Skip to main content

Live Review: Artisanal LA Holiday Pop-Up Shop

It sure doesn’t feel like Christmas outside. At 85 degrees in the middle of December, L.A. residents (remotely like me), are more than pleased with every little reminder that it’s the holiday season. This time of year, we relish the scent of our freshly cut pine tree with its string of bright cranberries and popcorn. The first seasonal candy cane or peanut brittle is an experience we’ve awaited since last year. We cozy up and sip our apple cider (or hot toddies), and we remember that even though, baby, it’s not cold outside, ‘tis still the season. Little by little, as the holidays sneak up on us, our priorities shift to treating ourselves and treating our loved ones. For that reason, I just have to say: If you missed Artisanal LA’s Holiday Pop-Up Shop downtown this past weekend, you missed out. (Psst, I’ll still provide you with enough tips to pick out goodies from the individual vendors.)

By the Fire
If you’re craving something decadent or looking for a cute gift for a sugar fiend, it seems s’mores are all the rage - with good reason. These babies are awesome.

At the inaugural Artisanal LA event in November, I was swept away by the brilliance of combining the flavors of peanut butter and marshmallow into a pie by I Heart Pies. While I Heart Pies was not a vendor this time around, Crust by Stephanie Jayne Shaiken definitely was. With an adorably decorated country Christmas theme and precious packaging, Shaiken presented her fabulous interpretation of a s’more pie.

With gooey flame-licked marshmallows atop a homemade milk chocolate ganache and homemade graham crackers, this pie was a fanciful interpretation of the best damn s’more you’ve never had.

And then I tried her butter pie. C’mon really, people? It’s butter – the best ingredient ever - IN A PIE. Yep, that’s about all I have to say about that.

Just a few booths down was Gotta Have S’more, featuring the “s’muffin.” Cute name, even cuter product, with holiday flavors to boot. We are talking a mini muffin full of mallowy, chocolaty goodness with seasonal flavors of candy cane, pumpkin ganache and eggnog. You know these things are addictive, because founder and owner Carmen Lindner formerly had a ban against butter and sugar in her home. After a little idea took shape in the form of muffin-shaped s’mores, butter and sugar quickly became a mainstay as the business took off and the resulting s’muffins should become a mainstay as your Christmas stocking stuffers. Believe it.

Where There’s Smoke…

Dark, smoky flavors were a big trend around the shop, too. Chef/owner Alessandra Innamorato of olive shop Orgasmo de la Boca, was inspired to create her smoked pickled garlic olives during her four years spent in Spain, where vats of pickled garlic are sold at market. This flavor of olives, among others, can be found at Wine Expo in West L.A., for the olive lover in your life.

The “Smoked Cheese Crack” sold at the Mothercluck booth was aptly named, with smoked Anaheim peppers laced between a layer of cheddar cheese and thin cracker. Through the process, the cracker is softened as the cheese and smoked peppers sink into it, turning the cracker almost into a soft (addictive) flatbread. Creator Karen Clemens also featured several preserves made from produce from her urban homestead, a favorite being cranberry pomegranate.

And if you wanted to spread some magnificence across that addictive flatbread of Clemens’, Cast Iron Gourmet had some great choices for toppings. Chef/owner Rashida Purifoy knows her comfort food and has added pimiento-bacon cheese spread and bacon chutney to her array of flavorful products. When mixed together, the two spreads create that salty, sweet and cheesy combination that hits all the rights spots. Sure, this would taste good on Mothercluck’s Smoked Cheese Crack. But hell, it tastes just as good on Saltines.

Purifoy also introduced her Winter Bacon, a thick, juicy bacon spiced with allspice, cinnamon, apple cider and cardamom. Basically, the bacon tastes like winter – in a good way.

Getting Sauced
Who doesn’t like to get saucy every once in a while? For a healthy take on marinades and dressings, Jon Rollo’s Greenleaf Gourmet Chop Shop served up a variety of flavors all made from the freshest organic produce. Jon’s Citrus Basil Vinaigrette, a vegan dressing, had a light, refreshing lift with a creamy finish, while the Nonna’s Basil Pesto was rich and cheesy without being overwhelming.

Some surely like it hot, and if any of these people are on your gift list, I highly recommend the Caribbean Spice Sauce from All Spice Café. As a marinade or even a dip for chunks of pineapple, this sauce serves up a bit of a kick with a smooth texture and would be great over chicken, fish or even veggies and pineapple.

Let It Flow, Let It Flow, Let It Flow
After I’d thoroughly exhausted my taste buds between the spicy and smoky flavors, I made my way to the boys at the Cold Brew & Cola booth to cool off my burning tongue. Rod Edwards and his brother mixed up a little concoction of cold-brewed coffee with eggnog. Personally, my favorite choice was their mix of cold-brewed coffee, frozen coffee cubes and Mexican Coca-Cola. Think of a coffee-flavored Coke float, and you’ve got the gist of this sweet drink. The mixture is charming, as is Edwards’ marketing method: He rides a bike cart around North Hollywood selling the beverages out of the cart. We think this might be the next food truck. Just wait and see – we called it here first.

For another fantastic holiday drink option, Morning Glory Confections had a Chai Spiced Cocktail Sugar, in adorable round tins. This cinnamon-y sugar would be the perfect rim on a winter cocktail, like a dark and stormy or a hot toddy.

And then, in the morning when you’re recovering from the hangover, brew some tea and toss in a couple beautiful snowflake-shaped sugar cubes from Gourmet Sugar Company. These would make beautiful gifts for a person who loves tea or coffee.

