Kids’ Mobile Village Kitchen. The live culinary stage featuring chef demos, live podcasts, sneak peeks at summer movies Sausage Party and Lights Out. There will also be an Artisanal LA Farm Shop featuring more than 30 unique made LA-based vendors, a Bocce, Beer and Chill Zone. And live music, sets from KCRW DJs Anne Litt and PRI’s Betto Arcos, and a Kids Zone presented by Barnsdall Art Park. What more could you ask for?

I think it’s safe to say the LA Food Fest is an event not to be missed! I’ll see you there Saturday, and a video will be coming soon! – Julianne

Sipping in San Francisco: The 40th Annual Union Street Festival

Crowd Scene SFUSF

Local artists, unique products, festive food, and of course craft beer and fine wine — this is what San Francisco is known for. And what better place to celebrate all things SF than on trendy Union Street in the upscale Pacific Heights district? That’s exactly what hundreds of Bay Area folks did this past weekend at the 40th Annual Union Street Festival.