I’ve decided that food festivals are the 21st century’s bacchanalia, especially since they were originally attended solely by women. Heh.
No, really. According to our pals at Wikipedia:
The bacchanalia were wild and mystic festivals of the Roman and Greek god Bacchus. Introduced into Rome from lower Italy by way of Etruria (c. 200 BC), the bacchanalia were originally held in secret and only attended by women. The festivals occurred on three days of the year in the grove of Simila near the Aventine Hill, on March 16 and March 17. Later, admission to the rites was extended to men and celebrations took place five times a month.
The five-times-a-month bit seals the deal, as Los Angeles seems to host food festivals the way dentist offices host Brangelina cover stories. And this weekend’s outing is a humdinger, the
second third annual Gourmet on Fire at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. (Second for Loews; the first one was across the street, at the Viceroy. Thanks, LB!)
The list of chefs and restaurants is small but snazzy: Akasha Richmond (Akasha), Govind Armstrong (Table 8), Gregory Foos (Ocean & Vine), Joe Miller (Joe’s Restaurant), Katsuya Uechi (Katsuya), Neal Fraser (Grace and BLD) and Zoe Nathan (Rustic Canyon).
Last year was the first for sponsor Gourmet magazine and there were a few glitches. They’ve moved the event up by one week and down by three hours; what was once a sweltering summer afternoon now promises to be a cool, sunset-watching evening.
Of course, no food festival can exist without sponsorship, but Gourmet still seems to be getting the hang of it. Last year’s lineup included Kikkoman soy sauce and McCormick spices (with aggressive product placement); this year, they’ve been replaced by Spice Islands and Pam. If anyone comes up with a way for, say, Windrose Farm to bring corporate backing to the table, I’d be happy to play matchmaker.
Tickets are $100, available at the Gourmet website or at (877) 490-3337. A portion of proceeds benefit the Southland Farmer’s Markets Association.