Bulging Pants
Because by now, I was one chocolate sample away from a hyperglycemic rage, I resigned myself to looking at the adorable handmade products, such as the niche aprons over at Maggie Mae Apron Co. For the fangirl in your life, pick up a comic-book themed apron. They even have mini versions for mommy-and-me gifts.

The homemade soaps over at PLU (which stands for People Like Us, in case you’re wondering) smelled wonderful, with scents such as tobacco vanilla and vanilla mint. The soaps are made of goat, soy, oil and beeswax.

Miss Fruitfly was in the mix, too. I wrote about this vendor a month ago, and I still can’t say enough about how much I love the screenprinted L.A.-centric tea towels and other designs here.

After my stomach began to settle, I wandered out of the shop back onto Santee and back into the warm sun. As I walked among the hordes of people perusing the street shops, I remembered just how glad I am to live in L.A. Who needs Christmas weather when there are so many creative, talented people who can gather together to bring the holidays to us?

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

Bookmark and Share

Popular posts from this blog

2017 EXXXOTICA Expo Dates and Locations Announced

Riding high off its most successful event to date in Edison, New Jersey, the EXXXOTICA Expo presented by MyFreeCams is already looking forward to 2017 with a trio of events planned around the country. In addition to its longstanding shows in Chicago and New Jersey, the show’s producers are pinning a new city on its map — Denver, Colorado for EXXXOTICA Mile High.

EXXXOTICA’s debut in the Rocky Mountains has been in the works for years, and event organizers couldn’t be more excited to bring the show to Denver. The 2017 show schedule kicks off in grand style with EXXXOTICA Mile High, March 31 through April 2, 2017. The show will be taking place as a full hotel takeover at the Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Convention Center.
With nearly 100,000 square feet of exhibition and breakout space, EXXXOTICA Mile High will not only feature hundreds of exhibitors and the top stars in adult, as well as seminars and performers, but the hotel will be transformed into the hottest hotel in the country wi…

BEAUTIFUL RIGHTS Gives Women’s Rights Some Real Lip Service

Beautiful Rights is here to give women’s rights some real lip service. This new, cause-driven makeup initiative, founded by renowned makeup artist and product developer, Kristen Therese Leonard, was created to ensure that women’s rights continue to be given their share of voice in our country’s future.

As we enter into 2017, real concerns regarding women’s rights are upon us. Beautiful Rights was created to remind every woman to speak up, and that the responsibility lies within each of us to protect the rights we’ve fought so hard to acquire.

Beautiful Rights will promote women’s rights by donating 20% of all sales (not profits) to organizations that support our causes, such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Emily’s List, Lambda Legal and Legal Momentum. The 20% contribution is set as a reminder of the fact that women in the U.S. still get paid 20% less than men for doing the same work.

Not only will Beautiful Rights fuel great initiatives, it will also provide women with top-of-line…

Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale Releases March 9, 2017

Aniplex of America Inc. announced today that the nationwide release of the highly anticipated feature film Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale- will take place on March 9, 2017. Details on theater locations and tickets for the nationwide release will be announced at a later date on the official homepage ( Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale- will be distributed by ELEVEN ARTS in the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.
About Sword Art Online: The animated TV series Sword Art Online is based on author Reki Kawahara’s light novel in which the protagonist Kirito fights to survive in the mysterious next-gen VRMMORPG called “Sword Art Online.”
Since the first volume of the novel was published in April 2009, the series has proved extremely popular, with cumulative sales exceeding 12.5 million units in Japan and 19 million worldwide, spawning two TV anime adaptations, video games, comic books, and merchandise.
Story of Sword Art Online the Movie -O…

Summer Survival: Pick the Most Breathable Fabrics

Summer is inching closer, and while we're all psyched for the perpetually warm weather ahead after a tough winter, pretty soon it's inevitable that the heat, humidity and summer sun will leave us feeling, well, less than fresh.

Chrissy Volk, wardrobe consultant for Adahlia Volk has put together a cheat-sheet for navigating through the best, most breatheable fabrics for the season. Who ever looks at clothing "ingredient" listings on the tag - well, this season think of it as your guide to "cool."


COTTON + STRETCH = CUTE BUTT: Cotton jeans are the lightest for summer because they are airy and breathable, however, jeans with a small content of stretch are the most flattering. They will move with your body and it’s movements.BEST DENIM BLENDS: Chrissy suggests denim with a high cotton content, and small synthetic content. A jean with either a 98% cotton/2% lycra or 96 % cotton/4% Lycra fabric, is a good combination. J…

Book Review: "Feel Me Fall" by James Morris

Survival, suspense, fear, love, death and a major plot twist are a few key themes that describe the brand new Young Adult novel, Feel Me Fall, by James Morris. Having read two of his previous books, including Melophobiaand What Lies Within, he definitely succeeds at taking you on a crazy adventure where you can't stop reading as you'll want to find out what happens next. The first few chapters of Feel Me Fall are reminiscent of the classic book, Lord of the Flies, the TV show "LOST," and even the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, where a plane crash in a remote area forces survivor(s) to fend for themselves away from modern day luxuries and civilization. One of the major differences is that Feel Me Fall is centered around high school students, where their teen issues collide with primal survival instincts. 
Unlike Lord of the Flies, which was written in 1957, Feel Me Fall gives a glimpse of today's world where parents and teens dabble in video games, things go viral on …