Sunset Magazine hosts an annual “Celebration Weekend” that showcases the best of home, food and garden in the “West” (presumably California) on their grounds in Menlo Park. Although the entrance fee is a relatively steep $18, AK and I decided to attend again this year to seek some inspiration for our home. It was an extremely hot day, but the crowds were undeterred and packed the spacious venue. We first walked around to survey the lay of the land, and I came upon a booth selling succulents with Winnie the Pooh covering its entire side wall. I couldn’t believe that the entire display consists of plants!
After strolling around a little, we decided to eat first before the food booths got too busy. I ordered a pork belly over kimchee fried rice from the Chotto San Francisco food truck. It was delicious, if not a little fatty, though I think I am suffering from a little bit of pork belly and kimchee-anything fatigue. The Korean food truck craze that began with Koji does not seem to be flaming out…
Lunch was followed by dessert from The Creme Brulee Cart, a roaming stall on wheels in the city. It’s the reason I originally opened up my still barely used Twitter account, and I’ve always wanted to try it. My choice, the “Kentucky,” a vanilla-flavored creme brulee with candied pecans, was delicious! The crunch of the pecans paired perfectly with the smoothness of the cream underneath the delicate top shell. Reminds me of eating a slice of my favorite pecan pie at a place like Georgia Brown’s in Washington D.C., but almost better.
AK and I then spent an inordinate amount of time checking out the Weber Grill display area, and it was a joy to play with these top-of-the-line barbeque grills. The knowledgeable representatives dispatched from headquarters were chatty and helpful, with no pressure at all! (The grills were not for sale at this event.) I made AK stand by his favorite model so we can start saving up for one.
The day’s highlights were probably the food demonstrations from Susan Feniger, chef owner of STREET in LA and host of multiple food shows, and Fabio Viviani, the fan favorite from Top Chef Masters. Susan was an Energizer bunny who was loads of fun to be around – vivacious, generous and loose-lipped. Fabio, on the other hand, turned up his Italian chef accent to the max and charmed the crowd with this suave cooking style (“no measuring cups!”) and raunchy jokes. It was clear that both had oodles of star power.
We escaped the massive crowds to go tour the magazine’s test kitchen. It was really fun to see the behind-the-scenes process of getting published recipes exactly right. I loved the little wooden chef in the kitchen that holds up a flag any time a plate of food is laid out for the staff – a green flag indicates that the recipe turned out great, a red flag means the recipe was not quite successful, and a black flag with skulls and bones marks the food as a total disaster. The test kitchen staff noted that regardless of the flag, every plate of food is always eaten! There must be something about being at work and lowering your standards for food, haha.
We finished the day touring the garden area and saw a beautiful model of a chicken coop! Keeping your own free range chicken for fresh eggs seems to be quite trendy these days, though I’m not sure I am at that level of eating “farm fresh” food yet. It was nice to fantasize a little.
There were also multiple examples of outdoor living. Maybe one day our backyard can be transformed into something that is so gorgeous and fun!