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Night Market at Grand Park is literally in the middle of Downtown LA, with easy public transportation (Civic Center stop on Red and Purple Metro lines), iconic landmarks, and this week-end, the added bonus of plentiful food options all in one place.

I went with four friends who all love to eat (they wouldn’t be friends otherwise), and we started with Nomad, a NYC transplant that now has not only food, but also a hotel here in Los Angeles.

Menus at many of the trucks were abbreviated for the sake of the festival, but a few signature items remained, and in the case of Nomad, the presentation in color coordinated boxes and shopping bags was a nice touch even though it wasn’t very ecologically minded.

The yellow beets with shaved fennel, chevre, strawberries, and rye crisp was an unusual combination of textures, flavors, and colors. We found this an interesting option for $9, but not sure we would order it again, but we were all glad to have tried it.

There fried fish sandwich with piquillo aioli and cabbage slaw for $11 was enjoyed by everyone, but I would have preferred a higher fish to bread ratio.

We passed the Cousins Lobster truck on the way into the park and one of my friends insisted on trying them, so we got two orders of the lobster tacos for $20 each order of 3.

The bits of Maine lobster were perfect, but the tortillas were terrible, worse than store packaged ones, and even adding a squeeze of lime and tapatio sauce couldn’t save the tiny tacos. We eventually ended up just picking out the lobster bits from underneath the mayonnaise tasting crema.

If you want to drink or enter into the bar areas, you must show ID at the ID booth and get a wristband, so do that when you enter the event (at the booth near the fountain). We got wristbands but once we saw the prices, we opted to leave the event to go get drinks elsewhere (bottled mass produced bottles of beer for $10).

 It looked like everyone was more interested in their social media than the drinks.

 Lots of beautiful art on trucks

 and some had windows so you could see them preparing your food.

 Choices included everything from BBQ cupcakes.

The Super Market section entry with all the most tempting food options was in the VIP section requiring an entry ticket of $10, but we had started at the other end and by the time we finished our two short rib burritos $7, spicy pork tacos $2.50 each, and black jack quesadilla $8 from Kogi, we were satiated.

Dessert was getting a picture with Roy Choi 🙂

The Los Angeles Magazine Whisky Festival offers both aficionados and novices tastes of at least 30 (I didn’t count and I could not find a list of participants online, so I am guessing) spirits ranging from single malt scotch to blends, bourbons, ryes, and some specialty ones made from rice! Tickets were $95 and included 3 hours of tasting (using a Waterford glass we could take home).

I am fairly well versed in French wines, and although I do have a smattering of whisky knowledge, I have neither the tolerance nor purse to imbibe several fine spirits on a regular basis. I was invited as part of a friends’ birthday who not only knew many of the participants, but shares my palate preferences, so his girlfriend and I just said, “You tell us what we should try!”

Our first taste was an 18 year old single malt scotch by Duncan Taylor which turned out to be my favorite 🙂 As noted by Compass Whisky (not a participant), the age noted on bottles refers only to the youngest component, so keep that in mind when making buying decisions of blends!

 There were many award winners

and specialty distillers.

I thought I didn’t like Bourbon until I tasted Angel’s Envy, poured by the blender herself of a special blend only available at the Intercontinental Hotel in Los Angeles; it’s the highest award winner for a delicious reason! Macallen was on hand with a double cask that I enjoyed very much.

The guys at Duncan Taylor wore kilts!

This was my first time inside the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, and it was mind boggling!

 

This is a sloth!

Fun interactive display with handles that required two hands to slightly budge one lever!

The space was incredibly educational and entertaining for an event venue, this was one long wall,

 and the workspace was on display as well as the finished assembled pieces.

The lines for food were longer than the lines for scotch, but the passed bites were more interesting than the mashed potato bar and the usual charcuterie, cheese, and crudite buffets. Since this was a spirited event, the emphasis was on the drinks not the food, but the bites were varied and well presented. Some bites not shown were mini crabcakes, stuffed mushrooms, and fried macaroni bits; on the sweet side at least three kinds of mini cupcakes floated through the rooms as well. The space was so large that a DJ, a jazz combo with singer, and a vinyl playing stereo all filled various sections with music without overlap.

 There were also some fun booths like a photo stand, shoe shine,

 and cigar rolling by El Canito Cigars.

 I got a Robusto to go 🙂

The predawn close up view of the floats is incredible, but so is seeing the same floats in natural daylight with people on them and the animations running:)

There were lots of horses,

 including the famous Clydesdales,

 who had their own mascot,

 and luxury transportation.

There was plenty of security.

The Goodyear Blimp hovered overhead with several helicopters.

Porta-potties were strategically placed on side streets.

The Red Cross was on hand in case anyone needed CPR.

But I doubt that this dragon will attack those people 🙂

The parade may be over for this year but some slogans ring true all year long:)

At 5 AM this morning I experienced the magical Rose Parade up close for the first time:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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