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Yes, I’d Like Some Cheese With My Whine

Santa Monica Wine and Food Fest Review

It seems like a no-brainer. Wine plus food, plus the sun and a beach. How could that be a bad equation?

Well, I’m not very good at math. I may have never really conquered algebra, but wine and food I know. And the Santa Monica Wine and Food Festival did not equate to magnificence quite the way I expected.

The sad thing here is that, well, the organizers know they didn’t quite deliver. Their website now reads, "Thank you to the many of you who came out to support the event. To those who had a great time, thank you for showing your support. But what we had planned we didn’t receive, and we’re disappointed."

Screen shot of Santa Monica Food and Wine Festival site

They aren’t the only ones who are disappointed.

Believe it or not, I am trying to be kind here. I was more than happy at the prospect of spending a Saturday afternoon near the beach, relishing the sun while tasting wine and eating my choice of culinary delights. I had grand visions of the cooking demonstrations that had been promised. I’d even heartily refrained from refilling my wine shelves back at home in anticipation of buying a few (or one hundred) bottles from the event.

And then, after applying sunscreen and throwing bottled water into my purse, I arrived, guest in tow. It actually took us a second to find the location. Because, well, we did see that smattering of a couple tents. But, we thought to ourselves, that couldn’t possibly be the festival we are looking for…can it?

Well. It was.

As we approached, we surveyed the scene. It was located on a parking lot near the beach on the south side of Santa Monica. As for the vendors, let’s just say even the smallest Los Angeles-area farmers’ markets have a better selection. There were about five booths with food and six or seven booths with wine tastings.

It’s not that the vendors in and of themselves were not good. I had some of the best cobbler I’ve ever tasted, an almond-glazed blueberry treat that seemed creamy, crisp, refreshing and rich all at the same time, courtesy of baker Lanier Edwards’ Heavenly Delights. I tried about seven samples and then bought one to take home.

Heavenly Delights' cobblers

The Vegan Joint, which is located in Palms, was perhaps the most fresh take on Thai food that I’ve yet to try. And this is coming from a girl who considers Thai her go-to comfort food. It’s safe to say I know what I’m talking about. That night, I actually placed a massive takeout order with them and spent the next few days enjoying three orders of their spring rolls, pad kee mau (or “spicy mint noodles”) and red curry with brown rice.

We did also try the shrimp gazpacho from La Cachette Bistro, and I was utterly disappointed. The dish was in dire need of some salt, and really—spooning gazpacho out of a paper cup while standing because there are absolutely no tables on the premises is a far less than glamorous experience.

Although I did get to try a few samples, when I go to a wine festival, I expect to be able to drink some wine. Call me crazy, but when I’m dead sober and looking to not be, I sure prefer to be able to get my first taste of wine within about 10 minutes of standing around. Instead, in part due to a lack of wine vendors, we stood in line waiting for about 10 to 20 minutes per booth waiting for just one or two sips of wine.

We eventually got enough alcohol to make it worth about $20 each, even though the individual ticket price was $40. But for the effort, I would've rather bought a bottle and slurped it down in my own private corner.

On the way home, I stopped at Andrew’s Cheese Shop and picked up some Noord Hollander gouda to accompany my whine.

All photos by Jessyca Dewey

About the Author

Jessyca is an L.A.-based editor for Demand Media who moonlights as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and fashion writing. She has written for Back Stage magazine and Beverly Hills [213] magazine, among other regional publications. Dewey spends her free time reading InStyle, volunteering with the foster kids organization Peace4Kids, making and enjoying great food, and hanging out with her wee dog Webster.
Follow her on Twitter @jessycadewey

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